Publications and broadcasters are increasingly turning to public relations campaigns to promote themselves – but is this a conflict of interest? The BBC’s promotion of its own programmes within the news agenda is a prime example – especially when “pseudo-news” tactics are used to portray as hard news what would be viewed suspiciously as puff if originating from other sources.
Leading consumer car magazine, What Car? is launching its own vehicle warranty to consumers (using media relations to get other publications to report this initiative). How can a publication undertake objective reports on such topics when they have a vested interest? Does it lose credibility in writing about those companies providing the service under the publication’s brand name? And why would other media wish to “plug” a rival? In securing deals with the media, are the marketing departments further devaluing the benefits that independent endorsement brings? Does anybody care?