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A different kind of fake problem

July 13, 2017

We all love awards and the very positive PR ability you and your firm gains and the picture of you with your well-deserved trophy lasts long after the news of the award has passed on.

Here at The Recycler, we have two kinds of awards; annual awards where firms and individuals are nominated in several categories and the industry then votes for the winner and the company or person with the most votes wins. Our other award is a lifetime achievement award, and we have only awarded four in our entire twenty-five-year history. We were more than a little surprised this week to discover a whole new market in fake or “vanity” awards, and it is a well-crafted trap you might come across in your business.

Here’s how it works; You or someone in your company receive an email saying that you or your business has been nominated for a prestigious award. All you have to do is respond to the email with “accept” or “opt out”. If you agree you will be shortlisted, go on to win the award and be offered the opportunity to buy an engraved trophy and a whole range of expensive publicity and marketing packages.

Where is the scam? Well, all sorts of companies across different sectors get nominated, even dormant companies and ones that have closed. Even if you are an active business the awards email can often go to a junior member of staff or former employee, not the owners or senior managers indicating little or no due diligence has been done, and you may well end up having to write the articles yourself and supply any images.

If you shop around you can you can even pick your own awards title. According to The Strait Times “In the past five years, the unregulated business of creating and handing out such “industry” awards has burgeoned and there are now at least five firms vying for a slice of the pie, up from just two in 2010.”

So why am I sharing this story with you? Well, a few weeks ago a local UK based company received lots of publicity in the local paper from receiving an award, but digging deeper it transpires that, as antique dealers might say, “the award lacks provenance” and you, like the UK company, could be several thousand pounds out of pocket.

The editor’s decision is final:  The value of any award has to be a reflection and acknowledgement of the effort you have put into your business or career, as measured by other people. Being nominated by your peers is indeed an honour, being voted for is an even greater honour. And you should not have to pay for your award, period.

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