Paul Grayson on Pay for Play

I asked Paul Grayson if he wanted to comment on the discussion on my post titled “Paul Grayson on the CAD Media” about his comments on pay for play. This is what he had to say:

I do think I may have inadvertently “tarred” all CAD journalists with the same brush, which was not my intent. There are definitely a few publications I can name outright, such as Design News, Cadalyst and Machine Design that have never asked for pay-for-play. In fact, the separation of church and state regarding the sales team and the editorial staff is clear and obvious when dealing with them.

Pay for play has happened frequently in our experience. It can be explicit, where a magazine specifically promises coverage of a press release or case study in exchange for an advertising commitment. It can also be more subtle, such as on press tours where the publishers and editors both attend the meetings and a significant part of the discussion is around how the companies “can work together.” It is also very common for magazine sales reps to aggressively pursue advertising commitments, after receiving a press release, with an implied linkage to coverage.

We have experienced this more than a few times with several publications. The take away is that it’s simply a fact, and while there are a few unbiased, trustworthy sources that maintain editorial integrity, there are also those that are on wholly on the other side of the coin. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more of the former.

Generalizing that traditional media is dead and that no one reads their publications was also probably overly broad. We advertise occasionally in print specifically to get in front of their users. There’s no denying that traditional print CAD publications are succumbing to the same trend that other traditional paper publications are seeing – users are going online, less people are purchasing magazines, newspapers or things they can hold in their hands. As such, many are being forced to make difficult decisions, and unfortunately some of the outcomes are more intended to keep the organization afloat than to convey the least biased story possibly to the reader base.

As a software developer, I have received my fair share of pay for play offers. Here is part of an email exchange that I had a few months ago with a UK based print magazine called Process, Engineering, Control & Maintenance.

Deelip: Can you explain “Full Colour A4 Editorial Feature Page available within a prime position within the editorial matter”. Do you mean that the article that we submit to you will be featured as an editorial, or will it be separated from the editorial and appear as an article written by us?

Editor: Yes the article that you submit, will be featured within relevant editorial matter, all we would require is a couple of colour images along with up to six hundred words of text approx, please let me know as soon as possible if you would like me to reserve this page for you.

In fact, I wrote about this earlier (see “Pay For Play“). Normally I would not take names like I have done in this post. But today I noticed that a page on their web site (click the “Rates and Data” link on the left navigation bar) which explains the file formats to be used when sending them editorial text and images. As you can see, for £85 you can get your product featured in the editorial. But that would get you only 60 to 80 words of text and no images.

The email exchange above was about getting 600 words into the editorial with two images and the price was £350. And by the way, that was actually a discounted rate. Apparently, at that time the normal price for 600 words and a couple of images in an editorial was £1,445. Or so I was told.

I really am not interested in taking any more names. I did so only because (1) I don’t give a shit about that particular magazine; and (2) in a comment, Nancy Johnson of Cadalyst suggested that this whole idea of pay for play was a figment of my imagination. I am hoping that has now been put to rest.