Andrew Grant [founder of Tulchan Communications] argued in a recent blog post that it is time to ‘look again’ at the relationship between newspapers and PR agencies.
By this he presumably means that agencies should pay newspapers (via the licenses offered by NLA Media Access) less, but for the same service.
One can hardly blame him for wanting to reduce his outgoings – but there should be stronger reasons than the ones he offers. As he says, financial journalists get a very good and helpful service from many companies and their PR agencies, as do their counterparts in other sectors.
But this service is not offered on a charitable basis: companies and agencies want and value the profile and coverage that the media offer.
In exactly the same way, agencies and clients take out NLA licences because they get value from the content publishers produce.
Unlike taxation (a false analogy Andrew makes) it is a matter of choice whether to copy newspaper content or not.
If a business makes commercial use of published content by copying, then it is only fair to pay – either by buying an NLA licence or seeking a direct licence from the publisher.
And the cost is not exorbitant; NLA Media Access fees make up a tiny fraction of PR industry revenue. The majority of these fees go directly back to publishers - in 2013, that equated to 1,000 journalists.
Given the symbiotic nature of the two industries, jeopardising the small but important publisher revenue stream NLA licenses generate in order to pad out the profit margins of the PR industry would be unwise.
The result of these licenses is that news brands can continue to invest in the journalism that Andrew’s clients need. And that is good for our media, for the PR industry, and society at large.
David Pugh is MD of NLA Media Access