Scott Alan Miller

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

CMP Publishing and Cold Calling

A few weeks back, I received a phone call from some proporting to be calling on behalf of CRM Magazine. Now, I have subscribed to CRN for several years as it is a pretty popular publication amongst the VAR/System Integration crowds covering the going-ons in the VAR relations industry. CRN is a free magazine. One of those publications that makes all of its money through advertising - a model which I totally appreciate as it allows industry professionals like me to receive a large amount of published works without having to spend a significant fortune to subscribe to them. I probably get a dozen or maybe fifteen trade magazines in this fashion.

Recently, I have started to reconsider the number of publications that I receive in this manner. I find that I often do not have the time to dedicate to read them and I often, at best, skim them for one useful article and hope to throw them out while I am at the office or a client site so that I don't have to pay to have them all disposed of at my home (currently there are two giant stacks of them waiting to be recycled as it is.) Even moreso, I have recently noticed that a staggering number of the articles are not technical or business related at all but are actually unprofessional writers filling space with political rantings. It was brought to my attention by a developer friend of mine that over half of all of the articles in Software Developer had absolutely nothing to do with software development but were sexist, left-wing political soap boxing complaining about hiring practices in the software development industry. Not only was it political, but almost every article pointed the finger at developers, not hiring managers, educators or anyone else who is creating the "so called" problem. But they blamed the professionals who are doing the work for being better than other more deserving but unqualified people who need money. They even went to far in one article to point out that the people not getting jobs were not at all qualified and, more importantly, didn't want the jobs. But that didn't matter. So, we agreed that SD was a worthless rag and let it go. But the story continues.

In a recent issue of CRN, I had been offended by an article written by someone clearly uninformed about the industry and desperatly attempting to fill some space or to meet a deadline. The article itself wasn't necessarily disagreeable but I was not happy to find an article in a magazine such as CRN making such statements. I get industry trade magazines for a reason. In addition to this, I have often compained that CRN is published in an annoyingly large scale, much larger in physical form than a regular magazine. This makes it unwieldy, difficult to pack and, in all honesty, a little embarrassing to read in public. It is like the Rolling Stone of the IT industry - well known, too showey and full of pictures of rich, trashy people complaining about being rich and having nothing useful to tell the rest of us. So I had decided to stop receiving CRN when my subscription ran out - I would simply not fill in the subscription form again and all would be well. Or so I thought.

But then this phone call came. The woman said that she was calling to talk to me "about my subscription to CRN" as if she knew that I had one. I said "Ok" and she began to ask me questions about myself and my business (not exactly talking about my subscription to start with.) I politely informed her that I was not interested in receiving the magazine anymore. She informed me that I did not receive this magazine. Now, this may be true. The CRN that I receive might actually be in another employee's name and I might just steal it from them. I do that with some magazine and I just can't remember which one it is. But more importantly, if I did NOT receive this magazine according to CMP Media, its publisher, then why were they "calling to talk about my subscription" instead of calling to offer me one? I continued to explain that I did actually receive it but that I was not interested in receiving it anymore because... and the caller hung up on me. She actually hung up on me. I was about to tell her the useful information that I found the paper on which the magazine was printed to be large and cumbersome but apparently CRN isn't interested in knowing why its readership decides to leave it. No big loss, I didn't want to receive CRN anymore anyway. But it got me thinking.

So, I dug out my magazine archives. Yes, I keep magazine archives. And I started going through them looking to see which magazines I liked and which IMHO were just full of fluff, were poorly written or, in a rare few cases, actually crossed the line into offensive and inappropriate to maintain in a business environment. Now, up until now, I have received a large number of subscriptions many of which are extremely similar in look, feel, style and content and I have found it very difficult to distinguish between them. But now I really sat down and took the time to determine which ones were good and which ones were not. Lo and behold, I discovered almost instantly that none of the magazines that I felt had high value were coming from CMP, even though I subscribed to EIGHT of their publications including CRN, Information Week, Network World, Network Magazine, Software Developer, Dr. Dobbs Journal and a few others. Of all of these, only Dr. Dobbs had any quality to it at all but even that I found to be highly irrelevant and not a useful way to spend my time.

So what was the final outcome of this rude phone call? Well, I immediately stopped subscribing to all CMP Media publications. Even those that fell on the fence I felt compelled to no longer support. I have better ways to spend my time. And, more importantly, now you too know about CMP Media. There are plenty of good, high quality, free or low cost publications available so there is no reason to waste time on pulp like CMP.


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