Before I became a technology marketer, I worked as a theater producer. My partners and I ran a small, professional theater company in Berkeley (99 seats, Equity waiver), where we quickly learned the power of PR. Back then, as today, one review by a powerful reviewer could make or break your production. I remember lying in bed, sleeplessly, the night after an opening, worrying what the folks at the SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Chronicle, or the then mighty SF Examiner had to say about our production (this one review turned a tiny production of ours into a major success, selling out the remainder of the run). Most of these publications already had online versions, but I did what all my producer peers did the first thing they woke up: I jumped out of bed, ran to the newsstand, and read the review right there … in the light of day, sometimes in my pyjamas.
It was a thrilling experience, from a bygone era. Of course, few people today would rush to the newsstand to read a paper to learn what a powerful reviewer had to say. For many today, there are no newstands, no papers, and powerful reviewers in print are few and far between (except, again, in the theater world, where an aging, well-to-do population still tends to support the entire enterprise). But it’s still a thrill to wake up on a Sunday morning and realize that there are a good number of people in San Francisco reading about our new venture, out on the street, inside cafes, around the breakfast table, on their treadmills, and that many are reading the article not on computers, tablets and other devices, but from the big, broadsheet, inky pages of The San Francisco Chronicle. Yeah, it’s a cheap thrill — there are far more important things to the life of a company than publicity. But it’s certainly not cheap in terms of the news business. It costs more than ever for a news organization to give you a small piece of real estate on their Sunday pages. And for that I am thankful to Benny Evangelista and his editors at the Chron for betting that local readers would care about this comeback story. We got lots of virtual ink this week, and I am grateful for all of it, because today it’s the whole, not the part — the long tail of coverage, not any one story — that ultimately matters. This one story — though small — was special for its unique, offline contribution to the conversation about BroadVision.