How I Landed on the New York Times and What It All Means

by Marcus Sheridan

Sheridan New York Times Photo

I’m taking a break today from “marketing stuff” to share some personal thoughts and reflection on these last couple of weeks. If you’re uninterested in the personal, tune back in a few days where we’ll be talking about some incredibly effective and innovative local SEO techniques for content marketers. Until then, here goes:

A Series of Fortunate Events

Thursday January 24th 2013, 12:10pm: I’ve just finished speaking at the Vistage International Conference in Dallas Texas. The session seemed to be a huge hit, and among the people that approached me afterwards was a very kind employee of the New York Times, Loren Feldman, saying he wanted to possibly do a story on my swimming pool company’s success from content marketing and also my transition from “pool guy” to “marketing guy.” Although the idea sounds wonderful, I don’t anticipate anything will come from this.

Tuesday January 29th 1:37pm: I just received an email from Loren and he says a reporter will be contacting me soon to do a story. Honestly, I still don’t expect much, as my experience with newspaper reporters up to this point when discussing marketing never seems to be too exciting, but we’ll see.

Friday February 8th 6pm: I just got off the phone with New York Times reporter Mark Cohen. Expecting the call to be just a few minutes, we ended up chatting for over an hour about my entire story and the unusual things I’ve done with content marketing to find success. He was especially interested in my willingness to discuss the competition and answer every single question we’d been asked as pool guys. I didn’t know reporters could be this fun to talk to.

Thursday February 14th: I got an email from Mark Cohen today. He says Loren from the Times loves the piece, and that they’re going to be sending a photographer down to my swimming pool store as well. Now things are starting to get interesting…

Friday February 15th : A very cool freelance photographer, Jay Paul, came down to my store today and took a bunch of photos of me holding my laptop while standing next to one of our fiberglass pool shells. He tells me the story should be running in the NY Times website in about a week, but isn’t sure as to whether or not it’s going to be in the paper version of the Times as well. Not wanting to make a mistake and give false information to anyone, I decide to wait to tell any friends about the possibility of the story.

Wednesday February 27th 10am: I get a Google Alerts that the article has run in the NY Times web version of the paper. Throughout the day, more and more people are starting to contact me with kind words of congratulations. Even better, I find out the story is running in the actual paper tomorrow as well. The article is only about 20% of our actual conversation, but it turned out great, and I’m finally allowing myself to be excited.

Thursday February 28th 10:30am: I’ve just gotten off stage after speaking to about 300 internet entrepreneurs at the Underground Conference (tremendous event btw) in Washington DC. Feeling great about how my talk went, I sit down and find a barrage of emails in my inbox. One of them is from Seth Godin’s literary agent, and she tells me she believes the story needs to be told in book form, and would like to represent me going forward.

Oddly, I feel tears running down my cheeks. I read the email twice to make sure I didn’t read it wrong the first time. Yep, it’s Seth Godin’s agent.

I’m finally one step closer to getting the book (or should I say series of books) published that I know is very much inside of me, and am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Sunday, March 4th 12:10am: Here I now sit, writing this little blog post. This last week has been incredibly surprising. The article in the Times was a hit, one of their most read business articles of the week. And with record traffic on the TSL website every day, hundreds of emails have come in and almost 1000 people have subscribed to the blog.

At the same time, what this last 4 years has taught me is to not get too high or too low with any event. Often, “big breaks” aren’t nearly as big as they initially appear, and those “huge disappointments” are equally not as bad as we often perceive them.

Life works in funny ways. For the first 12 months of The Sales Lion, almost no one read or listened. Those were tough times.

Today, people are listening—and although it may not be the biggest or best blog in the world, I feel a deep sense of appreciation for all the progress that has been made, to all those wonderful people that have helped get me there,  and at the same time know this is just the beginning.

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