Free Media – myth and reality

"Free" Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine

Free Media – myth and reality. I’m Eleonora de Gray, and I’m President of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. So this isn’t a journalistic essay or fiction. This is a plain analyze of the media market: where we lost in the past, what we can get in present, and what we can regain in the feature.
There’s a myth about magazines and online media, and specially in fashion, which should be broken ones and for all.
You have no idea how many times known fashion designers, architects, artists, emerging designers contacted me and asked if we’d like to publish an article about them in our magazine and our web-platform, showing how great and talented they are and their exceptional “know-how”. They then send their look-books and regale me with how exceptional they are. Wonderful! And when they receive our prices, they are very surprised : “Ah… I did know I have to pay to be published”.
You didn’t know? Do you create your dresses, designs, interior decor and then give them to customers for free? No, you sell them. It is a market basic – you produce and you sell your production. Why should it be different for media products?

Runway Magazine News Media

What exactly does media produces? Media produces a “voice” on the market, a “voice” that everyone can hear in their hearts and minds, so cherished image of oneself which corresponds to a dream everyone has, “what do I want to be”. And, as a result, every person who hears this media “voice” and sees that it corresponds to a dream, wants to have this product as another step to a dream. “Want to look young – buy this cream”, “Want to look thin – buy this dress”, “Want to look rich and successful – buy your house and car, and this bank will give you a loan for that,” – there are many magic formulas on the market.
Let’s say media produces a psychological “product”. Everyone, well… almost everyone pays to a psychologist to feel better. Everyone pays to the media to hear a “voice” of the own dreams and know steps how to achieve it. Because we are the ones who actually possesses these formulas : images and slogans, we are talking about you and your dreams.
So when you have a product to sell on the market, you come to known and established media : magazine or online-platform, and you’d like to use it because it’s popular, because it’s respectable, because there are many readers and followers, because of high expertise proposed by this media, because at the end of the day media is still a trendsetter. So why should it be “free”?
All of this is a media company “know-how”. How media company can pay salaries, offices rent, print if everything media company proposes should be “free”? I’m not even mentioning on-line media.
I believe it is a time to talk abut it. And there’s a mythology and reality for that.

"Free" Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine


Ones upon a time… more than 100 years ago, at the beginning of media, when news-papers and magazines began to exist, brilliant commercial minds, founders of first media companies, quickly figured out that quick news bring popularity, popularity – possibilities to print and distribute more copies, more copies opens up a new commercial absolutely fantastic “gold mine” – publicity.
Everyone wants to publish news about their company or new product in popular news-paper or magazine. But how to bring attention of popular magazine? Scandal. You can’t create a scandal if you produce a new tea or cream. You can engage an artist and his nude models to do a street performance. But… hey, there are not enough great artists and nude models to perform for every produced product, not even these days. And back in these days you had to pay a great artist and his nude models for a performance as well. They also need to eat and pay their rent.
“Free” news is never been an easy option, not back in these days, not in our days. So “paid” news was cheaper solution for promotion than engaging an artists. You sell your product, you use your money for new production and paid news. “People know – people hear – people buy,” is media magic formula. Media companies at that time made billions on that. That is how the FIRST myth born.

"Free" Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine

So why news about new products should be “free” today? Because of new “tool” the internet? And everyone can be popular and create their own “poplar” news? Well, NO! I’ll come back to this later.
50 years after paid “news” – “publicity” created their own niche in the market and became an independent part of the industry. It’s not enough anymore just to put out some pretty girl with the line “buy my drink, it’s so good”. There are so many other companies who also use pretty girls with “buy my drink” lines in different news-papers, magazines and billboards. How to make my own product different? After all, I want public to choose my production.
Publicity agencies, who created outstanding images and promotion slogans, which touched millions and worked on strong sociological and psychological strategy, earned billions on the market at that time. Producers (designers, farmers, everyone who produced products to sell on the market) became dependent on image and slogan associated with their production. Nothing changed since than.

