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Theoretical perspectives

Page history last edited by Richard Bailey 8 years, 6 months ago

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Introductory lecture


Recommended reading


  • Castells, M (2009) Communication Power, Oxford University Press
  • Phillips, D and Young, P (2009) Online Public Relations (2nd edition) Kogan Page
  • Macnamara, J (2010) The 21st Century Media (R)evolution, Peter Lang
  • Shirky, C (2008) Here Comes Everybody, Allen Lane 


Key questions

  • Marketing or PR?
  • Open or closed? 
  • Messages or conversations? 
  • Communications or community? 


'Mass communication used to be predominantly one-directional. However, with the diffusion of the Internet, a new form of interactive communication has emerged, characterized by the capacity of sending messages from many to many, in real time or chosen time, and with the possibility of using point-to-point communication, narrowcasting or broadcasting, depending on the purpose and characteristics of the intended communication practice.' Castells 2009, p55


Narrative account


The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999/2009)



Page xiv

1. Markets are conversations

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

Page xvi

26.  Public relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

Page xix

74. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.


Revised view

  • Markets are conversations
  • Markets are also transactions
  • Markets are also relationships

(2009 p9-22)



We were 'basically right, but not entirely. Beyond the triumphalist overstatements (Thesis 74: "We are immune to advertising. Just forget it."), which at least had a rhetorical purpose, we were wrong about how long it was going to take to throw the rascal out.'

(2009 p 54)


The original text

'So, if markets are conversations (they are) and there's no market for messages (there isn't), what's marketing-as-usual to do? Own the conversations? Keep the conversations on message? Turn up the volume until it drowns out the market? Compete with the new conversations?'

(2009 p159)


'So what becomes of marketing? How do companies enter into the global conversation? How do they find their own voice? Can they? How do they wean themselves from messaging? What happens to 


  • PR
  • advertising
  • marketing communications
  • pricing
  • positioning

...and the rest of the marketing arsenal?

Excellent questions.'

(2009 p160)


On public relations

 'Everyone - including many PR people - senses that something is deeply phony about the profession. And it's not hard to see what it is. Take the standard computer-industry press release. With few exceptions, it describes an "announcement" that was not made, for a product that was not available, quoting people who never said anything, for distribution to a list of people who mostly consider it trash.'

(2009 p160)


'But, of course, the best PR people are not PR Types at all. They understand that they aren't censors, they're the company's best conversationalists. Their job - their craft - is to discern stories the market actually wants to hear, to help journalists write stories that tell the truth, to bring people into conversation rather than protect them from it. Indeed, already some companies are building sites that give journalists comprehensive, unfiltered information about the industry, including unedited material from their competitors. In the age of the Web where hype blows up in your face and spin gets taken as an insult, the real work of PR will be more important than ever.'

(2009 p162)


Crowd Surfing (2008)

'We are not 'open source' evangelists, who argue that the only way to work is by collaborating with the crowd, nor do we believe that all communication has to involve an open dialogue. All of the evidence indicates that collaborative business cultures are likely to be more successful, and that dialogue tends to be more effective than monologue, but the reality of running a business or political party is that you can't always surf the crowd. Equally, the success of Apple, under the self-proclaimed control freak Steve Jobs, provides us with a cautionary tale of how ignoring demands for open and sustained dialogue does not necessarily damage a business's performance.'

(2008 p7)


'It sounds so deceptively simple - 'be interesting' - but these two words should be adopted as a mantra by every wannabe crowd surfer. As with interesting people, interesting companies are the ones that are admired and talked about. Interesting companies have opinions and are not afraid to voice them.'

(2008 p 150)


'Interesting businesses such as Unilever, Innocent, IKEA, 42 Below and JetBlue keep the crowd engaged and involved by always being interesting.. and benefiting from a virtuous circle in which the more interesting they become, the more likely they are to attract interesting people with interesting ideas, to recruit the most interesting employees, to be written about in the most interesting media and talked about on the most interesting blogs. They save millions of pounds on advertising because they can rely on positive world of mouth to maintain their profile. Now that's interesting.'

(2008 p 151)


The New Rules of Marketing and PR


The Old Rules of PR


  • 'The only way to get ink and airtime was through the media
  • Companies communicated to journalists via press releases
  • Nobody saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and editors
  • Companies had to have significant news before they were allowed to write a press release
  • Jargon was okay because the journalists all understood it
  • You weren't supposed  to send a release unless it included quotes from third parties, such as customers, analysts, and experts
  • The only way buyers would learn about the press release's content was if the media wrote a story about it
  • The only way to measure the effectiveness of press releases was through "clip books," which noted each time the media deigned to pick up a company's release
  • PR and marketing were separate disciplines run by different people with separate goals, strategies and measurement techniques


None of this is true anymore. The Web has transformed the rules, and you must transform your PR strategies to make the most of the Web-enabled marketplace of ideas.'


Scott, DM (2010: 11-12)


The New Rules of Marketing and PR


  • 'Marketing is more than just advertising.
  • PR is for more than just a mainstream media audience.
  • You are what you publish.
  • People want authenticity, not spin.
  • People want participation, not propaganda.
  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it.
  • Marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences via the Web 
  • PR is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It's about your buyers seeing your company on the Web.
  • Marketing is not about your agency winning awards. It's about your organization winning business.
  • The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost exclusive focus on the media.
  • Companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great online content.
  • Blogs, online video, e-books, news releases, and other forms of online content let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form they appreciate.
  • On the Web, the lines between marketing and PR have blurred.'


 Scott, DM (2010: 23-24)


David Meerman Scott (2010) The New Rules of Marketing and PR (2nd edition) Wiley


Conceptual approach


'Everyone is a media outlet'

'Filter then publish' becomes 'publish then filter'

Power law distribution ('most writers have few readers')


Shirky 2008



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