Guest Blogger Peter Vezey, or The PR Man as he is better known, has spent 25 years advising companies in the UK cleaning industry on Marketing Matters. Peter has agreed to be our very first Guest Blogger and we are very proud to have someone of his vast experience.
The words of the latest government radio commercials to fight Internet scams - “If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is”, is equally relevant to some of the free circulation business magazines offers that I receive every day.
I have spent over 25 years as Public Relations Consultant to cleaning and FM clients and remember the launch of the first FM magazine (PFM) when there was only one cleaning magazine (C&M).
There is a plethora of trade magazines in the cleaning, FM, hotel, education, retail and business sectors including some rather ‘iffy’ titles. If you know your media, you know which ones work, but busy clients often get caught buying some fantastic magazines deals.
We have more trade publications per sector than any other country in the world and who reads them is something publishers often cannot specify. The circulation is as good as its distribution list which depends on the frequency that it is cleansed by the publisher and whether it goes to named individuals.
There are two categories of media worth considering – the electronic publications with measurable click-throughs and those that have an independent audited circulation – an ABC figure which is the measurement tool used by national daily papers. There are a few publications without an ABC that you know has good circulation such as official trade association journals.
The future of media
Once the many poor quality business publications have finally failed and disappeared, I believe that the good ones will survive with both hard copy and on-line versions. In less than ten years time I think that there will be a 50-50 split between print and on-line. Tomorrow’s Cleaning and the Cleanzine are is a little ahead of their time as on-line magazine missionaries. Tomorrow’s Cleaning has illustrated the benefits of a real editor speaking to its audience and product demonstrations on video clips attached to advertisements.
My second major prediction is that the speed of future growth and success of e-magazines is dependent on the development of the iPad and other products now under development.
Getting the call
A busy client receives a cold call - the magazine name sounds impressive and appears to cover a wide field. The introductory offer price is too good to be true BUT a decision has to be made TODAY. The client thinks it is a bargain and bingo, another one is fooled.
Now that the new title has taken £x, 000 from budget from other reputable magazines, these are now short of revenue so how can they earn some money quickly? The solution is the colour separation scam – or editorial blackmail.
When I submit editorial material to magazines I provide a photo to illustrate it. Enter Milly the seps chick. Milly is commission based and has to fill 10 pages of editorial with paid for news releases. So, you get a long sales pitch about the editor liking your copy and wanting to publish it in a good position (usually the graveyard at the back just before the classifieds) but unfortunately there is a charge for colour separations.
Without getting technical, magazines no longer make four colour separations of each photo – pages are scanned which costs only time.
The result of this scam is that clients have realised that the ‘seps scam budget’ has become a major item of marketing expenditure. The marketeer has to find this from somewhere and that is usually the advertising budget. The advertising budget, becomes the ‘seps scam’ budget and now have a shortfall of advertising revenue. Nobody wins.
Scams to watch out for
The dodgy, sorry I should say ‘some unsubstantiated titles’ have a number of tricks you should watch out for. Here are some:
• There are business newspaper publishers – the Midlands appears to be their centre – who send ‘researchers’ out to exhibition press offices. They take one of every press release and return to work. You then receive a call every hour from one of their ‘very general magazines’ – ‘Business and…..’, Modern Industry ……etc type of titles. The reps from each magazine pass on the press kit to the next. It matters not whether the product is relevant - it’s the ‘seps’ sales that pay the commission.
• The next scam call says “I have received your press release on XYX and the editor…….. My reply is that I have never heard of the title, hence never sent them the release. Having investigated this I find that they have another trade magazine in front of them and are phoning all those who are featured
• Another scam is to first phone the PR firm and when turned down because their title stinks, they contact the client’s PA with an unbelievable offer to get money by circumnavigating the consultancy
• Other scams include accidentally invoicing twice or invoicing the client direct also
• The salesforce of the worst publishing scammers I know always opens the call with “Good morning/afternoon could I speak to the person responsible for your marketing”. If you get that one do as I do, cut the call. I have asked 30 times not to be called by this publisher.
• ‘Publisher’s statement of copies’ is worthless. I knew of a publisher who was so under-capitalised that the stairs to his flat was piled with magazines he could not afford to post but operated with a ‘publisher’s statement’ and got away with it.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Space does not allow me to say more and possibly best not to without getting beaten up, but if you become one of my clients, you will be well protected from these scams.
The best advice is to focus PR spend on media with a recognised ABC circulation. If you are really interested in an un-audited new magazine ask for a certificate of posting or a printer’s certificate of copies printed. Scammers hate that request.
The golden rules are “If in doubt – don’t” and “if you don’t know, phone a friend – or call your PR advisor.”
Peter Vezey can be contacted on 01865 865549 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Google Peter PR Man
*Apologies to anyone called Milly who sells seps - I don’t know of one – and also to the many Midlands business publications that provide genuine non-scam publications. No slur is intended on any Milly or decent Midlands media.
N.B. Opinions Expressed by Guest Bloggers are not necessarily shared by the owners of this Blog.
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