Pay Real Money; Get Fake Interview

Published Aug 30, 2012 04:00 AM
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Interviews with manufacturers are typically boring, filled with platitudes and thinly veiled promotions. But are they actually bought and paid for? Unfortunately, one of the biggest promoters of security manufacturer interviews, SecurityStockWatch is. Typically, you would have to pay nearly $9,000 for a fake "sponsored content interview" but thanks to the PSA [link no longer available], you can get 35% off and get coverage in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the LA Time and other major publications. And now the Security Industry Alliance is getting in on the action.

Is this for real? In this note, we dig into the deep problems of the offer.

SecurityStockWatch has a prestigious sounding interview series called "In the Boardroom With" that conducts interviews with various security manufacturers. Here's an example of the type of hard hitting questions they asked Pelco recently: "Congratulations on the Pelco by Schneider Electric success story at The Greenbrier Casino Club in West Virginia.... Can you tell us about the solution?" Congratulations indeed.

Manufacturers 'Control'

The questions are so weak because as their Rate Card brags, "you [the manufacturer] control the content and the interview." There's no real interview, just a series of staged question used to trick unsuspecting readers into thinking that this is a legitimate discussion. Plus, no disclosure of 'sponsorship' nor sponsor 'control' is provided, which is almost certainly againt FTC guidlines, common sense, ethics 101, etc., etc.

Major Publication Coverage

The big selling point for these fake interviews is coverage in major publications but these are simply automated press release distributions that run on completely separate and generally unread sections. For example, "coverage" in the Wall Street Journal is actually just a press release copy in MarketWatch, a brand distinct from the 'real' WSJ. You'd get basically the same results by paying PRWeb $369 for their 'premium' service. Even that's not real coverage in the NY Times but the same automated copying of press releases.

I suppose there's no shame but I guess there's also no fear that readers will be smart enough to see through such basic scamming. Here's a classic Daily Show critique of interviewers failing to ask real questions: