Thursday, December 2, 2010

Will Give Good Coverage For Free Stay

Perhaps I'm a killjoy, but I don’t like it when other people get freebies. And especially when those freebies take the form of a hotel room. And especially when the free hotel room is in exchange for media coverage. It came to my attention that a tourist bureau (to protect the guilty, I’m not naming names) frequently sends out requests to hotels and their publicists looking for exchanges. Media fam tours are one thing, this room-for-free-media-coverage is something else entirely.

It goes something like this:

Mr Ben D. Rulz, and Miss C. Sponger are coming to [insert city here] and are looking for accommodations (read: free) at high-end venues in exchange for very positive media coverage and a high profile feature naming FREE HOTEL as the place to stay in [insert city here].

Does it bother you, or am I just being a stickler?

Perhaps I am (and probably still having holiday withdrawals), but how is it ethical to promise such a superlative endorsement without experiencing the hotel first? How can a journalist promise positive media coverage when he or she doesn’t even know which hotel will respond to the request for free board? And how objective is the writer if his or her trip was funded (even in part) by the host?

How about revealing this freebie to readers - to whom a journalist’s responsibility should be – that your arrangements were based on a barter? I’ll definitely be reading travel reviews and destination recommendations with very different eyes from now…

Despite what I just wrote, I do have a free week in mid-January – in case the tourist bureau is reading -- and the hubby and I would simply adore a romantic get-away, and a massage, and open bar. And I probably don't have to remind all of you 5-star hospitality venues reading this that there will be some stiff competition for the Valentine's romantic get-away dollar this year. Oh, and did I mention I'm in PR, well connected and might be able to get you into a magazine or two?

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