April 2007


Three months ago, Peek didn’t exist. It was merely an idea built on the successes of my first press event, Food Fete, which launched in 2005. I figured it worked with gourmet food, so why not with lifestyle products? And while that approach may seem simplistic, it was truly the seed for getting Peek off the ground — and one of the entrepreneurial advantages of being able to just make things happen.

Trying to pull this off inside a big company would have taken months of mind-numbing meetings, piles of planning documents and justification, and endless hand-wringing over “will it work?”

I don’t have time for that.

Our first Peek press event is next Wednesday in New York City, and I’m extremely pleased with our accomplishments. For something that didn’t exist three months ago, Peek managed to attract an impressive — albeit small — roster of exhibitors, including well-known brands like Symantec, Plantronics, Altec Lansing, OfficeMax, Seagate, Skype, Helio and Microplane. We’ll also be featuring products from some lesser-known and start-up brands like Castor & Pollux Pet Works, ROHTO, Meebo, 3G Bikes, CircleUp, Halo Technologies and V-Moda.

On the media side, we have 80 consumer lifestyle journalists planning to attend a brand new event they fundamentally know very little about. Among them are TIME, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Cookie, Consumer Reports, Esquire, Family Circle, Every Day With Rachael Ray, InStyle, Ladies Home Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Fitness, Metropolitan Home, More, Penthouse, SELF and Woman’s Day, just to name a few. I’m glad to see we’re creating something of interest to them too.

I also want to give a special thanks to the above named exhibitors and their PR firms who joined me in taking what I’ve described as a leap of faith to make Peek a reality. Sure, I got a lot of “Well, we’re just hesitant to sign on to an new, unproven event,” or “We’ll consider it next year when you have one or two under your belt.” That’s all very understandable, particularly from PR agencies that put their necks on the line to recommend something unproven to their client. I get that. I’ve been in their shoes.

For me, however, it’s the unknown of what will transpire next Wednesday that makes what I do very exciting. In a world where being “in control” is the corporate equivalent of pure gold, the anticipation (combined with some nervousness) of the unknown is the most thrilling part.

Things like…Will the media show up? We’ve done everything short of sending a car to their offices to help ensure that. (Trust me, I thought about how to pull that off, but still working on it). Will the exhibitors get the editorial exposure they hope for? That’s driven by how well they tell their stories and if the editors find their products interesting.

The good news is that the companies we’re working with have the insight to understand that reward doesn’t come without some risk — particularly in the PR business and working with the media. I don’t care how well-orchestrated, well-crafted your PR programs are, on some level there’s always an element of simply crossing your fingers and hoping it all comes together.

Good or bad, I’ll provide a post-mortem on Peek next week. I’m taking a couple of extra fun days in New York City after Peek concludes on Wednesday, which I’ll probably spend re-playing in my head all of the things I could have done differently and will do better next time.

Once again, one of the “advantages” of running your own business.

Wish us luck!

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Marketing guru Seth Godin writes today about risk-taking in marketing. Most notably, he says, “Brand pioneers and early adopters are proud of their stance. It makes us feel good to share war stories. Be proud of your risk takers and they’ll return the favor.”

In producing a new press event like Peek, there’s certainly a degree of risk– risk among prospective exhibitors that Peek is a right fit; risk that the right media will show and like what they see (and write about it); and risk that the media will even show up at all!

I’ve used the phrase “leap of faith” more than once in convincing brands and their PR agencies to come onboard, realizing it’s human nature to want everything wrapped up neatly in a perfect little package with no room for error and no surprises.

And as I experienced with my other Food Fete press event, exhibitors at the first event in 2005 took a leap of faith that it would pay off for them. Judging by the number of repeat exhibitors we’ve enjoyed, their leap must have paid off, which means surprises can sometimes be good.

I admit, some of the uncertainty keeps me up at night, because a lot is at stake for me and the companies that put their faith in me. But when I look at the “risk versus reward” equation, I honestly believe it’s worth it. Because despite the fact of how most people love to control every aspect of their work and personal lives, deep down it’s that little piece of the unknown that keeps things exciting.

And as Seth alluded to, the real reward is surviving the risk to play the game another day.