Too cynical by half
Walk the Walk


The Reader's Digest survey quoted by Conrad (below) is just another example of one of the most common ways that PR people manage to get stories into newspapers. I guess they're cheap - according to the SCMP, only 200 people in Hong Kong were questioned for this survey, which hardly makes it scientific. The journalist has an easy job re-writing the material provided in the press kit, and in return he simply has to give a few name checks to the magazine or organization that planted the story.

Sex surveys always do well, but the subject doesn't matter too much as long as there is some sort of "angle" for the story. Hong Kong is always a sucker for obscure right-wing organizations that bestow awards for economic freedom, usually to cartel-dominated Hong Kong or the socialist republic of Singapore.

Actually, I'm amazed that the Reader's Digest is still in business. My mother used to subscribe, and of course it used to be a favourite in doctors and dentists waiting room, so I have read it (but not recently), and I suppose it's a handy size to carry around. I would have thought that their biggest problem would be that newspapers (at least in the UK and US) have become so large, especially at weekends, that you scarcely need another general interest magazine. My guess is that most of their readers are fairly elderly.

In the UK, the Reader's Digest organization is famous for its heavy reliance on direct mail, almost invariably accompanied by a lucky draw. Their promotional material is usually quite substantial, and entertaining in a bizarre sort of way, with all manner of different pieces of paper, a selection of different coloured stickers to denote what bonus you may have won, and goodness knows what else. Their objective is to get you to return the form, so that they can send you the book they are promoting, in the hope that you will keep it (and therefore have to pay for it). Needless to say, consumer organizations have done their best to protect consumers from their own stupidity, and I guess that hasn't been good for business.


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