Turning off the faucet after brushing my teeth, I felt a tingling sensation in my right hand that quickly raced up my arm, which was quickly replaced by racing numbness. The first thing I thought of was that “narm” scene from Six Feet Under, a show I’ve never watched but had been memed into my consciousness years ago.
Five things for May 27, 2021. That's it! That's the excerpt.
I used my own modest platform to build a following for DBW's Twitter account and early content. Rather than blow a limited marketing budget on traditional channels and standard registration promotions, I built our email list by producing three free webinars ahead of the first conference, and promoting them via paid emails to used Publishers Weekly's email list. I also launched a weekly "webcast" called DBW Roundtable where a panel of industry colleagues discussed the topic of the week, not only steadily building our audience and email list, but also serving as a test lab for potential conference programming and speakers. My content strategy wasn't to make DBW another traditional media outlet, but a trusted platform for informed opinions and industry expertise that offered the kind of actionable insights we promised at the annual conference—on a year-round basis. In doing so, it would not only ensure the continued relevance of the annual conference, it would also become a steady source of new ideas, content, and voices while also developing additional revenue streams.
While I've written about building and maintaining platforms myriad times, I've never purposefully looked back on the platforms I've built and examined how and why they deteriorated over time. Over the next few weeks I'm going to organize my thoughts and write about three of the most important ones—partly to properly document them, and partly to offer any relevant takeaways I might have.
It's been many, many years since I did the kind of personal blogging I started out with back when this was a blogspot site in 2003, but this year has been anything but normal and I want to document a few things, mostly for myself, so if you usually come here for rants about marketing and publishing, this ain't it. 2020 got off to a pretty normal start, all things considered... What obviously wasn’t on the agenda was a global pandemic.
Running has been my preferred form of stress release and 2019 was stressful af—for both personal and more general "the world is going to shit" reasons—and, from a running perspective, the most productive, as I set PRs for annual (563) and trail (65) mileage. I even ran my first half marathon since New Year's Eve 2016 when I needed 13 miles to hit 500 for the year and manufactured a local course!
The weirdest Summer of my professional career came to a surreal close this past weekend as I attended the Writer's Digest Annual Conference as a speaker and journalist rather than the publisher and marketing director who curated ~80% of the event before my departure in early July. I'm obviously still biased, but overall, it was an invigorating experience—from the amazing keynotes and insightful presenters, to the mini-reunion with some of my all-time favorite colleagues, all survivors of F+W Media's disastrous bankruptcy process that seems to have ended relatively well... for Writer's Digest, at least.
I’ve officially launched Free Verse Media, a strategic marketing consultancy offering actionable solutions for businesses and brands who want to engage audiences across multiple platforms more effectively—in alignment with specific business goals and key performance metrics. I’m taking 25 years of hard-earned experience and going the freelance route (gulp!), looking to work with organizations that value developing genuine relationships with communities in service of a greater good, at least as much as they value generating revenue for stakeholders.
There was no announcement back in August because celebrating a new gig in that context felt wrong, and as subsequent events would confirm, it honestly wasn't all that clear how long it would last. WD is and always has been a strong brand, but when your parent company is headed towards bankruptcy, the path forward is anything but clear.
Thinking about my early days with comics, I realized they were the gateway to my interest in publishing, my first real awareness of people and a process behind the scenes that connected me to the stories and characters I enjoyed so much. I read "regular" books just as voraciously as comics, but Marvel and DC were meaningful brands while book publishers weren't. I had no idea (and didn't particularly care) who published Encyclopedia Brown or Stephen King until my first job in a bookstore (at 19 years old), and even then they were just vague corporate logos with no personal relevance.