A Little Press & Lessons Learned

Andy Warhol, "Marilyn Monroe", 1962

If Andy Warhol was right in asserting “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” my time is officially up.  About a week and a half ago, I traded emails with Henry Blodget and before I knew it, Business Insider had re-blogged my analysis of NYC entrepreneurship.  The last time I was in any sort of publication was at least a decade ago in The Country Almanac, my tiny home town newspaper (which incidentally doesn’t even exist in the same format I grew up with).  Needless to say, I was pretty surprised and somewhat encouraged that this whole blogging experiment might be worthwhile.

Then, The New York Times linked to this blog, and provided their own summary of my thesis (see the third paragraph from the bottom).  Unfortunately, I disagree with their distillation of my original post, but I was pleased that anyone – let alone the NYT – was reading this website so I chalked it up as a net win.

From there, however, it was basically all downhill.  I didn’t appreciate two major elements of online publishing, and quickly found myself in a very foreign place.

The first is that comments, not the articles themselves, are everything for news-oriented sites.  Gawker learned this early on and has cultivated a fantastically clever – and awesomely snarky – community that’s consistent with the content their editors create (some of the contributors are so active and loyal that the company offers them full-time jobs).  In my case, thoughtful remarks started flowing in a few hours after being posted on Business Insider and they were provocative enough that I felt compelled to generate comments of my own in response.   I am confident in defending my point of view (especially when broadcasting it in as public a forum as the Internet), but I didn’t previously understand how time-consuming written rebuttals would be.

That gets me to the second factor of online publishing I didn’t appreciate: cogent concision.   Fred Wilson was the first person to comment on the post, and his note centered on a specific detail which I covered in the original version on this blog, but didn’t get copied to Business Insider.   Ultimately, we were able to get on the same page, but had I been more concise, I likely could have avoided needing to defend myself altogether.

Anyway, getting some press for this website was fun and there was a 10x uptick in traffic versus the historical average for several days.  However, since then traffic has leveled off again so I suppose Warhol was right after all.