Product Reviews In Magazines

In today’s world, printed magazines are pretty much useless when it comes to news. You have a much better chance of getting to know the latest stuff off Twitter, not even blogs, let alone printed magazines. If there is one thing that magazines still do a pretty good job at, its the product reviews. At least that was what I thought till I read the digital version of the September issue of Desktop Engineering.

The cover mentioned a review of aesthetica 3.3 from Icona Solutions. The review was written by Neil McLeod who was described as follows at the end of the article:

Neil McLeod is a UK-based marketing and communications consultant who specializes in the design and engineering software applications marketplace.

A marketing and communications consultant writing a product review of a software “for auditing and improving the perceived quality of manufactured products“. Awesome!

But come to think of it, Neil is probably perfectly suited to write this product review. You know why? Because he happens to be the same person who writes the press releases for Icona Solutions. Yes, he is their PR guy. This press release ended with his contact information and a note stating “Images available from Neil McLeod on request.

So here we have a PR guy writing a review of a product developed by a company that pays him to write its press releases. And the editors at Desktop Engineering didn’t even think it unwise to let him put his name to it. Desktop Engineering might as well start publishing press releases as product reviews.

This is the pits. Journalism has gone to the dogs.

  • ralphg

    The German-language “AutoCAD Magazin” has been letting vendors write the articles for years now. (OTOH, they are the only CAD magazine to still have me on their mailing list.)

    The first media kit for Cadence magazine allowed vendors to purchase four pages of editorial for $1,000 — or was it the other way around? (1986 is such a long time ago.)

    Not all publishers are idealists like us, Deelip. For many, it is just business, for whom the purpose of “editorial” is to fill those otherwise blank areas around the ads.

    It would not surprise me if Icona Solutions had to pay Design Engineering to place the article.

  • Better his name and contact details appear Deelip, than not. To have not shown his connection would have been ‘deceptive’: now his view will be just taken ‘with a grain of salt’.

  • Neil

    I think cases like the one you highlight here are appalling.
    As a user I always make a point of saying exactly what I think about SW regardless of the company’s self interest.
    Good on you for exposing these corrupt practices.

  • Neil

    btw I like your site 😉

  • I agree, it sucks, but it’s nothing new and it’s not confined to printed publications. Not all printed publications are whores, and not all bloggers/tweeps/whatever are purest virgins.

    This has nothing to do with the medium and everything to do with the ethics of the “publisher”, whatever that means for today’s various media. The only reason it doesn’t yet happen quite so blatantly in Twitter is that PR firms can’t fit a “product review” into 140 characters. They can fit in a link, though…

    Also, I agree with Paul that it’s better to have his name in there than not.

  • Did you happen to see my review in the same issue? same thoughts? 😉

  • Yup, I did see your review in that issue. Different thoughts on that one.

    I thought that review was a nice one but a bit incomplete without Bricscad. I wonder why you left that one out.

  • Could have done one on Bricscad itself. They definitely stand out in that market. The assignment was for the three, I added DraftSight because of the relation to Graebert. Didn’t know if DE would go for it, but they liked it.

  • Daniel

    Saving the best for last ?