Monday, October 29, 2018

I'm Just Lucky Like That

One of the great mysteries of my career has been that otherwise bright and talented folks in B2B publishing express an interest in working with me.
Even more mysterious is that some people who know me well, and have known me for years, express that interest too.
I chalk it up to combination of factors:
a) good luck. I have an enormous amount of it. Always have. I hope I always will.
b) dumb luck. Over the years I've had an extraordinary number of ideas about how to do things in B2B media. The sheer volume of those ideas dictated that some small number of them would turn out to be good ideas.
c) blind luck. I have a remarkable tendency to show up at parties, sporting events, restaurants, etc. and just happen to run into B2B executives and entrepreneurs just as they happen to be looking around for a consultant or adviser.
All of which explains how I found myself a few months ago at a small gathering in an apartment overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge chatting about B2B journalism with a gentleman from Switzerland I worked with a few years ago. It also explains how that man wound up bringing me aboard his latest publishing venture.

A new opportunity

So now I'm Content Adviser to Daily Fintech, a remarkable publication that covers that fast-changing world of financial technology. You can read more about my appointment, and sign up for our fintech newsletter, by visiting the site.
What's most interesting to me about this role is that the gentleman from Switzerland I mentioned earlier -- Bernard Lunn -- has a long history of finding varied and interesting ways to monetize B2B editorial.
That fits well with one of the goals I set  at the start of this year to "expand my B2B consulting business by adding clients who are willing to consider new approaches to content and new methods of building revenue." Because as I said then, "The content revolution may be over. But I'm convinced there are still some revolutionary breakthroughs available for companies bold enough to try."

Off to a lucky start

Fintech today is often a wild and scandalous place. Whereas the first stage of the financial-technology revolution yielded some truly wonderful publications like PYMNTS and The Financial Brand, the recent history of Fintech news is somewhat less professional.
I think that creates an opportunity for a brand that won't shy away from the more complex and controversial subjects in Fintech (Blockchain, cyrpto currencies, etc.) and is able to adhere to the nobler aspects of B2B journalism.
The trick, of course, is for Daily Fintech to separate itself from its numerous, less-than-ethical rivals.
Normally, that would be a time-consuming and difficult task.
But here's the thing. Just a few hours after Daily Fintech announced I was joining the company as an adviser, Breaker magazine published an expose of how some of our rivals in the crypto-fintech space are engaged in unethical forms of content marketing.
I didn't have anything to do with the article.
I'm just lucky like that.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Crisis, opportunity, Jung, and Skinner

I posted something on this blog a few days ago. That's become an exceedingly rare event. This blog has been largely dormant for a very long time. And with good reason.
First and most importantly, the issues I used to write about here have become less important. I started this blog way back in 2004 as a way to share my thoughts on what seemed to be the start of a revolution in B2B media. But that revolution is now long over. What seemed bold and controversial back then (use links! publish your stories online first! open a social-media account!) is routine and accepted today.
Second, my career has changed dramatically. When I launched this blog I was a fulltime working journalist. But within months I wound up launching a consulting business aimed at B2B publishers. A few years after that, the content-marketing craze took hold and my consulting business morphed into one aimed largely at B2B companies interested in becoming publishers. That shift led to my taking on a fulltime role with a global research firm -- launching and running that company's content-marketing department. I kept my consulting business running, but on a part-time basis. Then, a few months ago, I left my fulltime gig and returned my focus to consulting.

What are you thinking?

After I published that little post a few days ago, a few of the folks who used to read this blog back in the day reached out via email and social media. They said kind and flattering things. And they asked about my plans for 2018.
So I began writing replies.
But here's the thing: I've been a professional communicator for so long that the act of writing has become entwined with the act of thinking.
My internal dialog is well beyond what the Buddhists call monkey mind. The natural state of my brain seems to be a strange amalgam of static, word association and bad poetry.
Thus, if I want to know what I'm thinking, I have to share what I'm thinking.
When I write, my thoughts become clear to me. Just as when I speak aloud to another person, the gibberish in my head is made coherent.
So as I began writing those replies, I realized that what had been a few random ideas about 2018 had become a plan for 2018.
Among the details of that plan are:

-- increase my focus on crisis communications for nonprofits. I've been lucky enough over the years to work with a number of nonprofits on a wide variety of public relations and marketing efforts. But the part of my consulting business that has grown the fastest, and where I see the greatest need, is in crisis communications.
My sense is that nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to the new forms of social-media-driven crises that we've seen in the B2C world. More importantly, something fundamental is changing in how a crisis plays out in the media. And many of the crisis communicators I've met seem unprepared for a world of "fake news," trolls who have morphed into influencers, and memetic warfare.

-- continue to find ways to combine my interests in communications and psychology. Longtime readers of this blog know that my first degree was in psychology, that my first career was in counseling the developmentally disabled, and that I'm equally enamored of both Jungian analysis and Skinner's behaviorism.
I'm always looking for ways to connect my psychology background with my content consulting. Last year I a) helped a B2B company rebrand through Jungian archetypes, and b) revamped the content offering of an applied behavior analysis (ABA) provider.
This year I'm returning to my old textbooks, picking up a certification in behavior analysis, and speaking to more experts in psychology in an effort to find new insights applicable to crisis communications. (Here's an example of the sort of stuff I'm pondering these days: Much of social media can be understood as both escape-maintained and attention-maintained aberrant behavior under Skinner. What, if anything, can the effective techniques used to extinguish such behavior among  individuals teach us about how to respond to collective behavior during a communications crisis?)

-- expand my B2B consulting business by adding clients who are willing to consider new approaches to content and new methods of building revenue. The content revolution may be over. But I'm convinced there are still some revolutionary breakthroughs available for companies bold enough to try.

So now that it's in writing, my plans are clear. At least to me. And it's time to work.

For an earlier look at my think-by-writing process, you may want to read this post from late 2006: Blogito, ergo sum.