Although the economy is beginning to pick up, advertising budgets are lagging somewhat. This makes it tough on publishers, many of whom continue to struggle to make money. I’m not going to delve too deeply into the well-worn publishers argument that says if you believe PR works in a particular publication then you should also invest in advertising, although it is fundamentally true that if we don’t have sufficient advertising investment then there won’t be any publications to carry PR.

So what can publishers do? Well many are becoming increasingly aggressive to companies that don’t advertise. One [high quality] publication has said that they will “act appropriately when considering editorial coverage” for a client who has advertised with them in the relatively recent past, but doesn’t have them on the schedule this year. Another publication (not in the electronics industry) has sent out a PowerPoint presentation that can only be described as a crude, over-the-top hatchet job on its competitors. This presentation “analysed” a competitive title and included the comment “Perhaps charging for a subscription is a sign they are getting less support from their advertisers?” It promptly claimed on the next slide that their own paid-for circulation represented high quality readers!

What’s the solution? I hope that both sides will step back and become more reasonable. Good advertising campaigns work. Good news stories benefit the publication and the readers as well as the company being promoted. I just hope that we don’t end up either having to negotiate editorial coverage when we place advertising schedules and equally that trade publications don’t end up being a footnote in the Wikipedia article on the tragedy of the commons