Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Disillusioned with Magazines?

I saw a tweet on Twitter from Sarah at Rowan Tree Studios which made me realise I am not the only one disillusioned with magazines lately.

The tweet (pictured below) asked people's opinions on magazines who will only feature you if you pay for an advert. 

Unfortunetly I've noticed this becoming increasingly common.  It seems to happen one of 3 ways:

 - The magazine approaches you, tells you how much they love your product/service/designs and says they would love to feature you, but you need to book an advert before they can offer editorial coverage.

-  Or you approach the magazine sending a press release, or asking if they could write about something you sell/do.  They then get back to you and say they only feature advertisers or you must advertise before they can feature you.

-  Alternatively either they approach you or you approach them and they give you editorial but then guilt you into booking an advert in exchange.  Slightly less direct than the above methods but ultimately most of us feel we owe them a favour for having written about us so end up booking the advert anyway.

Is this fair?  That magazines are full of coverage about companies who can afford to pay for regular adverts?  Where does that leave small independant businesses, who are often working with next to no budget?  Does that mean readers aren't getting a fair representation of what is out there?  Should we have to pay to be written about?

However to be fair to the magazines they exist to make money, they constantly have an eye on profit with everything they do.  They are afterall a business themselves, not philanthrophic.  I can also understand that they feel loyalty towards someone who has supported them by paying for adverts.

But as a business owner or crafter does it make you feel used?  I understand that advertorials exist and that people pay to be featured in a way which isn't just a box advert on a page.  But if you are having to book an advert just to get something mentioned on the news page, or to get a product featured on an article it just doesn't seem quite right does it?    It's not clearly indicated as an advertorial, but you wouldn't be in there unless you had paid for an ad at the same time.  

Further more does that mean that magazine staff aren't at liberty to actually feature the products they genuinely think are best or would fit best with their feature and instead have to pick from the magazine advertisers? 

However, it can be said that people do tend to pay more attention to editorial (as opposed to adverts, or items clearly marked as advertorials) so are you being expected to pay because but having editorial as well as an advert you are more likely to be noticed by the magazine readers?  

I'm not saying all magazines adopt these practices, many don't.  I haven't run many press adverts at all this year and I just sent press releases out about the new workshops directory and a couple have already come back and said they would love to include a mention in their news section.  However, when I was sending the press releases yesterday there were certain magazines I didn't include, or that I sent to knowing it wouldn't be included because I haven't advertised with them for a year or so. 

If others have had the same experiences in the past they too may not bother sending press releases to certain magazines.  Does that then mean there are great products/events/services out there that we as magazine readers aren't being told about simply because they choose not to advertise?

From what I understand this practice isn't limited to just the sewing industry, it seems to be the same in many industries.

Then you get onto the magazines asking people to write for them for free....but I'll save that for another post.  This one has run on enough already.  Please do comment below, let me know what you think?  Have you found the same thing or do you get features regardless of whether you advertise?


Sarah Harper said...

Thanks for posting this, I have had an interesting day debating this issue. I think my main problem with this practice is as a consumer who feels a little jaded. I understand that magazines need advertising to remain afloat especially in the current climate but surely if you have good trustworthy content companies will want to advertise with you? Although I assume when sales teams look for companies to approach for editorial or advertising they must has some criteria and it has to be in line with the magazines existing ethos & look. Maybe I should take it as flattery if a magazine I admire likes my products and offers me the chance to advertise but I can never be sure if it is genuine. I am looking forward to seeing what others think on this.

Sharon Williams said...

I don't have a business but find this frustrating as a consumer. I know not to rely on recommendations in glossy magazines because they are editorially restricted by advertisers. I have seen recommendations of a journalist's business in newspaper articles that do not give 'full disclosure'. Naive of me to assume that craft magazines are different. There are so any interesting products, companies and individuals out there that it is a shame to limit the scope of articles for crafters through advertising. Magazines may need to stay afloat but they will lose consumers if they are unable to be independent of advertising. Crafters seem to have a powerful web presence and we will get our information elsewhere.

Stephanie said...

Interesting read Fiona - Thank you. I haven't come across this yet although I have been asked to run a give-away following a press release (which is much better as it costs less!). What I have found however is that advertising in magazines is VERY expensive and that I don't even cover my costs - Much better for getting your message out there is Social Media - I use Facebook and Twitter - I really think the magazines will have to up their game on social media and offer retailers an alternative to "Print" advertising . Stephanie @ www.elephantinmyhandbag.com

The Sewing Directory said...

Thanks for all your comments. I agree Sharon I think it happens in all industries which is a shame :-(

Magazine advertising is very expensive Stephanie you have to be sure you're going to get something back from it before investing that amount of money.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting read.
Have to say as a consumer, who reads magazines for info about my craft, I feel a bit duped. Without thinking much about it I assumed that the magazine were searching out and presenting the best of what is out there.. but now I realise that in many cases this isn't true (or only true if you pay for the privilege of being promoted). I have had my eyes opened.
I'm now wondering if sewing blogs might be going the same way. Defintely read some who only promote their sponsors or friends (when better stockists/ services are available). It's not that they do this that annoys me but that it is often presented as an unbiased recommendation - which it isn't.

There really should be more disclosure.

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