Learn from My Mistake: Television Interview Scam

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m definitely still a naïve young professional. I still have stars in my eyes and, because of that, sometimes fall for the “sounds too good to be true” bait, especially when it involves media interviews. I work in public relations for a large AV integrator, and I get contacted by the media on a fairly regular basis for interviews in trade pubs. As a PR person, my secret wish is for that “unknown caller” to be a reporter from the NY Times or MSNBC asking for an interview with our CEO.

When I got a call asking if my company would be interested in being featured on “World Progress Report,” a show hosted by JoanLunden, I was pretty stoked. Lunden certainly doesn’t have the cool-factor like Sara Abrons or Linda Seid Frembes, but the caller claimed she had a show. A TELEVISION SHOW. So, I bit.

The lady on the phone gave me the details: the show produced “good educational content for the American public” and drew “more than 60,000 viewers” with its stories. I asked if this was a pay-to-play opportunity, and was assured that we weren’t expected to do any advertising to participate. Sounded good to me, and I was pleased with myself to have discovered this amazing media opp.

After covering my bases (or so I thought), I arranged for the show’s producer to speak to the VP of Marketing to get a little more information. She was (understandably) leery of the deal, but agreed. After talking for more than 20 minutes, the producer casually mentioned that there were some fees involved with filming and editing. A shadow crossed my VP’s face and my stomach dropped. She quickly asked, “How much are we talking about?” Just as casually, the producer responded with a few figures, totaling more than $25,000. My VP stared at me, stone-faced. I willed my body to catch fire or melt into the floor, but nothing happened. I wrapped up the call as quickly as possible (without just hanging up, which I momentarily considered), and apologized profusely for wasting her time.

That was several months ago. I had almost forgotten about it when I got a call from someone offering an interview on “Profiles with Terry Bradshaw,” a suspiciously-familiar sounding offer. This time, I did a little Google search and discovered that it was a similar scam. (Here’s the link to the great post I found: http://trainingintel.blogspot.com/2011/01/car-sales-tactics-with-terry-bradshaw.html) I immediately thought about you, my fellow AV peeps, and that I wouldn’t want you to fall into the same time-wasting, spirit-squishing trap that I did. So, I decided to blog.

The moral of this story? Sometimes the old sayings are right; sometimes things that sound too good to be true really are.

Have you been approached with a similar scam? Please share! (I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one! :oD)