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}.

Our one source of energy, the ultimate discovery

Came home yesterday to a message on the answerphone. The five second silence that tells me it’s an automated call, followed by a sweet old lady’s voice saying this was an automated call from a company whose name I didn’t catch “on behalf of your electricity supplier”. Please could I phone up with a meter reading, or alternatively enter it at a URL that I also didn’t get. It really was a crackly recording.

Hmm. They’re calling on behalf of my electricity supplier yet can’t actually name the company. My electricity supplier can’t make a call like this itself. I suspect a cunning plan to enmesh me in a conversation that will lead to my changing suppliers to whoever is behind this little scheme.

Sadly it’s probably not illegal, apart from the outright lie of “on behalf of your electricity supplier”. There’s no law that says you can’t ask someone for a meter reading, or try to persuade them to change suppliers. But no, I don’t think I will be making that phone call. If it’s genuine they’ll try again. And the worst they can do is cut m-