PR man’s ‘jaw-dropping’ offer: I write the stories, you put your byline on them

“I would like to propose engaging in a relationship where once in a while I supply you with fully developed stories (completed articles) that you can publish under your byline, with or without editing, at no fee.”
— PR man’s pitch to a newspaper reporter

Letter to Romenesko

From A ROMENESKO READER who is trying to get didn’t get permission from her editor to put her name on this:

I received this email yesterday, and my jaw dropped. Just blatantly unethical.

And his blog posting explains his ideas in Orwellian terms.

Media consultant Jan Hutchins writes:

The demise of paper-based journalism threatens to put down our watchdog, weaken the forces that traditionally comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, eliminate the institutions in our society which enforce civic accountability through their ability to expose and hold other institutions accountable.

How can we create an economic model that supports investigative and accountability journalism? I say we start with beauty and work our way to truth.

I’m here to cut through the problem, disrupting the existing business model, to help media break even or even make money acquiring first rate content.

I’m here to help entrepreneurs rethink their publicity process to obtain guaranteed media coverage where traditional PR can’t. I do it bypassing press releases and media pitches – I investigate, come up with a story that is relevant for editorial and develop articles that media is interested to publish. Both win. Media get quality content – visionaries get their dreams told and gain an audience for their idea.

I’ve been sending this email around to other reporters and my executive editor, who teach journalism classes. I was wondering if you or other readers had seen anything like this before.

Here is Hutchins’ email to the Romenesko reader, a daily newspaper reporter:

On Feb 18, 2013 5:28 PM, “jan hutchins” wrote:

Good afternoon,

I am a business and political journalist with 20+ years of covering major stories. I would like to propose engaging in a relationship where once in a while I supply you with fully developed stories (completed articles) that you can publish under your byline, with or without editing, at no fee.

This time, because automobile crashes in the U.S. kill eight teens every day, are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 34 and cost Americans nearly $100 billion dollars each year on medical care, rehabilitation and lost wages, I offer this well-researched 1700 word article “Evangelizing driving safety through technology”. Photos available upon request.

In this article I introduce your audience to a man whose love for his teenage daughters and obsession with safety inspired him to become an evangelist preaching an end to distracted driving, offering at least relative peace of mind to the parents of teenage drivers and helping families and truck fleet owners use competitive instinct to lower their insurance costs.

I placed a few expert quotes by some of my clients into the piece, so I am not looking for compensation or acknowledgement.

Please see the article below. I would appreciate if you let me know ASAP whether you are interested in publishing it.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Jan Hutchins
CEO, Co-founder
SocialAgenda Media


Suggested title: Evangelizing driving safety through technology

Every parent fears receiving “that” call. Every loved one cringes at the thought. Distraction or inattention at the wrong moment, a drunk driver, bad road conditions and suddenly someone we love is stolen from our lives, or injured beyond imagination.

Handing the keys over to a teenager brings up huge fears. We feel out of control, helpless to protect them. What if something terrible does happen and you are left to think about what you could have said or done, but didn’t? …. [There are 19 more paragraphs that I haven’t posted.]