Marketing directors and BD leaders, are you suddenly inundated by calls from media offering to do interviews with your executives? Does it seem too good to be true? You know that old saying… if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Before you start scheduling your busy executive, take a few minutes to check out the publication to see if they are offering an earned media or a Pay for Play opportunity. The term “earned media” means that your company has earned the coverage through its genuine and authentic thought leadership. Pay for Play is another spin on paid media, or advertising. I love paid media, but I just don’t like when it’s positioned as earned media.

Pay for Plays typically don’t come right out and say what they’re doing, so you may need to dig a little to find out.

One business model is they’ll give you a rate card or quote a fee to interview your executive, write an article and publish it in print or online. They may call it a “symbolic fee”. However, even if the story is well-written, the magazine is often distributed to an unqualified audience for free. It’s largely a wasted audience for you. The publication may reach general businesses but not tap into the government contracting community. They are definitely not reaching government executives.

The other business model is when the publication does not charge your company, but they ask for the names of your contractors or clients. They then ask your contacts to take out ads to co-brand with your company. This means your contractors or clients are paying for your company profile; another version of Pay for Play.

Our clients always email us their press requests and we noticed a huge surge in these requests recently. On the one hand, it’s a good sign that these companies are getting industry attention, which helps the Pay for Plays to find them. However, it’s never a good time of year to bother executives with frivolous requests.

Here are just a few Pay for Play publications that have pitched clients in the past month:

TechCompanyNews Sample Email

“I would like to do a feature story about your company. It would be published at

TechCompanyNews is a news website with a worldwide audience, covering innovative companies.

Please note there is a symbolic fee for this, below you can find more information:“

Business Trends Sample Email

“We’d be available for a telephone interview any time this or next week – could you advise on your availability? Alternatively, if that is more convenient to you, we would also welcome you answering our questions in writing. Either way, we will give you the opportunity to preview the article and provide feedback on it before it goes to print.

Hispanic Executive: Contractor Supported Sample Email

“Our business model is designed to put our featured executives at the center of everything we do, including that we ask them to provide us a list of their external partners for us to reach out and extend the invitation for them to co-brand themselves alongside the featured exec and company, and really showcase the relationship that they have built with our feature.”

I hope you find this helpful! If you find a new Pay for Play vehicle, I’d really appreciate it if you would share it with me.

Thanks so much!