When I heard former D Magazine publisher Mike Orren was involved with a new outfit called Speakeasy, knowing Mike, I naturally assumed it was a bar. The only question in my mind was where the joint would be located and how many free drinks I could finagle.
No such luck. Speakeasy, according to this story, is a “marketing and promotions joint venture [with an agency called Slingshot] that will create and manage campaigns for local and national brands. … [T]he agency will use social media such as Facebook and Twitter and will also have access to the complete archives of The News, allowing clients to post stories related to their products and services on their own sites.”
See what they did there? Clients will be able to use News stories on their websites and in social media. Or, rather, Speakeasy will use News content in its management of clients’ websites and social media outposts.
Again, from the story: “[P]resident Mike Orren explained that a garden supply company might want to post articles from The News about gardening tips, or a real estate company might want to post articles about local neighborhoods. Freelancers will also generate content, including video, for clients. ‘It’s more about positioning yourself as the expert in the space you’re in and less about me, me, me,’ Orren said, explaining the concept of content marketing and how he views it differently from promotional copy, referred to as advertorial. ‘It’s a little softer sell than advertorial.'”
It’s an interesting idea that has the potential to create an interesting conflict of interest, if I understand this deal correctly. Let’s say car dealerships dig this concept and a bunch of them sign up. They (and the Speakeasy team) are going to want News content about cars and selling cars that they can use. (The story linked to above says a sales pitch from Speakeasy includes managing Google+, which I find funny, given that managing a Google+ account is like managing my daughter’s bucket of sidewalk chalk. Both reach audiences of a comparable size.) So now you’ve got News brass, meaning Jim Moroney, leveraging his reporters’ stories to make money with Speakeasy. And by leveraging, I mean telling his editors that a few more automotive stories in the paper would be a good idea. Now you’ve got an outside business, Speakeasy, influencing what you read in the paper.
Maybe. Perhaps. That’s the potential conflict, anyway.