This article is a guest contribution by Patricia Burton, Communications Manager with Royal LePage Canada.
Media has long hung its hat on upholding what they call “editorial integrity.” Most of us would accept this stance since the view is product mentions at every turn would result in a diminishment of reader trust, and perhaps hurt us all.
The problem is, in the process, our media friends are riding on the back of the work of the PR community – for free, and at our expense, as is the example with News Canada stories.
While the News Canada stories and photos we generate are a free service to media – and one that newsrooms across the country are increasingly turning to in light of severe reductions in newsroom staff — conglomerates such as Metroland Community newspapers and Sun Media appear to be taking full advantage.
Proof and point, from an assessment done on 38 stories Royal LePage Canada published through News Canada last month, community newspaper giants have edited our name mention or website out of every one – using the story otherwise verbatim, including the use of our iStock photos. While this is done in the name of editorial integrity, many would question the ethics of such practices.”
News Canada claims their hands are tied in such matters, and while they “encourage” their media patrons to include the sponsors’ names as provided, they say little can be done. News editors are purists, we’re told. The net impact on Royal LePage’s efforts alone last month was 1,293,640 lost impressions, making our News Canada campaign less than 50 per cent effective.
Perhaps it’s time for PR types to find a solution, or even limit the use of our stories to where value can be found. For our part, we have asked News Canada to consider our request to include a statement that asks media to contact us for permission to use our stories without name mention. If that doesn’t fly, we’re open to ideas, but determined to see some change in the practise.
It’s also important to note that News Canada will be instituting a policy of not providing clips to companies and PR agencies when name mention has been omitted. For our part, we would like to continue to see them, otherwise what we don’t know, will hurt us.