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29 Jan 2020

A Note From the Editor: Businesses That Pay for PR but Not Local-Media Advertising Are Misguided and Ignorant

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The email arrived in my inbox at 4:17 p.m.

“Valentine’s Day at (restaurant name redacted) is a Sweet Deal!” the subject line said.

The email, from a public-relations rep hired by the restaurant, was seeking news coverage. It included a photo, a copy of the Valentine’s Day menu at (restaurant name redacted), and other info. I sighed, deleted the email—only because we’re not doing any sort of Valentine’s Day-dining coverage—and moved on with my day.

Why, you might ask, did I sigh? Well, we’ve given (restaurant name redacted) coverage before it opened. And we’ve given it ample editorial coverage since it opened. However, that restaurant—which has decided it needs the services of someone whose job it is to obtain media coverage—has not given the Independent a dime since it opened several years ago.

Not for advertising. Not for Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week (which, hey, is coming up again; see the details here). Not for anything. In fact, the management doesn’t even respond to our emails. The Independent is not alone here; I see very little advertising by this restaurant anywhere.

This disconnect is a problem.

In order to give you, our readers, the fairest coverage possible—in order to serve you best—we decide what to cover without considering what’s happening on the advertising side. Had we been doing Valentine’s Day dining coverage, we’d have included the information from (restaurant name redacted) right alongside restaurants that have spent a dime or more with the Independent.

Some restaurants don’t need PR or advertising; they, through word of mouth or reputation, have enough business. However, those restaurants are decidedly in the minority, and (restaurant name redacted) is apparently not one of those restaurants, seeing as I keep getting emails from a PR person on their behalf.

So … what would happen if all restaurants acted like (restaurant name redacted) did, and spent money on a PR person, but no money on advertising with the media sources that hired PR person is emailing? Well, those media sources would die. And the PR person would have nobody to email.

A similar situation is taking place with social media. I’ve had far too many businesses tell me they’re not spending money on “traditional media,” but instead are advertising on Facebook, Instagram, etc. … where they share and promote the coverage given to them, for free, by traditional media.

It’s simple, folks: If you value media—like, say, newspapers such as the Independent—you need to support us. Otherwise, we’ll die. Printing, distribution, restaurant news … that stuff costs money. It ain’t cheap.

On that note … thanks to all the advertisers who support the Independent—and be sure to pick up the February 2020 print edition, hitting streets this week.

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