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Is Media Manipulation the New Media Relations

Media Manipulation – fact or fiction – a frank conversation with Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday), author of Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator and Peter Shankman (@petershankman), VP, Small Business Evangelist at Vocus.

But, now the rest of the story.

Trust MeEarlier this month a relatively unknown media strategist by the name of Ryan Holiday released a book titled Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

The book has received a tremendous amount of coverage due in part to the provocative title and due largely to Holiday’s own perfectly timed manipulation stunt.

Here’s just a bit of the coverage if you want a dive deep into this topic:

In an effort to bring attention to the topic of the book Holiday abused the media service Help A Reporter Out (HARO) by pretending to be a credible source for a number of journalists looking to write stories on specific topics.

Holiday responded to hundreds of queries and lied about who he was and what he knew in an effort to get press to prove his point about the state of online journalism.

Holiday said of his tricks in an interview with Forbes:

“I knew that bloggers would print anything, so I thought, what if, as an experiment, I tried to prove that they will literally print anything? Instead of trying to get press to benefit myself, I just wanted to get any press for any reason as a joke.”

Holiday successfully duped journalists at some of the highest profile publications over a series of several months.

On Reuters, he became the poster child for “Generation Yikes.” On ABC News, he was one of a new breed of long-suffering insomniacs. At CBS, he made up an embarrassing office story, at MSNBC he pretended someone sneezed on him while working at Burger King. At Manitouboats.com, he offered helpful tips for winterizing your boat. The capstone came in the form of a New York Times piece on vinyl records.

So, was this merely a stunt put together by someone pretty good at media manipulation or does it really prove anything about otherwise ethical PR professionals and smart journalists?

“From a reporter’s perspective, it’s not hard to see how it happens,” wrote Thier. “I used HARO once, for this story. Tools like this streamline the hectic process that is blogging — were the situation different, I could see easily myself swindled by someone like Holiday.”

The predictable firestorm that ensued between Holiday and HARO founder Peter Shankman erupted in somewhat spectacular fashion with Holiday going as far as claiming that services such as HARO should be shut down, while Shankman defended the valuable service HARO provides for journalists, PR professionals and small businesses.

Holiday – Peter Shankman seems a little defensive doesn’t he? (Especially the part where he threatens to punch me in the face.) I suppose I can’t blame him. This week, I exposed HARO, the service he founded, for what it is: a cesspool of media manipulation and enabler of bad journalism.

Shankman – Let’s be clear: This idiot (Ryan Holiday, the liar,) did this for one reason, and it wasn’t anywhere NEAR as altruistic as “an experiment.” He wrote a book on how to lie and get in the media, and he was promoting it. End of story. Want more proof? You know what this guy did before he wrote this book? HE WORKED FOR TUCKER MAX, the man who’s written multiple books on how to lie to get laid. Enough said.

Okay so maybe not enough said!

Join me live today at 1:30pm ET as I moderate the first face to face discussion between Peter Shankman and Ryan Holiday since this controversy erupted.

Media Manipulation – fact or fiction – a frank conversation with Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday), author of Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator and Peter Shankman (@petershankman), VP, Small Business Evangelist at Vocus.

The live Google+Hangout will also feature guest commentary from David Meerman Scott (@dmscott), author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Amy Cosper (@EntMagazineAmy), Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur magazine and Shel Holtz (@shelholtz), Principal, Holtz Communication + Technology – Live – August 1st, 1:30pm ET (GMT-4)

The event moderator is John Jantsch (@ducttape) of Duct Tape Marketing. The event will be available live on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/ducttapemarketing

The Google+Hangout Live to YouTube is still pretty shaky technology so let’s hope we pull it off. The YouTube stream will also be recorded for later viewing.

Ride a New Set of Unwritten PR Rules to Coverage in the Largest Blogs and Publications on the Planet

Marketing podcast with Ryan Holiday (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Today, even the smallest business or individual professional has the ability to generate media coverage in the largest, most sought after channels available. The key is to understand and exploit some unwritten rules that have evolved over the last few years.

Unwritten Rule #1 – Large blog networks needs lots of news every day in order to generate the page views that pay their bills. Organizations motivated by pageviews over editorial quality are easy to manipulate.

Unwritten Rule #2 – Most traditional media outlets no longer have the staff to find the hottest news and rely on large blog networks and social media to identify trends and news

Unwritten Rule #3 – If you want large media outlets to cover your story or idea focus on pulling them into your story by getting coverage in the large blog networks they follow.

Trust Me I'm LyingPitching the New York Times, Techcrunch or CNNMoney with your story may be a stretch, but having them call you because of the trending story you got a blog they follow to run isn’t a stretch at all these days and it’s happening more than you might think.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you have this awesome product that you want to get placed in Wal-Mart. You can go down to Arkansas and try to get the buyer to listen to your compelling story or you can get dozens of would be consumers to go ask dozens of Wal-Mart manages why they don’t carry your awesome product.

This is referred to pulling sales rather than pushing them and it works in the new world of PR just as well.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visit with Ryan Holiday author of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

Holiday outlines the exact steps he’s used repeatedly to manipulate the media in the fashion described above for both good and bad.

He shares what he describes as a systematic approach to media coverage as a way to inform the general public that not all media coverage is as truthful or simple as it may seem.

The book should be a real eye opener to those in the media world and my guess is that Holiday has a few enemies among the bloggers and media companies he attempts to expose.
The book is must read for PR professionals, bloggers, PR students, business owners and, I suspect, those that want to manipulate the media in this way. My guess is there’s an Internet Marketing guru out there somewhere dreaming up a get rich quick program based on Holiday’s book as we speak.