Sullivan Alexander is a contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston), whom you can learn more about at www.contureadvisors.com.
Sullivan recently interviewed Teresa Hartnett, President of Hartnett Inc.
About the interviewee
Teresa Hartnett is 30-year executive in publishing who has been a rights broker throughout her career that spans corporate, consulting and literary agency work. She has handled acquisitions, marketing, sales, packaging and licensing and crosses all book and magazine/journal markets (print, old and new media) including commercial trade, scientific-technical, professional and college publishing. Hartnett enjoys ghostwriting and book-doctoring credits and currently offers workshops and direct coaching in several areas, including developing creative talent through writing. On a personal note, Hartnett admits to a particular fondness for taking her dogs on nature walks, spending Saturday nights surfing Wikipedia, and savoring 20th century war poetry which she studied at Oxford University. She also happens to LOVE Texas.
Tell me about HARTNETT INC (services offered, number of employees, location, type of customers you work with, etc.).
Hartnett manages media transitions from paper to digital environments. We support businesses moving to where the economy is going – online.
Clients have access to one or more of our three specialty teams. We research ownership claims in content. Second, we catalog content so it’s ready for the digital format. And, third, we develop digital products from paper-based work.
Our clients are diverse but all need the same service. Legal professionals handing wholesale content transitions (or mergers and acquisitions) rely on our teams. Educators and librarians who are on the brink of an online revolution use our services to beat all barriers to entry. Of course, we work quite a bit with publishers moving products online.
Here’s the interesting trend. We’re working with groups related to STEM. For example, knowledge-based businesses realize they can extend their impact by consolidating internal and published content. We do that for them. There are also information services already thriving online; for them, we augment staffing resources.
Tell us about the key challenges your organization faced during the slow economic recovery.
The challenges my company faces in this economy are like everyone else. Clients may have cash fluidity, but they hesitate to hire us. These folks have heard all the usual promises of rigor around costs, delivery, and flexibility, but they’ve seen every one broken. In times of uncertainty, why would anyone risk paying a hundred dollars for every one dollar originally budgeted? That is after all a common scenario for online initiatives.
My future clients are too smart for that. They are appropriately cautious. New initiatives like ones I design for them, yes, are absolutely critical to their market advantage. But, they are trying to find middle ground between risk and compelling need. Now, I know many can afford us, and I know they need to get online, and they know they need to get online, but how can they trust what we promise? Well, every company has its own pace. Ideally, they won’t be so cautious they opt for a business model that is too safe—too rigid. There’s risk in that.
How did you overcome the challenges, and position the business for growth?
I enjoy educating and building relationships with organizational leaders who can hire us. For one thing, I offer a free one-hour phone consultation, and for those I am willing to sign NDAs. I also personally offer a couple online courses, one in digital publishing trends, and one in fundamental rights research and ownership. These options help smart people explore opportunities without costly commitments.
Am I positioned for growth? I don’t know. Mostly I am positioning the company to ride out economic tumult, with a focus on constantly preparing for that time when the consistent flow of work resumes. For now, we have enough work and great clients, and I continue to meet fabulous new companies with all sorts of potential to launch online. That’s a pretty good place to be.
What makes your organization different from the competition?
We deliver. By contrast, a lot of competitors claim to have the range of experience needed to move content online—and don’t. They know buzzwords. We avoid buzzwords. We are honest from the start about options and cost. We are low maintenance. And, we make targets.
My entire career has been at the nexus of traditional paper-based and digital publishing since the beginning. My teams are trained in my proprietary process of rights research, content inventories, and digital development. We’ve worked on all sorts of projects. We honor all our NDAs. No one else can claim such real-world, full-time focus—or client trust—and I’ve seldom met a consulting group that makes or beats deadlines, quality and budget. We do.