Our budget cuts mean we don’t have enough stories to fill the pages of the paper. Should we accept PR stories and advertorials or risk criticism from readers and loss of revenue due to fewer readers?
Print. Fewer. Pages. Take on more conventional advertising if we have to. But under no circumstances should we print PR stories or advertorials. Ads masquerading as news are at once sleazy, misleading, and reputation-damaging, and we would do well to distance ourselves from the practice as much as possible.
JRN F101 — Wyman — Summer Week 5, Discussion 4 of 4
I think the question as to whether or not we accept PR stories and advertorials be addressed by upper management as well as staff. Do we have an existing policy? If not, then the topic needs to be discussed. It is common practice for many newspapers to have advertorials and press release generated stories as both sources of revenue and content. Perhaps a reader/subscriber poll would help guide the decision. If our reader base would be more disenfranchised and we’d lose newsstand and subscriber revenue more than what we’d take in from running the advertorials, etc., I think that would help us make the call. Regardless, I think we need to have a clear policy on how such content is placed in the paper and labeled so readers know the difference between actual news stories and the PR content.
This is a good point and I think you were one of the only people to mention it. The staff should be asked to see what their take is on it or if there was previous opposition in a policy made. For some businesses, PR could work well with their agenda.
In some cases, PR stories can drop the number of readers. At the same time, if the stories cater to the readers’ general interests and give our company a good face, why not add them? While ads can be obnoxious, we can generate revenue from people putting their ads in our papers. If they are local business, it could really add to the number of readers we have and the diversity of readers. I do like S. Tordoff’s comment about printing fewer pages. We could print fewer to save some money but also fill up some of the remaining pages with those PR stories and ads. The worst that could happen is we could see a decline in readers. Then we could simply delete those pages that were causing us trouble. Since we have not tried the PR and ads approach before, I think it’s a risk worth taking. It will not sink us.
I agree, I think its a risk well worth it. You make an excellent point of targeting the local businesses. If we do this it may in fact spark interest rather then lessen our readers interest. Buying local has become quite popular with everything being mass produced by big corporations now a days. Our readers may appreciate the highlight of local companies they recognize and they make an effort to shop at.
lets print the same crap different day and hope no one notices, LOL, funny, because here is the reality people pay for new information not old information, and if we as a company want to just keep reprinting, then what we are really doing is putting ourselves out of a job, I mean would you pay the same price for an item from one year ago as you would something brand new today? I think not, so lets try not to pass that junk to our readers, if we can not put a new spin on an old idea then I think it is better to play safe and not do it at all, because again in my opinion if we do it once and get away with it what are the chances of not making it common business practice for the future of our company, I mean we do have an honest reputation to uphold don’t we?
I don’t think we should risk our reputation by filling our paper with press releases and advertorials. I think we can come up with better ways to fill our paper. One suggestion I have is to invite the public to write stories for us. This would be a good way for the journalism students at the local college to showcase their talents. It would also be an avenue for other local people to share what is going on in our community. Who knows, the local writers section could become very popular and even increase our readership. That, in turn, would mean more profitability for our paper. I’m sure our staff can come up with enough ideas that we don’t have to sacrifice our paper to PRs and advertorials.
I am not a fan of adding PR stories and advertorials. It seems like a short term answer to a long term problem. If we don’t have information to fill our pages or money for more stories than we need to seriously look at what we are doing wrong and how we can fill our pages with real news or use the idea previously mentioned of making a smaller paper or a paper with more input from the community.
We need to not print ads that disguise themselves as real stories. Readers are getting savy to this and they are getting pissed. If we do this, we may make some money for a month, maybe even a few quarters, but we will see a negative regression in the future.
I believe that if we accept Public Relation (PR) stories and advertorials our newspaper we will not alienate our readers and lose revenue. Although advertorials are primarily used in magazines as an advertising medium, I believe incorporating them in our newspaper will set us apart from our competitors and help the bottom line. Adding advertorials to our paper will more than compensate from any possible reduction in readership. It would also be necessary to ensure that these advertorials are not controversial in nature. As well, additional PR stories will also enhance the readers experience as they can be beneficial to our readers if the appropriate stories are published. We can also benefit from the increased revenues these types of media generate. It is not guaranteed that we will lose readers due to PR stories and advertorials, but it’s a very small risk that we should be willing to take to overcome our budget shortfalls. I expect PR stories targeted to our readership will actually enhance our newspapers’ circulation because these community-based, general stories can provide valuable public service information to our readers.
We need to accept PR stores and advertorials. Many other companies do this and retain just as many readers as they previously did. If we print fewer stories/don’t have enough stories to fill the pages, that will irritate our consumers more than a few PR stories or advertorials. It’s still a story for them to read and it allows them to get our opinion on certain products or PR stories, and it helps to make sure we don’t lose customers and won’t lose as much money on if we printed blank pages.
If we print fewer pages, are we going to change our costs / charge to our readers? Because let’s be honesty — if we go from a 100 page magazine to say a 60 page magazine, but we’re still charging the full price of 100 pager, readers are going to be angry. And magazine ads can be worked into our material, possibly even promote more stories and generate more buzz. Let’s get the PR stories and the advertisements in there, keep our margins up, and keep / gather more readers for our audience.
I think either way we will have to accept criticism from our readers. If we cut back and only produce what we can afford our paper will become incredibly thin, and our viewers won’t like it. They will recall back to what we once were and will become less appreciative of our ability to provide news articles. I think we should accept PR stories and advertorials but learn how to incorporate them in a new manner. We should do more research on the delivery and format of our paper. Possibly learning new ways to highlight our actual material and ways to make the PR stories and advertorials less attractive leading our viewers right to the material we want them to enjoy without all the unfortunately necessary filler. We would sill be producing a full reading paper and making more money while not compromising the content of our paper.
I think the simplest way to do this would just be to not print as many pages. If you can’t fill them all up, condense the paper instead of bringing in articles that the viewers may not like. Keep the faithful audience and don’t change too much about the newspaper. I believe it is better to just have fewer pages in the paper then to have articles that could be poorly written or not to the consistent viewers standards. Yes if it is a drastic change in the amount of pages that are filled, there could have to be some discussion on the price but I don’t thin it would have to be much. It would still be a good quality papers. I think PR stories could very well turn away some of the papers audience just because it hasn’t been done until now and many faithful readers read because they like how it is now and do not want things to change about it.
The Haveman Chronicle (Summer)
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