Marketers Admit to Engaging in Media Pay for Play

According to a survey of 252 U.S. chief marketing officers, nearly one in five "say their organizations have bought advertising in return for a news story." The survey was conducted on behalf of the public relations firm Manning, Selvage & Lee (MSL) and the trade publication PR Week (which doesn't appear to have reported on the results). "The survey also found that 10 percent of senior marketers said their organizations have had an implicit / non-verbal agreement with a reporter or editor that anticipated favorable coverage of their company or products in exchange for advertising," states an MSL press release. MSL's Mark Hass called the widespread use of pay for play "troubling," as "without full disclosure and transparency, media lose credibility and their value as an unbiased source of information." More than half of survey respondents also disagreed with the statement that marketers are "following ethical guidelines in new media more than they did a year ago."


Media Marketing is a relatively new concept utilized by businesses in developing an online community, which allows satisfied customers to congregate and extol the virtues of a particular brand. In most cases, the online community includes mechanisms such as blogs, podcasts, message boards, and product reviews, all of which contribute to a transparent forum to post praises, criticisms, questions, and suggestions.

Although businesses would be exposing certain weaknesses to the marketplace by allowing individuals, or even competitors, to post critical comments, responding with an honest and transparent answer designed around solving the issue at hand may mitigate potential risks.