This is the 9,109th issue of my daily newsletter and we’re just about a month shy of its 25th anniversary. The fact that you are reading this means the world to me. My question is, is it valuable to you? Much has changed in the quarter-century since I started doing daily emails. I’ve done my best to evolve and adapt it to the times. Have I done enough? To help me find the answer, I’ve crafted a short survey that I hope you will fill out. If that’s too much trouble, you can simply send me an email and tell me what you like, what works, what doesn’t work — and most importantly, how we can make this writing more valuable to you.
How It All Started
In 1993, after reading “It Doesn’t Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf,” I asked my chief of staff to add two things to our daily process and workflow: (1) an adapted version of General Schwarzkopf’s commander-in-chief (CINC) log, which would be a chronological diary of meetings and projects, and (2) a daily synopsis of all available news about our industry, our clients’ industries, our competitors, and any world events that might impact our business. I wanted a military-grade daily intelligence report. In 1993, this was easier said than done. News came in via AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, news groups, BBSs, radio, television, random emails, and… faxes.
To my chief of staff’s credit, she got it done. Within a month or two, I was looking at daily intelligence briefs that were so good, we could use the “key takeaway bullet points” as the agenda for our Monday morning senior staff meetings.
A Happy Accident
Sometime in late 1995, I accidentally left a copy of that day’s brief on a pile of magazines and newspapers in one of our client lounges and, of course, one of our clients picked it up, read it, and (brief in hand) came looking for me. He wanted to know, How did we do it? How many people did we have on the team that produced it? And, of course, could we produce a version of it for his business? Back then, The Palmer Group had six operating divisions: Full Service Advertising, Film/Television Production, Music Production, Radio Production, Broadcast Services, and Palmer Intermedia, an Internet division. I wasn’t interested in starting a news bureau. But…
Our Email Server
Right around that time, we configured an email server so we could send the daily brief and the daily production schedule to everyone in the company via email. The hardest part of this transformation (from print to email) was making a text-based email as easy to read as a printed document. I’m not sure we ever accomplished this to my satisfaction.
A few months later, several clients, colleagues, and friends asked to be added to the email list. That was the beginning. Of course, the daily email needed an introduction, so each day I’d write a few sentences. You know the rest of the story.
Are the day’s top stories still valuable? You can get them from dozens of other credible sources. Is the daily rant valuable? That’s just me thinking out loud. Is the events calendar useful? Is every day too often? Would a forum or community structure be more valuable so you could interact with corporate peers and colleagues who have similar interests? Should this be a Facebook group instead? A group on LinkedIn? Should we keep going? Has the time come to retire this format?
Would you pay more attention to the information if you had to actually pay for it? If so, what is creating that value? Curation or original content? Can we double the size of our email list in the next 30 days? Or is the list “just the right size”? There is so much you can tell us that would help us make this better for you.
The Big Ask
And so, I’ll finish as I began. The fact that you are reading this means the world to me. I hope you can find a few minutes to help me improve your experience. Thanks in advance.
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