Every writer aspires to have his work described as “interesting and funny”, particularly if it is simultaneously accepted as dealing seriously with weighty matters. The aim is to get the ediscovery messages past the hold music and encourage people to listen to them.
One is always grateful, of course, when other commentators pick up on one’s articles and pass them on to a wider audience. I follow up incoming links to my blog posts, mainly to make sure that I can reply if someone expresses disagreement with something I have written.
Following one such link last night, I came upon the following heading on Gabe’s Guide:
Chris Dale Promises to be Twice as Exciting as the Hold Music From Your Cable/Cellphone Company
What have I ever done to Gabe to warrant that? My last reference to him was nice enough, giving him a link on the strength of a mutual interest in the depth of snow on tables. He redeemed himself, fortunately, by his ensuing reference to the post to which he refers:
Interesting and funny post about Anacomp’s renewed focus on e-discovery from Chris Dale:
…and I guess I can accept the headline as the price for the compliment and for the exposure given both to my article and to Anacomp’s timely decision to specialise in what seems to be a growth market for 2010 (see Anacomp divests to focus on CaseLogistix, eDiscovery and litigation).
Besides, perhaps I asked for it by opening my article with an extended piece of self-deprecating irony (quoted in full by Gabe) on the subject of narrow specialisation and its appeal, or lack of it, to wider audiences. As we all come to focus on ever narrower areas (as I do, and as Anacomp is doing with CaseLogistix), so the number of people interested in what we do necessarily diminishes. The upside, if we get it right, is that the audiences we do get are the ones we want to reach (and 5,000 or so page views per month is just fine, thanks for dropping by).
I rarely pass on press releases in the form in which they reach me, but use them as a hook for wider thoughts. That inevitably means that I write about relatively few of them – there is not necessarily a correlation between the importance of a PR and its interest for the readers (and, indeed, its interest to me – if I have to sit here staring at a blank screen or clutching a voice recorder, I need something for inspiration, and there are only seven days in a week).
The hook in the Anacomp story was not the disposal of part of its business but the corresponding focus on its core litigation support activity and how that fits into the context supplied by the recently-published Gartner paper anticipating growth in that sector (see Gartner points to non-US E-Discovery market growth).
Perhaps Gabe’s analogy is more apt than at first appears, but you need to invert it. We only come across hold music when we try to get through to people who do not want to hear from us – my mobile phone or cable company routes my calls fast enough if I want to buy something or pay a bill, and I only get put on hold when I want support. Hold music therefore becomes associated with audiences who are unreceptive to our messages, and we have to find ways of attracting their attention.
Gabe’s headline has it the wrong way round. My job is to try and make it interesting to a wider range of people. I am not trying to be twice as exciting as hold music (would I aspire so high?) but to find ways of making the audience turn theirs off and listen. The 5,000 monthly page views say that they are doing just that.