Similar to PR, Journalism ...


The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of people working in PR at 218,910 (as of May 2015).

Some of these folks are extraordinary. Others communicate with the finesse of a carnival barker. Most fall somewhere in between.

For the sake of discussion, let’s say that 3 percent of the PR population falls into one of the extremes. That means we’ve got 6,567 individuals who will make stupid mistakes, sometimes provoking the ire of a journalist who uses it as Exhibit A to explain what’s wrong with the PR industry. I wrote about this a few years ago, with my favorite being the Business Insider piece, “Dear PR Lady: Here’s Why I Didn’t Open Any of Your 3 Email Pitches.”

Of course, PR never showcases the bottom 3 percent of journalism. Who wants to bite the appendage that feeds it?

That would be me.

A pitch by one of our account folks to AUTO Connected Car News brought the following auto reply:

You recently contacted our editor at AUTO Connected Car News either with an announcement, or request for an interview at CES/NAIAS or a contributed article. You may have sent us several requests to write about your company, client or topic.

If you would like a bylined article from you or your client with one graphic and one link the fee is $200 as long as it on a topic related to connected cars and well-written to AP guidelines. The article will be published on AUTO Connected Car News.

If you would like our editor, Lynn Walford to interview you, your client or one person from the company that wants to featured in the article, the fee is $400 with no edits from the client or pr agency. It includes one graphic, one link and and a sidebar ad for one month.

For more details about AUTO Connected Car News read

All the most recent information about our publication is available on the about page.

I added the highlighter for those who prefer to skip to the punch line.

Also note the requirement to be “well-written to AP guidelines,” which obviously doesn’t apply to the publication’s auto-reply email. By our count, the note contains at least three misses (as long as it “is” // that wants to “be” // one link and and, as well as some missing commas.)

Look, I know the business of journalism has experienced tough times since Craig’s List eviscerated the revenue from classified advertising. The fact that an online publication like Gigaom couldn’t make the numbers work illustrates the struggle to find a business model that both produces quality journalism and keeps the light turned on.

Gigaom logo

Many media properties hope to find salvation in staging conferences or native advertising or both. The quest to crack code on how to make money at journalism continues.

Still, I was surprised that AUTO Connected Car News has settled on the model known by that scientific term, “pay for play.” On the positive side, I applaud the publication’s transparency.

Is the publication “the premier source for news about connected cars and vehicles” as the masthead claims?

If sentence syntax on the website is any indication, the answer would seem to be no:

“The connected car market is growing exponentially and there is new news every day that is breaking fresh and original.”

News by definition is information that didn’t exist before, so adding “new” as a modifying is redundant.

And while I appreciate the riff of “Breaking Bad,” the phrase “breaking fresh” doesn’t quite work (perhaps they forgot the word “ground” as in “breaking fresh ground.”).

I don’t want to come across as picking on AUTO Connected Car News.

My point is, journalism comes in all shapes and sizes, some of which will inevitably fall in that lower 3 percent.

Like any other profession.


  • Frank Strong

    The trade pubs have always been pay-to-play, but with a nod and a wink. You could still earn media, but you’d get a lot more if the client ran some ads. Lately, though, it’s gone over the top. Recently, a trade publisher called me to pitch a “paid” speaking spot at a conference in NY. So as a small agency, not only do we spend copious amounts of time putting together a good presentation (I’m not one to wing it), but I’m also going to pay for a speaking slot along with a flight from Atlanta to NYC and possible a night of accommodations too? I don’t think so. I was, well, pretty frank, about the economics of her proposal not to mention I think it’s a bad idea to choose presenters for their checkbooks rather than the quality of message, or lessons to share. She was indignant.

    • Lou Hoffman

      To quote the late Dennis Hopper, “there’s a lot of bad stuff out there.” No question, the quest for revenue is causing much of it in the business of journalism.

  • George

    Very funny post Lou, as ever ‘breaking fresh stuff’. It’s a shame in any industry when its blighted by that 3%. For example, I’ve come across lots of people who have had a bad experience with PR – paying over the odds to get pretty poor coverage or companies paying agencies ludicrous sums to just manage their social media accounts (normally to an adequate standard). The problem is these negative stories often stick and override the positive stories in these people’s minds.


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