***UPDATE! PLEASE READ THE EMAIL THAT I RECEIVED FROM PROFILE MAGAZINE AT THE END OF THIS POST, IT APPEARS THAT THIS MAGAZINE MAY NOT BE AN ACTUAL SCAM, BUT I RECOMMEND THAT YOU PLEASE READ THE WHOLE POST AND THE EMAIL AT THE BOTTOM, I HAVE ADJUSTED THE TITLE OF THIS POST AND REMOVED SCAM AS WELL…THANKS FOR READING!***
A few weeks ago I got a voice mail message from a representative at Profile Magazine. He said that Profile Magazine was interested in writing a feature article about my SEO company, Brick Marketing and that the first step was a 10-15 minute preliminary interview to learn a little bit more about me and the company. I was both excited and a little skeptical…Excited for the fact that the Brick Marketing brand was getting enough recognition that a print magazine would want to write up a feature article, but skeptical because I had never heard of Profile Magazine before. Offline print media isn’t really my niche, so I thought that might be why I was unfamiliar with the magazine. However, I have been burned before by online magazines that say they want to write an article, when in reality it’s more of an advertorial that I have to pay for. I shot the representative a quick email to set up the phone interview, and also asked if there was any cost associated with the article. “There is no fee for the article” was the response I got, and continued to hear throughout the interview.
The representative was really nice on the phone and I found myself getting more and more excited for this article. It was a great chance for brand exposure and the SEO wheels started turning in my head to figure out how I could leverage this offline publicity online. All in all I was really excited to continue with Profile Magazine’s process. The representative told me he needed to run our interview by his editorial staff (they were talking to a few other SEO companies as well) and that if Brick Marketing was chosen for the feature article we would move onto the next step in the process.
A few days later I heard back from Profile Magazine that Brick Marketing was approved for the feature article. They only needed a few more things from me. First off, they wanted headshots of me and the Brick Marketing team. That’s easy enough, I thought. I said I could get those photos to them within the week. And secondly, they asked if I had any vendors I thought might be interested in advertising. I was a little confused. I had to bring in advertisers for my own feature article? The representative told me that it was standard Profile Magazine policy—any company being written about in a featured article was required to bring in one or two advertisers for the magazine. The price for a 1/3 sheet ad–$4,350!!
Here is where I take issue with Profile Magazine. I asked multiple times throughout the interview process if there were any costs associated with this article. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth but I have been burned one too many times to assume that anything comes with no strings attached. The SEO industry especially is full of people/companies looking to make a quick buck and take advantage of an unsuspecting business owner; I wasn’t going to commit to anything that was going to bite me in the you-know-what in the end.
Granted, I wasn’t going to have to hand over anything out of my pockets, but the fact that they expected me to solicit my vendors, business partners and clients on their behalf is unbelievable! I would never ask my business partners if they wanted to advertise in an article about Brick Marketing. First and foremost, it’s incredibly self-serving. Secondly, why on earth would I want to put my relationships with my business partners at risk with a request like that? I wouldn’t be too happy if one of them came to me with such a proposal, so why would I think they would react any differently?
I can appreciate that the magazine needs to make revenue in order to survive, but the fact that they only told me about this “required” advertising when we were 90% of the way through the process, after I had repeatedly asked about any associated costs, is downright scummy. If the representative had been upfront about it from the beginning I might still have considered it, but at least I would have known what I was getting myself into from the get-go!
I should have done my homework before agreeing to the interview. A quick Google search for “Profile Magazine Scam” turned up this gem on 800notes.com. Many of the comments replay the experience I had but I think one comment in particular pretty much sums it up:
Jim called our offices yesterday from Profile Magazine. Very polite asking to do free review on our company. Later in the conversation the truth came out. We had to give them 3 -5 references for the article. They would call our references and ask them to donate to pay for our FREE review and article about our Company. If those business’s did not donate or buy advertising from them, Profiles Magazine would mail us a bill for the cost of the article. So FREE is not really FREE.
So to any and all business owners that get a phone call from Profile Magazine, beware! Yes, you might be able to get an article in a print magazine but there is no such thing as a free lunch.
UPDATED, AFTER I PUBLISHED THIS POST ABOUT PROFILE MAGAZINE, I RECEIVED THIS EMAIL FROM THEM IN RESPONSE TO THIS BLOG POST:
I came across your blog post today and thought I should reach out. First and foremost, I wanted to apologize about the negative experience that you had with one of our researchers. I think transparency is very important for every business, and when one of our potential features misunderstands how our writing process works we must take responsibility.
