Could we finally be seeing the back of no plug, no interview PR – the practice in which public relations agencies only give journalists access to their clients in exchange for promotional content in editorial?

The Guardian has fuelled speculation that an end could be well on the cards, after it announced a new clause in its editorial code preventing journalists from including promotional content unless it is of genuine interest or benefit to the reader.



The newspaper made it clear to journalists that they should not agree to include material promoting the financial interests of contributors or interviewees as a means of securing a story.

The practice is commonplace amongst PR agencies with high-profile celebrity clients, who have come to expect some form of plug, such as a promotional photograph or footnote, as a condition for granting an interview.

It has been interesting to note the reaction of many PR agencies to what they see as a short-sighted move by The Guardian. They claim that the newspaper could end up losing out to rivals in their chase for exclusive coverage of a story.

Yet all of us in the public relations industry should be welcoming the lead taken by The Guardian, as it will help journalists to do their job more as they see fit and publish stories purely based on their news value.

And this will actually benefit our clients far more, as only stories that genuinely appeal to their target audience will make their way into print, the result of which will be far more readers who are likely to respond.