Frustrations of a Nich Market Editor

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Frustrations of a Nich Market Editor

We held a focus group at PIE. The goal was to find out what readers thought about Parking Today. I wasn’t there. I had our PR expert run the meeting. I thought it better if I wasn’t around to inhibit what people were saying.  I don’t even know who they are.

The input was great – some of it we knew about, a lot we haven’t considered,  but this will give us the inpetus to make a few changes.

One of the complaints was that I wrote too many of the articles.  Not that they didn’t like them, but the felt that a different style or point of view might be nice from time to time. I completely agree.  That gets me to my frustration…

Where are you writers?  You have a blank page at PT.  All you need to do is write your article and send it to me — as long as it doesn’t libel, and all the sentences have a subject and a predicate, Its "in". 

Oh, there is one other thing — and here’s the rub…

I have always thought that B to B publications are about as interesting as watching concrete dry.  (At least when you watch grass grow, you can often see a dog come by and sniff, or a bird drop down for a bath in the sprinkler, but I digress) — The reason, I think, is that most editors of these mags are journalism school grads who know very little about the topic at hand. They are simply mechanics. They take articles that people write (mostly consultants) and rewrite them and put them in the magazine. They have no opinion as to whether or not the stuff is good, bad, or even gives information that is correct. It just goes in. (The main stream media works this way, too)

The concept of asking questions about the topic is simply not on.  The main reason is that much of the material centers around manufacturers who pay our bills, and we certainly don’t want to upset them, now do we.  Also, many of the B to Bs and part of industry organizations. They have a direction, a board to which to answer, so the articles are either technical (like watching concrete dry) or dummed down so they don’t say anything.

I once said that I would never print an article that described how much of a certain chemical you needed to put in concrete so it would dry properly at 20 below zero. What I meant was that technical stuff should be left to the technical folks.  The article we would put in PT would describe that concrete doesn’t dry well at 20 below, and if you are going to pour then, you’d better have someone on hand who knows about it.  Same with lighting, turning radius, baud rates, ip addresses, and the like. A good manager knows enough to know where potential problems exist.  Then they can find people to help them fix them.

The reason you see off the wall stuff in PT like "PT the Auditor" and "Death by Parking" is because I try to make us different and interesting.  Not everyone likes everything, but hopefully there is something in there that everyone will like. Got it?

All that having been said — its hard to find people to write for mags like PT.  Everyone has a day job. They are busy.  They have lives.  For many, writing is painful and time consuming – fortunately I don’t have that problem, mine is motivation – so they do it only when necessary.

I truly appreciate people like Robert Milner, Barbara Chance, Tom Rollo, Mike Klein, and Peter Guest who fairly regularly send in pieces for PT.  I am fortunate to number then among my friends.

However, I do agree with the focus group — we need more writers with differing opinions. Now I know its difficult to have a differing opinion from mine, since mine is right, but I’m willing to listen.  Come on, I know you are out there.

Sit down, open an email window, and start writing. Disagree, yell, agree, come up with new ideas.  PT is your vehicle.  If you are interesting in the musing here on the blog, you care about parking. Let the parking world know. There are easily 25,000 people who read PT each month. Reach out to them and tell your story. 

Whew!

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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