Adam T. Sutton

‘Black Hat’ PR: Buying Your Placements

There’s a ‘black hat’ marketing technique that predates search marketing, search engines and the Internet itself. It’s buying press. We’re all familiar with it.

Publishers try to avoid compromising editorial integrity at all costs, I thought.  But maybe I’m naive. A recent AdvertisingAge article on buying press says otherwise.

The good news is that the majority of respondents say they play by the rules. But there is plenty of bad news in the survey as well.

Almost one in five (19%) of the 252 respondents to a PRWeek Marketing Management Survey said they’ve bought advertising from a publisher in exchange for press. Another 8% have bribed an editor or producer for a news story and 10% have engaged in “implicit/non-verbal” bribes. And the percentage of marketers that say they bribe is up from last year’s survey.

Those statistics are surprising. Buying press is risky. You might get a prime time feature for a $1,000 handshake. Or you might be the lead in a story on editorial corruption, which could end up with you in court.

Fortunately, the survey says most marketers stick to the rules. They follow proven marketing strategies. They follow the law.

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