“Off-White Paper” #17- News for the News Impaired

In 1998, I wrote a second Off-White paper on trade shows (Off-White 3.1), about the soon to be ill-fated GovTechNet. The overall point of that piece was “where is the value-add” for this event – what’s the point? We already have two big events, and unless you’re targeting a strong niche, there is no need for this. Well, I pissed off a few people. Again. And, the event folded in short order. And now we have a similar situation. The Washington Post announced 9/23/02 what many of us already knew, that there was another publication being launched in the Federal market. The Federal Paper is to be a weekly targeting “senior executives, presidential appointees, and the Hill” (read: the already overworked, the learning impaired, & the otherwise unemployable) with news that apparently they aren’t getting elsewhere. A controlled circulation base of 30,000 of people who need yet another news source. The breakdown: 7,000+ presidential appointees (deer-in-the-headlights syndrome); the Hill, 1,000-2,000 (with news about the executive branch? They already know everything they want to know, which they get from The Idiot’s Guide to the Executive Branch); 5,000+ career SES people (my God, people who work!) and another 15,000 “senior” people (AARP?) News in Washington, D.C. which they aren’t getting elsewhere? Well, of course, there is no news for these people in Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Government Executive, the Post’s Federal Page, FCW or GCN and a host of others, including paid newsletters, e-newsletters, web sites and gossip. That being said, an experienced team has been assembled to pull this off, and it is led by someone with a publishing background. But the premise remains weak, and when my clients and friends call (I get at least one a day on this one), my advice is “save your money, or if you have that much to spare, give it to me.” So here’s how they got there… Market research: three sycophants and a rich person in a room with a case of Heineken and four straws. Rich guy: “I think we can make a play in the public sector publishing market.” Sycophant 1: ” Oohhh, it’s a great market.” Sycophant 2: “Aahhh, it’s a huge market.” Sycophant 3: “Yes, but aren’t there…” Rich guy: “You’re fired.” Sycophant 1: “Decisive.” Sycophant 2: “Forceful.” Rich guy: “Adjourned.” Come to think of it, I am out of cat litter. Not that I have an opinion on this…. Amtower Copyright 2002, Amtower & Company