[IMGCAP(1)]I reached a stage in my career when I thought it was important to write articles. I wrote quite a few and sent them to editors, only to have them rejected. The nice ones wrote back a rejection. The not so nice never bothered to respond at all. 

I even had articles typed multiple times to send “originals” to various publications at the same time to no avail. At some point I gave up, but decided to write tax letters to clients. This was in the day when accountants could not advertise, so what I wrote was on my firm’s letterhead. I started with year-end tax planning letters. One time I had a letter ready to be printed when a colleague I shared an office with showed me a similar letter he had just received from a large firm with a masthead consisting of the firm’s initials followed by the word “newsletter.”

That gave me the idea to do the same and the “S&M Newsletter” became a publication of Siegel & Mendlowitz. After about two-thirds of the letters were stuffed in envelopes it dawned on me that S&M could refer to something not too professional; however, I was already invested into the process and sent it out anyway.

Well, this became an instant success with many calls jeering and poking fun at us, but we received many requests to be put on the S&M Newsletter mailing list. We expanded the “brand” and eventually gave away over 600 S&M T-Shirts. We even had two clients who met each other while jogging in Paris wearing the shirts.

I didn't think much about it at the time, but the newsletter provided an aura of expertise, giving me a vehicle to write and a credential as the “publisher” of the S&M Newsletter. At that same time, if we met people who asked if we had expertise in a particular area I said we published an internal memo on that topic and I would get it to them. Thus was born the “S&M Internal Memo” with a quickly, but thoroughly researched article or outline of the topic.

Today the www.partners-network.com blog serves this same purpose. Sometimes things seem to change but not really!

The newsletter and memos became a substitute for a firm brochure (which I never had) and led to openings for people to call me with questions, asking assistance or wanting to become a client. This also led to Martin Edelston calling me and that became a major jumpstart to my career by making me a real published author. I will provide the details next week.

The inability to get published led to publishing our own firm newsletter, which probably was a greater benefit than the few articles that might have been published. A door closed, but a much greater one opened.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.