About Shel Horowitz

About GREEN Guerrilla Marketer Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz

Beginning with a one-toddler action against smokers at his parents’ party at about age three, Shel Horowitz has been involved in environmental and social change movements his whole life. In 1972, at age 15, he was involved in a community group that opposed a nuclear power plant proposed for two miles north of New York City (a proposal that the utility company quickly withdrew). A veteran of the 1977 Seabrook occupation, his first book, written when he was only 22, was about why nuclear power makes no sense. Shel is also the author of the e-book, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life-With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle. He is directly responsible for the first nonsmokers’ rights regulations in Northampton, Massachusetts, and for the defeat of a large and inappropriate mountaintop development in his current home town of Hadley, Mass. His Down to Business webzine was one of the first business publications to have a regular section on sustainability.

On the marketing side, Shel was still a teenager when he started doing publicity and marketing for grass-roots community organizations with zero promotional budget. There wasn’t even money available for stamps, so he used to hand-deliver press releases on a three-speed bicycle, Trained as a journalist, he first became aware of the power of the news media when a local paper refused to print meeting notices he wrote for a controversial group—but gave extensive news coverage to its refusal. Now, for over twenty years, he’s helped businesses, nonprofits, and community groups get their message out to the public with little or no expenditure.

After finishing Antioch College at age 19, Shel had to come to terms with his own work history: career paths not only in writing and marketing/PR, but also in radio, teaching, arts, food service, office systems, community organizing, and environmental issues. Putting together his own first résumés led to a new career direction: résumé writing and career services. Shel quickly realized he had the ability to discover a job candidate’s best strengths and present them so those are highlighted while weaknesses are downplayed. In short, he turned résumé writing into a marketing function.

A native of New York City, he returned there to work at two literary agencies as a manuscript reader, and then worked for a year and a half as a VISTA Volunteer community organizer with the Gray Panthers. Pursuing poetry on the side, he became very active in the New York open poetry scene, and met Dina Friedman at an open reading in Greenwich Village.

The two left New York in 1980, spending a year in Philadelphia before settling in Western Massachusetts in 1981—and founding Accurate Writing & More with an initial marketing cost of $12 and a total start-up under $200 (most of it for a 13-year-old IBM Selectric typewriter). They married two years later. Daughter Alana was born in 1987—the same year Dina joined the business—and son Rafael followed in 1992.

Drawing on the marketing he’d practiced in and after college, Shel began marketing his own business locally, and grew it to the largest of its kind in a three-county service area. In 1985, he published the first of six books on low-cost, high-impact marketing. Gradually, he expanded his practice to marketing for other businesses and nonprofits. He began using e-mail as a marketing tool in 1994, set up his first website in 1996, and quickly developed a reputation internationally as a skilled copywriter and marketing strategist who knows how to stretch a marketing dollar. His client list now includes accounts in Europe, Asia, and all across the U.S.; his books have sold to dozens of countries, and have been republished in South Korea, India, Mexico, Italy, and Turkey.

And as an environmental and social justice activist since 1972, he has used these skills pro bono for a number of environmental and social change organizations—especially a group he founded called Save the Mountain, which mobilized thousands of people (in a rural county) and rapidly beat back an “unstoppable” poorly-planned development on a mountain abutting a state park; this was a campaign that combined everything Shel knew about marketing and community organizing, and drew on the skills of many others that he recruited into the organization. Following the success of this campaign, Shel looked at a bigger canvas, and founded the Business Ethics Pledge to make future Enron and Madoff scandals unthinkable. So far, he has signers in more than 30 countries.

Shel now offers not only copywriting and strategic marketing planning based in Green principles, but also helps unpublished writers become published authors. Five of his eight books have won awards and/or been republished in other countries, including his most recent, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, co-authored with Mr. Guerrilla Marketing himself, Jay Conrad Levinson).

This new book states that honesty, integrity, and a commitment to environmental sustainability are important—but market share is often the wrong metric entirely…that long-term relationships are better than a one-time sale…and that competitors can be among your best allies.

The book provides dozens of examples of companies large and small that have succeeded by putting people first: familiar names like Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Southwest Airlines as well as numerous entrepreneurs who are successful in their own niches, even if not widely known.

Shel is a popular speaker and media interviewee (including multiple appearances in the New York Times, Inc, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and many others) who loves to get the word out about this important new paradigm. A few among many venues where Shel has spoken:

  • Forum Davos, Davos, Switzerland (February 2010)
  • American Society of Journalists and Authors (April 2010)
  • Book Expo America (multiple appearances)
  • Noteworthy USA National Convention Keynote
  • Public Relations Society of America International Conference
  • Infinity Publishing Author Conference Keynote
  • Publishers Marketing Association University (multiple appearances)
  • Ragan Strategic Media Conference
  • Regional writing and publishing associations in the Bay Area, Saint Louis, New York, and elsewhere (three with several repeat appearances)
  • University of Massachusetts Family Business Center (multiple appearances)
  • Business for Social Responsibility
  • Colleges and universities including Smith College, University of Vermont, Mount Holyoke College, others

Contact him with this link, or call 413-586-2388 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m., US Eastern Time).

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