I should forewarn you that the following post could be construed as a rant and you’d be right but it’s one that that exposes a pretty shameful practice I recently discovered.
It relates to the swapping of email correspondence between me, in my capacity of representing the promotion of a kitchen product, and the editor of a Lifestyle magazine that reflects the niche area of the product I’m representing.
I was contacted in this capacity, to be offered an online advertising deal that appears quite attractive and if the magazines claims are correct then the audience would be the right demographic. Their website, so they claim, is well populated by a healthy daily visitor count and heap of page views. One particular thing caught my eye though – there’s an award being offered for the product.
I reply to the offer and request the necessary info I require to make a more educated decision. I want details of their recent web stats over a three month period. Not too much to ask in a market driven by analytics being readily available to all and it would back up their readership and visitor claims as set out in a neat, bullet pointed list in their original message.
At this stage I’m interested more in the provenance of the online visitor stats than hearing more about the awards and I await a response
And so it comes. No reference to, or details of, the website statistics just a hurried response from what appears to be a busy editor in which he quickly affirms that the offer is an “awards offer” which is time restricted and if we decide not to go ahead they will contact the next company in the product category on their to offer them the deal. He even names said company.
I was left gobsmacked. This guy’s on a mission, and at any cost, to fill up those advertising spaces fast.
Conjuring up an award appears to be the latest gimmick being used to loosen the purse strings of his clients.
Roll up, roll up! Awards for sale
So, having the product I represent being announced as “Best…….. 2016” is an easy one to win. There are no competitors, no judging panel, just an award that’s ours for the remainder of 2016 in return for agreeing to pay the price.
I thought I’d seen it all and read it all over the years but clearly some scams extend beyond those reported by the magazines we read and, in this case, originate from.
I’m certain many will happily chomp at this carrot laid before them, given that a ‘Best Of’ Awards’ generate the interest of potential buyers like no other accolade could but there’s a huge question of ethics left unanswered by this type of practice.
And the loser is….the readers
You see, you won’t be surprised to learn that an editor has the power to influence a mass of people who in turn spread the word to others so, effectively, he/she can become master of their sector or niche. It’s a huge responsibility therefore to provide and research the facts, stories and articles presented to readers. Most editors, I’m sure, act entirely appropriately but just one, with that power at their behest, is one too many.
Sure they have to promote their publications and distinguish them from competitors as all businesses do but they have a duty to do that using fair practices. If conjuring up an award, making it freely available to the first bidder and then announcing that award in your publication is fair practice – then we are, as readers, are being ripped off.