Published On: Fri, Oct 4th, 2013

Sorry to bug you.

By: Douglas Heizer

The Boca Raton Tourist season is upon us!

A lot of social events, great entertainment productions. Good new restaurants and old ones with some new menus, and wonderful new businesses.douglas news 1

Amazing investments in new venues and one thing in common:  A lot of public relations professionals continue to send us press releases asking for free ink or free bits in our newspapers in exchange for free tickets or free lunches.

We at Tribune Community News, began making a few changes a little more than a year ago and a lot of people didn’t understand the message we sent. No free lunches and no tickets to us. We need your Ad dollars the same way you need customer dollars.

If a company is willing to pay a PR person, I will strongly recommend why don’t you have a budget allocated to pay the people who publish the press releases that the companies sent?

Why should we, the media, work for free?

Some public relations professionals sound ridiculous when they insist that “this is a ‘must-have’ for the newspaper” and then, maybe if they have extra money, we get some advertising. Normally newspapers support who supports them, not the other way around. This is really an inversion of values. We can generate business for them.

Some go far beyond ethical lines and try to give money to editors and supporters in exchange for “favors”.

Thankfully, this is the minority. I’m also thankful that we have a lot of serious professionals who value their partnership with the media and support them with ads.

Some time ago, a public relations company invited us to try their client’s newest menu. As always, I asked them why don’t they place ads. They said that the customer doesn’t believe in advertising in local newspapers because they not reach their customers. Then I simply asked her why did they want to have their news in a newspaper that they did not believe “reached their customers”. We refused the “free lunch”.

A couple weeks ago another public relation company said that their customer did not place ads in our newspaper because we are not a “tangible newspaper”. However they keeping send us press releases for all their customers. I simply asked them to stop sending us emails because I don’t understand why they want ink from a “non tangible newspaper”. Interesting enough none of their customers ever placed an ad in our newspaper.

This week, another public relations professional inadvertently copied me in her email to a customer. After she sent me an email blast telling all the “wonderful things” their great group is doing. I simply replied asking if they would be interested in placing ads in our paper as I always do. I understood that the customer forwarded my email to her and she wrote back to the client (and copied me by mistake): “Sorry for his email (my email), he keeps bugging me asking for ads.“

I answered back with a sorry note from my email and did ask her not to bug our newspaper again with their “awesome” write ups. She didn’t email back.

Let’s make a deal once for all:

Dear publicist, you don’t bug me, I don’t bug you. If you want to work for free, I congratulate you. However, I can’t.  Don’t think that you are smarter than everyone else. Everybody in Boca has already seen this story over and over again. Businesses that don’t invest money in local advertising and only in public relations firms to survive, don’t last very long. This is a team game; don’t lie to your customers telling them that you will generate business for them. Don’t kill your golden egg chicken.

Business owners who have ears, listen to this warning.

See you next time


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