Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing and PR

By David Meerman Scott

            The second edition of ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR’ was published in 2010 by David Meerman Scott. Scott is an online marketing strategist and the author of many marketing books. He graduated from Kenyon College in 1983. After that, he worked in different forms of online news for 22 years. During this time, he came up with his philosophy for the ‘New Rules of Marketing and PR’.  He found through his online news jobs, that traditional expensive marketing tactics were ineffective. They didn’t work nearly as well as using the new online ways of publishing. He found that publishing free content on the web got his company way more attention than trying to buy advertising time.

            His work in the online news industry helped provide the inspiration for “The New Rules for Marketing and PR”. The book claims that the ‘Old Rules of Marketing’ are ineffective. Scott believes the old rules were basically about trying to “control the message”. Scott said, the old rules of marketing believed that the only way to reach your audience was to pay a lot of money to get advertising time or beg journalists to publish your content. Instead, in the ‘new rules’ marketers can reach their audience directly. With the web, they can easily and cheaply publish their own content online and reach their audience directly.  Scott believes that this has dramatically changed how marketers should operate.

            Scott has many different rules that make up his book. However, three rules stand out to me particularly. First, Scott says in his book now days “PR is for more than just a mainstream media audience”.  Instead of trying to get your company on the TV that everyone watches or in the newspaper that everyone reads, PR professionals can now focus on very niche audiences. This opens a whole new world for businesses. Instead of writing and publishing for a broad audience, PR professionals need to know exactly who they are talking to.

            The second rule that stood out to me was “Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it”. Scott says that the Old Rules dictated that marketing professionals were to pay for “interruptions” in the consumer’s lives, that would get their attention. They would regularly interrupt the consumer’s lives with advertisments that they hoped their consumers would pay attention to. Instead of paying for interuptions, Scott thinks that marketers should look for ways to deliver their message, right when a consumer is looking to hear your message. For example, if you were working at a company that sold high quality mattresses, Scott would argue you shouldn’t waste your money buying advertising space on TV. Instead you should find out what your audience does when they realize they need a new mattress. What search terms do they use? Who do they trust to give them honest reviews? What mediums do they look at when they’re making their purchase decisions? Youtube? Google? Certain bloggers? These are the new questions that Scott asserts we should be asking ourselves. The questions could lead you to inserting yourself into the conversation, right when your buyer is preparing to make their purchase.

            The third rule, Scott repeated many times throughout the book. He says over and over that “you are what you publish”. This is almost a theme throughout the book. Scott believes that your company essentially creates itself by what it publishes online. I thought this rule was particularly useful for college students and professionals. People always tell us to watch what we put on Facebook. However, they never point out that “You are what you publish”. If you want to seem like a PR professional, then you should be online talking about Public Relations. You can’t just hide everything on your Facebook, and put nothing online about yourself. You have to be out there engaging with the world or else you’re essentially nothing. This rule is also important for companies. You need to create an online persona for your company that seems engaging and useful for your company’s audience. This persona needs to be consistent or else your audience is going to be confused about exactly who you are. So companies need to keep in mind that everything they publish helps consumers decide exactly who they think that company is.

            Overall, I understand why so many PR professionals insist that everyone in the industry should be reading this book. Scott has done an amazing job at laying out how PR and Marketing has changed over the past decade or two. For me, he confirmed many of the things I already knew. Still, it was incredibly useful to read the new rules. It confirmed and elaborated on what I already felt was a good way to use online marketing.  Before Scott’s book, and books like it, there weren’t many people saying Public Relations people have to be using online media. So what Scott does, is give credibility to the idea, that public relations has moved online and has dramatically changed. Overall, I thought this book was an essential read for anyone trying to market anything online. 

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