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PR Fail: Rolling Stone Jumps the Shark in a Blatant Shill for Page Views/Magazine Sales
By: Mike Bush
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Word on the street is that traditional media, especially print media like newspapers and magazines, are really struggling to survive in today’s digital world. Flacks know this. Reporters and editors know this. It’s not a secret in any way.
If you spend even a couple minutes on Twitter, you can likely find a decent amount of information about this phenomenon (you can start with the aptly named @themediaisdying).
So, while some groups try to work together to find new business models, occasionally a media outlet will go to the old school playbook of “as long as we sell copies of the magazine, advertisers will keep coming back.”
Enter Rolling Stone magazine. For years a bastion of cool, the cover Rolling Stone’s August 3 issue features a massive image of accused Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Predictably, there’s outrage on the magazine’s Facebook page (more than 7,600 posts as of this writing), and the media is writing about it.
I suppose you can argue “there’s no such thing as bad press,” or some other crap.
The reality is: Rolling Stone is going for the Howard Stern “Shock Value” in order to move copies of the magazine. In so doing, Rolling Stone just threw away the image it spent years crafting.
As such... it’s a major PR Fail.
*Prior to writing this, I checked in with our own Shawn Paul Wood, just to make sure it was OK to tread on his PR Fail series. He said it was all right.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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