Pissed. Not happy that I wrote things about his company that weren’t complimentary. Sent me ‘feedback’.
I mean, he has a point. I am, after all, a paid consultant to the company. They paid me to write what turned out to be a middling article about them because, well, they haven’t performed… yet.
Here’s the thing: When a company engages me, they buy my attention, not my favour. There are 6000 or so other companies, just in Canada, that I could be writing about. Many of them (well, not so many in Canada lately) with more interesting stories than the story of a sponsor.
Others in the same space sell straight up favour; ‘Pay me and I’ll give you analysis that says you’re a good investment, which I’ll then finish with two pages of disclosure statements about how what I wrote can’t be trusted and you shouldn’t believe it and please don’t sue me when this all goes pear-shaped for you.’
I don’t do lengthy disclosures because I’m not selling anything to you. I don’t tell you to buy, don’t tell you to sell. I tell you if I’m a consultant to the company, and if I like it enough that I own any, and that’s it. Your investing decisions are yours alone, and my job is to cut through the crap to help you come to your own conclusion with the best information available.
My business model is, I’ll write in an interesting and provocative and honest and real way about a company, and they’ll pay me for my time, and all of that will be disclosed properly. My vow is that it’ll be worth reading, and honest. Their vow is they won’t lie to me, or sugarcoat to me, or miss their milestones.
When they do miss their milestones, I’ll say so. If they do sugarcoat, I’ll say so. And if they lie.. well, shit gets real when that goes down. Only happened once so far, right Lifestyle Delivery Systems?
Directed content, or native advertising, or whatever term you want to give ‘pay me money and I’ll write about you,’ only works – only REALLY works – if the people reading said content believe it, and they only believe it if you come in ornery. You need to be able to say negative things AS WELL AS positive things, or it’s just an advertorial. And nobody wants to waste their time reading that old pap.
So let this be the clear and concise confirmation that any company I do business with will:
A) Be held to a high standard
B) Be held to account for their failings
C) Be written about by the best damn writer in this space, who is also clearly not humble and may just be a textbook narcissist but let’s not press too deeply into that diagnosis, thanks
If your company won’t be hold to scrutiny, don’t come to me pitching. If you expect the share price to plummet for the next few months, don’t come to me telling me how great it is now. If you don’t think you can answer the tough questions, don’t ask me to ask them.
I used to sit a tossed notebook away from the Vancouver Sun’s ‘Sheriff of Howe Street’, David Baines, and you can’t possibly spend a significant amount of your work life seeing him work and not feel the urge to keep the bastards honest. Vancouver has a terrible reputation in the stock world as a den of thieves and rounders, and I don’t think it has to be that way. The usual suspects can make great money AND build actual businesses. They can hit the phones and drive up a stock AND leave it manageable when the four month hold is lifted. They can promise millions instead of billions and still get the punters interested.
I’d make a shedload more money if I just took every deal and said pretty things about everyone, and maybe that routine would last for a few years, but you guys would be emptied of your savings along the way and that’s not how I roll. If I’m going to be successful in this field, it will be because I’ve helped make my readers moreso.
And that starts by calling a shitty quarter, a shitty quarter. Do better, CEO, and we’ll all be great friends.