MEDIA MARKETING: Media Roundup - Mainstream media expands coverageof marketing

Once the domain of trade titles, companies' marketing plans are now

news for mainstream media outlets. David Ward looks at how the sector

has grown in the past few years.

It's been a big year for advertising and marketing reporters. Most beat

reporters spent 2001 covering cutbacks and the death of title after

title. As if that wasn't a big story in itself, the September 11 attacks

forced advertisers off the airwaves for days.

When they were permitted back, creatives were left wondering about the

right tone to use.

Such coverage is a far cry from the narrow market it was in the


"Fifteen to 20 years ago, you didn't read a lot about advertising and

marketing in The Wall Street Journal," says Fred Pfaff, president of New

York-based Fred Pfaff, Inc. "Now there's a ton of it. You're also

finding more people wanting to cover (marketing) stories in the

general-interest press."

The rising number of advertising and marketing reporters has turned this

area into a very competitive business. Every publication wants

exclusives, which means pitching requires a surgical approach rather

than a broad brush.

"The competitiveness of being the first to announce information on new

campaigns has pretty much created a quickest-draw mentality," says Clint

Garwood, account supervisor and publicist for Chicago-based Marketing

Support. "It's nice for PR people who want to place their clients'

stories, but ultimately it may leave the audience wanting more."

The leading publications in the advertising field - such as Advertising

Age, BrandWeek and AdWeek - would argue that they do offer more. In

fact, they led much of the debate and analysis that surrounded the

failure of most internet-based advertising models.

"There's a lot of soul searching going on in the industry, and a lot of

people are looking at what works online and what doesn't," notes Masha

Geller, editor-in-chief of trade outlet Media Post. Geller says

traditional print and broadcast advertising are also being scrutinized

by media buyers, although not to the same degree as their online

counterparts, since traditional outlets have a long track record of


But advertising and marketing can be a cynical business, especially

among the media buyers who hear a variety of pitches from news and

entertainment outlets looking for their dollars. Geller concedes that

some of the cynicism of media buyers about various outlets seeps into

the press, but she argues that much of it is simply a reaction to the

hype that surrounds the business.

Advertising and marketing writers are inundated with news about

"marcoms": a company's marketing plans. "My pet peeves are releases

filled with words like 'leading edge' and 'monetizing,' which isn't even

a real word," Geller adds.

Leading the charge into new markets

Lisa Skriloff, president of NY-based Multicultural Marketing Resources,

credits the advertising and marketing outlets with aggressively

expanding their coverage of the ethnic markets. "Reporters are beginning

to ask on their own about the multicultural campaign," Skriloff says.

This can often lead to deeper coverage since a brand may have one agency

handle mainstream advertising and three others on board for the

Hispanic, Asian-American, and African-American markets.

Marketing professionals are noting the increased difficulty in pitching

the media on their own stories since the September 11 attacks.

Skriloff's advice for pitching advertising reporters in this climate is

to stick to a hard news angle, and make sure that the reporters have the

story before the campaign breaks. "If you can supply the creative before

the campaign, that really helps," she says, adding, "But that's not

always easy to do given that a lot of commercials aren't finished until

right before they air."

Advertising as an economic indicator

Pfaff points out that advertising has become an important barometer for

measuring the nation's economic health, and the reporters who cover the

beat take that issue seriously. "Today, most publications have limited

space and limited appetite for non-essential news," he notes. "The

reporters are all demanding some context to it, and everybody wants to

wrap their story around an overall economy trend."

These days, however, it appears that the launch of a new campaign

doesn't necessarily warrant coverage. "There's a greater focus on

pre- and post-campaign evaluation across the board," says Scott McGaugh,

EVP of San Diego-based Matthews/Mark. "The trade publications are a lot

more outcome-oriented as opposed to output-oriented."

In the past, virtually every midsize newspaper had at least one reporter

focusing on the local ad and marketing environment. McGaugh says that

many of them have cut back this local angle in favor of nationally

syndicated coverage, although he adds that much of that slack is being

taken up by urban business journals. Outside of advertising hotbeds like

New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, advertising coverage is

often handled by general business reporters.

But nationally, advertising coverage is on the rise. Among the leading

reporters are The New York Times' Stuart Elliott, Joyce Barnathan of

Business Week, Melanie Wells of Forbes magazine, Bruce Horowitz of USA

Today, the Chicago Tribune's Jim Kirk, and Lewis Lazare of the Chicago


The list of leading trade reporters includes Geller of Media Post, Gene

Ely of Media Life, Advertising Age's Laurel Wentz, and Deborah Goldman

of AdWeek.

David Kratz, CEO of Magnet Communications, says that overall advertising

and marketing journalism has "definitely been expanding and improving

over the past few years." Furthermore, Kratz advises PR executives to

take a look at current events coverage to gain clues as to what works

and what doesn't.

The launch of new TV commercials is also gaining greater exposure in the

general interest press, but often it tends to be reviewed more for its

entertainment value than anything else. "It's a lot easier to write a

content review for a new campaign than it is to remark on the

effectiveness of the campaign or its meaningfulness to an audience,"

says Marketing Support's Garwood. "Proving impact is tricky, and much

more complex than reporting that Company X bought space on Network


This phenomena reaches a crescendo when companies compete to come up

with the most memorable ads to air during the Super Bowl. Magnet's Kratz

says this type of coverage is very valid, pointing out that how a person

reacts to an ad is very subjective and similar to how they react to a

movie, TV show, or song. "So you can treat advertising like movie


The Super Bowl ads are very much about positioning, and many don't have

a call to action," he says.



The New York Times; The Washington Post; Chicago Tribune;

Chicago Sun-Times; USA Today; Los Angeles Times


Business Week; Fortune; Forbes; New York; Red Herring


Advertising Age; Ad Week; Brand Week; Media Week; Out To

Launch; PRWeek




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