People who know what it really takes to get on a nationally broadcast TV talk show are aware that paying a firm thousands of dollars for training sessions is no guarantee of a star-making appearance.
Not everyone is in the know, however. Take, for example, the nine people who have complained to the Better Business Bureau about Champion Media Worldwide, an Illinois firm that promises appearances on “Today,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” CNN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and other shows and networks.
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
reporter fielded a call from Champion Media saying it would cost $700 per interview, or perhaps per training session, to hire the firm. When the Journal Sentinel
asked for comment, the firm’s founder and CEO said, “We regularly get our clients on TV.”
, CEO of 5WPR, says that’s almost certainly not true.
“The reality is that there are very few legit PR firms who offer guaranteed placement on ‘Oprah,’” he says. “It’s quite simple. We can’t guarantee placement on ‘Oprah,’ and anyone who tells you otherwise is someone to run away from.”
Robert Holland of Holland Communication Solutions agrees that Champion’s offer is pretty clearly a scam.
“No reputable public relations firm would take this approach, and any smart PR professional would see that such a ploy is unethical,” he says. “Sadly, people who don't understand the public relations business and those who already have a negative view of PR will think this is standard operating procedure.”
Tripp Frohlichstein of MediaMasters Training says most people know the good from the bad, but a few bad actors could tar the profession in the eyes of many.
“Sadly, there are some critics with just enough skepticism who will use this isolated incident and say, ‘See, this is why the PR industry is so slimy,’” he says.
Likewise, there are always people who will fall for something that’s too good to be true, Frohlichstein says.
“When there are bad players in the industry, it is important that organizations like [PR Daily
] expose them so people know we are capable of policing our own industry,” he adds.
Matt Wilson is a staff editor for Ragan.com.