Empathy Firm: Gavin Lira and Grant Lira Boast How They Run a Fake PR Agency

Many advertisements boast about being featured on well-known media outlets such as Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur. It begs the question: why is this such a common occurrence? To delve deeper into this topic, we recommend watching our explanatory video which aims to shed light on the reasons behind this marketing strategy.

The practice of advertising being featured on popular media sites like Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur has sparked some skepticism. While it may appear that these outlets are selling editorial coverage, the truth is that they are not. However, certain individuals have taken it upon themselves to resell unauthorized “columnist” articles, which raises questions about the legitimacy of these claims. 

Moreover, as social media continues to play a significant role in our daily lives, the value of having a verified account has increased. However, with the rise of third-party verification services, it’s important to question whether they hold any real value.

In this investigation, we will delve into the process of social media verification and explore the legitimacy of third-party verification services.

Fake Forbes Features & Verification Services

Check out this ad:

Empathy Firm
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Gavin Lira
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Or these ones:

Empathy Firm
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Gavin Lira
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Empathy Firm
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These agencies promise they can get you on the cover of Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur, even if you’re a nobody. But how can this possibly be?

Let Gavin Lira, founder of Empathy Firm, explain: Passcode: ^Jxai^1+

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Yes, for $3,500, you can pay these contributors under the table to publish an “Article” featuring you.

Is it against journalism ethics? Of course.

Is it legal? Probably, but the real issue is whether it’s effective. It’s not.

This ecosystem of unsuspecting clients pays shady agencies who pay writers under the table tens of millions a month, if not more.

And you can get this on hundreds of sites. Some middlemen sell lists where you can pick the publication and make an order.

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That article has zero SEO power and gets zero traffic, unbeknownst to the client, who thinks they are getting “National Media Coverage” since it’s being sold as earned media.

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However, SEO experts quickly point out that while Forbes is a powerful platform, a published article with no traffic holds no value. 

Google algorithms are too sophisticated to be tricked by such tactics. 

Scammers, nevertheless, take the fake placements and superimpose their clients’ faces onto the cover of Forbes, making the clients none the wiser.

Gavin Lira, the founder of Empathy Firm, has revealed that clients will never find out about this deceitful behavior. 

Gavin and Grant with other industry leaders are notorious for creating fake personal brands. They take advantage of unsuspecting clients by offering them spots in Forbes Monaco or Entrepreneur online editions in West African countries for a few thousand dollars. 

The Lira brothers are unabashedly carrying out these fraudulent practices.

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Dennis Yu & Carson Spitzke exposing the fakery of Lira Brothers.

In this 90-minute episode titled Grant Lira Explains Reaction To Being Featured In Forbes – Talk 2 Podcast, Grant Lira boasts how he uses this fake authority to close deals left and right. His Instagram is full of tips on how to persuade an entrepreneur of their hard-earned money.

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In the same podcast, Grant Lira also explained that more prominent players like Ascend Agency would charge $10-20K for verification since they pay unscrupulous employees inside Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) to put a blue check next to someone’s name. This practice was rampant for the last few years until many folks got fired and the rules tightened. But that doesn’t stop the Empathy Firm from selling this, whether via the “Fake Artists Method” or other techniques.

The Fake Artist Method and Vanity PR Work of Empathy Firm

Scammers use the Fake Artist Method to whitewash your Instagram to look like a musician, change your title to “the official account for Gavin Lira,” and submit 5-6 pieces of fake PR, enough to look somewhat believable at first glance.

Let’s look at what Gavin submitted to get his verification on Facebook.

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He even has some fake artist’s posts on Instagram, but I couldn’t get through.

They usually promised their clients to help them amplify authentic charm by turning it 

into industry clout, yet provided nothing, but in fact, it’s merely an appeal to your vanity.

They bolstered transparency and accountability on their official website yet don’t bother to reply when held accountable for their vanity work by their partners and even clients. 

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Instead of faking things, Empathy should have told the client prior that if they hire them, they will pay off a few of these writers under the table to put some stuff on Forbes or anchor Entrepreneur, but it won’t get any traffic. It won’t help them at all with SEO.

Even if they get featured with a short quote inside an article on Forbes, they will make them a fake magazine cover. They can put it in their email signature line. They can put it on their website, on the bottom, that their website is seen on Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Yahoo. 

But in contrast, they claimed to amplify featured work into an authentic charm by turning clients’ businesses into industry clout. Yet even failed to attract traffic to these features. The Same goes with other page-level metrics as well.

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Their crime was keeping their clients in the dark despite charging thousands of dollars to them. They provided mere vanity work, and that too without even taking responsibility for repercussions.

In the words of Isaac Mashman:

“When a corporation or person hires a PR expert or firm, they don’t just want coverage. They want to know about their customer markets; if their public brand needs work, if a crisis comes up, they can implement risk management, foster relationships with decision-makers, etc. This Instagram era of PR work is basic at best and preys on ignorance.”

Additionally, he quoted being an entrepreneur that helps business leaders with personal branding:

“PR firms are better off helping their clients demonstrate that they’re press worthy and people that have something to offer. A piece of advice. A life experience. The largest quote in my career thus far was on Time.com via NextAdvisor and came from a relationship I worked to build. The contributor was looking for sources, and I pitched them! That’s how the industry should work.”

The Lira brothers displayed a marked lack of competence, demonstrating a clear disinclination to address even the most rudimentary of issues. Despite our efforts to closely monitor and repeatedly follow up with them, they remained unresponsive and uncooperative in rectifying these fundamental shortcomings.

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Pertaining to the fakery and rigid attitude of the Lira brothers, at least six clients have asked for refunds as of the time of this research. And only two have gotten even a partial refund since the firm is insolvent.

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As the severity of the situation escalated, our attempts to reach out to them persisted, only to be met with sustained and conspicuous silence.

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One client even wished to know their fakery before signing with the empathy firm for PR work.

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Empathy Firm isn’t the only one nor anywhere close to the biggest. Get on Instagram and see how many of these ads are being run by fake PR firms selling this stuff. It’s out of control.

For those who will ask, I attempted to convince Gavin to refund four clients about 10% of what they paid him. He partially refunded one but refused to fix the issues.

It is known that at least six clients have fired Gavin and asked for refunds. Instead of providing an IOU or an apology, Gavin decided to fight back.

The writer appeals to the Lira Brothers to own up to their actions, even if it is an unpleasant truth.

Ulyses Osuna has taken immense courage to apologize for running fake PR, and he has fully come clean with a document to this extent.

Gavin and his brother can learn from Ulyses Osuna and reconsider their approach to building a successful agency without resorting to fake practices.

Legitimate PR Resources and the Importance of Trust in Business Relationships.

If our readers are looking for legit PR resources, then here is the list endorsed by Isaac Mashman:

For individuals seeking press coverage:

  1. HARO (helpareporter.com)
  2. Terkel.io 
  3. Qwoted.com

For podcasts:

  1. Podmatch.com
  2. Matchmaker.fm

For journalist’s emails and PR-related info:

  1. Muckrack.com 

Fundamentally, business is about long-term relationships instead of quick and clever tool usage. Let this be a lesson to anyone in business to value trust over hustle.

Want to read another story about another company that got scammed? Check out our post that explains how Andy Davis of Pilot Plumbing & Drain was scammed by an SEO Agency.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.