This is a true story although I have changed the names to protect the innocent and the clueless.
A couple of months ago, a friend (I’ll call him Ishmael) started a blog called “Telemarketing Wiz” and began posting all kinds of interesting stuff about telemarketing. He started hearing from others in the telemarketing business and people started linking to his blog. He got a little buzz going. Not a raging wildfire, but a little brush fire. Google “telemarketing” and his blog is #3 in the results.
One day recently, Ishmael has a meeting with someone at a publication called “Telemarketing.” (Remember, all of the names have been changed. This has nothing to do with telemarketing) The Telemarketing executive tells Ishmael they are not happy with him using the name “telemarketing” and they’d really like for him to stop. They even offered him a few worthless incentives.
Ishmael was shocked and said he’d think about it but wasn’t inclined to change the name of his blog. There were dozens of companies using the term “telemarketing”… why was the Big Publication concerned about him? Could it be that Big Publication was getting tired of hearing about Telemarketing Wiz?
Legal issues aside, this is a nice example of cluelessness on the part of MSM. I suggested to Ishmael that he change the name of his blog to “TelemarketingSucks.com,” but he’s more of a grown-up than I.
Would it have made more sense for Big Publisher to say, “We’ve noticed what you’re doing and think it’s pretty exciting. We’d like to hire you to blog for our publication.”
I’m sure that Telemarketing is a very good publication. Maybe the best. With lots of talented writers and editors and advertisers and big building with a nice lobby. A great place to read about telemarketing. But not the only place.
If Ishmael was writing a little paper newletter and mailing to a few hundred people, Big Publisher probably wouldn’t care what he called it. But the web is national. It’s global. Anybody can play. It’s no longer about who can come up with a few hundred thousand (million?)dollars to start a magazine. One guy, with a computer, and a head full of good ideas can get in the game. It’s a new day.