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August 07, 2012


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Reading this post without watching the 45 minute video which I plan to do soon enough makes me think I might need to learn and read a bit more about this.

I am not a fan of using media manipulation much less lying but reality is that understanding it might be critical to even those that feel like me.


David I watched the entire thing and was riveted! Truly a great discussion and plenty of fireworks as well. I thought you asked some very pointed - and important - questions about Ryan's manipulations and how his bosses and/or the attorneys at a publicly traded company would feel about that, and it was interesting to see his responses.

I read his entire book and found it very insightful - in addition to all the ways the media is manipulated and so interdependent on itself in 2012 for stories/news, Holiday also provides context of how history is repeating itself in terms of what newspapers were doing the same thing 100-plus years ago.

I agree with you - while Ryan's tactics can work, you will burn all your sources and ruin your professional reputation if you get caught tricking journalists and manipulating people. But he does point out major flaws in today's media machine, and I have to be honest - you won't look at the way things are covered online and through social media/blogs the same way again!

David Meerman Scott

Raul - Do find the time to watch. It is an interesting discussion.

John - Riveting isn't it?! Thanks for your kind words - I saw a few questions that needed to be asked. I'll likely finish the book. Thanks for letting me know that you have done so.

Joseph Kelly


Have you been watching 'The Newsroom'? There was an episode last week in which every other news-station had reported the death of a politician. However, they all used a unreliable source. It turned out that the politician was alive after the protagonist's news channel contacted a reliable source (A Doctor). This TV drama really does some up the question of media manipulation, and how many journalists will just 'follow the crowd' in order to get the story out first. I think it is good to see the lengths the characters go to, just to fact check each source.

David Meerman Scott

Joseph - I love The Newsroom (and blogged about it a few weeks ago). It is interest9ing to watch that show and to read Ryan's book.

Jess Lyon

Nice post, David. A good reminder for all that even in a real-time media world we do need to pause and do our due diligence. Good thing a Google search takes...like two seconds!

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in Jess.

Web Marketing Videos

Here's the elephant in the room: reporters don't deserve sources. Either they should find them, or do without. A source from HARO was selected to confirm something, while a real life source should be able to change things.

Toni Antonetti

I watched the discussion, but I think that the PR outrage is a little misplaced. First, what Holiday does isn't PR. If any reputable PR agency tried to pass off pageviews and placements in sleazy gossip blogs as PR, we would be fired. He's not putting out any substantive information on his clients -- he's just trying to get attention. Second, these shoddy tactics apparently were approved and applauded by his equally unethical clients.

I know there's been a call for PR certification as a result of all this, but perhaps bloggers and journalists should be certified, too.

David Meerman Scott

Toni - I agree with you on what he was doing. However, I'm not sure how "certification" could possibly work. Twitter has approximately 16,000 "verified" users among 140 million users. If you only relied on "verified" information, you'd get nothing.

Lewis LaLanne

"Wisdom comes from multiple perspectives." Gregory Bateson

I love how you're able to see merit in both arguments here David. For most things in life, there is no "Right" and "Wrong" - there are only perspectives. And at best, we only have a partial perspective.

It's very cool to see someone who embraces flexibility the way you have which allows for you to see a bigger picture.

And thank you for turning me onto this book. I trust there's a few counter intuitive things I can pick up from reading some of these renegade examples.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Lewis. I think you'll like the book.

dale averill

I watched the whole 56 mins. It was a lively and enlightening discussion. As far as who is right between the main combatants? To say that all journalists are smart, hard working, etc. is foolhardy. They are just like the rest of us. 80% are either inept, lazy, or too distracted by life to do a good job. When thinking of journalists I remember "The Year Of Living Dangerously". The newspaper reporter played by Mel Gibson was actually doing his job, while most of the others sat in the bars or were doing other nonsense and then copying whatever they made up between themselves. If I want to know what really goes on in say Iran, I speak to a person from Iran.

dale averill

I meant to mention. I am very impressed with your work, David. I just ordered all your books. I look forward to meeting you.

David Meerman Scott

Dale, Thanks. Yes, it was a fascinating discussion and I'm glad I had a chance to participate. I hope you enjoy my books.

Judy Gombita

I hope you've now read both Part I and Part II of the book, David. I think reading the first part in isolation is a mistake in terms of impression and weight of his final "arguments." (Note that I followed up on the publicist's offer of a book, following a discussion during a guest lecture to NYU students in its master's in international public relations class. I did the guest lecture with Ira Basen--whom I understand spoke to you fairly recently--and I also requested a copy of the book for him. I've finished it; he has yet to start it, because he's in the midst of another radio documentary.)

I have to say that watching the Hangout was a bit disconcerting, given that it was so male (and American), and with the age demographics hugely skewed against Ryan Holiday. I did think you comported yourself quite well, though. Neither in what you said or in your body language or facial expressions did I see outright hostility projected at the 25-year-old author, which I did from some of the others.

One other thing: in my next Bytes from the PR Sphere column, I do quote a segment of Trust Me, I'm Lying, where it talks about how the online properties are not of the same calibre as the print one (e.g., Forbes), and how so many of the online "journalists" are untrained (in journalism) bloggers who are paid for their articles according to the number of Views the article receives.

That kind of payment system certainly invites writing full of innuendo, half-truths and snark, n'est-ce pas?

David Meerman Scott

Judy -- Many thanks for these thoughts. No, I did not finish the book, but now I feel I must. Thanks for that.

John had a woman slated to be on the panel but she backed out. However I agree that it was rather skewed.

I am actually a Ryan supporter. I think the book is important. I was never hostile at all which as you said came through in my questions. I think people assume that everyone will dislike the book, but I think it is important.

One thing Ryan hasn't said is that many online journalists are not paid and the people writing are doing it part time either out of passion or to promote something else. Of course, blogs like this one are labors of love. But I write for the Huffington Post too for example, and I am not paid. So Ryan's argument that people who write for online pubs are fighting for journalistic survival is not always true.

Judy Gombita

But David, Ryan Holiday DOES talk about Huffington Post and its various contributor models, the vast majority of which are unpaid. Metrics showed the unpaid authored articles get far fewer views than the small paid staff.....

I suspect that many writing for the online Forbes or Harvard Business Review blog, etc., are also not paid. For them it is more along the lines of prestige and profile.

I must say, reading this book has made me much more skeptical when someone claims to have been "Quoted in the NYT or Washington Post, etc." I'm going to do a search and see whether it was in the print paper, or simply one of the online blogs (or an online-only version article).

His book has also made me mindful about automatically sharing a salacious story from (say) The Business Insider (which Holiday claims is barely breaking even).

The journalism profession is in a sorry state, otherwise trained journalists would not have to resort to accepting the pitiful recompense for their work.

Anyhow, I hope you do finish the book and then do a second post, indicating if you were "persuaded" any more after he does his mea culpa in Part II.

David Meerman Scott

I'll have to finish the book...

Regarding HuffPo - the paid writers and the famous ones get onto the front page above the fold which accounts for a big part of the number of views. Contributors like me see their stuff kind of hidden. But I'm not complaining - I like the exposure.

Judy Gombita

BTW, I did incorporate a part of Ryan Holiday's book in my (PR and social media) monthly column on Windmill Networking. See

4. Recognize that, despite the name, not all online platforms are equal in influence to traditional counterparts.

in Journalist Byte: Five Suggestions for PR 2.0 Relationship Building


David Meerman Scott

Thanks Judy - I'll check it out.

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