Coca Cola, Yes Girl, Runway Magazine

But after time understanding and knowledge of these marketing strategies, based upon strong images and slogans, targeting buyers gone. Why? Simply because developed “cliche” at that time worked so well that Publicity agencies lost this knowledge in time, and today have no interest to look for new strategies. They just use and reuse what was used, and worked decades after decades. Why reinvent the “bike”?
That is why even 50 years later we still see on TV or magazine publicity with children or poppies and meaningless slogans not related to the promoted product. And it comes back to media – media don’t control commercial images and slogans as they used to anymore. But in the eyes of public the SECOND myth was born, and in reality this was a FIRST fiasco of media. Media back in the days couldn’t handle news content and creation of commercial images with “paid” news. So “paid” news did not belong to production of media companies any longer.

Gilette raiser ridiculous publicity

30 years later Advertising agencies created their strong niche in the market. Someone has to be between media and publicity agencies, simply to link them together. There are so many medias, there are so many publicity agencies and producers, that there should be an agency who can suggest, link, and distribute “paid” news to corresponded media : salad to salads, cream to cosmetics, dress to dresses, and so on. Producers can’t find by themselves the best corresponding media for their “paid” news. This is the THIRD myth and SECOND fiasco of media.
In the eyes of public media companies earned a lot of money with placed publicity in their news-papers and magazines. Cost for 1 page back in the days is very expensive. But media let even this part of the market “cake” go, as media companies were not able to navigate on the market, search, and gain the trust of producers, who’d like to publish their news with them.
Plus, Advertising agencies developed their psychological product – consulting. They didn’t produce anything – they consulted according to their expertise and marketing knowledge where better to place “paid” news. For that they heavily charged media companies. Why? Because as the “trustee” of the producers, they suggested and chose the “best” media for placing “paid” news.

Free Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine


15 years ago a new massive phenomenon touched every sphere of the market – Internet. With this phenomenon “doors” became open for everyone who wants to be “popular” and tell their news.
And another part of media market – communication, was taken by the bloggers, according to who everyone can be “popular”. Using a 100 years old marketing methods of paid “news” bloggers started to post their “news” on all social media networks and their own blogs. The ONLY difference is that bloggers were posting news about themselves, promoting their own image and dream: “Look, I enter VIP zone, I’m with cinema stars, I’m rich and famous, and look what I wear, and where I stay”.
Bloggers indeed used the same cliche like 100 years ago for paid “news”. Only difference that these “news” are not about products, or people who buy the products and realize their dreams, but these news are about news-spreaders / bloggers and their life-style. Egocentric turn of event is a THIRD, and probably biggest fiasco of media.

Free Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine

Bloggers showed to everyone with access to the internet and social media networks like facebook, twitter or instagram that everyone can be popular and everyone can spread news about their products – own images or production, no matter. No marketing needed – just scream out loud. At first, bloggers had enormous success because their “voice” was considered the voice of public, buyers, not experts, based on simple formula of bloggers “ I like or dislike this”. But 10 years later, lack of marketing strategies and egocentric tendencies in communication showed that to market new product on internet platforms, with screaming public about themselves, it’s simply impossible. No one sees or reads, or even gets the news. The phenomenon of success on facebook or instagram today is happily understood by many people: “Being famous on facebook is like being rich in Monopoly”.
So when you think that you don’t need to pay to media company for communication about your new product on social media, you can simply do it yourself, or give it to facebooker “for free”, and it’ll work – that’s where you are wrong. I can guarantee 100% that NO, it won’t work. “Work” means – you sell your product. With “free” communication given to facebookers or bloggers you’ll never sell your products. People are very generous when it comes to compliments: “what you do is so great”. But no one will ever buy.
Self-centered Facebooker, as any blogger, will talk about himself and how he tried your product. That’s why he can’t sell your product – he can’t even sell his point of view! He is not an expert, he doesn’t know qualities, he doesn’t have any associations with historical past – he is just a “tester” on a market of today. Blogger today won’t be heard among all screaming bloggers, who are trying different products. “Free” news has “free” sales. You can only give your products “for free” after this communication to another blogger, who’ll also promote it for you. And you, as a producer, lose because you actually gave your products for “for free”.

