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Picking Your “Expert”

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Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by a consultant who wishes to remain anonymous.
There is a “golfer’s etiquette” that admonishes players to give advice only when asked, otherwise such sharing
of wisdom is considered to be: (1) impolite, (2) unwanted, or (3) both. In golf, however, one has the benefit of
observing the quality of golf the advice-giver plays himself. As a witness to the advice-giver’s ability to play
his own game, one can readily determine the value of the unsolicited advice. We can experience the value, stroke by
stroke.

Unfortunately, in our industry, we don’t have the benefit of witnessing our advisor’s success one stroke at a
time. So how can we judge the true capabilities of those to whom we go for counsel-the “experts”? Are there
credentials to see? Do they matter? Which credentials are important? Does a degree of some sort signify capability,
competence and accomplishment, or simply tenure gained by going to the required classes?

Today’s publishing industry sees hordes of “experts” with names like agent, publicist, consultant, designer,
packager, editor, and many others. It seems shameful that there is absolutely no screening method by which any of
the aforementioned “experts” must qualify in order to claim his “expert” title. Doctors, attorneys, CPAs,
construction contractors, plumbers, and TV repairmen must not only study their respective fields, they must also
practice what they’ve learned and satisfactorily pass some sort of testing requirements for their official “expert”
certification. But, sorry fellow publishers, no certification is needed for our publishing “experts.” All ours need
to do is pick an “expert” name and hang their singles. “Yesterday I was a back room copywriter at Rarefied Air
Publishing Company, today I’m a marketing ‘expert’ ready and willing to pass onto you my sage wisdom and service
(for a fee).”

This is certainly not intended to denigrate the real “experts” who are also ready and willing, but also able.
Every cent of their fees has value. But how can we choose our “experts” in fields without quantifiable, qualifiable
certification? It would seem to me that the only way we can make intelligent informed selections of our “experts”
is to base the criteria on precisely what the “expert” has individually and personally accomplished. Did the”expert” individually create the success, or was he only part of a bigger picture? Or was he simply an observer
without actual participation in the success. Has the “expert” made a mistake or two? (Raise your hand if you
haven’t.) So what if he has! Or has your “expert” never erred, simply because he never tried? “Pity those weak
souls who never tried, because they will never have the answer to ‘what if.'”

So what is the moral of all this? The moral is to be as selective and cautious in picking your “experts” as you
are in picking a head of lettuce at the supermarket. There are simply too many that don’t make the grade!

Contact the PMA office at <A
HREF=”mailto:pmaonline@aol.com”>pmaonline@aol.com for a copy of a brochure describing the Dispute
Resolution Program. For more information about mediation and arbitration, contact Phil Tamoush at <A
HREF=”mailto:oakwoodpub@juno.com”>oakwoodpub@juno.com.

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