Forbes Agency Council
Since its creation in 2015 the Forbes Agency Council has been a somewhat controversial group. Forbes has formed nine separate Councils that operate in the same manner, such as the Tech Council, Nonprofit Council, Coaching Council, and more. It appears that the Forbes Agency Council is in reality a social media site. As with all social media sites, you are likely to make good business connections; however, its worth is an individual judgment call. I will outline my findings and insights to answer your questions below.
As a member of the Forbes Agency Council, you have the right to publish your own content to what they call the "Community Voice". In reality the Community Voice is essentially posts very similar to a post on Linkedin or Facebook. At some point in the future, if the post gets enough attention, it has the possibility of being posted publicly on forbes.com. This process will take at least eight weeks to complete. During that time writers claim that they received constant phone calls from Forbes writers and third party contractors offering assistance in make the post better so it can be included on the Forbes website, for a fee of course. In terms of how hard it is to be posted, it appears that to be posted on the Community Voice is as simple as posting to any social media site. To actually be posted on the Forbes website appears to difficult and costly. One source goes as far as to say you might as well just plan to only post on the Agency Council community page. Also, as part of your agreement to join you have to waive your rights to your posting and agree that Forbes can use it as native content on third party websites. Forbes Agency Council is very active posting its own content and the content of members on Linkedin and Facebook. The only issue is that the Linkedin and Facebook sites are not very popular and the "likes" and "shares" on both sites are extremely limited. Most postings have 1-2 likes and often no shares.
According to several reliable sources the cost oto be accepted into the Forbes Agency Council is $1200.00 per year. Further the terms of the agreement state that you must provide them a credit card for membership dues with a preauthorization to charge it at the end of the "free trial period" and to keep charging the yearly fee without expressed consent. Finally, once charged you must agree that even if you cancel your membership you will not receive a refund for the current year.
The ethics of group are called into question. As the postings are allowed to be used by Forbes as native content, they are allowed to be used as native advertising. Katy Culver, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, feels that all the information is paid for content. The ethics question is raised as the posts are paid content and support the business interests of the writer, which is not typically seen as ethical in the media. Culvert feels that Forbes is not being transparent and that the content is vaguely represented as advertising.
The question surrounding connections and are they worthwhile is the most difficult to answer. First, is the membership truly exclusive, and are only the best of the best asked to be a part of an exclusive group? The simple answer is: no. On the Forbes councils website nearly anyone can "see if they qualify" for membership. The requirements are that you are over eighteen years old (so you can enter into Forbes' contract) and belong to a firm that does over two million dollars in revenue and is located in North America. In actuality, nearly anyone can join as long as they pay the yearly fees. It appears that most people seem to pay so that they can do a press release that a person or agency was accepted onto the Council. Additionally, a Google search using keywords "accepted" and "Forbes Agenct Council", yielded over 400,000 hits, so exclusiveness does not seem true.
In conclusion the Forbes Agency Council is a costly program that some feel is a scam, or at the least unethical. It mirrors much of what Linkedin.com does; however, Forbes charges $1200.00 per year to be a part of this semi-exclusive casual group of liked-minded professionals. Connections appear to be the strong point of the Council. It does seem like the connection value is directly related to the amount of time you dedicate to the group making the value of the connections difficult to judge. Finally, it is odd that a worthwhile and respected program would need to have such stringent payment policy that appears to be created to trap someone and charge them without their expressed consent. Often an auto-payment set up usually sends up red flags as possible scam. Based on our research, the Forbes Agency Council gives you an opportunity to effectively network; however, it may offer little else is of value, depending on what a member hopes to get from their association with the organization.