No, You Can’t Pay Someone $700 To Get You On Oprah’s TV Shows

Maybe you’ve got a few things you’d like to weigh in on via a national show on a major network, like CNN or Oprah Winfrey’s eponymous entity. But believe us when we say, if the Rachael Ray people or Today want to get you on TV as an expert, it’ll be free. In other words, you shouldn’t be paying a PR firm hundreds of dollars to appear on talk shows.

Over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gitte Laasby and her colleagues were a bit confused by a message a PR firm left on the obituary editor’s voicemail touting the ability to get her on TV as an expert.

“Hello, this is [redacted],” the man said. “I’m calling you because the Oprah Winfrey Network is looking for a marriage and relationship expert for a few shows they’re working on. We also have Rachael Ray looking for a relationship and marriage expert. We don’t work for any of these shows. We’re a PR firm. We charge $700 if you choose to participate and do the interviews. We also require a five minimum commitment, so whether it’s CNN, Oprah, USA Today, Rachael Ray, The Today Show or whatever. I’m at [redacted] if you wanted to beat the deadline to be on the show.”

While the firm does note that it doesn’t work for any of those networks or shows, consumers could still end up shelling out hundreds of dollars and never make it on the air. As such, the Better Business Bureau tells Laasby there are nine complaints on file against the PR firm in question, including one where a person paid $6,000 and never got on TV.

“The complaints are generally in terms of promises made to get them publicity,” said the director of the local bureau in Illinois, near where the company is based. “A couple were based on the premise that they would get them on the show for $500.”

Indeed, the networks who would host these paid experts say the whole thing is a scam.

A spokeswoman with the Oprah Winfrey Network said their shows aren’t affiliated with the company, and said it only uses the Oprah network website and “reputable agencies” to find guests for their shows.

And a CBS spokeswoman also said the network doesn’t hire outside agencies to cast its shows.

“Neither [the man who left a voicemail] nor [the PR firm] have any affiliation with the show and are not authorized to book guests for the Rachael Ray Show,”  she said in an email to the MJS. “Although [the voice mail] does disclose, ‘we don’t work for any of these shows,’ we have requested that [the PR firm] discontinue using the Rachael Ray name in its solicitations.”

The PR firm in question sent an emailed comment from the founder and CEO protesting its innocence, writing:

“We have spoken with The Rachel Ray Show and are removing their name from our marketing materials. As stated in our message we make it very plain that we do not work for these shows and we are a PR firm. We regularly get our clients on TV.”

This has the air of “modeling agencies” you have to pay upfront for the privilege of being a client. If you’ve got the talent/the goods/the right stuff, you shouldn’t be paying someone else for the chance to maybe, possibly appear on TV.

TV casting scam: Pay to be an expert on Oprah [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.