The Responsible Marketing Blog recently blew the whistle on another 'vanity award', the prestigious-sounding U.S. Local Business Association's "Best of" award. This so-called organization makes its living sending out letters of congratulations to naïve business owners, congratulating them on receiving a best-of award and inviting them to claim their plaque (for a handsome charge).
The Better Business Bureau notes that the USLBA lists no phone number, not even in press releases (!!) and the web site is privately registered via Go Daddy, which it finds suspicious. I spoke with a business owner who had been given an award, and he told me that the award was free; the money comes from the purchase of a plaque.
The field of vanity award scams is almost as old a publishing; who hasn't received a pitch for inclusion in some form of a Who's Who, with the chance to buy copies of the finished product for friends and family? In the age of the internet, putting together such scams is even easier and less expensive.
How do you protect yourself from such scams? First, be brutally honest with yourself. Does your work really warrant a Nobell Prize? Are you truly worthy of The U.S. Spurious Association's Man of the Year Award? Do you really think that Stephen Hawking would nominate you to join the ranks of the Time Lords? Get real, people. If you lust for an award plaque, any trophy shop will make one for you, and you can have it read anything you want. If in doubt, look to the BBB.
This reminds me of nothing so much as the episode of the Simpson's in which Homer wins the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.