Pyro Marketing – Flamed

kinnon —  July 31, 2005 — Leave a comment

Ed Brenegar has been following the production and release of Greg Stielstra’s Pyro-Marketing. He’s been looking forward to reading the book and thought he’d missed it’s release date – scheduled for July. Greg is a well regarded book marketing “evangelist”,

Working with a talented team of professionals at Zondervan, Stielstra has helped create and drive the marketing and publicity for hundreds of books; including many that have become bestsellers, sold more than a million copies, made the New York Times bestsellers list, or won the prestigious Book of the Year Award. Stielstra was also the marketing director for The Purpose-Driven Life, the best-selling hardcover book in history.  (PyroBio)

And the rub is in that last sentence. The reference to Rick Warren’s PDL. Apparently, according to Mr. Stielstra’s interview in  Publisher’s Weekly, Mr. Warren wants all references to PDL removed from Pyro Marketing.

…according to Stielstra, Warren has held up the book by insisting it not mention his bestselling The Purpose-Driven Life, which Zondervan published in 2002.

Stielstra worked on Zondervan’s PDL campaign from the beginning, and he said Warren has demanded that every reference to PDL be stricken from the book. "HarperCollins asked me to make that change, and I have declined and asked HarperCollins to either publish my book as it is or to immediately return the rights to me so I can find another publisher," Stielstra said.

Ed asks some interesting questions in his post:

1.  Are they practicing celebrity branding protection to suppress any and every use of PDL and Rick Warren’s name by others not directly connected to the celebrity?
2. Are they concerned that their readers/followers will think that if marketing had something to do with the success of PDL that it will lead them to think that PDL is unspiritual?  One look at the PDL website will tell you that these are master marketers.
3.  Are they unaware that the success of PDL is because of word-of-mouth that has a spiritual dimension, but is also how the best marketing happens?
4.  Are they not aware that efforts to suppress someone’s book flies in the face of freedom of speech, and that religious figures who practice suppression of speech do a disservice to those who fight everyday for freedom of religous speech?
5.  Are they aware that by trying to suppress this book that they present a public persona not of spiritual giants serving the church, but of greedy, anti-competition business people?
6. Are they concerned that their secret weapon for success will be out, and that their competition will use this against them?  That Zero-Sum game mentality doesn’t work.

Warren, in his Pew Forum interview, readily admits Newscorp’s (Zondervan’s owners) involvement in PDL’s success.

My book happened to be published by Zondervan, which is owned by Harper-Collins, which is owned by Newscorp, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. So when the book hit 15 million, I called up Rupert Murdoch and I said, "What are you going to do to celebrate my book?" And he goes, "Well, what do you want to do?" I go, "I want you to throw a party and I want you to invite all your secular elite friends from Manhattan and let me talk to them."
Warren goes on to talk about using the success of his book to influence these “elites”. (Read the whole article here – Warren comes across very well in it.)

I want to give Saddleback’s Pastor the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps some overzealous folk in the PDL organization have been over reacting. However, the net result of these kind of actions will only be positive for Greg Stielstra – the word of mouth generated by the PDL suppressive response will drive up interest in Greg’s book. And the MSM will eventually pick up the story as a great way to slam another Evangelical. That will be rather sad.

I confess that although I own PDL, I’ve never actually read it. (WARNING: Bad Pun Ahead.) I’m more into the Life Aquatic – the Porpoise Driven Life.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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