A client of ours was recently notified that they won a prestigious award. It seemed legitimate, and the website looked genuine…until we did a little digging. The organization wrote a press release about our client, which was as non-specific as a horoscope, and after more digging, we found that they would charge our client a fee for it if they “accepted” the award. They also wanted hundreds of dollars for award plaques and certificates. It turned out to be a scam; bad press forced them to shut down and rename several times under numerous DBAs.
More common, we see clients get approached with an offer that provides the opportunity to be interviewed by a TV or radio host, if the client would just pay thousands of dollars to “cover expenses.” Throughout the past 11 years, we have seen clients tempted by these offers, but, fortunately, they have brought them to us to research before responding.
If you get approached by an award, radio or TV program opportunity, what should you do? If you have a PR or Marketing consultant, forward the information to them. If not, we recommend the following:
1) Ask: are they charging you a fee? Most salespeople pushing this type of pay-for-play offer will try to sidestep this question. If they do, that’s a big red flag.
2) If there is a fee, is it obvious that it is paid-for programming? Or, are they trying to make it look like real, earned media coverage? Legitimate news sources do not ask a guest to pay fees in order to be interviewed, and legitimate, paid-for advertising is obvious about it (an advertorial, for example, is clearly marked as an advertorial).
3) Research the program, host, award, etc.online. Add the word “scam” at the end of the name in your online search. If it’s a scam-like offer, you’ll most likely find sites and discussions from other businesses who took the bait and were disappointed or angry about the outcome.
4) Ask: when will the program or interview be aired and where? The biggest complaints we see, after someone has paid thousands of dollars, is that their video or radio interview was aired when nobody would be watching or listening.
5) Realize that there is no silver bullet and that a $50,000 paid-for TV spot with a well-known, retired politician, for example, that airs at odd times and odd places is not going to catapult your business across the tipping point.
Need more advice? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.330.2882.