“We are all learning how to adapt in these unprecedented times. Here is my story.”
Adam Shapiro, co-founder of AlertMe
We are all living through challenging times right now, both personally and professionally. As a result, we thought it would be helpful to hear how members of our community are coping in today’s new normal. Here is our interview with Adam Shapiro, co-founder of AlertMe, a tool that lets publishers connect with their readers.
What is AlertMe?
I often describe AlertMe as a content discovery engine for publishers. In short, AlertMe allows readers to opt-in to follow stories they care the most about, helping the site build 1-1 connections with the most highly-engaged users. The personal relevancy of these “self-selected” emails or texts is why alerts drive a 36%+ CTR. It’s a great help to publishers, readers, and hopefully will send my kids to college.
How has your business been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic?
Not surprisingly, the current environment has had a significant impact on our ability to grow. Everyone’s focus is on keeping clients and ensuring their families are safe which makes it hard to find and speak to new potential clients.
How are you adapting your business strategies?
One thing this crisis has done is shown the value of our service. Readers struggle to filter through all the news sources available to them to find reliable information. This is especially true when people are seeking news about their local community. I mentioned earlier that the overall CTR is 36% with AlertMe, but on local stories dealing with Coronavirus, it’s 47%. Getting the most critical information to people is what I take the most pride in. That’s why, in our small effort to do public good, we are waiving our fees for any publisher wanting to use AlertMe for coronavirus reporting, and, in many cases, all content.
Have you changed the way you conduct your business?
We are focusing our energy on our most important targets – keeping the key partners we have now and continuing to pursue big opportunity prospects. Everyone has limited bandwidth right now so we keep our focus on the initiatives that can bring home our dinner. But the exciting news is that we have gotten unsolicited inquiries from publishers – that means that we are getting noticed.
Have you been able to identify any new opportunities as a result of the pandemic?
It made us realize that AlertMe can be valuable to more organizations than news providers. For example, healthcare companies and nonprofits can use AlertMe to filter information to people. It is actually useful to anybody who puts something up on the internet and hopes someone will find it. Unfortunately, we don’t have the bandwidth right now to pursue these opportunities, but we plan to pursue them once this crisis passes and business is hopefully back to normal.
How are you managing your employees and/or contractors?
We have always worked remotely so the recent mandates to work from home have not caused a significant change in how we work together. But we do speak more often now so that we are cognizant of the challenges each of our employees is facing. I also recognize that work may need to get done on different schedules, so planning ahead has become increasingly important. We also have to be careful to prioritize our work so that we don’t overstretch or over-stress our staff during this time when stress and anxiety is already high.
How are you preparing for a potential loss of revenue for the next several months?
We are talking to larger organizations about strategic partnerships and, potentially, an acquisition so we can offer more capabilities to clients faster. I am a big believer that it is better to have a smaller percentage of a large successful organization than trying to grow organically at a slower pace – especially in the current business environment.
How are you balancing the needs of your family with that of your business?
No question, my family always comes first. If I have to choose between a business call and comforting my children if they are scared, I will try to reschedule the call. Of course, I have the advantage of leading a company where work can be done outside of the traditional hours of 9 to 5, giving me more flexibility in juggling my responsibilities to home and work.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
I wish I had answers – we are all learning in these unprecedented times. By definition entrepreneurs are fully invested in their businesses and, for many, business is hard right now. So I would say it is more important than ever to take breaks. I’m finding that I need to discipline myself to take breaks away from stressful work and aggravating Twitter/news, and instead, do something that is 100% entertainment. We need to give ourselves permission to step back periodically.
Tell us how you are coping during this crisis by commenting on our blog. We want to hear from you!
Copyright© 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong