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Friday, August 28, 2009 – 4:37 AM by Brooke Southall
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I'm open to pitches from guest writers

Here’s how open I am to pitches from contributing writers.

I received a phone call yesterday from a member of a public relations firm and he asked if he could make a suggestion for an article. It took him a second to spit it out. Then in the most unassuming of tones, he asked whether his firm could write a column for RIABiz promoting the idea of doing public relations for RIAs.

This PR-for-PR request is semi-outrageous because it’s a little like the fox asking to write for Chicken Coop Week on the merits of robbing eggs. Well, not exactly. In fact I agreed to hearing a pitch.

The key, I said, was that the reader would have to know that the column was truly aimed at registered investment advisers with example and insight. I didn’t want an article where you could fill in the blanks and it would be roughly informative for any organization. If it was going to be PR for PR, it better not sound boilerplate.

I based my snap affirmation of his request on three factors. I happen to believe that RIAs have a PR problem. Not the same kind that wirehouse stock brokers have but a problem nonetheless. Nobody really knows what an RIA does or why they deserve special notice. And few RIAs have taken steps to become PR-savvy.

The other reason for my positive response is that I have had good experiences thus far with guest writers at RIABiz. John Furey’s column on Monday was read by a steady stream of readers all week. John let us know that the current breakaway movement is not the same one that occurred during the previous 20 years. This one has non-entrepreneurs believing in setting out on their own. It was an interesting framing of the issue. He also suggested how to meet this new challenge.

Les Abromowitz was no less successful in establishing his ability to think outside the box. He threw a bucket of cold water on the white-hot rise social media as a marketing tool to be sure readers err on the side of caution. It was tough love and it was well-received by many readers.

Don Peters got a big response to his article last week when he issued a grave warning [in his inimitable style] about why the 2009 could be worse than 2006. I asked Don to be a columnist because he is the only person I know who predicted the debacle of 2008-2009 down to the last details. I take his warnings seriously and I believe other readers should do so as well.

Frankly, it is not easy receiving guest columns. Most of them need significant modifications to make them read like articles and I work hard on them. But these efforts are generally worth it if they have the right writer determined to convey a fresh opinion, story or insight out to a wider readership. They bring valuable expertise and new perspectives in a humane manner.

Outside writings also plant the seeds of the interactive atmosphere that I am seeking to engender here. A column isn’t just a download of information. It’s the beginning of a conversation. Discourse is welcome at RIABiz.

Note: I plan to create a tab on the RIABiz dashboard with suggestions on how to participate as a writer for RIABiz. To get a sense of how such a page should look, I went to the set of instructions that Advisor Perspectives uses for its successful web site. As an editor, I liked the deep thinking that had gone in to its writing. As a prospective columnist, I was also a bit intimidated. I decided to keep my own instructions simpler for now because I don’t want to scare away good writers. For now, it’s just this: 1.) Have a point to make or story to tell 2.) Write to people who are interested in RIAs 3.) Be willing to bear with me through the editing process.

Mentioned in this article:

NCS Regulatory Compliance
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Mark Alcaide, COO/Partner

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