It’s not uncommon for public relations professionals to receive an email from a client asking if an offer for a profile or interview is legitimate. Perhaps even worse is the dreaded client email asking why their competitor was profiled or featured on a list of top CEOs, top entrepreneurs or the top of any conceivable list of executives or honorees. The short answer is, “He/she paid for it.”
With a 24 hour news cycle and news sources coming at us from all directions, whether it’s from your third cousin’s neighbor on Facebook or an unexpected email at work, it’s often hard to distinguish between legitimate publications and those that are more nefarious. In particular, trade and business publications often have similar sounding names so it’s hard to know which are the legitimate publications or news sites.
The initial inquiry for an executive feature or leadership profile can be flattering as most of us want to be recognized by a third-party source as the top in our field. Sometimes the emails come with a link to an online publication that looks fantastic and may even feature a Fortune 500 company or professional. Look closely… A little research may find that the publication is also connected to various similar publications that target other verticals with the exact same format that haven’t published in months. In other words, there is a product being reproduced and sold then abandoned for fresher advertising targets.
Unsolicited executive profiles and feature offers arrive in agency inboxes, too. Even for the skeptical among us, sometimes it can be hard to tell in the initial contact if the offer is real. Your first clue of a problem is finding the exorbitant fee attached to the ability to reproduce the article or feature for any other purpose. Let’s face it: what good is a profile about yourself or your company if you can’t use it for social media or on your website? Fees vary and are sometimes a few thousand dollars. Legitimate publications encourage sharing of their links, they don’t ask you to pay for it.
In spite of the concern over the bad actors selling questionable media coverage, there are legitimate trade publications with a pay for play model that provide targeted news and opportunities for coverage. A few minutes of research can usually take care of finding the difference. How long has the publication been in existence? Is there a mix of recognizable companies and newcomers featured? Is there an editorial calendar and contacts for editors? Who are some of the advertisers?
It’s important to take a look at media opportunities with an eye toward caution if the offer is completely unsolicited. Importantly, if you find yourself dealing with an advertising salesperson calling themselves a publisher, you probably want to take a closer look.
This post is courtesy of MMC Media Relations Manager Malinda Lackey