Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Playing "Easy to Get"

A not-insignificant portion of my freelance time is spent tracking people down. For corporate copywriting clients, that time is generally on their clock--no harm done, part of the frictional cost of doing business. When it's a resource I need for a magazine feature, however, any runaround comes at my expense--deadline and pay rate.

A few weeks back, I contacted a well-known political figure for an article in Speaker magazine, which named her as one of the nation's 25 top professional orators. She replied by email that she was too busy, and her assistant was equally unhelpful and unresponsive. I frankensteined together a profile from existing public documents; serviceable enough, but unsatisfying.

Contrast that with yesterday. I'd been assigned to write a profile about someone whose book currently resides on the New York Times bestseller list. Mentally, I prepared myself to endure a multi-week game of phone tag that would push me up against my deadline, and to perhaps never reach him at all.

Low and behold, I received a positive email response back in less than 2 hours. Within 3 hours, his assistant had sent me a list of 10 possible interview times to choose from. Woohoo! There are all manner of conclusions you can draw from this type of response, not the least of which being the difference in responsiveness one can expect from a businessperson compared to a politician. Most of all, it reminded me how powerful a personal statement it is to be easy to reach, fast to reply and eager to help.

I can't reveal his name or the name of his book at the moment, but will do so at a date closer to publication. I'm about halfway through the book, and very much looking forward to interviewing him later this week.


I'm still wrapping my head around what a surprising and fantastic trip we had through Atlantic Canada, and will write further in the coming weeks. But what I will say is that St. John's, Newfoundland, was the most genuine, most welcoming place I've ever been. (I was going to say "bar none," but they're kinda famous for the several dozen watering holes on George Street.)


  1. If I email you, can you tell me the author's name?

  2. Great post, Jake. Glad to have you back! There's something to be said about being approachable and willing--traits that are good for business and for life.. And I firmly believe in the what-comes-around karma of people who don't have the time of day for anyone else.

    Glad you liked your trip! Can't wait to hear more about it...

  3. Anon, I'll need you to take a blood oath of secrecy, but, yeah, shoot an email to Jake (at) BoomvangCreative.com

    Teenie, thanks & glad to be back! And I hope you're right about that karma thing, because there are a couple of people out there who ought to have a bucketload of it waiting for 'em...

  4. It is funny how some really well-known people are very easy to reach and nice to work with, while others....well, let's just say they aren't...

    I have had similar experiences and am always grateful for someone who is ready to play ball. Ultimately it makes them look better anyway!

  5. So true, Catherine. I'm always eager to write a great story for someone who makes my job easier. If someone's a PIA, not quite so much--though I don't have enough of a mean streak to do a Vanity Fair-style hatchet job on anyone :)