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Dallas Morning News Launches New Marketing Company Called Speakeasy

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.

12 comments on “Dallas Morning News Launches New Marketing Company Called Speakeasy

  1. Tim, I can assure you that the liquor cabinet at Speakeasy will be well-stocked, providing a convivial drinking environment without all those messy TABC taxes. And the decor will fit the name. You are welcome anytime, although we have a strict rule of not opening the bar before 10 AM.

    As to the conflict scenario, that’s one of the reasons why this is a separate company and not housed on Young Street. That said, regardless, I don’t see that there’s any more perceived conflict in what we’re doing than there is in selling ad space. I’ve got as much chance of changing the DMN editors’ minds about what to run as your ad department has of changing yours — probably less.

    On Google+: Necessary evil. It is a ghost town, but Google factors your participation into their search algorithms, if not their antitrust defense strategies. We tend just to republish The Facebooks to the Google+.

    If you’d like us to help you set up a page, we’re open for business…

  2. “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.”

    I think you just lost the restaurant industry on that one.

  3. Whenever I read “Slingshot” and basically anything else in a business-related article, I have to chuckle.

    They are excellent salespeople over there, I’ll give them that.

  4. So it will just be the same “business” influencing what we read in the paper? Can’t wait for that awesome toll road between the levees.

  5. Question. Would this be like if Fearless Critic-Dallas published on their website a quote/link from Dallas Morning News’ Leslie Brenner that says “I’ve spent years driving around with Zagat…..but I think I’ll replace it with this Fearless Critics guide”? Oh wait, they did that already.

    I’m guessing they paid nothing for this endorsement, should they have? And I’m wondering when she’ll endorse the Dallas Morning News’ critics guide. Ahem.

  6. Har har. A city magazine has the nerve to complain about a potential conflict of interest b/w advertising and editorial. Hello, pot. Meet kettle.