By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 29, 2011
Thank you for all the comments and e-mails that followed last week’s What It Takes post. I’ve spent the past week thinking about what I wrote, why I wrote it, and how I feel about the responses.
Seth Godin mentioned that Steve’s books are gifts. I agree. Change up the old Hair Club for Men line, to: I don’t just work with Steve, but I’m a fan, too.
Since his books are gifts, why did I think we were “hitting people up” when we approached them about sharing the books?
Mike B. e-mailed me soon after the post went up. I met Mike via Twitter and have enjoyed getting to know more about him. We’ve gone back and forth quite a bit and he’s one of the individuals we sent copies of all of the books. In his e-mail, Mike mentioned that he never felt he was being hit up. He was happy to receive them.
Then there are all of the other comments responding to the post. They agree with Seth and Mike.
In the past two-plus years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know more of Steve’s readers as we’ve experimented online with different projects and types of outreach. They’re honest and supportive. They want more. Mike and Steve (a reader, not Steve P) are two individuals we met in Pinehurst, N.C., a few weeks back. Enthusiastic? Yes. Supportive? Yes. Want more from Steve P.? Yes.
I’ve seen the proof, so what’s my deal? Why the holdback on wanting to contact readers a few times in a short period of time?
A year or so ago, an Intel reporter I disagreed with made a point of telling me that as a journalist, she held the keys and I was doing a disservice to clients by getting on her bad side. Basically, she could lock the door and block the coverage I was seeking for my clients. At the time, I ignored the journalist, knowing that I can spread more via word-of-mouth supportive readers (tribes as Seth likes to say) than she could via one of her news stories. But I kept thinking about her this past week and realized how much her comments bothered me and how I hadn’t let go of what she had said or what many others have repeated in the past.
The comments “We just did something with him” and “He was on X show and we don’t follow X” are about as common in traditional media as ants at a Fourth of July picnic. They are always out there, but you hope they don’t pop up. Unfortunately, they do. There’s this thing with traditional outlets about only doing so much with one person at a time. And for certain subjects, such as the military (which is a big focus for me), it’s a little trickier. (I’ll explain ins and outs of military in another post).
There was always this treading lightly feeling with producers and editors. I became friends with many, but because of the high turnover in the last few years in particular, the getting-to-know-you stage has been stalled on repeat.
What’s the difference between establishing relationships with producers and editors and then with readers?
The first two care about their programs and publications. Some are fans, but most don’t read the books sent to them. Their priority is advancing their own program and good guests/interviews help.
Readers care about the author and the books. They want to like the author and his or her projects. And they want to help spread the word. I know I’m the first to share a book or movie that excites me (side: Am reading my first Agatha Christie book–The Clocks–check it out. Loving it.)
So if I know all of this about producers and editors and readers, why the comments in last week’s post?
I’m still nervous.
I respect Steve’s readers. When I e-mail or speak with them on the phone, I think of them as friends. I treat them how I’d want to be treated. They are real people, who care and want to help and I want to respect that. Yet I’m so nervous about asking them for help over and over again. I’m afraid I’ll end up being that relative you love to help, but burn out on after a while.
In some cases, I know the readers I can contact over and over. In some cases, I don’t, and feel awkward about contacting them.
If you don’t mind, I hope you’ll share your thoughts on a few more things about outreach:
Many of us ask our colleagues and friends to write blog posts to support our new projects.
What kind of lead-time would you prefer?
What’s the best way to approach you?
We’ve sent out e-mail blasts around launches.
For those of you who have signed up for the e-mails, are they helpful? Immediately deleted?
For those of you who haven’t signed up for e-mails (see subscribe button in upper right-hand corner of site), why haven’t you signed up?
What kind of information would you like to receive in the future?
Steve’s site features three columns a week and Steve’s busy at work on his next book.
If he sent out short e-mails here and there, what would you want to know?
And if there’s anything else you think we should know, please share that as well.
I’ll pull all of your responses into one post – something that I hope will be helpful to others, too.