Pay to play? Not us!
Marijuana Venture never takes the quid pro quo approach
I’ve talked with several company owners who have been approached by some of the other marijuana magazines about doing a feature story on their business. Apparently, after a long and glowing discussion about how wonderful the article would be and how much the magazine’s readership would enjoy learning about the business, it was stated that placing a full page ad was a requirement to get the story published. In other words, it was clearly a “pay to play” proposition.
We will never do that for several reasons. First and foremost, it absolutely undermines the integrity and credibility of the publication. If you’re a writer who requires kick-backs to do a story, you’re not a journalist — you’re a salesman.
Taking money to write supposedly objective articles on products for consumers is clearly a slippery slope we don’t want to go down. Consumer Reports takes objectivity to the extreme and accepts no ads whatsoever. Most of us are a bit more pragmatic, but draw the line at pay to play, and will not run a glowing story just because someone buys a big ad.
When other magazines write articles for people who buy ads, they’re no longer informative and objective — they’ve become a glorified sales catalog. That’s not good if you want readers to take you seriously.
Where do you draw the line? I’ve seen an awful lot of ads I’d call downright cheesy in some of the magazines that have a problem deciding if they’re a culture/lifestyle rag or a serious business publication. At Marijuana Venture, we’ve never had that dilemma. We are a business publication, and we will not run the ads that make outrageous (and unproven) medical claims, or that depict women as silly looking sex objects.
In the old days of the CD-ROM business, there were big retailers that participated in the pay to play game. Remember CompUSA? If you wanted to get a title on their shelves, it required a $25,000 “slotting fee.” In other words, publishers paid $25,000 for each title CompUSA took in, regardless of its track record, sales potential or quality. I distinctly remember a long discussion with my sales team about why we’d never pay those fees. I explained that in the long run, the hunt for slotting fees meant CompUSA buyers spent more time searching for ad dollars than they did evaluating the sales potential of new titles.
In my opinion, it was a strategy that would eventually lead to consumers fleeing for stores with better selection and better pricing, such as Best Buy, which never asked for slotting fees. It didn’t take long for CompUSA to suffer and eventually go out of business. My guess is that for CompUSA, the pay to play strategy was born out of desperation, but it was obviously a doomed last-gasp effort for an already terminal retail giant.
Let me again state the Marijuana Venture policy: We write and publish articles that are relevant to the legal marijuana business community. We do not require an ad for an article to run, and we do not take ad dollars in exchange for glowing reviews. If you have a newsworthy product or idea, send it to us. We will not hold you hostage and demand a full page ad in exchange for running the article.