I had an interesting email from one of our members who expressed an issue with the reduction of articles written by me. Here is a portion of the email, “When we first subscribed to your publication several years ago, we found that John P was doing most of the writing and he would stick his neck out a little bit to forecast what was to come. Now John writes very little, and the regular publication just recaps what you can Google and find out by yourself. And to top that off, you have a Premium publication—–which it appears it is all about selling this, and for customers to step up and pay more to get it.”
I replied privately to the author of the email as their comments, as with all of our customers, are important and usually when one person complains there are others who are thinking the same thing. So, I think it is important to address the concerns of those who have concerns.
I am involved in a majority of the articles, I review them, I will add to them or make suggestions to others to do some extra research. On any given issue I could write as few as a 2-3 articles, to as many as 80 to 90 percent of the articles. It depends on the day, the type of article and how much is required to do justice to an article. A good example is tonight’s issue where I spend almost two days working on the scrap article since I felt it was important – especially in light of the price increase announcements made by the domestic mills this past week.
I have always tried to be as “fair” as possible and prefer to provide information as I see it, and the counter point when reasonable to do so, and let each person reading our newsletter make their own decisions.
We do stick our neck out with our Price Momentum Indicator, our indices and other proprietary products – most of which are available and we continue to share with our Executive level readers (i.e. everyone).
As Steel Market Update has grown it has become very obvious to me that I physically and mentally can only do so much – I would very much like to find a clone and if anyone knows of another me out there who would like to join SMU I am very much in the market. In the meantime, I have made the decision to have other writers assist me in the process of providing various kinds of articles (like mill earnings) so that my time might be better spent working on pricing, trends that affect pricing, direct dialogue with OEM’s, service centers, trading companies, mills, etc.
On top of that SMU has expanded our company to include educational workshops and two large conferences – our Steel Summit Conference which will be held in September and our new Leadership Conference which will be held next March in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida at PGA National the week after the PGA National hosts the Honda Golf Classic.
To deal with the new workshops and conferences I have brought on a number of new people and added them to our mix: Ray Culley who is the former head of marketing for Severstal NA, Mario Briccetti who is the former vice president of Purchasing for Metal Sales and other manufacturing companies, Jill Waldman who is the principle of Steamboat Events who, along with Ray, is working with me to produce our Steel Summit Conference.
On the newsletter side we have brought Peter Wright and his special analysis into our fold – much of what Peter creates is dedicated to our Premium newsletter. An example of what he produces is in tonight’s issue (Flat, Long, Semi-Finished Steel Import Analysis). We also have developed new products (Imports by Product, Port and County is an example) and we have folded one of the products purchased through the acquisition of Steel Reality into our Premium level content. We invest a fair amount of money into that product which could not be supported by our Executive level pricing. So, we give our readers a choice.
My opinion is everyone should buy our Premium level product. However, not everyone is ready to jump up to $1995 from $995 and I understand that.
So we brought on Sandy Williams to assist Brett Linton and a host of other writers on a part time basis to produce our newsletters three times per week (or more). They have been doing a great job and will only get better. One of our most read articles was written not by me but by Sandy (the article was about the flood of imports at the terminals – especially in Houston).
As I mentioned above, I am actively looking for an experienced, quality steel person who is an exceptional writer and analyst. We are interviewing and if you know of someone, send them our way. We do not expect to remain as we are – I am committed to continue to grow both sides of our business – the newsletters and our Events (conferences and workshops).
In the meantime, I have taken the criticism to heart and I will attempt to provide more of the “old style” opinion and forecast content in both the Executive and Premium level newsletters.
We continue to be a small company playing in the same waters as the likes of McGraw-Hill and other very large media operations. Being small keeps us nimble but also requires that I hawk our wares so we can use the funds to find more qualified and unique individuals which make for an interesting read (or event).
You can all help by attending our Steel Summit Conference in September and/or our next Steel 101 workshop, Sales Training workshop, Managing Price Risk…etc.
Thank you for your business as it is, and will always be, truly appreciated. I promise to work harder on your behalf. Tell your friends about us…
And, should you ever have a complaint (or a suggestion) I am here and available: John@SteelMarketUpdate.com; 800-432-3475 or my cell: 770-596-6268. I want to make SMU “the” newsletter for the industry and I can only do that with feedback from our customers.
John Packard, Publisher
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