Someone who has been into the Tech blogging field in the past three years might know of at least a couple of such cases that happened in the recent past. A person who isn’t much known in the as a Blogger or YouTuber impersonating a well-known one, approaching brands and getting review units, event invites, and even promotional deals. This has become quite common now.
I won’t be taking any names here, and if you are one of them following or blogging in the last couple of years, you should know of the things that have happened. Of course after such things, when the name is publicly known, there are chances that the impersonator now becomes a better person and doesn’t do the same stuff again. But what’s the guarantee of that? Once a shortcut is seen, that path is always open and easily accessible, isn’t it?
Just a day ago, another blogger shared his story with me. How his name was being used by someone and brands were approached to get the units for review. What’s wrong in it? He could well be doing the review of the products and returning them. Here’s what could go wrong.
- The impersonator could do the review and vanish, not return the product to the brand
- The impersonator could set monetary deal with the brand for a positive review (yes, such things happen) and then, take money and disappear
Who did all the hard work to gain a name? The actual person who is being impersonated.
Now, in a discussion yesterday, several people said it is the PR’s fault at not verifying whether the person who contacted them was genuine and really working at a publication they mentioned. It does seem true, but is not the sole reason. So, this following message is for the brands and the PR agency professionals to read and keep in mind while interacting with bloggers or people who claim to be bloggers.
Check the email address – First and the most important. Please don’t just entertain every email from a @gmail.com or @rediffmail.com or such email addresses. Someone could easily take chetangizmotimes at gmail.com randomly (for my blog Gizmo Times) and try to contact you saying it is Chetan Bhawani.
I got to know that this happened when one PR professional who was my friend from the time before she even started her career, called me up to ask if I owned a particular email address. I said it isn’t mine and then she continued talking to that guy who was from Ahmedabad, while I am from Hyderabad.
Not every blogger will have a branded email address, but it isn’t hard to get one on the domain name of the blog they are running. If you are representing a brand and are contacting a blogger, ask them for their official email address to add to the address book.
Ask for the address first – This won’t be easy for every blog or publication out there, but if there is someone saying that they work for a publication that is as big as FirstPost, you could call or email their head editor (I’m sure each of you might have those details for large publications) and ask if this guy works with them.
WHOIS is a help – Usually, for the tech blog mentioned by a random person, you can contact the owner of it by getting the details from the Whois data, which shows who registered the domain name for the blog. Some choose to keep the details private but that is only a very few times.
Don’t entertain any editor, writer, reporter, etc. unless suggested by the team head – If I’m going to send one of my editors to your event, it is only me who will let you know about it. Any of my editor cannot directly talk to you and attend the event without my consent. It might sound like a strict boss talking but things are taken too lightly by people these days as blogging seems very easy for newcomers, thanks to this kind of impersonating acts.
Not every blog / publication has an editor in Delhi – Sounds funny but true. I mention Delhi here because every brand and PR will feel better when they hear that this particular blog’s editor is from Delhi, making it easy for them to call to the launch events and also share review units. The very recent incident that happened (won’t take names as I’ve given my word to the one who was impersonated) was about a guy who was in Delhi and he said he represents a blog owned by a blogger in Bangalore.
It won’t be an issue for you until you are receiving the units back on time from the person, but when they don’t come back and the person stops responding to you some day, you’ll then contact the actual blogger and blame them for what happened. The real blogger is innocent here, so let’s be precautionary before something like this actually happens.
In my previous post, I talked about new bloggers asking a lot on how to get review units from brands. That might be irritating for a few experienced guys, but you should guide them or someday, the same person might impersonate you and get the review units. Nothing will beat education and politeness.
Note: This isn’t to showcase what happened in the past, because the one I know who did it has changed quite a lot and grown with his own doing now, so this article is for the PR’s to be precautionary in the future.