“See what is without judgment.”
- Kristen Lenz
I want to be valued. I want to be valued for who I am, what I know, and what I can do.
I am a product of my values. I have worked long and hard to acquire deep knowledge and to master precise skills. So, not only do I want others to value me, I want them to value what I value.
The challenge is that what I want, I can’t have. I will be valued by some of the people some of the time, but not by all of the people all of the time.
Using the metaphor of myself as a product in the marketplace, perhaps I am an amazing product and perhaps people “should” want me because their lives, even the world, would be better for it. No matter how much I pitch them, beg them, one-up them, or strain to convince, persuade or argue them into valuing me as a product, if they don’t, they don’t.
I cannot make people value me. I cannot make the market buy what I’m selling.
As part of speaking at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, organized by Dan Smith, editor of Valley Business FRONT, I was on the concluding panel discussing How will writers make money in the future? It focused primarily on the decline in compensation and careers for writers.
I attended a Sales and Marketing Forum panel discussion offered by the NewVA Corridor Technology Council, NCTC a few days later, led by leaders of PR, marketing and advertising firms specializing in traditional media.
According to The New York Times, “Advertising…is contracting.”
Despite all the bad news about the media industry, it is expected to be the third-fastest-growing economic sector over the next five years, after mining and construction. Almost none of that growth is forecast to come from shrinking traditional media, however. Instead, it will be drawn from areas like word-of-mouth marketing and public relations (with a 9.2 percent compound annual growth rate from 2008 through 2013), branded entertainment (9.3 percent) and the Internet and mobile devices (10.2 percent).
One of the speakers at the sales and marketing forum cautioned the audience, composed mostly of executives from technology companies, about social media, terming it “shiny.”
In a matter of days, I witnessed discussions by two industries in current markets that are contracting and changing.
I felt sad at those two panel discussions. I felt, in some ways, subject to directives, to attempts to "make" me value what the market no longer does, at least in the same way. The subtext I heard - and I may be wrong but I think I recognize it because I long for it myself: “Value me. Value who I am and what I do.”
I do value writers and traditional media PR and advertising. But the market won’t currently pay for "how" they're doing it.
I can see that would be daunting. I don't think too many children say, “When I grow up, I want to be a freelancer!” And I've given my heart and soul, more than once, to what was becoming a "shrinking" market.
But my experience with discussion and debate is that they're usually about attempting to "make" people think, feel or do something and, as I’ve mentioned, as soon as I see what is, to the best of my ability, without judgment - the participants are welcome to carry on - I'm out.
About whether writers' words are shiny or social media PR and advertising are shiny, I’m out.
“For the times they are a-changin'."
- Bob Dylan
We think it's of enormous value.
Welcome. You're invited.
Photo: Dan Smith