How to Avoid PR Scams
Stop wasting time, money and resources
The phone rings and it’s a producer who wants to speak to the CEO of your company right away. You think it’s a media call, drop everything and listen to what the person on the other end of the line has to say.
Wow! It sounds great. They are going to produce a video of your business with a detailed interview and market it on television and the Web. Then, you find out there is a cost… a huge cost.
Has this happened to you?
If not, and you are a fairly successful business owner sending out press releases, just wait. You will get a call like this one of these days. My clients get them frequently. They either get stuck on the phone, or I get messages from assistants that tell me something like, “a media member from a major, television network just called to speak to the CEO. Please check into this.”
There are a lot of rip-offs out there… especially when it comes to small business owners. Scam artists prey on entrepreneurs who want to get massive publicity and have their products featured on national television or online. But you don’t have to be one of them.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid PR scams:
1. Do your due diligence.
As soon as a media member contacts you “out of the blue,” you should be a little weary. Ask what the name of their business is, get a Website address and find out if there is a fee for their services. This way, you’ll know right away whether it’s an advertising opportunity or a legitimate, media interview. If they ask for money, it definitely falls under advertising.
2. Sound too good to be true? It is.
These salespeople are really good. They will entice you with huge distribution numbers, seeing your products and services all over the world, fame, fortune, and more. It’s intriguing stuff! Try not to get caught up in this “fantastic opportunity” that just seemed to come when you needed it most. Ask about the fees upfront, and then say, “No Thank You.”
3. Is it really that exclusive and time-sensitive?
When you hear a sales pitch, there is always this exclusive element with a fast-approaching deadline like…
“Congratulations. You’ve been chosen to be on our list out of the top, 100 small businesses in the country. Please contact us as soon as possible as we have limited, editorial space in your particular industry.”
“We recently saw your news and think you would be a perfect fit for this segment we have coming up in two weeks.”
“We can get your business story in front of thousands of travelers on flights worldwide, but we need you to respond within three days to secure your space.”
Blah, blah, blah. If they need you to call immediately in order to “reserve your space,” it’s not a great deal. They probably just want to give you a sales pitch and get a signed contract as soon as possible so they can hit their monthly, sales quota.
4. The Bait and Switch.
This is really bad, and you should watch out for this if you represent clients in any from related to public relations, content strategy and marketing.
Review point one above before setting any media-interviews. Why? This is what happens. You set up a media interview with a producer, editor or reporter. Then, when they are talking to your client, they proceed to sell them their PR, content strategy and marketing services. Basically, they use their credentials in the media to steal your clients. Yep. It’s totally uncool, but it happens.
It’s essential for media-members to be upfront with you about any services they provide “on the side.” Most are professional and responsible, but there are a few bad eggs out there who will just keep it quiet in hopes of stealing your business. Be careful and tell your friends and associates if you run into any of these “unethical” types. Word travels fast.
Be Open to Actual Opportunities.
Now, even though there are a lot of sales calls going on out there, most media calls that you receive will be legitimate. And many of the “advertising placements” that you pay for can actually be good for your particular business. You just need to use your common sense and think about the list above.
After all, you don’t want to tick off an actual reporter just because you thought they were trying to sell you something. And if you do fall prey to one of these sales calls, please contact me. I have some swamp land in Florida I’d like to sell you! Ha!
What are you going to do to avoid unscrupulous media-members?