I was not present on the conversations you had, but I think it is important to clarify how our writing process works.
For our upcoming issue we are looking to feature the work of SEO experts. In our research, we came across you, and thought that it might be possible that you and Brick Marketing would be a good fit for for this section.
Typically, our researchers conduct a preliminary interview to learn more about the feature company’s philosophies, what sets them apart from the competition, and what they have planned for the future. We also touch on the career path of the person that is potentially being interviewed.
There is no cost for a feature company to participate. If there is a mutual fit, we set up a time for a more thorough phone interview that serves as the backbone of the article. We also request photography to accompany the article. This can include headshots, product shots, or anything else the feature company thinks would complement the feature.
We also ask for a list of some of the vendor companies they buy goods and services from or refer business to on a regular basis (not clients). We reach out to them, let them know about the feature and invite them to advertise alongside the article. This is strictly an invitation to see if they might be interested in marketing their services alongside a relevant article. If they respond positively, we work with them on sizing and pricing. If they decline, we simply move on. Since there is no cost for feature companies and no cost to subscribe, all we ask for is the opportunity to present the idea of advertising to vendors. Because of this, we give preference to feature companies with advertising. Referral advertisers receive 50-150 words as a side-note to comment on the business relationship they have with the feature company, and we offer free ad design to anyone who needs it.
Again, I apologize that this was not thoroughly explained to you when you had asked if there is a cost to be in the magazine. This is supposed to be explained to you very early in the process and very thoroughly.
Sometimes there is interest on both sides but the feature company does not want to provide a vendor list. If that is the case, we allow feature companies to purchase their own advertisement in lieu of providing a list of potential advertisers.
To supplement our print edition, we have developed an iPad version that will be released April 1st 2012 and all our articles are going to be permanently available on our website. This will allow featured companies to link to their article; serving as an additional way of utilizing this for their marketing efforts. You can see the newly revamped website at www.profilemagazine.com.
I hope this offers some clarity on our writing process and what we are trying to put together.
Your article is thorough, but not entirely accurate. I’m very comfortable with our writing process being posted online in its entirety as long as it’s accurate. I wanted to comment on some of the things you wrote:
“the fact that they expected me to solicit my vendors, business partners and clients on their behalf is unbelievable!”
-We do not ask any of our featured firms to solicit their vendors on our behalf. We reach out to them ourselves over the phone or email. All we ask for is the opportunity to present the idea of advertising to the feature company’s vendors. We are very professional, explain to them exactly what we are working on and how they fit into the picture. It is simply an invitation. Often times, they are very receptive to the rare opportunity of marketing their services alongside the article of one of their clients in a business magazine. They see this as an effective networking tool to let our readers know which key clients they are associated with. Usually, the decision is not whether they want to do it (they almost always want to), but rather whether they have the budget to do so. We work with them as best as we can. If they are unable to make room in their budget to participate, we politely part ways and wish them the best.
You also re-posted “If those business’s did not donate or buy advertising from them, Profiles Magazine would mail us a bill for the cost of the article.”
-This is simply not true. We have never done this and never will. This is another example of someone misunderstanding our writing process and misleading people online.
Lastly, you mention that Profile is a “scam”. A scam is something that is fraudulent; something we are certainly not. I think there may have been a misunderstanding, but putting the word “scam” in your post title is very strong and misleading.
Over the last 6 years we have written over 8,000 articles in our printed magazines, most of them with advertising associated with them. We have many satisfied feature companies. If you take a close look at the comments posted online, they all come from people that have never actually followed through with our writing process and likely misunderstood what was going on.
So yes, we call people a lot. It’s a lot of work to do research over the phone. We do this because some of the best stories of leadership and excellence are not yet published, so we must come up with an editorial idea and call people to see who might be a good fit… like we did with you.
Again, my apologies for the inconvenience and miscommunication. I hope that you take my email seriously and correct your post. I hope we can speak sometime soon to offer further clarity.
Because of your negative experience, I would be happy to offer an article in the print and iPad edition, the permanent article on our website, as well as a complimentary PDF of the article that you can share with your potential clients.
Please reach out when you have the chance.
George Bozonelos | Director of Strategic Partnerships
Guerrero Howe Custom Media