Speculative ad sales methods reflect a trade media industry in crisis; it's change or crumble
By Ryan Skinner (email)
A communications manager recently responded to my article questioning the future of a new advertorial-driven shipping magazine. He said:
I receive weekly calls from magazines who offer editorial coverage at a (high) price - very aggressively. I always turn them down - there are plenty of good magazines we can use for advertising.
However, they sell very aggressively and often to the CEOs and top guys in the company. They are often charmed by the opportunity to be featured as well as the impressive circulation (extensive name-dropping). Do you have a list of publications or publishers that you would recommend us to stay away from (that I can send to my management as a heads-up)?
Simple answer: "No." I could hypothetically make such a list, but doing so, and distributing it, would put my life at risk. If not my actual life, my professional life, would be threatened. PR and media are intertwined enough to make some kind of black-listing a real no-no.
With that said, I definitely empathize with this communications manager and his predicament. The recession and digital media have combined to create the perfect storm for trade publishers. I suspect many are living off of a) inertia, b) exhibitions and conferences and c) corrosive cost-cutting. Advertisers taste the pain in the desperation of the sellers.
The situation right now seems a bit untenable for everybody. Many print media products are getting poorer in quality, while readership sinks. Digital media products are stunted by broken revenue models. Advertisers are stuck between a dying paradigm they understand, and a new and lively paradigm they don't.
I start off a series of articles that, for better or worse, dive into the challenges by shipping's media on the one hand, and the shipping industry's marketing/PR disciplines on the other. This is a discussion that needs to be made public. Later this week: Companies making their own channels...