Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Signal's Classless Stunt--UPDATED

UPDATE: The Signal will now consider awarding money to non-subscribers, too. Way to go.

It should read "Signal to lend someone else's money for our own gain"

Ian Lamont could make a cynic out of anybody.

The Signal announced that it will give away $500(!) every week(!!) to local, deserving individuals and organizations (!!!).

Lamont introduced the exciting plan today[1].

"Five hundred cash. $500 moolah, dough, spondulicks, greenbacks, bread, bucks, smackers. Whatever word you like to use, that is the amount (on average) The Signal will be giving away every week for the next 52 weeks.

"Why? We are in a recession. While the SCV economy has been better than most markets, there are still plenty of folks who are struggling, who are being challenged, who are stressed out and beat down.

"So why not give away on average $500 every week, provide some good news, and put some smiles on the faces of people who could use them?"

How munificent our hometown paper is! They’re looking out for the struggling, the challenged, the “stressed out and beat down” by giving away $500 a week for a whole year.

Two catches. First, it’s not their money they’re giving out. By the fourth paragraph, Lamont gets around to mentioning this fact. He describes a generous couple who wrote a check for $25,000. They wish to remain anonymous and asked that The Signal take charge of finding worthy recipients and distributing the money. Lamont, who likes using “most” as an adverb, described the donation as “most generous,” the arrangement as “most unusual,” and the couple as “most interesting and wonderful.”

Apparently, they were inspired by a Midwestern paper where the luckless could write for advice and small donations from a local philanthropist, Harold. Lamont provides a for-instance:

“To the single mother who needed a few hundred dollars more for the
deposit on an apartment in a better part of town where her kids would be safer,
Harold would wish her well — and write a check to make her dream come true.”

This story could come true in Santa Clarita, too, but only if that single mother was a Signal subscriber. That’s the second catch. Nominators and recipients must both be subscribers to The Signal, having paid their subscription for the past 90 days or being prepaid for the next 90 days. Yup, that mom who wants to move her kids to a better part of town would have to be getting The Signal every day or she’d still be stuck.

If The Signal was fronting the money (they said they’ll contribute some--no amount given), I would have no problem with this stipulation. It would be a clever marketing ploy that’s doing a lot of incidental good. But it’s not their money. It was that wonderful couple’s money, and it seems unlikely they would want to see their gift restricted to deserving Signal subscribers rather than deserving Claritans in general.

It becomes altogether too much when Lamont waxes idealistic:

“My hope is the fund, in helping SCV individuals or organizations in need, will prompt others to action, either by doing a good deed for someone in need or sending a check to the fund so more people can be helped. Doing so provides an endless loop of goodwill, generosity and smiles that will honor the couple who got it all going.”

As long as you’re a subscriber paid-up for 90 days.

It's easy to be generous on somebody else's dime, especially when you get a lot of the credit and it benefits your company financially. The Signal hasn’t started this program yet, so let us hope they will show some class, decency, and humility by being generous to the whole community with that couple’s money, not using it to so forcibly leverage more subscriptions.

[1]Read all about the plan here.


Anonymous said...

PR Fail.

For a PR win throw in a FREE 90 day 'scrip for the peson in need. Getting the paper is not high on the priority list when you are low on cash. I doubt there are 52 people who both subscribe and are needy.

Anonymous said...

I agree. and who are the signal employees that get to "select" the lucky individual for their generous offer? do they have to be interviewed and put on display on the front pages of the paper? probably...
so sad. newspapers should show a little more class.

Anonymous said...

Lamont is a crook. He is slowly buying off many business owners in SCV by giving them biased press.

Anonymous said...

a newspaper should never take money. This generous and "anonymous" couple (to everyone except the editor of the local paper) should have picked a charity and made a difference. Now the Signal has 52 stories to run and new subscribers and this couple has the local paper on its side.
btw - this story was on 60 minutes some time back and it was done during the Depression. I believe that individual not only read each letter but donated $1 million the cause. $500 is nice, but in this day and age, it barely makes a dent (except at the grocery store).

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