PR Pros: You Are Being Robbed ($699 for an E-Book, Really?!)

PR Pros: You Are Being Robbed ($699 for an E-Book, Really?!)


This post originally appeared on the following post


By Skip Mahaffey, Broadcaster, Media Coach

I wanted to call this piece “How to Commit Professional Suicide in 1300 Words,” because I’m not going to make any friends here today. In fact, I’ll probably upset those of you who regularly read these blogs to the point where my fledgling media coaching career will die on the table. But hey, I’ve never been accused of being a marketing or self-promotion genius so what the hell?

A lot of you are being screwed and screwed HARD. The other day, I was perusing a web site dedicated to helping folks like you succeed in making your clients more successful in communicating/marketing and dealing with the media. I was particularly fascinated by an e-book touting itself as the be all, end all for anyone trying to develop their client into a media savvy, sound bite slinging Tweet Master.

I admit I was fascinated and dug a little deeper and after reading the table of contents and a few sample chapters I thought, “Maybe it would be a good idea if I bought the book and took some pointers for my media coaching methods.” I was fully prepared to purchase the e-book and was merrily doing so until I came to the place where it said how much this little pile of insight was going to set me back:


AND if I acted now, they would throw in shipping! ON AN E-BOOK! What shipping is involved on an e-book?

For that price, not only should you send me the book, you should read it to me AND clean my house, every day for a MONTH!

C’mon, $700.00?

Has anyone let these people know it’s 2012 and we are in an economic stomach cramp that I imagine rivals the absolute worst labor pains?  While I don’t know the actual percentages, I do know that a majority of you are dealing with clients who have little or no budget designated for this and many of you are paying for this valuable information out of your own pocket. Seven hundred dollars for one book is not a difficulty, it’s an impossibility.

And while I’m at it, let me upset a few more people and talk about these seminars designed to get authors, experts and spokespeople in front of booking agents from every major TV show on the planet. Is this valuable? Oh, hell yes. Does it work? For some. Is it worth tens of thousands of dollars a toss? I’m thinking, “Hell no.”

[Let me take a minute here to tell you a story a dear friend of mine and regular contributor on my radio show shared with me recently: Several years ago, she attended a seminar where she was promised to be put in front of dozens of the top booking agents in the country. She spent three days perfecting her pitch and when it came to her time in front of the booking agents, she was picked up by some major programs. What puzzled her was the fact that a young lady who sat with her all three days with a very compelling book and a fascinating pitch told with great articulation was not picked up by anyone nor was she even given the courtesy of feedback. Eventually, this friend of mine asked one of the booking agents why such a slam-dunk interview was passed over, the booking agent replied casually, “She’s too ugly for television.” This lady spent nearly $9,000 she couldn’t afford and drove half way across the country for this seminar and while they were glad to take her money, nobody took the time to give her the truth. That is a collossal waste of time and money!]

I get it, “it takes money to make money” and “you get what you pay for”—but c’mon, can we get a little reality-based thinking going on here? This is the age of free information on demand. Key word: free. It’s tough enough for some of us to justify our cost but when you add astronomical expenses on top of that, you get a lot of push back from your clients.

Yes, I am one of those people trying to sell you my product. But I know media coaches that charge anywhere from $500 to $1500 an hour. That is way too much for the average person. Honestly, my goal here is not to call the emperor out for being nekked. What I’m trying to do is use what I’ve learned over many years of practical experience on my side of the microphone to help as many of your clients to “Be Brilliant.”

As a struggling author (“Adventures With My Father: Childhood Recollections of Divorce, Dysfunction and the Summer of Love,” available on Kindle for four bucks!), I’ve been pitched countless services, seminars, webinars and séances that are guaranteed to make me a New York Times bestie. Guess what? I bought in to some of these things and all I got was time in my life wasted that I will never get back and money out of my pocket.

All I’m trying to say is this: Do some homework, search out all the sources and find one that best suits you, your client and your clients needs.

That said, here are …

Five Things That Will Help You Be Brilliant Without Breaking Your Bank
  • Weigh Cost vs. Value:Shop around spend wisely. You can spend $700.00 on one book that’s supposed to be the Gray’s Anatomy of media preparation—but for that amount, there are several outstanding media coaches who would spend a few hours with you one on one, giving personalized coaching that benefits YOU. Three day seminars can set you back thousands of dollars. The best seminar I ever attended cost me $199.00.
  • Don’t Buy Off More Than You Can Chew: Valerie Gellar is a genius. I won’t take up space here telling you about her list of accolades and accomplishments (Google her, you’ll be blown away), but I can tell you that she is one of the most respected authorities in the world of broadcasting. Her expertise has helped save the career of hundreds of broadcasters and the ears of millions of listeners. But that’s not where her true genius lies. Valerie has mastered the art of making her information available in bite-sized chunks or feasts fit for kings depending on your needs and budget. You can hire her to coach you personally (pricey), attend one of her seminars (not so pricey), or purchase one of her books ($31 on Each one provides insightful and useful information that anyone can work into their bottom line.
  • Understand What You Want to Get out of It Before you Do It: Too many people waste too much money for information they really don’t need. For example, a client of mine who is an author spent several thousand dollars on a weekend seminar a few years ago. During that seminar, there were three separate sessions dealing with damage control when dealing with the media. There’s no arguing that this is valuable information but as she put it to me: “I write books about gardening, what the hell kind of damage do I need to control?” When searching out sources for media coaching, fine tune your needs and seek them out specifically. There may be times when you have to buy unnecessary information, but if the overall package is beneficial to you, that’s okay.
  • Ask Around: We are supposed to be communicators so…communicate! If you come across something you’re not sure if it will benefit you or your client or if it’s a good value, start asking around. Get references, call colleagues. Hell, call me. If I don’t have an answer for you immediately, I’ll get you one.
  • Have Realistic Expectations: Whatever you’re being sold, by me or anybody else, diminish its probability of success by 50% of whatever you are being promised then determine if it’s worth the investment. Don’t pin your hopes on one book, seminar or weight loss pill. If that ‘one thing’ worked as well as it’s touted, its creator would be a bazillionaire and living on Richard Branson’s island.

Look, bottom line: Be careful. Shop around and buy smart.


Skip Mahaffey in an award-winning broadcaster, Media Coach/Consultant and Author of Adventures With My Father: Childhood Recollections of Divorce, Dysfunction and the Summer of Love. Skip is available for consultation by calling 813-388-1035 or email:


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