Stephen Colbert

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the cursed amulet commands me to inform you of the delicious taste of tonight's sponsor: Sabra roasted red pepper hummus," said Stephen Colbert on his first night hosting "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." The audience — myself included — was in stitches. Even though the bit was a blatant shill, it was a lighthearted take on the point we've come to with the idea of sponsored content.

If you’ve spent any time at all on Twitter and Facebook during the last week or so, you’ve undoubtably heard about KONY2012. The campaign by the nonprofit advocacy group Invisible Children centered around Joseph Kony, the Ugandan warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group with a long and violent history that includes the kidnapping of children. With striking and dramatic imagery and Hollywood-style editing, the campaign video presents an utterly compelling message in the age of “social” media: by simply clicking “share,” you can make a difference in the world. And “share” the world did …

In April 13's "Direct Mail Testing in 2010 — Copy, Offer, Lists, Formats, Personalization and More" webinar, we heard from two prominent direct marketers — Grant Johnson, president of Johnson Direct and author of "Fairytale Marketing," and Steve Cuno, chairman of Response Agency and author of "Prove It Before You Promote It." Both have rosters of big and small clients that still test, and both discussed why testing is more important than ever in the current climate.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

I’ve earned my living as a writer much of my life, just as my father and uncle had before me. I wrote some novels and business books, but it was junk mail that paid the bills. As a non-union writer, I follow the Writers Guild of America’s strike against the motion picture and television industries with fascination. Imagine! An unheralded collection of faceless individuals—whose behind-the-scenes creativity is the engine responsible for generating billions of dollars in revenues—has brought the entire industry to its knees. This column is about the Writers Guild Strike and the Mexican standoff that has become so expensive that no

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