Do my eyes deceive me? Is the New York Times egging on media price grinders and rate card bashers?

Last week, the Times had a small business column advising business owners to take advantage of the down economy by haggling with media sales reps:

Now is the time to bargain. If you are hurting, rest assured — so are the local newspaper, TV station, and radio station. Now is a perfect time to bargain for ad space, both in price and position. In most cases the more advertising space you buy, the more it is discounted. So if you’re a landscaper and you’re looking to place seasonal ads twice a week in your local newspaper for six months, ask for the 12-month price. The economy will go back up again and advertising prices will rise, so see what you can do to lock in the prices for the long term.

The Times also recommends asking for premium placement:

If you’re placing an ad in a magazine, ask which "premium" pages are open and see if you can get those at a discount. Premium pages include the inside front cover, the centerfold, the back cover, and the "front of book," which means the first third of the publication…But more important is to advertise when and where it makes sense for your business. If you offer tax services to small businesses, check into the costs of a "sponsorship" during a public radio station’s "marketplace" show. If you own a sports store, make sure your ad is in the sports section of the newspaper or runs during the sports segment of your local news. Haggle. Haggle. Haggle.

Is this a sell out?  

Times are tough in media an everyone knows it. The Times provided a constructive road map to getting concessions. They did not mention more severe concession driving tactics that involve all-or-nothing-threats and strangulation of small kittens and puppies.

Still, I would rather talk to a client willing to haggle for business over one who just closes the door with no discussion about advertising until after the recession has passed.

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