4 questions to keep your vanity in check; ground yourself first

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Being recognized for the work you do is the bump you need at times to carry on.

“We all like to be recognized for our work, when you’ve earned it,” says Patti Murphy, Murphy Media Services in Boise. “When I got the email from the SBCA, my first thought was that it was some sort of scam, and I didn’t know whether it was going to be a virus or what.”

Murphy, who has earned awards from the Idaho Press Club and Capital City Communicators, has been in the public relations business since 2005. She has entered award contests before and knows the selection process.

She says her next thought was, “I didn’t enter any award contest with the SBCA, and how’d they get my name?”

Thinking scam, she passed it on to Better Business Bureau.

Small Business Community Association offers vanity awards to empower and recognize small business owners. To be given an award, the recipient only need confirm and register with the SBCA.

Small business owners try to set themselves apart from competitors and awards and recognition is a great differentiator.

BBB warns that some “awards” are about making money – and not acknowledging outstanding companies. These vanity awards and listings are bought, rather than earned.

When approached with a vanity offer, ask:

  • Is this publicly listed? Where? Ask where the award is vetted, registered and listed, and its visibility. Are customers encouraged to trust the award?
  • How was I nominated? Some signs of a scam include receiving an award that you didn’t apply for and if the award Web site lacks phone numbers, an address and other basic details on the organization giving the award.
  • Is information on past winners available? An organization offering a reputable award will not hesitate to answer in-depth questions about their program including how many businesses are honored every year, how honorees are chosen and exactly why specific businesses were chosen. Call them?
  • Are there any fees? Entry fee? Inclusion fee? Judging fee? Banquet/award fee? With less than scrupulous awards schemes, the company is typically trying to make money by peddling books or plaques. While having to spend money to receive an award can be a red flag, it isn’t always the sign of a scam. In some cases businesses must pay a fee to enter an awards program. If the company is to be honored at a gala event, there are usually sponsorship opportunities — such as purchasing a table for attendees — to help offset the cost of the event.

In transparency, BBB has the Torch Awards for Ethics, to acknowledge businesses that infuse ethics into daily business decisions, recently concluded the application process.  For more small business advice you can trust, go to www.bbb.org.

– This column first appeared in the BusinessInsider

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1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust

One response to “4 questions to keep your vanity in check; ground yourself first

  1. Mark Burrows

    This is an excellent article and it can relate to almost any situation including phone solicitors. If you bombard them with questions and go on the offense, you will gain the advantage and the upper hand if they start to flounder and not provide satisfaction to your questions. Then you can put the topper on by asking for a manager or a superior and if they can’t provide one, then you know they are cold calling probably from their home. Likely the number is blocked on your phone. You can ask for it, and location and phone number of a head office and demand a first name and employee number for verification.
    Responses such as. Really? or Oh wow! should never be uttered or returned. There is nothing wrong and everything right about asking questions and being able to confirm verification by other means than the phone call or email. If they write or say, this is your only opportunity. You must deny it. That is a huge red flag for entrapment and holding your decision hostage. Walk away.

    Mark Burrows

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