Need some positive media mentions (in China)? Just pay up. The New York Times has some real journalism today that claims the Chinese edition of Esquire, which has a licensing agreement with the magazine’s U.S. publisher Hearst, works regularly with American PR firms to plant “soft news,” a.k.a. advertising, masked as real articles. And it doesn’t just happen in print, although it is a bit expensive:
Want a profile of your chief executive to appear in the Chinese version of Esquire? That will be about $20,000 a page, according to the advertising department of the magazine, which has a licensing agreement with the Hearst Corporation in the United States.
Need to get your top executive on a news program by state-run China Central Television? Pay $4,000 a minute, says a network consultant who arranges such appearances.
A flattering article about your company in Workers’ Daily, the Communist Party’s propaganda newspaper? About $1 per Chinese character, the paper’s advertising agent said.
And beyond China? “Media outlets in Europe, Japan, the Philippines, Latin America and even the United States may venture into various gray areas, encouraging companies to pay for journalists’ travel or underwriting favorable reporting or agreeing to take out advertising packages in exchange for coverage.” Even in America, you say? Well, I never!