Free Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine

Some bloggers managed to get to the certain level of expertise, and actually promote and sell the products. That was cutting edge of marketing 5 years ago, when bloggers by using communication were able to sell products directly from their blogs. They became a strong online communication tool for opened e-commerce.
In screaming online community many people got lost because they simply don’t know who to follow anymore, so people stick to what they know – to old fashion, to experts.
And that’s where media is today. After three lost pieces of market “cake” : image/slogan creation of “paid” news, expertise in marketing, and communication media companies are still trying to keep their position on market. Myth about media company being very rich because of the produced and placed publicity in their news-papers or magazines is a absolute mythology, and specially today.
Media company today produce a content. For that company needs professional journalists, photographers, and experts with the knowledge to keep public and interest. These positions are paid. No one writes “for free”, and especially not professionals. Media company needs to pay rent, and needs to keep up with new technologies and new media tools, like search engine optimization, to be visible trough all this chaos of information. And again you need professionals for that. No one will create a web-site, and keep it up to date, create SEO (search engine optimization) “for free”.

Free Media - myth and reality by Runway Magazine

So, media company supposedly creates an image/slogan for a brand – rarely. Media company supposedly receives huge profit from published publicity. In reality media company receives only 30% of publicity, 70% of published publicity goes to advertising agency. Media company supposedly receives profit from sells of the magazines. Again not in real life. High quality production demands large investment. People today don’t buy expensive magazines, people buy low quality but cheapest, or read on-line “for free”. Distributor keeps 70% from sells. So reality hurts : 30% from publicity don’t even cover the rent, 30% from sales don’t even cover the production. And how media company should pay the salaries to journalists, experts, photographers, marketing and sales managers?
Loosing millions, keeping old strategies and old marketing methods some media companies merely survive. And again, not really. Big companies are loosing millions year by year, medium and small companies are doing something else after trying media business for couple of years.
Has anyone seen, even ones, stock market of Conde Nast? I strongly recommend you to do so. And this is a big company. What about medium and small ones? They can’t survive if they don’t go back to the source – the source where media started and gained their power. The “source” is getting back capacity to marketing research, expertise, creation of image/slogan publicity, control and work with the clients directly.
Media company should start “all over again”, not reinvent the “bike”, but regain knowledge of all social and psychological marketing tools available, start new research, investigate working cliche, create new ones, get marketing knowledge of swiftly changing technologies, get to the hearts and minds of new generations, be heard and loved, get “door-to-door” technics, etc. : everything that allows media to become whole again and gain monopoly.

Karl Lagerfeld goes to RUNWAY MAGAZINE official party in WHSmith store on rue Rivoli, Paris
Karl Lagerfeld goes to RUNWAY MAGAZINE official party in WHSmith store on rue Rivoli, Paris

And that’s what we do!

We are RUNWAY MAGAZINE and we started this journey! We started from cutting all third parties between us and producers of products : designers, architects, artists, farmers, cooks, and so on and so forth. For example, we cut publicity. There’s no publicity in our magazine or on our web-platform since 2013. Why? Because we don’t want to pay third party companies any longer. Why should we? Who said we need them to be between us and producers? Who can prove that they have higher expertise than us? NO ONE! WE DO PROVE OTHERWISE! We do not copy or reproduce cliche. We go directly to producers, and we re-create an image of their product with new look, based on emotional needs of people TODAY. We use creative ways to introduce products to the market – that is NEWS. We are the ones who renew marketing technologies! We are on cutting edge! And producers don’t need third party companies to get their product to the market.


Eleonora de Gray
President / Editor-in-Chief