A few weeks ago we were approached by a leading cryptocurrency publication (who will remain nameless). The offer was for native content creation, including an article, with a strong emphasis on the fact that the article would appear to be a genuine news item. To quote the email directly, it said:
SEO by top trended keywords, shared in … channels
NO SPONSORED TAG
The price tag for deceiving unknowing readers it seems starts at $12,000.
Anyone with a PR or journalism background will know that the standard practice for submitting news to the media is to write a press release and send it via distribution channels, or directly to journalists.
It is then up to individual journalists, editors and publications to pick up the most interesting, relevant and newsworthy stories and write about them for the benefit of their readers.
Any sponsored content has typically been tagged as such so that readers know that the content has not been organically picked up for its objective value, but has been paid for by the company, product or person behind the piece.
The particular publication that we are using as an example here has written pieces about products and events associated with our team members in the past, based on a genuine interest in their news. So imagine our surprise when we were approached and offered a sponsored post disguised as a genuine news article.
We subsequently received many emails, phone call requests and special offers, in an attempt to sell us the opportunity to appear on this news channel, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars of potential revenue.
As far as we know, “real world” journalism still stands by its principles of revealing whether or not an item is sponsored. It is only crypto publications that seem to think they can break this rule. Perhaps it is because payment is made in BTC or ETH, or because of a general lack of regulation in the crypto market.
It is precisely this kind of practice that lets down the reputation of companies associated with blockchain or cryptocurrency, and it is about time that more organisations displayed the same level of professional morality as the mainstream media.