Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Fame and fortune and everything that goes with it

Along with the usual random collections of invitations to bid to write someone's medical research paper or biographical squibs for a website featuring nude Bollywood stars (I know, I wish I was making this up too), this morning's inbox delivers the following treat.
"Dear Ben

This is $SCAMMING_COW from $SCAMMING_COWS_INC. [Names changed not to protect the innocent – as if – but because I have no intention of publicising their scamming set-up.] We are a full service media relations company that works with authors, speakers, thought-leaders, coaches, internet marketers, business experts, health and wellness leaders, etc. to secure media exposure for them and their businesses. We've taken specific interest in you and your business as someone we'd like to represent and would like to further discuss the possibility of representing you."
Well, I do have an agent, y'know, but okay, I'll read further. Nice to know someone thinks I could be a thought-leader, or even a thought leader.

My eye is caught further down by a very promising list of prices. If these people can get me these, I'll be laughing.
  • Online radio: $60 per booking
  • Terrestrial radio: $100 per show per market (for example, If a show is syndicated into Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago that appearance would be $240)
  • Television: $150 for local, $500 for national
  • $1000 for major network shows
  • Print media: $750 per placement
  • Blog features: $50 per appearance
  • Webinars-hosting and inviting attendees -$250
(Incidentally, are you picking up the vibe that these people think I'm American?)

Except that I then read the bit just before:
"We also now offer pay as you go PR. Experts can join the PR company and pay per booking that we get them."
So … you want me to pay you $100 to get me on a radio show? In fact:
"Our media relations representation packages start at just $500 per month and guarantee a minimum of 5 engagements per month!"
So I'm paying you $500 a month. My incentive is presumably the carrot you dangle in front of me of fame, fortune and media exposure. What exactly is yours? You're getting $500 a month, and I'm also paying you for the extra promotion. Why do you want to do anything at all on top of that?

Answer, you don't. Children, if you get anything like this, it's a scam. Genuine PR agents take a cut of your earnings: that's standard and accepted and it's what makes them tick. No earnings, no cut. That's how the big wide world works. Sadly, it is a feature of the same big wide world that there are people like $SCAMMING_COWS_INC. out there always ready to prey on the needy.

Like all good scams it finished with a morsel of truth.
"All of the MEGA best-sellers were born in the mass media (Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Tipping Point, Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Success Principles, etc.) here's your chance to do it in a very cost effective manner."
Well, yes, they grew big through the mass media – but I promise you, their authors did not pay $500 a month for a minimum of 5 engagements. Or even:
"Reputation Management $250 a month -in which we control the search engine to overtake any negative reputation harming search entries and articles."
Oh, and on the credit card authorisation form that they so helpfully send, they manage to say "Public Relaitons" instead of "Public Relations".

Back to the attempts to earn an honest living {sighs}.


  1. I would, indeed, avoid taking up $SCAMMING_COW on his marketing offer, but it doesn't mean agencies like this don't exist. There are quite a few of them in the UK which I've dealt with in the past.

    If a company wants to promote something - such as a widget or Healthy Living week - it can hire a marketing company to get them on the radio. The marketing company will "guarantee" them so many radio spots in return. The salesmen then work like billio to persuade radio stations to book up interviews through them. A celebrity is often hired as encouragement and booked to come into a studio for a whole morning to do a string of radio interviews in, usually, 15 minute slots. One interview I did some years ago was with (the Rev) Lionel Fanthorp who Sci-Fi channel had hired to talk about their new TV show, Heroes (I think it was).

    Publishers do occasionally hire these people when promoting their books. The same happens in print media and TV too.

  2. Better still, I recently heard from a writer who had been contacted by a company offering to register her copyright for her, thus 'protecting her interests' with dire warnings of what might happen if she didn't take this precaution. Aaargh.

  3. Aaargh, seconded!


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