Monday, February 27, 2006

Question of the week (#2)

What role should editors play with regards to advertorials?

At our recent meeting on editorial ethics, there seemed to be an agreement that editors should know of the advertorials to run in their magazines but should not be involved with their production. But the real world of b2b publishing isn't so cut and dry, many attendees at the meeting admitted that the editors on their publications were frequently involved with the production of advertorials.

With this knowledge in hand, here are a few additional questions to ponder:
Should editors, freelancers, the sales team or advertisers write them?
How should these pages be designed?
Should they be labeled as advertorials?

Please feel free to share your thoughts. This forum is not limited to members; all are welcome to participate. And, if you missed the last question of the week, read it here.


Paul Conley said...

Hi Spring,
I'm quite sure that it is true that folks at the meeting "admitted that the editors on their publications were frequently involved with the production of advertorials."
But it still breaks my heart.
This is one of those areas were I don't see any room for compromise. Nor does ASBPE. Nor does American Business Media. Both organizations discuss the inappropriateness of such activity in their ethics statements.
It's also worth noting that there is no compelling business reason to push editors to produce advertorials. That work can be done easily and well by freelancers (and freelancers are inexpensive.) The cost of outsourcing that work is simply a cost of doing business. If an advertorial can't turn a profit without corrupting the ethics of the editorial staff, then the publication should put its resources into another product.
In other words...and let me be brutally frank here...there is no reason to put up with this. Ever.
If editors are facing pressure on this issue, I'd urge them to read the suggestions I've published on my blog here:

Spring Suptic said...

Thanks, Paul, and you make some excellent points in your blog post on the subject.

The fact that people working on the business side might not know journalism ethics is a point Angie Gates, a sales rep at my company, brought up at our meeting. It's something that I think many editors fail to consider (myself included). We know the rules and assume they do too.

After the meeting, Angie told me that the trade publications in her industry have an association. They have established norms and agreed lines than none of them will cross. This allows them to be firmer with advertisers, and adds that transparency that is so important.