Boston Globe Not Wholly Owned Subsidiary of UMass

March 23, 2015

Over the past months, the hardreading staff has repeatedly noted the increasing presence of lucrative – and corrosive –  advertising by the University of Massachusetts in the Boston Globe, from co-opting the paper’s front page to bugging its banners to mimicking its editorial content.

But then came this from yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe:

 

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It’s a tough piece that raises tough questions about the fiscal fitness of UMass.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, the hardreading staff never said the Globe was in the tank for UMass. We just questioned the appearance of so many financial ties between the stately local broadsheet and the state’s higher-education system. Those ties didn’t seem to matter in yesterday’s instance.

So, to recap: UMass 3, Boston Globe 1.

The hardscoring staff will keep you posted.

P.S. Undaunted, UMass ran this full-page ad in yesterday’s Globe.

 

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Here for a reason indeed: To outshout any editorial coverage of UMass in the Globe. That’s show biz, eh?


Another Advertising UMassage at the Boston Globe

March 19, 2015

As the hardreading staff has repeatedly noted, the University of Massachusetts has slowly been colonizing the Boston Globe, stamping itself on the stately local broadsheet like Marty Walsh on City of Boston signage.

Today’s bit of UMasstery:

 

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If it feels a little unseemly how much UMass and the Globe are joined at the hip pocket, Erin Smith’s Boston Herald piece today only makes it unseemlier.

Institute contractors hit up for Globe mag

UMass PR firm solicited ads for Ted K tribute

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The public relations company representing the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, which hired firms to build the new Kennedy Institute, has acknowledged it solicited those contractors for pricey ads in an upcoming Boston Globe commemorative magazine section.

Julie Kahn, an executive with Regan Communications, said she used a list of vendors provided by the institute, named for the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, to make the sales calls for the ads, which started at $15,000 for a half-page.

 

So. Regan Communications has as clients: 1) the UMass Building Authority, a public agency that “financed and oversaw construction of the Kennedy Institute on the UMass Boston campus;” and 2) the Boston Globe, which is publishing “a special section to mark the opening of the Institute.”

So. Regan Communications gets from one client a list of companies involved in the construction of the Institute and uses it on behalf of its other client to solicit paid ads to celebrate said building.

How convenient.

But . . . how appropriate?

Kahn to the Herald: “It went out to everyone they did business with — everyone who profited. I don’t see a conflict. I was just given a list by the EMK Institute that they wanted me to contact. When you do a roast or someone retires, you call all your vendors to give back. This is very common in this business.”

In the PR business, yes. The question here is about the journalism business.

More of Kahn’s defense:

“A lot of contractors were on that list and most of them said, ‘No, we can’t afford it,’ ” she said. “A handful said yes and 80 or 90 percent said no. If there was pressure, I think we would have had a lot more success.”

 

Fine, but that doesn’t speak to propriety either. Competence, maybe, but not propriety.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, the headscratching staff hasn’t settled on whether this mishegoss is the stuff of misdemeanor or felony. We lean toward the former, though. Certainly, it doesn’t sink to the level of the Los Angeles Times/Staples Center train wreck back in 1999.

Even so, given how much the Globe and UMass are playing footsie these days, it really doesn’t look – or smell – all that good for the mately local broadsheet.


Boston Globe Goes Full Money – er, Monty – for UMass

February 20, 2015

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, the Boston Globe and UMass are likethis lately.

Pick One: Boston Globe Majors in (U)Mass Marketing or, Boston Globe Pimps Out Page One

The Boston Globe is having quite a financial fling with the University of Massachusetts these days. First it was this “Special Supplement to the Boston Globe” that ran [last fall].

 

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As the hardreading staff noted, that’s “Special” as in “Advertising,” which the Globe would have stated explicitly if it cared to be honest with its readers.

Now comes this doozie in [the 11/13/14] edition of the $tately local broadsheet (photos courtesy of the Missus).

 

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Okay then. That was last fall, when UMass bought the Boston Globe for a day.

Now comes this trifecta in yesterday’s edition of the $tately local broadsheet.

First, the Business section banner:

 

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Then, the bottom of Page One:

 

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Then, the back page:

 

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That pretty much makes yesterday’s Globe Business section a wholly owned subsidiary of UMass.

Ugh.


New School of Advertising: UMass Boston(Globe)

December 18, 2014

As we’ve previously noted, the Boston Globe has been rather – how shall we put it? – ad-aptable lately with UMass, from a special supplement masquerading as editorial content to, most notably, the pimping out of the Globe banner last month.

