Specialist Speakers: can you trust their claims?

Posted by Tim Ireland at 19 November 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
at
12:20 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Specialist Speakers bill themselves as providers of “business, conference and celebrity speakers for all events” and claim their “enviable reputation” is due in part to a “vision of honesty and transparency” and a commitment to “high standards and ethics”.

They also make the following claim on the front page of their main website:

“Specialist Speakers will never fail you.” – (source)

Their main site is at specialistspeakers.com, but in an endearingly inept attempt at search engine optimisation, they’ve started an external half-a-blog at specialistspeakers.blogspot.com and filled it with carefully-keyworded bios of some of the speakers they represent.

One of the speakers they represent is Iain Dale.

Iain Dale likes to pose as an authority on the subject of blogging in some quarters, but when people note his total ignorance/rejection of almost every aspect of it (with the notable exception of the art of self-promotion) he will say that he never claimed to be an ‘expert’.

(What Iain does cannot be fairly described as blogging, but is instead a reworked form of broadcasting; no genuine, self-respecting blogger would refuse, censor and manipulate comments in the way that Iain does. Also, Iain has no technical expertise; even when using a beginner-friendly format such as Blogger.com – a format that Dale has yet to grow out of – Dale struggles to find/use even the simplest of functions.)

When confronted about this apparent contradiction, Iain Dale had the following to say:

“I do not portray myself as an expert on blogging. If others think I know a lot about it and invite me to speak to them, it’s hardly a crime is it.” (source)

(Incidentally, Specialist Speakers list Iain Dale as a speaker in the categories on ‘Blogging’ and ‘Politics’, but that’s hardly a crime is it? Well, I would argue that it might well be if money changes hands, but the last time that subject came up, Dale dealt with the problem by banning me from making comments on his blog ‘forever’. He has not spoken of it since.)

Iain Dale also likes to claim that he has close to half a million readers a month, when the only semi-verifiable figure he can produce to support this is far, far lower than this.

(This is an old, old trick of Iain’s; he will gain a larger audience by claiming to have an enormous audience.)

So I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that Iain Dale’s ‘Specialist Speakers’ bio makes the following claim:

“Iain is Britain’s best recognised and leading political blogger with more than 300,000 regular readers a month” (source)

Now, it may seem like a single insignificant claim to some, but I happen to know that it’s one of Iain Dale’s favourite lies that just happens to appear in articles about him, even though he was called on it a long time ago.

So I called Specialist Speakers on the telling phone and I talked to Daniel Rix, owner and Managing Director of Specialist Speakers (listed here at LinkedIn and here on Iain Dale’s contact page).

After I introduced myself, I asked where this claim of 300,000 readers a month had come from. Daniel replied “most probably from Iain” (on the basis that his clients submit their own bios) and offered to find out and get back to me.

To make sure we were on the same page, I made it very clear who I was, why I was raising the matter, and that Iain Dale and I had a long-standing dispute that focused in part on his repeated false claims about everything from traffic figures to expertise.

I made it ab-so-lute-ly clear to Daniel Rix that the traffic claim was highly questionable and that I had proof that Iain had misrepresented/inflated his traffic figures in the past.

Nevertheless, Daniel recognised that all I wanted to know was where the claim had come from, and repeated his promise to get back to me with an answer to my question.

I asked for Daniel to get back to me by email instead of phone and sent him a follow-up email immediately afterwards, with the link to the errant data, my question about where it came from, and my contact details.

That was almost a month ago (27 October)… and despite two further follow-ups, that was the last I heard from Daniel.

Here I should explain Iain Dale’s policy for dealing with my attempts to call him to account for one lie or/after another; Iain will ‘ignore’ me… while calling me a stalker behind my back and publishing insults and false claims about me on his weblog (sometimes under his own name).

So when someone earnestly promises to get back to me and then suddenly decides to ignore my every email, I smell Dale’s stinky fingers at work.

Of course, I could be wrong about that, but just in case any further reminders via email were (yet again) dishonestly portrayed by Dale as the work of a stalker, I’ve decided to publicly remind Daniel Rix of his promise.

And so, here we are:

1. Iain Dale appears to be continuing his lies about the size of his readership. It’s a f**king con, and it’s not f**king on.

2. Currently, a bio promoting the services of Specialist Speakers (and Iain Dale as a speaker) contains at least one false claim. Daniel Rix, MD of Specialist Speakers, has failed to fulfil his promise to tell me where the false claim came from, and has not corrected the errant entry.

Perhaps (now) Daniel Rix will finally have something to say about that.

Over to you, Daniel.

Oh, and remember, folks:

“Specialist Speakers will never fail you.” – (source)

(waits)

[Psst! On 24 Oct (more) and 27 Oct, an account in the name of Jeremy Jacobs was used to add a link to specialistspeakers.com to Iain Dale’s Wikipedia page. That link was removed by another editor, twice, and classified as ‘linkspam’ (more). On 30 Oct, an SPA (single-purpose account) was used to again add a link to specialistspeakers.com, and again this link was removed and classified as ‘linkspam’. On 02 Nov Iain Dale himself appeared and, ignoring the previous objections of an experienced editor again added a link to specialistspeakers.com, and refused to engage in any discussion about the link. (Can you detect the subtle pattern in Iain’s general tactics here?) These repeated attempts to spam Wikipedia would appear to be part of what I describe above as “an endearingly inept attempt at organic search engine optimisation”… so on top of everything else, Specialist Speakers look to be involved in search engine spamming. Nice.]

UPDATE – As I was writing this, Iain Dale kindly offered expertise he doesn’t have to every MP in the land.

UPDATE (21 Nov) – I have my answer; the short version is that the data came from one of Iain’s bios that pre-dated Spinal Stats. The longer version will be with you shortly.








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