AN OMELET, HOLD THE SPAM
Jun 1, 2002 12:00 PM, By Daniel Ari
AT THE RISK of sounding negative, I confess that my first reaction to adding S&VC Extra to my weekly editorial duties was to grumble.
It wasn't so much that I already had my hands full with this magazine — and its supplements and Web site — but that I was not convinced that an e-mail newsletter was useful. I delete dozens of e-mail newsletters in my inbox each week, unopened; and now I had to come up with an e-newsletter and send it out to people who would probably do with it what I do with all the ones I get. I wondered what the point was.
For those who don't already get the newsletter (and those who delete it unopened), S&VC Extra is the biweekly e-mail supplement to S&VC. It's offered as a free service to all subscribers, but everyone who wants to get it must sign up. That's the first reason why it's not like the newsletters you get from online drugstores, music stores, Web service providers and so on. You don't get S&VC Extra unless you sign up, and you aren't forced to sign up just for visiting the Web site and buying a dozen razors.
The fact that it's a voluntary subscription means that it isn't about marketing but about community building. It's not like the free newsletters from drugstore.com, but more like a newsletter for bicycle hobbyists, Green Party voters or Van Halen fans. That means that the information in it isn't there to persuade or sell but simply to inform. The newsletter is intended as a tool to help you in your business, not to help a business sell something to you.
- But What's So “Extra” About It? I've come to realize that e-mail newsletters, removed from the retail context, are useful. They provide an opportunity to spread breaking news, to alert industry professionals of timely events and to build community. That last role holds the most potential, I believe. The speed and ease of electronic communications allows readers to send ideas and important news directly to the editors. The newsletter then becomes something of a bulletin board where the industry shares knowledge. Subscribers can alert each other to opportunities and important developments. That makes my job as the editor easier because I can take stories from readers and send them out to other readers knowing that they are useful and timely.Furthermore, the definition of the newsletter is fluid and flexible. If readers want to see new products, they request it and send in their own contributions. If readers want to use S&VC Extra to post job opportunities, they send them in. The newsletter can cover business practices, technical issues, current events, trade shows, jokes — whatever the readers ask for — and contribute. The nature of electronic media is such that it can change to fulfill any purpose. Frankly, I'm sold on it.
- Active Readers Needed. S&VC Extra isn't your run-of-the-mill spam; it's more like an omelet in the making. What it becomes depends on what you put into it. So, instead of deleting this newsletter, you have the opportunity to help make it something you won't want to throw away.
The first step is to sign up if you haven't already. Go to svconline.com. A pop-up subscription box will greet you for the next few months. If you don't see that box, there is a link on the front page of the Web site that says “Subscribe to S&VC Extra.” It's easy to do and easy to get off the list if you ever want to unsubscribe. Feel free to sign up others that you work with or to encourage them to sign up, too.
After you read each installment, let me know what you think. If you find something useful in it, drop me a line. If there's something you'd like to see, send that suggestion. I'm convinced that we're just starting to tap the potential of electronic media, but to make it really serve you, you have to take an active role in making it what you want.
Daniel Ari is the managing editor of S&VC. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Line Out is a monthly forum for audio and video contracting professionals to share their viewpoints about industry topics. We welcome your contributions to this space. Submit manuscripts of 750 words to: Line Out, S&VC, 6400 Hollis Street, Suite 12, Emeryville, CA 94608. Include a daytime phone. We'll contact you if we choose to run your submission.