Monthly archive

September 2005 - page 2


As I noted in an earlier obscenely off-topic post, my favorite band, The Old 97’s, came out with a live two-disc set yesterday. Although I buy most of my music through Itunes, this was one where I wanted the full package. The liner notes, by lead guitarist Ken Bethea, contained a passage that reminded me why I love this band:

I love being in a high-octane, sweaty, crunchy, offtimes out of tune monster that swings and lurches from gig to gig, even from song to song. I love that we don’t really know how the songs end. I love that we don’t rehearse. I love diving into solos head first with no idea of where I’m going and, it I crash and burn, snickering at the outcome and moving on. I love looking out at first time fans and seeing them gawk at us and scratch their heads and maybe think to themselves, "Oh my… What’s going on here? I didn’t expect this."

Change a few words to reflect news and readers rather than rock and listeners, and you’ve got a description of what I want the Pegasus News user experience to feel like — 24/7/365.

Intrusions are, by nature, intrusive

We’ve got about fifteen people working at least part-time now, but are still not big enough to have someone sitting at a reception desk. And, because we’re not "in business" yet, there’s no reason to do so.

Before working in such an environment, I never realized how bad solicitors were– we get them constantly. And, since there’s no receptionist to stop them, many just trapse right back to the inner sanctum, often interrupting a meeting or conference call to start selling their junk. It’s frustrating, annoying and, frankly, costly.

The worst and most brazen was last week, when within fifteen minutes of each other, two different reps from Canon came barging into our office unannounced and started some ridiculous patois about how they didn’t want to sell anything — they just wanted to introduce themselves and get to know us.

Gary tried to dispatch the first one, and he stubbornly insisted that he wanted to get to know us. Gary said "Let’s go," and started to lead him out. "I’m not a dog!" the salesman exclaimed.

Frankly, had he been a dog, he would have gotten a warmer welcome. We like dogs.

When the second one came, I called building management and had him ejected. I then called and left a voicemail for the person whom I was told was the supervisor of these two gents, explaining to him that this was the wrong tactic if he wanted to sell us copiers. I elaborated that while we needed no copiers now, down the road maybe six months we might need four or five and that we would certainly buy them from someone who understood that barging into our office unsolicited and unannounced when we have a small staff and scant time was not the way to help our business.

I’ll confess that we’ll probably only need one or two copiers, but I engaged in some heat-of-the-moment hyperbole to make my point.

This morning, we got the following message on our answering machine:

Hi. This is Justin Stafford with Canon. Stopped by your office last week and we got off on the wrong foot, but I understand you’re in the market for five copiers and I’d like to sit down and meet with you — civilly. And if you could please give me a call back at your earliest convenience. Alright– you have my card. Thanks. Buh-bye.

The voice was over-the-top cheerful, save for an obvious chill on the word "civilly."

Two points:

  1. Right now, the only way I would consider buying a Canon copier was if they were the only brand available and we absolutely had to have one to do business. And that ain’t the case.
  2. How different is this type of intrusive sell from the type of pop-under flash advertising many news sites are using today? Not very.

As media multiply, time and attention becomes more scarce. We, as a society, have less and less bandwidth for irrelevant messages. And marketers — from door-to-door salesman up to the boardrooms of Madison Avenue — had best catch on quickly.

The sad thing is, this Justin fellow is probably a decent guy. I suspect he’s got a sales manager that made him call us to prove that he’s a real salesman. I’d recommend a heavy dose of Purple Cow.

Insert your own "heavy petting" joke here

Every once in a while I see something that absolutely convinces me that the world has gone mad:

The Texas State Fair has eliminated the petting zoo because of litigation concerns and skyrocketing insurance costs.

And yet the fried oreos don’t scare anybody.

In case you missed it

For those who don’t obsessively read every word in every comment on this blog, we plan to officially launch on February 14.

"But come on!," you say. "You’ve been yapping about this since late 2004. Get on with it!"

Armchair quarterbacks can quibble, and may be right– but we’ve been committed to the idea that we don’t launch until we have certain questions about building a core audience answered. We think we’re well on the way there. And we’re confident that after a closed beta, we’ll be ready to blow your mind come Valentine’s Day.

In related news, our too-crazy-to-be-true lifetime subscription offer will expire at midnight on October 3. We’re very serious about this, and would be eternally grateful if you’d go ahead and throw in with us now — your subscription –particularly if you live in the DFW area– is a vote that proves there is demand for something like Pegasus News.

Validation roundup

I tagged lots of studies in the past week that bode well for our plan. A sampling:

Under siege

Jeff Jarvis has a great litany of examples of what’s wrong with the MSM today.

Where we fit

Bubblegeneration has a nice post on the state of the media and Web 2.0, that touches on what I think differentiates what we’re doing here at Pegasus:

If you wanna get a bit theoretical with me, this is really a battle
between two worldviews. One is the old techno hippe vision of
decentralized communities and markets doing cool stuff; the other is a
centralized, corporatized world…

At the core, I agree. However, we’re at a disruptive point in the market — the corporatized are under pressure and the hippies are (as always) disorganized.

Like we said a long time ago: There’s a lot of short-to-midterm value in the middle. If you can build enough, you can be on the right side when the tipping point comes.


As everyone with a blog seems to know, the NYT‘s opinion columns go paid next week.

  1. Subscriber response will be underwhelming.
  2. The NYT will not be substantially harmed as a result.
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