AAO members have recently been solicited by media companies for interviews on Web-based television. The new pitches claim that there is no cost to the orthodontist for the production; however, pay-to-play does involve a production fee and representatives have been known to pressure AAO members to sign a contract.
These opportunities are not legitimate interview requests. They are presented as interviews rather than advertising, but the production companies often charge interviewees $20,000 or more for production expenses.
Typically, information about the production expense fee is withheld until after extended discussion with the representative. The dialogue may take a great deal of time before the reality of the situation becomes apparent and during this process, the representative may often pressure the orthodontist to sign a contract.
“Pay-to-play” interviewing by media production companies is not illegal, but it is a scam-like situation. Legitimate news sources do not ask a guest to pay any fees for any purpose. In the past, such offers were usually extended to public relations firms for specific clients or to organizational communication departments, but production companies now contact individual professionals, including AAO members.
Below is a list of red flags indicating that an interview opportunity is not legitimate:
- The opportunity is not a referral from the AAO communications and marketing staff *;
- The interview request is not from a local media outlet with which you are familiar or have a relationship, or a national show that is well-known;
- If asked if the opportunity is really for advertising, the representative will say no;
- If asked whether production expenses must be covered by the person being interviewed, the representative may avoid directly responding to the question.
If you are concerned about any contact that you receive from a media representative, the safest response is to refer the caller to the AAO, or to contact the AAO yourself to discuss your concerns or questions. The AAO contact for media relations is:
Marketing and Member/Consumer Relations Manager
800-424-2841, Ext. 524
* Depending on the reporter’s needs, the AAO usually refers legitimate interview requests to association leaders and/or to other members who have completed media interview training by the AAO’s professional media trainer.