Advertising panhandlers

It was refreshing the other day when a friend of mine who is heavy into the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation came in to discuss an ad in our newspapers for their upcoming banquet.

Steve Johnson was once a businessman in American Falls, but somewhere along his journey through life he lost his focus and ended up taking a government job. That’s okay; he’s still a pretty good guy.

What was so refreshing, though, was that unlike so many others who want to advertise their events and activities he didn’t come in with his hand out for a freebie. He had a budget and was willing to spend it.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, by the way, gained a lot of its strength based on the Pocatello area chapter, including American Falls, which was one of the most successful in the area and continues to play a big part in reintroduction of elk into areas where they had pretty much gone away.

But back to my gripe about the advertising panhandlers.

I get the line all the time that “We’re a nonprofit so can you just give us a spot.” My response is “I’m not a nonprofit and I’d prefer to keep it that way. Advertising is what puts the food on my table. Although if you do advertise we might be able to do a little story on your event.”

Newspapers aren’t supposed to mix news and advertising, but to be honest it happens all the time.

It’s tough to sell advertising in a down economy and we don’t like it, but we understand when businesses curtail their advertising. Our argument is that when the economy is down, advertising is even more effective and without it, their business may never turn it around.

The biggest reason for my climbing onto a pedestal to grip, though, doesn’t deal with the lack of advertising from nonprofits or for-profit businesses. It’s those dang politicians.

With political campaign coffers overflowing, they’re still always looking for the great deal or the way to get something for nothing. Wish they used that thinking when they spend our tax dollars every year.

It galls me to no end that they’ll orchestrate letter writing campaigns to newspapers, hoping to get all those endorsement letters in for free, meanwhile putting on their best suits, or best farm attire depending on the audience they’re trying to reach, and spend a bundle on television ads.

And then they’ll send a news release to the newspapers announcing their new campaign ad.

Our current congressman, although I think he’s done a good job, has done it twice already. He’s found himself in an ugly tussle with a candidate further to the right who is forcing him to defend his conservative record and do a little mud-slinging at the same time.

I will use neither person’s name, but if you don’t know who they are, shame on you.

This is how his first “news release” to newspapers starts: “Today _______’s campaign announced the release of its first television ad, “Defense,” which begins running in the Twin Falls and Idaho Falls media markets. The ad sets the record straight on

____’s conservative record, and his fight to cut spending, reduce the debt and repeal Obamacare.

Two weeks later his second “news release” started: “Today _______’s campaign announced the release of its second television ad, “Love,” which will air in the Twin Falls and Idaho Falls media markets. The ad highlights personal injury lawyer _________’s love for his job.

Notice any similarities? Sorry, but that’s not news. Nor would I waste space in our newspapers telling our readers to watch advertising on television.

When the incumbents, or their competition, make real news, we’ll report it. We usually try to put together at least one story, anyway, hoping to offer up their beliefs and differences. Our readers deserve that information to make an informed choice.

But if they want free advertising, perhaps they should try and get the television station to do a story on the new ad they just released in area newspapers. I’d like to see how that flies.

Just like the candidates state on their television and radio ads: “I’m Brett Crompton and I approve this message.”

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