When I watch “The Sopranos,” my eyes are riveted on their refrigerator and kitchen cupboards, hoping to catch a peek at what America’s most dysfunctional mob family is eating these days.
Son AJ chows down on Kellogg’s Corn Pops, and papa bear Tony guzzles Tropicana orange juice right out of the carton. Those product manufacturers paid dearly for the product placements, no doubt.
Now, cash-strapped TV and radio stations and even newspapers are using the product placement idea that was once reserved only for TV shows and movies to lure advertisers into, hang onto your seat, the news. Yes, the news. As in, buy an ad, get a story.
KRON-TV Channel 4 in San Francisco, for example, once a well-respected news operation, now offers “product integration fees” to people who want to be included in news stories. In February, the station broadcast an 11-part “Spa Spectacular,” in which each featured spa paid a fee and bought advertising. Anchors offered viewers a chance to buy half-price spa certificates at the end of each segment.
At Univision’s KMEX in Los Angeles, the station interviewed Kaiser Permanente doctors and patients for health stories. In return, they shot “new” footage at Kaiser facilities.
I’m writing an article for PR Tactics, the newspaper published by PRSA, and I’m looking for PR pros or anyone who has run up against this policy when pitching. Did your company agree to pay the fees to get a story in return? If so, was the result worth it?
Or does your company have a strict policy of not caving into these kinds of arrangements? I’m particularly interested in hearing about your experiences with TV and radio stations.
Email me at mailto:jstewart@PublicityHound.com?subject=PlacementFees and I might call you for an interview. Please respond by Friday, April 28.
Alex Carroll, a veteran guest on more than 1,264 radio talk shows, says that you’ll never have to pay for placement if you’re an enticing guest who can really pull in listeners on a radio talk show. He was my guest during a teleseminar called “How to Get Booked on Big Radio Shows in the Top 20 Markets.”