I wrote the blog below last weekend and didn’t post it because maybe we were suppose to know the article was a press release even though it looked like an “article”. Today I received the same article in an Automation World News Insights email newsletter. This is clearly labeled news, insights and analysis … not press release.

Walt Boyes has long had his PR Wall of Shame. We may need to open a whole new wing for the Automation Press Wall of Shame.

A recent “article” on Version 2 of the WIB Security Requirements for Vendors was basically a press release called an article. While there is a lot to applaud about the WIB efforts, there are also a lot of questions about the process and likely impact, see our analysis one and two. Where is the reporting? This is not unique to the WIB story. You see the same thing with OPC UA, wireless technology, integrating safety and security, …. Think about the articles on issues you know the most about. Are they well researched and reported?

It is great when as a writer the facts and analysis lead to a positive story, but it shouldn’t be based purely on the vendors or organizations public statements without review. More importantly, how often do you see an article that fairly point out faults or flaws in a potential vendor advertiser’s product or service? An occasional good article will have a contrary opinion and some of the editorial’s are more pointed; these are the exception.

On top of this there are the online newsletters regularly put out by the automation press that are more often than not advertorial. To be fair, the vendor sponsor of the newsletter is often listed in small print somewhere in the email, but in a much larger font is publication name and format that mimics an independent publication. The online content on web sites is typically more advertorial than the publications, perhaps this is because more content is necessary.

The content from the automation press is not 100% bad. In the online and hard copy versions I’ll see some well-considered, analytical and informative articles. The problem is all the chaff around these quality press articles. If 80% or more of the information coming from the press is advertorial, advertising or promotion written like an article, we do not really have an automation press.