Tuesday, June 14, 2016
So I will admit this: I was a bit of a policy wonk during my quality time in Washington, DC. I only mention this because one of the things you do when policy wonking is to read approximately everything you can get your hands on related to the particular policy areas you are wonking about. I signed up for some newsletters.
I didn’t despise newsletters, at first. I devoured them, at first. Hate came later. And I don’t use that word lightly. I reserve that word for things I have fully explored. For years. And formed very solid and clear conclusions on. Like when people don’t use their blinkers. Really? Is it really that much trouble to activate a turn signal? At least one of any driver’s hands should be in super close proximity to the blinker. Vehicles are designed that way. I digress.
Way back in the day, a newsletter was something you got, you know, in what we now refer to as snail mail. A newsletter was designed to tell actual stories in writing with paragraphs… to provide information and highlights. Generally, it added at least some value, or you would just pitch it - because back in the day, we also didn’t recycle.
Today, we’re basking in the glow of the information age. Easy access to any old thing, with just a click. And let’s face it: it’s too damn much. And that’s before we open our email. I think a couple of folks forgot about the principle of design. Well, that’s me being nice. Because “newsletters” today are mostly spam. And "spam" is a nice word for email manure.
Most of the “newsletters” I get now have morphed into “linkletters,” where the creators have taken the opportunity to cram every slightly-interesting-and-slightly-related thing they can find all into one place, often with no description, and certainly with no paragraphs. Some organizations send these every week. To be fair, if the entire goal of your email is to apprise your audience of various news developments via link only and you say that up front - well, that's different. Gravitate's newsetter "The Pull" is a good example of this - the point is to send a carefully curated set of links to stories about what's happening in the startup, entrepreneurial, and tech worlds around Iowa.
The most exasperating thing about these "linkletters" is that to even figure out what the headline is about, you have to open the link in a browser. On any given day, I have more browser windows already open than a herd of cats has lives. If you are going to go to the trouble of sending me a newsletter, put some actual news in it. Shoot, one organization I’m signed up with only sends a single story per email, but you have to click on the half-paragraph to open the single story in a new browser window. I get that folks are trying to drive traffic to their website. However, I’m so annoyed that they can’t include one entire article (or even paragraph!) in the email they went to all the trouble to send that there is no chance I’m giving them the benefit of clicking over to their website.
Since I left policy-related wonkdom, I pretty much ignore the linkletters. These days, I find myself inundated with another annoyance: life-coach-guru-spiritual-healer-knower-of-all-things-solver-of-all-problems “newsletters.” Some have nice little anecdotes, but are mostly promotional. I wouldn’t mind these, if they had more interesting or in-depth stories or showed up extremely less frequently.
The trouble is, the “value proposition” is not worth my time (can you tell I spent time in Washington?). If I’m going to read your newsletter, I want to get more out of it than repeated promotions and a tiny anecdote every several days. Or hours. I will totally survive if I don’t catch your webinar-streaming-Periscope-FacebookLive-Skype event coming up in 2 hours (!). Because you’ve already sent me five emails telling me I can also catch the recording later.
I say all of this because I really debated about doing an actual good old-fashioned-style newsletter for Counterfear, in some newfangled-but-non-streaming electronic format.
There are exactly two actual newsletters that I do read whenever I can. Seth’s Blog comes in my email every day, with the full text of the blog post right there in the email itself (I italized that because it makes so much sense). Promotions are rare but usually extremely worthwhile. The other newsletter I read is from Martha Beck, of the Martha Beck Institute where I trained to be a life coach / wayfinder. Martha’s internal newsletters and public blog mailings both come loaded with actual full text, hilarity, clear value, and a few promotional items. Simplicity rocks.
Counterfear “News & Notes”
If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering why to even bother signing up for counterfear.com announcements, or a newsletter.
So, why mention it? What's the countering fear value for me?
Counterfear is about, well, countering fear... while navigating disruption - or while creating it. Fear often shows up when we have some sort of national or world crisis or disaster. I can see value in sending tools, information, and resources to a mailing list of Counterfear-interested folks in case of such a thing. Because it will happen. And one thing folks want to do in a disruption is figure out a way to help, or how to help each other, or how to calm the heck down given the as-yet-unknown chaos. If counterfear.com can put out an announcement during a disruption that serves any related useful purpose, that would meet the bigger picture mission here.
Sign up here for Counterfear News & Notes. What does that include?
- Selected blog posts of heavy relevance may be emailed to subscribers... which will include the entire blog post - not just snippets.
- Newsletters... less than once per month.
- Rare emergency / crisis / disaster / disruption announcements.
I do make the pledge that the emergency announcements will be few and far between... as I hope the need for them will be. May it be so.
I still haven’t decided if I will ever write and/or send a newsletter. If and when that does happen… those too will be few and far between. And for crying out loud: they will have full articles.
Here’s to wishing you the best of luck and minimal annoyance with your inbox. May it be full of value and resonance.
And here’s to wishing us all much fortitude and strength for whatever it is that brings us counterfear.com announcements in the future.
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