2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 42 (90% non-fiction)

tmil300x400-225x300Wow.  The book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday is shocking.  There is no other way to look at it.  There are parts of the book that will make you cringe and really dislike humanity, but that doesn’t have to be your takeaway.  Sure, Holiday explains how he used underhanded and devious techniques to do harmful and downright sleazy things.  But you know what?  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Holiday also points out how these techniques of using bloggers to spread a story can be done for good as well.  If you can get past the exposure of journalism as lazy and sold-out, there are some great lessons in psychology here.

The first word of the title – trust – is what it is all about.  These media manipulators trade in trust by “feeding” news to small but highly trusted blogs.  Once a story is on a blog, it can be used as a reference for larger, lazier websites that are just trying to fill space.

In addition to using the citizen journalist channels, Holiday explains the creation of fake controversies.  The old adage, “no news is bad news,” works for getting people talking about your subject.

Another technique used by some of placing stories is to actually come out and pay for the posting.  If they can pay a small blog to post something, they not only get the link juice, but they have some social proof to show larger blogs why this should be covered by them.

On Lone Star Gridiron, I have been offered cash hundreds of times to “place” a story.  To date, I have not taken one of the stories they have offered.  I have however, covered a subject they brought up when it was important to my readers.  In other words, I don’t just cut and paste what they send, but will write the content in an unbiased story…. and this has been done only a few times in ten years.  Most of the stuff they try to sell as news is just marketing for their product/service – uh, not interested.

Before you decide that Ryan Holiday is an evil, nefarious scumbag… it is his contention that guilt over having played a role in this system is what prompted him to write the exposé.  (Or maybe that’s what he wants us to think.)

While Holiday’s exposé of the PR & marketing field is a slap in the face of my industry, I am sure I will be rereading this one over and over – and yes, using it for good.