ABMInsider | Earned media isn’t free publicity

Published: Thu, 11/17/22

November 17, 2022

Dear ABMInsider,

I’ve run into the strangest phenomenon of late. People whose names and companies have appeared in the magazine, writing to tell me how much they enjoy our product… how much attention they’ve gained from the exposure… how honoured they are to be featured in the magazine… They don’t merely like us; they LOVE us. They just don’t want to have to pay for us.

They don’t have a subscription, then get annoyed because our content is paywalled. They don’t advertise; not because we’re too expensive (our online rates start at a modest $300/month)—they say they don’t “believe” in paid advertising. No, they’re all about the “earned media”.

Earned media… don’t get me started.

I often get approached by companies and individuals asking me to write stories about them. We only do six issues a year, so I have to be very selective about which stories we cover. If a pitch is sufficiently newsworthy or relevant to the theme of the issue, I’ll probably follow up. The other way to win space in Atlantic Business is by entering one of our awards programs. You can’t buy editorial coverage (unless it’s in the form of duly labeled sponsored content), but you can “earn” it.

And, you know what? I’m delighted to be introduced to interview subjects who can make our publication a richer product for your readers. Absolutely, 100%. But if you’re one of those companies or individuals who does happen to make it into the magazine, and you readily acknowledge how powerful we are as a publication, but you don’t expect to have to pay anything for… anything… doesn’t that strike you as odd?

As both editor and business co-owner, I’m in a strange position. The editor in me is dedicated to journalistic integrity; the business owner has to figure out how to pay for things. We are, after all, a business and I’m not ashamed to say we want to make money.

Here's the thing: every single issue of Atlantic Business Magazine requires a minimum two months of effort. That’s time spent on research, interviews, transcription, writing, editing, layout and design. Then there’s printing and distribution, plus online publication. That’s what it takes to produce an award-winning product with fresh, insightful information.

Bottom line? Earned media isn’t free publicity. It comes at a significant cost—to us. Something to think about.
Dawn Chafe
Executive editor & co-owner
[email protected]

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