A Roundabout Endorsement

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Quite often when I am engaged as a speaker at a physical or online event I am asked to “send at least three email blasts” or otherwise assist in marketing the event. Equally often, friends and acquaintances ask me to promote their events on my newsletter or Facebook page.I usually feel reluctant to comply with such requests. The main reason is NOT that I don’t want to pollute my channel with marketing, nor is it that people are already inundated with too much of it. It is that I don’t feel comfortable with someone else borrowing my voice to say something that is not my own truth. For example, if I tell you, “Check out this webinar,” I am implying that I like it more than I like the thousands of other webinars out there. If I were honest, I would say, “So-and-so asked me to promote their event. I like this person and feel aligned with their ideas, but I cannot say from personal experience whether this webinar will be a good use of your time.” That is a rather tepid endorsement!

However, if I want people to trust my words, I have to be as consistently honest as I know how. So let me practice right now with an honest endorsement. The Pachamama Alliance has launched a new program called the Game Changer Intensive, and they have asked me to promote it on my lists. I can say that I resonate with a lot of what Pachamama stands for in the areas of indigenous rights, mining, water, and other environmental issues; moreover, the people I know in the organization understand that a shift in perception and consciousness is a prerequisite for meaningful change in our economic and technological relationship to this planet. I believe the folks at Pachamama agree with me that it is not enough for us to get scared about climate change and realize that our self-interest is dependent on that of the planet. We have to love the planet as a sacred living being, and not merely fear for our survival on it.

That said, I have no idea whether this particular Intensive will be effective in inspiring such a shift. I’ve heard good things about other Pachamama programs. And this one uses a video called Charles Eisenstein on Movements and Activism from a wonderful interview filmed list fall at Canticle Farm in Oakland. I’m curious to see what practices they build around it.

Another reason occurs to me why I don’t like doing marketing. It is that it treats my audience as a collection of consumers, a bunch of marketing objects whose value lies in their numbers, in their response rate, their clickthrough rate, etc. The marketer doesn’t really care about you. He cares about your response. People didn’t sign up for my newsletter or Facebook page to be marketed at. To do so feels like a breach of trust.

Yeah, yeah, maybe I’m making too big a deal about it. I am aware that among people who do the kind of work I do, cross-promoting events is a kind of common courtesy, and I sometimes feel sheepish in violating it. At least I never ask anyone else to blast my events out either. I assume that if they resonate strongly with them or have had a good experience, they will spread the word without my asking. That’s the kind of energy I want in my field – enthusiastic, voluntary, unobligated, genuine.


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