Friday, 18 November 2016

Pay to play again

    It's evidently a way to become alarmingly sought-after, to write a blog as a transgender person. People always seem to want my views on things with a transgender slant. Back in February of this year I wrote about the usual approach of someone wanting me to talk about a book, but sometimes it's a newspaper article or a film, and now it's someone seeking my views on a medical product. Wow, I never knew being transgender could make you so popular!
    Of course, there's a catch. These people all want my views on their stuff for free, which would be fine if they were coming from a non-profit-making industry, but of course they aren't. They're seeking free publicity and valuable search engine rankings for the products of industries that involve huge amounts of money, and quite naturally they want to keep all that money for themselves.
    I wrote in February about how the PR side of the publishing industry works, how there is a cosy relationship between the industry and a set of journalists, each of whom scratch each other's backs with a bit of wine lubricating the process. It's the same in other industries, almost anything you see in the papers or on TV will have got there as a result of some behind-the-scenes PR work if it's a straightforward feature on a commercial product. It's understood, and all parties have their own revenue streams that ensure the wheels keep turning.
    Evidently the problem is that among all those journalists with whom the cosy relationships are formed there are no transgender people. Often this is because the few that have transitioned tend to have been forced out by dodgy media companies.
    So faced with this problem of a transgender storyline to push but nobody within the community to take it from them, they go hunting for some trans people of their own. And because they think trans people don't know how all this works, they think they can get away with all that hard work for free if they only butter them up a little. Hence a regular set of emails I and no doubt others like me receive from hopeful PR people looking for a freebie.
    I explained in February the level of work that goes into writing a review. It's an in-depth task that takes a significant amount of time, you can't just bang them out. You need to understand the subject and possess authority on it, then you must spin a tale that draws the reader in. Much of my days are spent doing just this in another place, so you might say I have some authority on this subject. There is a reason that journalists draw a salary cheque, and it ain't because we look pretty sitting at a typewriter.
    So I'll repeat what I said earlier in the year:  I ain't doing that kind of work for free, and neither should you. If the person who asked you to write earns money from it, then you should be paid.
    If they keep pestering you when you don't respond, ask them what they'll do for free for you. Damn, I should have thought of that with the latest one who prompted this post!
    

6 comments:

  1. Currently a medical organisation wants me to read a guide on SRS, and copy it to other people. As if (a) I were even interested; and (b) as if I'd ever follow a link put to me by an unsolicited person and risk virus infection. They seem rather insistent, but I'm not even going to respond.

    If they persist, I will ask Google to treat them as spam.

    Lucy

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    1. Just one of several appearing in my inbox at the moment. Along with two films and a book. Perhaps I should start writing reviews rubbishing their products :)

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  2. As a musician I am quite used to people expecting me to work for free, these days I tend to respond with request for scheduled dates and the level of the fee. If there is no fee I don't respond again. Given that we all still need to eat and pay the rent I have never understood why we should "Work" for free. I will happily volunteer for my Church or other charities close to my heart, I may even campaign at my own expense. But given that I have always been paid to write for the trade press, why would I want to do it for free, for a publication that is charged for?

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    1. Ah yes, the old "It'll look really good on your CV" gag. There's an online culture naming and shaming repeat offenders.

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  3. I can understand how I get trans related releases it's the ones from waste management firms and casino sites I wonder about.

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    1. Maybe you should see if those industries will pay you instead! :)

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