A splendid reader now sends this to the tsktsking staff:

[H]ave you noticed recently the UMass-Branded Business section in the Globe? I know they’re doing a lot (a lot!) of advertising in the Globe, but the UMass logo placement next to the “Business” banner on the front page of the new section makes it seem almost like a paid advertising section. I saw it there yesterday, and again today. I believe 2-3 times more in the last 10 days.

 

Here’s the one from today:

 

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The splendid reader is correct: The bug also appeared in yesterday’s edition, as well as last Wednesday through Friday. Oddly, on none of those days did UMass run an actual, old-fashioned ad.

And the splendid reader is likewise correct that the bug makes the Globe’s Business section look like a partly owned subsidiary of the Massachusetts higher ed system.

In fairness, though, the Boston Herald looks like a totally owned subsidiary of Suffolk University. So maybe this is just Business as usual.


Boston Sunday Globe Inserts: Ads in Sheep’s Clothing

October 28, 2019

Branded content comes in many forms, as our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Attack have extensively chronicled. The New York Times has been particularly adroit at all forms of branded content, which Sneak Adtack noted earlier this year.

For the past four years the hardtracking staff has chronicled the drift by the New York Times toward cross-platform integration of native advertising, a.k.a. Russian Nesting Ads. A company runs an ad in the paper’s print edition that promotes an online ad that the Times’s T Brand Studio has created to look like editorial content. (Representative sample here.)

 

The Boston Globe, on the other hand, has only flirted with native advertising up to now, as in this bit of UMass marketing from a few years ago. Given the evidence of the past week, though, the $tately local broadsheet seems ready to dive into the deep end of the stealth marketing pool.

Last week’s Boston Sunday Globe included this eight-page Advertising Supplement produced by Boston Globe Media’s BG BrandLab.

 

 

With branded content, the first thing you want to look at is disclosure – how clear is it to readers that they’re looking at marketing material and not editorial content?

Give this effort a C- in transparency. “Special Report” is about three times the type size of “Advertising Supplement” on the front page, and this sort-of masthead – buried bottom left – occupies about five percent of page two.

 

 

Inside there are six unbylined articles along with four “Provided by” items that are presumably paid content.

 

 

Not surprisingly, the advertising supplement’s “Knowledge Partners” at the bottom of Page One also occupied some of the inside space, starting with this American Cancer Society advertorial atop page two.

 

 

Then the Boston Breast Cancer Equity Coalition got its ad turn.

 

 

And, of course, Susan G. Komen New England also made an advertising appearance.

 

 

There were also traditional ads for Lady Grace, Avon, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Then yesterday came this Special Report on cybersecurity.

 

 

In terms of transparency, this one gets a D. Start with the top of page two, which looks very much like a standard Editor’s Letter.

 

 

(Note to BGniks: You might want to standardize the spelling of your name. The front page has BG BrandLab, the foreword is by BG Brandlab, and the sign-off is The BG Brand Labs Team. Details, people.)

The sort-of masthead that was small in the first insert is positively minuscule in this one.

 

 

See that tiny band at the bottom? That’s it.

Other differences: There are a couple of bylined articles; “Provided by” has mostly turned into “Sponsored by” (one of them is on election security from Brianna Wu, although it does not identify her as a primary challenger to Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ 8th district – bad investment); and the Knowledge Partners on the front page – the National Cyber Security Alliance and Mitre – don’t have ads inside.

Oh, yes – and the whole thing looks a lot more like an editorial section than the first one.

But at least those two inserts are marginally transparent about being marketing material. Far worse was last month’s Globe wet kiss to Boston Children’s Hospital in the form of A 150th Anniversary Special Issue. It’s just the latest instance of the Globe’s playing footsie with BCH over the past few years, although it’s an especially egregious one in that it required the participation of the Globe newsroom.

It’s one puff piece after another, interspersed with dozens of costly congratulatory ads.

But no mention in those 68 pages of the hospital’s wanton destruction of the beloved Prouty Garden, or the battle over the hospital’s questionable expansion to service a projected – but by no means assured – international clientele.

 

To recap:

The BG BrandLab inserts strike us as Misdemeanor Misleading. The BCH 150th anniversary issue was Felony Failure of editorial integrity.

Court is adjourned.


Advertiser Moves Into Penthouse at Boston Globe

March 8, 2017

Metaphorically speaking, that is.

The hardreading staff’s memory isn’t what it used to be, but we can’t recall the Boston Globe ever selling the top of Page One to an advertiser.

Until yesterday.

 

 

Oddly enough, there’s no Boston Medical Center ad inside yesterday’s edition, the way you’d normally expect. Then again, the front-page banner might be just a teaser. (We’re writing this around midnight on Tuesday, so we’ll update in the AM.)

