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Balancing "star power" and meat

Yes, it is possible to find a hotel room in August in New York City for $129/night, but I wouldn't recommend staying there! Actually, other than the bulletproof glass surrounding the registration area, the feeling that I better not venture out after dark, and the ancient, creaking elevator, it wasn't too bad. The room was clean, the air conditioner worked, and the suspended ceilings were stain-free and bright (always a tip-off to me is when these ceilings are chipped, cracked, and water-stained that hotel maintenance isn't a priority). (Yes, I am a very frugal New Englander who'd also rather walk 45 blocks than hail a cab, even if it was 95 degrees out—and I have the blisters to prove it.)

Anyway, I took a quick (and cheap) trip to NYC to attend a session on e-media put on by American Business Media. I was drawn solely by the content—I glanced at the panelists, but didn't really pay too much attention to who would be speaking. I should have.

While they were all exceptional speakers—funny, even—the experiences of online editors at the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, and AdWeek weren't tremedously helpful to me and, I would suspect, most of the rest of the people in the room. I mean, the panelists have staffs of 60 or more people dedicated just to their online offerings, plus a ton of contribution, mostly writing, from their huge print staffs. Not to mention their own TV studios for making videos to post to their sites, etc. Um, well, it's nice to know how all that works, but that ain't my life!

The reason I'm boring you with this is because I can't help but wonder how you all balance "star power" with your audience's real needs. ABM probably got 85 registrants when they were only expecting 50 in large part due to that star power, but most of us really couldn't relate to what they had to say because our audiences are much smaller, much more "nichey," and our efforts are infinitely less well-funded and staffed.

I actually would rather have had a big open-space discussion about what we're doing, the challenges we're facing, all that fun stuff, to share our experience and expertise with each other, with some "names" helping to facilitate (they could have learned how the other 9/10ths live, too!). But would that have had as big an attendance draw? I don't know. What I do know is that I didn't get much in the way of takeaways, other than basically feeling a little green with envy at all the presenters can do with their Web sites that is pretty far beyond what most trade publications could dream of doing.

P.S. For those who get the weekly e-mail update, this trip knocked me off the usual Wednesday schedule. Please look for it tomorrow!

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