The other day I wrote a really cool blog for a client, relating their subject matter with a popular TV show. As I would if I still worked at a newspaper, I reached out to the media relations folks at the network to get some photos to run with the piece. Here’s a paraphrased summary of the conversation I had with a couple different people there:
Me: Hi, I’m reaching out from this site, which publishes this and this, and we’re writing an article that relates to your show. Would you be able to provide us with some photos for this piece?
Them: OK, we only provide content to the media.
Me: Right, we are a publisher, and this would be for editorial purposes only.
Them: Sorry, that’s not our protocol. We wouldn’t consider this a media outlet.
Me: OK, I’m not sure I understand why. You are probably familiar with sites like this, such as those published by Casper, Red Bull and United Airlines, which all create content as do traditional media outlets. Many of them employ professional journalists. I’m a former newspaper reporter myself.
Them: Since Red Bull, United Airlines, etc. are brands, and not editorial outlets, any coverage they created would not be considered editorial – even if it is written that way. I’d be happy to put you in touch with someone in our marketing/advertising department.
At this point, I was so dumbfounded, I stared at my keyboard trying to pick apart the logic of this statement.
Is The New York Times not a brand? Is it Red Bull’s fault it’s a diversified company? What is your definition of “editorial” or “media” in the first place?
I used to work at a newspaper whose parent company had holdings in petroleum and bottling factories. Does that mean our newspaper was not editorial, because our parent company sold oil and soda? Of course not.
Sure, I completely understand this perception. But, you’d think that at least someone in media would have a more nuanced concept of what’s happening in the industry. I asked if we could schedule a chat so I could discuss their policy, and maybe offer some insight that might help inform a more modern policy, and I’m waiting for them to take me up on the offer.
This is actually not in their best interest, either. I have to believe the only reason they were caught off guard by this is because most other content marketing outlets don’t ask permission for artwork from TV shows and movies. Denying these publishers a legitimate way to get images for their content probably further contributes to illegitimate ways of copying and re-purposing artwork.
In the meantime, this is just another hurdle for content marketing outlets trying to gain legitimacy. If we’re not given the same permissions as “traditional media,” that’s just another arbitrary barrier holding us back. Just didn’t think we’d be facing challenges within our own industry.