Gifts & Vouchers – as good as bribing / influencing the journalists

Hi Team,

So from now are we stopping ourselves to pay any gifts or Vouchers to journalists as a Bribe or as an Influencer for a good or a positive story as a TRUE Mr.Hazare’s Supporter?
this is part of our profession?
we understand a souvenir from the brand (eg. logitech launching headphones and giving those headphones as gifts or for reviews, car companies giving scale models, Disney giving small cartoon characters etc…..)

but giving a Big Bazar/Shopper stop Voucher or cash or anything not related to the brand is as good as bribe right??

Nikhil Kashyap

9 comments on “Gifts & Vouchers – as good as bribing / influencing the journalists

  1. Hi Nikhil,

    Giving it as an appreciation of their work is not called a bribe, we can call it a gift :)

    Love, Light and Reiki
    Pratvii Ponnappa

  2. I am a journalist, and I completely agree with you Nikhil. Also on the journalist’s part, covering of stories which are unrelated and mere marketing initiatives should be avoided from mainstream and clearly stated that they are advertorials or otherwise.

    If the journalists stop covering these, there would be no question of bribing them at all.

    Devika Jadhav

  3. Dear Nikhil,

    Whether true Anna Hazare supporter or not.. gift vouchers should not be offered to the journalists… I m sure many would agree when i say; media appreciates souvenirs more than shoppers stop / big bazaar vouchers… There have been times when most of us may have experienced embarrassment when a gift voucher is tagged as a bribe.. As PR Professionals, I am sure we would never chose this route to get work done.


  4. Hi Nikhil,

    This is really as good as bribe. If we talk about Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Gifts are essential part of your press conference. In the check list, you can not miss out media gifts. My question is how we can change this practice, especially in the Tier-II & Tier-III cities ?

    Amandeep Arora
    IPAN Hill & Knowlton

  5. Agree with Pratvii, giving a gift Voucher or cash or anything not related to the brand is NOT a bribe, i believe its just a token of appreciation for their work.

    And there are more significant basics to getting a story published like –
    Selling the story pegs, pitching it with an interesting story angle, etc. If your story is not ‘meaty ‘ enough then these gift vouchers too
    ( No matter how expensive they are ), can never be a reason for it getting a space in newspaper.

    To share an example –
    We conducted a two day, conference on a social issue in which we disseminated corporate bags to the journos. Consequently, yes, it helped to get more media attention, and increased media attendance. But, the journalists who picked up the press release and even did a follow up story on issue, were the ones who could understand the need that the issue demads social awareness among the people.

    So, it was only pitching the story to the right nature of journos, highlighting the key news pegs, and timeliness that got it space in newspaper not corporate bags:)

    Nikhil – I think, this is not of any concern to being or not being a Mr. Hazare supporter. Corruption will not end completely in India even if Anna Hazare and his 5 magicians are appointed Lok Pals. Their is a bigger picture to this movement. Its a step to create awareness that if we stand united against corruption and the ones that supports corrupt, then we may be able to control this threat.

    It is about changing the mindset and now, ‘RAISING’ a voice, against something, we all have witnessed during some part of our lives.

    The difference that this movement has created is , earlier, we had doubts, apprehensions, concerns about corruption and thought of being silent about it.

    Anna Hazaare fight has given an opportunity to break the silence.

    So, from ‘QUIT India ‘ to ‘FIT India’ – The move is significant. I appreciate a 74 yrs old man standing for the cause.

    Lets not talk around it, its tym to talk about it, on blogs, forums etc. to hype it for the right reasons…:)


    Himanshi Bhalla

  6. Guys, this shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. I think we all know that gift vouchers are bribes.

    However, your own products should not technically be considered bribe. That is, if you’re giving them out for trial usage and feedback. Meaning, if I give out my client’s product samples to media, that wouldn’t be a bribe. Sampling is a common exercise with consumer products. But some media may refuse those too. So, respect that.


    Aarif Malik
    Mumbai. INDIA.
    Cell: +91 9833934002

  7. Hi,

    I would definitely say , we need to figure a way out of this vicious circle.

    Since some of us readily give away media gifts , the chain starts.

    Obviously not everyone is a part of the circle but it for sure hampers the end results for those who try and stay away from it.

    It is also a basic reason as to why PR still hasn’t been able to establish its credibility.


  8. Hi Nikhil,

    Real food for thought…this is one thing that has plagued our profession for the longest amount of time… the metro media has still matured to a large extent where taking ‘gifts’ unless it is a part of the press kit … is banned. This becomes more and more prevalent as we go to smaller and smaller towns. I do not think it is wrong to hand out the products of the client you are working with for testing / review/ evaluation. But yes , when our affiliates ask for extra cash to send out chai patti and sauce bottles with a press release it makes me uncomfortable…but not so much so that I will refuse to do this. It is part of this vicious media cycle and it is my job to work the system to my client’s advantage.

    However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…if you notice a lot of publications of repute have also started this practice of not accepting any gifts in smaller towns. They should be applauded and encouraged from our end. Only then will this ‘gifting’ practice slow down and maybe hopefully peter down to nothingness.

    Warm Regards,

  9. Dear Vikas Kumar,

    I found your article quite interesting/informative and fact based. During my over 3 decades of PR work for a Public sector, I too have experienced many situations/incidents which I should like to share with other professionals:-

    -In one Press conference, at the end, while saying ‘thank you’ a small gift was handed over to each journalist. One, Arun Sadhu, a noted writer and then Editor of a marathi daily, politely declined to accept the gift, saying ,thanks for inviting’. However the next journalist, representing a gujrati daily, not only took his gift but also wanted the one declined by Arun Sadhu.

    Bank had a Press conference to celeberate 70th year. Invitations were sent and reminded also. But the gift part was a secret. Many papers sent either juniors or trainees. considering the occasion as routine. But the bank had decided to give a costly wrist watch of a popular brand. Once the nature of gift news was out, I had severaly calls from sr.reporters/even news editors inforing that they could not attend due to pre-occupation, but I should send then the Gift with a copy of Press Handout to ensure coverage.

    -Then there was a ‘gate crasher’ who supposed to edit a ‘rag’ monthly ‘that too not printed but cyclostyled. Once I caught him red-handed – he showed me a visiting card with Economic Times staff. Since there were already 2 guys from ET were already there, I confronted him to meet them. Then he changed his saying that he is no more with ET and has started his own paper and showed me the ‘copy’ When I told him that he had no invitation, he showed me a x’rox of the invitation , which he had managed from some source. Then when I politely told him to leave or I have to call security, he pleaded to have at least the gift. Of course, I did not give – but told he can have food.

    No one will beleive, that if say that I was never a member of Press club or I have neverf spend any amount on ‘hot/hard drinks’ throughout my 30 years PR job. But I had other ways of maintaining media relations, then. May be now things have changed.

    As a matter of fact. many senior journalists were keen to take me out for lunch/dinner, which I have politely declined.

    If few are interested, I am prepared to conduct a one full day seminar on the strategies I had adopted with documentary proof, of course for a fee. Any takers ?


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