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May 08, 2009


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I have begged for attention before because I knew I had something unique I could contribute. I reached out to several Japanese media and ended up securing a few regular blog spots online as a result. You can't be found unless you are out there.

Stacy Lukas

There's always "kick and scream and throw a tantrum to get attention," which I see quite a bit as a combination online and off, by both individuals and companies that don't "get it." It's the spamming, the cold-calling, the overboard broadcasting online ("Hey, check me company out! Click here!"), the bait-and-switch tactics, all of the stuff that DOES generate attention but the WRONG KIND of attention.

I know in your post you're concentrating on generating positive attention, but it's worth noting that there are lots of ways to generate NEGATIVE attention as well, the "what not to do" is important, too. :)


I think the next discussion point after identifying the areas of attention is what kind of attention do you get from each of these. Advertising just doesn't get the focused attention it used to - it is the time to go get a snack. People are also really good at ignoring anything perceived as "sales" on websites etc. The analytical side of me wants to make it a graph....

David Meerman Scott

Ayako, Stacy and Kathy - thanks for jumping in.

@Stacy - your comment reminds me that sometimes a person or an organization finds that there is a lot of attention on them that they do not want. Think John Edwards at the moment.


Interesting classification.
I would add that "pushing" buyers to give attention is less and less effective, as they are increasingly in control--they can "pull" information from search engines.

Stuart Foster

The problem for me has never been about gaining attention: it has been about maintaining it and creating something useful and valuable from said attention.

It's the actual relationship that has proven to be the most beneficial to me.


What has this got to do with the hotel helicopter?


Here is who I give attention to:

1) People who are helpful.

2) People who are genuine.

3) People who take time to listen to what I have to say.

4) People who are funny without doing it at someone's expense.

5) People who are honest, without being unnecessarily cruel, even if it stings.

Nick Shepheard

Not sure if this is an EARNED BEG or a BEG that EARNED but I remember reading a story last month about a Harry Potter theme park ride that got world wide attention (no, not a rave) by first creating something people would care about, and second, reaching out to social media types who had EARNED their own attention.

Judy Martin

I concur with James above. It's about being authentic and genuine. No matter who I do business with I try to listen, and when asked my opinion I'm honest.

The attention get is more about the way we act in business with integrity and genuine interest in our niche and the audience we serve. When you are real and offer thoughtful content - the attention flows.

Marketing is part of the game, but the best customer often comes from referrals.

Joseph Ratliff

Earned attention is my favorite to focus on, but as Stuart pointed out above, maintaining that type of attention can be a challenge.

Paul Furiga

As usual, thought-provoking post. It is about more than attention though -- especially in social media, but also in true PR. It's about conversation, dialogue and a RELATIONSHIP. Many true relationships in life and commerce existing outside the marketing/sales channel, the problem with most discussions is along these lines is that this fact of life (corporate and otherwise) is never acknowledged.

Tony Faustino

As I read these many insightful comments, there seems to be a recurring theme (particularly among the last five posts). This theme focuses on "earned attention", authenticity, and relationships.

When I read these words, I can't help but wonder if what we should really be focusing on as marketing or PR professionals is the achievement of "trust" versus the achievement of "attention."

In these challenging economic times, an overabundance of cynicism and mistrust pervades everything because we constantly question the validity of the source. For me, this is why the social media form of attention that you cite is so powerful.

I don't trust the advice of the self-appointed gurus, but I do trust a logical, well-written Amazon.com book review by an "everyperson." I do trust the "tweets" of an "everyman" I've been carefully following on Twitter for a specific period of time.

Furthermore, individuals like yourself, Dan Schawbel, or Marc Meyer have earned my trust or "earned my attention" through the consistency and quality of your actions and content. My trust and attention aren't something I readily grant (and it can be lost in a millisecond).

If we as marketing and PR professionals invested more time and effort to build trust with our respective audiences, maybe we wouldn't be expending so many financial resources to gain their "attention."

David Meerman Scott

Great discussion here. Thanks all.

@Tony - interesting thoughts on trust (which many others alluded to).

Might be worth doing a post on the relationship between attention and trust...

Tony Faustino

David: Thank you for the acknowledgement of my comment. It means a heckuva a lot to me!

Please write an article post about the relationship between attention and trust because I think this subject drives straight to the heart of the issues you describe in the “No Coercion Required” chapter of World Wide Rave.

I have no hard, quantitative data to back up the following statement, but there has to be a direct link to the level of trust and attention a brand receives. The closest example I can think of is Google. I found this statistic from a tweet that Dan Schawbel sent out the evening of May 8th (Google Creeps to 73% of US Searches in April: http://bit.ly/14AxGK).

In my humble opinion, that 73% market share reflects significantly more than just the technical “back-end functionality” of a Google Search. This achievement also represents how much the American public trust that a Google Search will efficiently and validly locate what we want, when we want it. This in turn is why Google significantly garners our “earned attention.” My apologies for using your phraseology but I can’t think of a better way to state my intent.

As always David, I sincerely appreciate the insights you consistently share with your WebInkNow audience. That’s why I keep coming back on a daily basis.

Chris Zdunich

If you are new to social media, or not yet at the level where you can use it effectively, you can strategically use the other three mediums to help with your business growth efforts. Correctly planning how to use the other mediums, (cost effective, locally, targted publications or one to one for triggered events), will be successful, also, During this time, assessing your ROI and continually educating on social media will allow you to rebalance your sales and marketing efforts.

Amelia Vargo

It's like everything else, just be honest and genuine and people will respect that.

Leslie Cantwell

This is really interesting information. Are there statistics to show revenue growth from having garnered all this e-type attention?
I am no sceptic, I just need to understand this stuff as it seems to me logical to break away from the old fashioned ideas such as Yellow Pages, Mail shots etc?


