Friday, July 27, 2007

US Presswire - The Client's Perspective

So, how has US Presswire secured clients? The prevailing attitude that seems to be supporting them is "just give me something other than the AP...", or "...I want a different look than the wires...". The San Francisco Chronicle runs a great many photographs with the US Presswire photo credit, as do many other smaller papers. Scott Kroll, a former photo editor at said of his time there -"I typically will get images from the AP first...but they also seem to be the poorest quality images out there. ...I will replace the AP images with something better from the other wire services out there when they come out."

So, how do they get their clients? Well, USPW is "giving away" their work according to several photo editors I spoke with. Below is an inquiry from someone in the USPresswire Business Development office.

From: "xxxx xxxxxx"
Date: October XX, 2006 XX:XX:XX PM XDT
To: <(xxxxxxxxxx)>
Subject: US PRESSWIRE rates


Thank you for taking time to speak with me today. As we discussed, US Presswire would like to offer the following pricing option for the use of our sports images:

Sliding Scale A la Carte:
$20.00 per download/use for the first 10 Current images and $15.00 per download/use thereafter within a month's time. Archive images will be billed at a fee of $50.00 per use/download.

Our Current Images are classified from 1999 to present day and our Archive Images are classified as 1998 and back. In essence, you are receiving almost seven years of archive material for current pricing.

As of today, I have activated your account for download capability. The following information is the login and password information to access our website (please note,
logins and passwords are case sensitive):

LOGIN: (deleted)
PASSWORD: (deleted)

US PRESSWIRE is committed to ethical and professional journalism. We look forward to working with you and your staff at (deleted)>

Kind regards,

Xxxx Xxxxxxx
Business Development
office: 954-577-XXXX x0000"
When I asked Bob about rumors of a sub-$1000 figure for USA Today's "all you can eat buffet", Bob was quick to respond "That's Absurd." When I asked him about a la carte pricing at the $25 a picture mark, Bob said "This market changed 15 years ago when rights-grabbing contracts came about. What we do is simply price ourselves competitively. $25 is a competitive price in some markets, and that's a sad sad thing too. You gotta remember, this is not a price point we set." Ok, I agree, but it is a price point you are willing to do business at, and I submit that it's not a viable price point, nor are the $15 and $20 an image deals USPW gave a newspaper access to, as outlined above.

Photo Editors I spoke to discussed free trials, and suggested that there were four to six month free trials floating about, but Bob was quick to say "we do free trials on a case by case's a very common business practice to obtain subscription sales. We don't talk about the entire model, but we don't do 6 months, and there isn't anybody on a trial now." He commented that a 10 or 20 day free trial is not worth anything, but would not say which periods USPW has offerred in the past, nor where they fell between 20 days and 6 months, but it's clearly somewhere inbetween, but, as Bob said, "there isn't anybody on a trial now."

Last January, in a meeting of the top editors and money people at Sports Illustrated, one of the money guys stood up and said to the otherwise less than vocal photo department folks " we really need a staff? When we're getting images like this {holding up a US Presswire image} do we really need a staff?" This apparently caused more than one of the photo department folks to pipe up and object. But, with AOL/Time Warner being run by the finance people, this foreshadows the dissoloution of the legendary SI team, in my opinion, as happened with Time Magazine, and Life before them, and Newsweek and US News at other corporate giants.

The Newark Star Ledger has taken an interesting tact. They have chosen to supply a stream of images to US Presswire, as well as utilizing their images. An eyebrow was raised earlier this year by the MLB when this began to occur, but within a short period of time, the MLB backed off. When asked about the reported delays between the time that NSL has provided images and to the images appearing on the USPW website, Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Pim Van Hemmen said "that's really a low priority for me right now, but otherwise, we've been happy with their service..."

Bob said that he wasn't aware of MLB talking to US Presswire, and that the MLB,"they made an inquiry with the star ledger, no one talked to presswire. The MLB wanted to make sure that the photos were only being used for editorial purposes, secondarily. They made an inquiry, to my knowledge, and I didn't get involved in that either. MLB phoned them. They {NSL} asked us, we assured them it wasn't anything other than editorial, and, apparently, that was acceptable to MLB, as it should be." Bob concluded his sentiments on the subject, "I find it interesting that MLB calls about the one syndication deal that USPresswire has." Well, Bob, I agree. It wouldn't suprise me that, perhaps other stakeholders might have made this a shot across the bow to warn against a growth in these deals.
US Presswire - Introduction
US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest
US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends
US Presswire - Contract Analysis
US Presswire - The Client's Perspective
US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective
US Presswire - Closing Thoughts

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

I work for a large top-10 daily. We pay around $350 a month for their full service, that basically means we can pay this out of petty cash.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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