Coincidentally, yesterday the Wall Street Journal sold the same Page One real estate to another medical facility, NewYork-Presbyterian.

 

 

Again, we admit that we’re fast approaching our dotage, but we also don’t remember the Journal ever turning its top floor into a sort of Adbnb.

The monetization of newspaper front pages has evolved from Shabbat notices on Page One of the New York Times to full-fledged takeovers of front pages to whatever this new phase is.

Not for nothing, but NewYork-Presbyterian could only rent the basement at today’s Times.

 

A whole new version of Upstairs/Downstairs, eh?

P.S. No Boston Medical Center ad in today’s Globe. Huh.


Boston Globe Has Latest Example of Regan-omics

February 15, 2016

The hits from the Suffolk You! rumpus just keep on coming.

From Laura Krantz’s piece in the Boston Sunday Globe:

Connected PR firm soon to lose another college contract

After Suffolk cancellation, UMass authority won’t renew Regan Communications pact

Public relations firm Regan Communications Group, whose contract with Suffolk University was canceled last week, stands to soon lose another lucrative deal with the UMass Building Authority — an agreement originally executed by an authority leader who is also a Suffolk trustee.

The building authority, responsible for construction and renovation projects for the five-campus system, has paid Regan’s firm a $10,000 monthly retainer since 2011, contracts show.

 

Not to get technical about it, but it’s apparently unclear 1) why exactly the UMass Building Authority needs a PR firm, and 2) what exactly the ten grand a month retainer covered. According to Krantz, “[t]he two-page contract’s wording is vague. It says Regan Communications agrees to provide ‘services in the field of public relations as it may deem appropriate and as directed by [the building authority].'”

In other words, bill us for . . . whatever.

That’s so Regan!

Any predictions on the next shoe to drop on the centipedal PR poobah? These things do tend to come in threes, don’t they.

UPDATE: We have a winner!

From Adrian Walker’s column in today’s Globe: “The last shoe may not have dropped, either. UMass Online has a $3,500-a-month contract with Regan that may be under review, too.”

George Regan as barefoot boy, with cheek of tan (or orange)?

We can dream, can’t we?


Local Bank Is Embed With The Boston Globe

November 17, 2015

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, these are banner days for advertisers at the stately local broad$heet, which is providing lots of flexibility in selling ad space.

Even more notable, ads are literally In the news at the Globe nowadays.

From today’s front page:

 

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It’s not like the Globe hasn’t leased out this space before, as we painstakingly chronicled last year. But at least in the case of the Citizens Bank embeds, the paper had the decency – sporadically – to label it an advertisement.

With one day:

 

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Without the next day:

 

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Withever.

The Rockland Trust arrangement is different, though. Citizens Bank accompanied its embeds – embads? – with a traditional ad at the bottom of Page One. Rockland Trust’s ad runs alongside the Talking Points column in the Globe’s Business section.

 

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But wait . . . there’s more . . .

Check out the details in the ad:

 

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See? It’s Business Journalism. There are Events. And there’s Advice. All right here at a native advertising site.

A new level indeed.

Oh, yes – there’s also a native ad on the Globe’s Today’s Paper page (see lower right).

 

 

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Lots of talking points here. Discuss among yourselves.


Boston Globe’s Capital Withdrawal

February 27, 2015

Well the hardreading staff was leafing through the Boston Globe this morning and here’s what we found on Metro Page One:

 

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Sure enough, the former stand-alone section occupied all of four Metro pages that featured – Motheragawd! – exactly zero ads. As one splendid reader pointed out to us, the mainstay of the old Capital’s ad pages – Steward Health Care System – had drifted over to the Business section, formerly a wholly owned subsidiary of UMass. Granted, UMass still has the bug that keeps on bugging nestled in the Business banner, but Steward owns the bottom of the page.

 

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Should be fun to watch the Steward-UMass slap fight in the stately local broadsheet. At least until 2016, when – who knows – Capital might stand on its own two feet again.


Boston Herald Pimps Out Page One

February 13, 2015

It’s not exactly a banner day for the Boston Herald. Here’s the front page that landed at the Global Worldwide Headquarters this morning (photo courtesy of the Missus).

 

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Then again, this isn’t the first time the thirsty local tabloid has sold off its banner. Here’s an example from about 10 years ago that we recently noted (actual front page at left):

 

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The hardreading staff is pretty sure the Herald has done much the same in the intervening decade, but we lack photographic evidence to make the charge stick.

Regardless, one last thing: That Full Paper Inside at upper right of today’s selloff? That depends on what your definition of full is. It’s certainly full of something.