It’s definitely critical to think about which approach(es) you should take and why. Just because social networking works for many other companies doesn’t mean that it’s right for your company. You need to look at your company’s goals and figure out which approach(es) align with them and what you are trying to accomplish.

Seth Godin

Brilliant. Powerful. Brief. Incisive.

Well done, sir.

Alexander Gartley

Sometimes, social media can create "earned attention" online in a way that you may not anticipate.

An example of this is a video my department at RIT (a college in Upstate NY) created for an annual festival held at the college called Imagine RIT.

Two coworkers and I made the video for fun, because we wanted to do something creative to be shown at the festival. We uploaded it to YouTube and Vimeo, and it has since been posted on over 30 blogs and gotten over 80,000 views.

We never anticipated the video would become so popular and viewed by so many people. We were blown away by the response it has received, and now it has created awareness of the festival and the college, all around the world!

The video, which features thousands of dominoes falling in our office, can be viewed on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/4313226

Jeff Hurt

I don't watch commercials anymore and skip over most ads in print. I recognize spin from PR in the news and media and quickly ignore it. I won't let you sell to me unless I trust you and that comes with time and building a relationship with me. If I trust you, I’ll give you my currency – my attention and time.

In marketplaces where a simple sale is no longer simple, building trust today, through establishing and cultivating relationships, is at the core of the experience. This isn’t “trust so you can make a sale.” Rather, build trust and establish a relationship, period—for the sake of that trust and relationship alone. The sale is neither here nor there until the relationship is established.

People don't trust advertisers, buzz, marketing hype or strangers. Business people, consumers and people, like you and me, are looking for relationships built on trust. We want our friends and those we've built a relationships with to tell us something is good and worth a look. We want someone we know, in our community or network, to tell us to read something, consider a new product or purchase a specific service. In this “Attention and Trust Economy,” communities are king and ROI stands for Return on Influence. As social media influencer Chris Brogran says, "Friends are the Wall Street of the Trust Economy." Attention is today's currency, gain my trust and I'll give you my currency.

atul chatterjee

We are being super saturated by attempts to being sold something. Most of us have become wary, though some like to view ads as entertainment.
I think a soft sell approach to consumers is going to be more relevant n the coming years.

Harriet Meth

To build on another dimension of Seth's comment about social media creating "unearned attention," there can also be a flip side to generating too much attention too quickly. In other words, "be careful what you wish for."

Oddly, what you think is a positive thing turns out to be your worst nightmare because you're not prepared for the sudden influx of visitors or you haven't yet nailed down the dynamics of a consistent customer experience. So your efforts are undermined by underperformance. You underwhelm instead of delighting.

Or equally ugly, the MSM media start writing stories and asking questions which you're not prepared to answer, what I jokingly tell clients is the "nosy neighbor syndrome." The moral: bring on the attention IF you can handle it.

Laurie Dunlop

Your post reminds me of an old saying I learned from my professor Mr. Dawson at Marywood University, "Advertising is paid for. Publicity is prayed for." I'm glad social media is an option now and I wonder how Mr. Dawson would coin that!?

Paul Peixoto

I think the issue is deeper than attention. What we really want is acceptance; of our products and services, and ultimately of ourselves and our ideas. We seek attention (in all the ways prescribed) to gain acceptance. Besides the sale, we want our work to have meaning in this volume-set-to-11 world.

Matt Shaw

Interesting. And attention is all well and good, but I think we have to be a bit more specific here. By attention do we mean people looking at your publicity and saying, "hey, that's a good idea!" the way that I'd look at a Ferrari and say, "hey, that's a cool car"? If so, attention is virtually meaningless: I can't buy a Ferrari, and even if I could it would be of almost no use to me (living in New England with two kids constantly going to and from various extra-curriculars).

Instead, we have to define "attention" more appropriately. We can not mean simply hits, page views or unique visitors, but rather actionable sales opportunities driven by any of the four methods listed above. (I would also add a fifth, which is pure dumb luck; every so often a company comes along with a product so perfectly suited for a certain demographic that it takes off without a need for any structured PR, marketing, advertising, or even sales efforts. Think of the first ice cream truck in Las Vegas, and you get my meaning.)


As a college student I am trying to fully understand all of these concepts. They all make perfect sense! I aspire to be a public relations professional and your post makes me realize that "begging" will be my fate for the majority of my profession. I am stunned!I guess I never thought of persuading media as "begging" before.

David Meerman Scott

@sbrooks88 Yes, I'm, afraid that what a traditional PR job is. But you can become skilled at social media and also earn attention. It's your choice...


What a great title. We all scurry around in an attempt to grab the most attention. Video has become my content of choice. I started posting my video everywhere to get as much "attention," as possible. Recently I found http://www.Adwido.com which is a lot more effective. An account is free, plus they help you target keywords that will increase traffic back to your site.

Annette Taylor

This post actually inspired my most recent blog post for my print and mail blog, so thanks for an informative post! I wasn't sure at first which strategy you were going to point out as the most useful for getting attention, but when I got to your statement about combining all the methods, I was relieved to see that was your answer. I agree that relying on any one approach to heavily can be detrimental to getting attention and a combination of all the methods is a company's best bet!


What about the companies then who don't have the end user as their customer but only telcos? Not sure if the Earn attention online would work in this case. The other three certainly apply though.

David Meerman Scott


Of course it applies to B2B!! Everyone uses Google. Everyone asks friends & colleagues for advice. Doesn't matter if it is a $10 umbrella or a $250,000 router.

The term B2B is dangerous. People want to do business with people. They don't want to do business with businesses.


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