I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Worst Practices  |  New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Case Studies

HorrorEvery day, I run across FEAR of marketing on the Web.

- Fear comes from bosses who insist on calculating the ROI of the new rules of marketing & PR based on sales leads and press clippings.

- Fear comes from offline advertising and PR practitioners cautiously making the transition to Web platforms to generate attention.

- Fear comes from those who insist on copying the competition.

What's behind the fear? Let's take a look and then debunk a few myths:


Many company executives and public relations people trace their worries about the new rules of marketing & PR to their belief that "people will say bad things about our company" via social media.

This fear leads them to ignore blogs and online forums and to prohibit employees from participating in social media. In every discussion that I've had with employees who freely participate in social media, I've confirmed that this fear is significantly overblown. Let me repeat - everyone who has experience tells me this fear is overblown.

Sure, an occasional person might vent frustrations online, and now and then a dissatisfied customer might complain (unless you're in the airline industry and then it might be more than a few).

But the benefit of this kind of communication is that you can monitor in real-time what's being said and then respond appropriately. Employees, customers, and other stakeholders are talking about your organization offline anyway, so unless you are participating online, you’ll never know what’s being said at all.

The beauty of the Web is that you benefit from instant access to conversations you could never participate in before. And frequently you can turn around impressions by commenting on a "negative" post. Here's an example from Delaware North.


When you write a first blog post, start shooting videos for YouTube, or begin to tweet it feels like you're just a big dork. I certainly did. But like anything, experience brings mastery. Just get going!

My daughter is learning how to drive a car this summer. Yes, she gets honked at and may even get "the finger" as she gingerly tries to park in a crowded lot. But she'll figure it out. Learning to drive takes time, but it is worth it because it beats the hell out of biking or walking in a Massachusetts winter.

I recommend that when you start a blog, you should password protect it for a few months. Begin blogging by sharing with trusted colleagues. As you find your "blog voice" you can tweak the content, delete posts, and then remove the password protection and look like a pro from the first day.


One of the most frequent manifestations of fear is that the new rules of marketing & PR does not work "in our industry." The proof people provide is that nobody else is doing it. I've heard "The new rules do not work for mutual fund managers or lawyers or dentists or politicians or Singapore based software companies or Canadian blood donation centers or Florida based real estate agents or churches or rock bands.... I've heard them all. I see the excuses of "this doesn't apply to my market" and "people in my market do not use social media" literally every day.

Duh. Someone has to be a pioneer.

So my style and strategy in my books, speeches and this blog is to show examples from many different organizations. I also show examples from non-profits, the military, government agencies, doctors, rock bands, plus big companies, small companies, B2C, B2B and much more.

I am firmly convinced (and my audiences agree) that you can learn more from what a broad range of people are doing than from what other people just like you are doing. Don't copy your competitor, learn from a rock band or hospital.

Putnam Investments is a pioneer. So is the United States Air Force. So is Dr. Helaine Smith. So is Paul Levy. If these people had looked to the "competition" they would still be obsessing over TV commercials. newspaper inserts and Yellow Page ads.

The most powerful job in the world via the new rules of marketing & PR

And consider this. Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th president of the United States because of the new rules of marketing & PR. This is not a political observation but, rather, a thought about the amazing success Obama and his campaign team had in embracing voters. More than 5 million people supported Obama's profile on sites like Facebook and a half a billion dollars was raised online.

If you are an American citizen, it doesn't matter who you (or I) supported or voted for during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Everyone (those who work in companies large and small, nonprofits, independent consultants, job seekers, musicians…well, everyone) can learn from Obama's victory. I certainly have.

After all, who would have predicted in 2006 that a young, skinny, half-black man with a strange name—Barack Hussein Obama—and funny ears, who had served less than one term in the U.S. Senate, could be elected to the most powerful position in the world, despite facing more than twenty other candidates, many of them better known and better funded?

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama was elected because his campaign used the ideas that I describe in this blog and in my books and seminars. Mind you, I’m not saying his aides had copies of my book on the campaign plane. But I am saying that the campaign observed and acted on the very same ideas you'll find in this blog.

Now imagine if the Obama campaign was obsessed with "I want examples of how this kind of marketing works in politics" before he acted?

Imagine if Obama insisted on ROI measurement analysis prior to acting.

Imagine if the Obama campaign copied what worked in the past for candidates like George W. Bush?

Imagine if the Obama campaign acted on fear?

I can guarantee you that if the Obama campaign waited for "proof" and "examples from my industry" then he would be simply a junior senator from Illinois today.

What other fears do you encounter? (And how do you deal with them?)

Top image: grivina/Shutterstock