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Have You Offered To “Drive Traffic” To A Story When Pitching A Reporter?

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We haven’t yet seen a pitch like this cross our inbox, but tech reporter Tom Foremski wonders if PR pitches will begin to include statements such as, “…and we will drive traffic to that story.”

For example, a well known publicist such as Brian Solis can drive more traffic to a story via his blog, Facebook and Twitter than many journalists. For bloggers and other online journalists paid by the page view, this can be an enticing addition to a story pitch.

Of course there are a number of of ethical issues around this, namely:

1) PR people will only promote stories that show their client in a favorable light. Those “promoted” stories could end up on popular news aggregators, thus skewing news. This happens anyway – every reporter should understand that PR will circulate “positive” stories – but it could be magnified moving forward.

2) The bigger issue, as Foremski notes, is “When pageviews are a surrogate for payments, driving traffic then becomes a proxy for a payment to the writer.”

Breaking news and “scoops” will always trump a little “PR boost” in terms of getting attention, but we’re still curious as to the effects of this. Have you offered to “drive traffic” to a story you pitched? How did the reporter react?

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