Monday, March 17, 2008

Beware the Publicist Scam

This is the kind of thing that gives PR people a bad name.

ProfNet (also known by the name of its reseller, PR Leads) is a pricey subscription service that helps journalists find expert sources and others for their news stories and articles. Journalists send their queries through the ProfNet system at no charge; the publicists who receive them throughout the day pay a yearly subscription fee for access to these queries. The PR people try to match the queries with their client base or the resources in their organization.

I've noticed that some publicists are repositioning these random source inquiries from journalists with their clients so that the client thinks the publicist has this fabulous -- fabulous! -- network of media contacts who think so much of the publicist that they are always calling and saying, "Hey, I'm working on a story about XXX and I know you'll know just the perfect person to talk to."

The deceit is one thing. But what really gets me is how these supposedly well-connected publicists then turn the journalist's query over to the expert to respond to directly. So let's're paying your publicist a hefty monthly retainer to copy and paste an inquiry from a newsletter (not a reporter buddy) into an e-mail message that you -- not the publicist -- has to find the time to respond to. What's wrong with this picture? Especially when you can get these queries from journalists directly and cut out the middle man.

Now if that middle man is doing lots of great work for you besides passing along these inquiries that's another thing. But if you're paying a monthly fee to a publicist who does nothing but e-mail ProfNet/PR Leads queries (and isn't honest about where they're coming from), you've got other options. While the full ProfNet service is only available to PR people, individuals can subscribe via PR Leads to get only those queries that match their expertise. It costs about $100 a month. If your publicist is scamming you, this might be one way to maintain this passive PR campaign without paying any more than you have to.

There are a lot of really good publicists out there. That's why I'm concerned when I see people working with those who aren't even mediocre.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great post about "Beware the Publicist Scam".

Our publicity firm has developed the Media Connect Program, which is a repackaged version of ProfNet and several other services we subscribe to as well as our established relationships.

Instead of a retainer campaign, experts can join our program for an initial registration fee and then they only pay when a media connection is secured. These fees range from $50 - $250 per connection. Our experts have enjoyed some very nice exposure at an affordable price.

I invite you to learn more about our Media Connect Program and give an honest assessment of this service for your readers.

Traci Bisson
Bisson Barcelona