Have the Rules of Marketing & PR Changed?


Share on LinkedIn

David Meerman ScottThe ways we communicate continue to evolve. Keeping pace with the latest trends in social media and online video, while preventing your product or service from getting lost in the digital clutter, is a daunting task. David Meerman Scott is a master at helping you speak directly to your audience, make a strong personal connection, and generate attention for your business.

In the eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly, David explores the latest approaches for highly effective public relations, marketing, and customer communications – while helping you avoid of the costs of traditional advertising!

New Rules of Marketing and PRI had the opportunity recently to interview David, a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, investor and advisor to emerging companies, and bestselling author of 12 books, including Fanocracy, about the new eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Throughout his career he has been fascinated by seeing the future of how people and organizations work together, studied ‘what’s next’, and looked for patterns others don’t see.

Three times a year David (@dsmcott) is the lead marketing speaker at the legendary Tony Robbins Business Mastery events, delivering a two hour session on New Marketing Mastery.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. What is the biggest change in either PR or Marketing that today’s companies face?

I wrote this for the first edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR back in 2007: “There used to be only three ways to get noticed: Buy expensive advertising, beg the mainstream media to tell your story for you, or hire a huge sales staff to bug people individually about your products. Now we have a better option: publishing interesting content on the web, content that your buyers want to consume.” The same is true today upon the publication of the 8th edition!

The tools of the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your way into opportunity are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from thinking like a journalist and publishing amazing content that will brand you as an organization or person it would be a pleasure to do business with. You are in charge of your own success.

2. Must companies re-think their approach to PR in the digital age?

Many people steeped in the tradition of product promotion naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services. Yes, you read that right.

What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.

Sadly, marketers continue to hype products and services instead of understanding buyers and creating interesting content to reach them.

3. Do press releases still have value?

Yes, press releases have value but way less than most PR professionals believe. There is so much more that can be done.

Somehow along the way PR professionals have lost sight of what ‘true’ PR is and have set their focus on the media. What quick steps can PR pros take to get back to the public relations roots of creating mutually beneficial relationships with all of their publics (shareholders, stakeholders, communities, employees, etc.)?

To paraphrase the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), definition: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Nowhere does this description mention the media!

Somewhere along the line “public relations” became the same as “media relations.” What people need to realize is that these are different activities. Media relations, or working through journalists, is fine. Hey, who doesn’t want to be quoted in an important outlet?

But there are so many other ways to hear attention.

PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: YouTube videos, blog posts, ebooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence on Instagram, TikTok and so much more.

4. What role should LinkedIn play in companies’ marketing strategies? Any difference in your answer for B2B vs. B2C companies?

There are many social networks out there and LinkedIn is one of them. Marketers should understand their buyers and be active on the social networks that are most important to them. For many B2B businesses, LinkedIn is super important, so for them yes, LinkedIn is valuable. However many people use LinkedIn as another way to send unwanted sales messages.To be effective people should use LinkedIn to publish content and to engage with other people’s content.

5. Should companies consider customers and employees as members of their marketing department? How should they manage or empower each?

Absolutely! Everybody has potential to become a fan of a brand and spread the word far and wide!

6. If you were a small business with only $1,000 a month to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?

I would put the entire $1,000 per month towards hiring a part-time journalist to create content. Journalists are better storytellers than marketers

Many organizations are desperately seeking people to create interesting information online that serves to educate and inform consumers. People now realize web marketing success comes from creating content-rich web sites, videos, podcasts, photos, charts, ebooks, white papers and other valuable content. Which is where journalists come in.

Journalists are skilled at understanding an audience and creating a story to reach that audience. I’m not talking about PR and media relations here. This isn’t about journalists writing press releases and trying to get their former colleagues to write or broadcast about their company. Nor am I advocating the old-school “advertorial” model. Instead, I’m talking about journalists creating stories as they have been trained, but instead of doing it for a media company, they create content for all kinds of companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, government agencies, and the like to appear on their blogs, websites, and in ebooks, videos and the like.

7. What are the biggest black holes for marketing dollars?

Paid advertising in all of its forms are always tough to measure. A fear based approach to marketing means that most companies continue with paid ads because they have always done that. If advertising – magazine and newspaper, radio and TV, billboards, trade show sponsorship, and all the rest – are working, GREAT. If not or if you don’t really know, this is your big black hole.

8. Why is it hard for some companies to be authentic?

Most companies don’t do business in a human way. They are run by people who focus more on spreadsheets and Wall Street analysts than on customers.

9. Is content still king? What makes content good or bad?

Most online marketing is nothing more than an alternative channel for the PR department or product marketers to spew their “messages” and “product vision.” Yuck. To paraphrase Yoda from Star Wars, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” It is so difficult for people to get out of the marketing habits they’ve developed over the years.

  • You must unlearn the use of gobbledygook about your products and services. Instead start from the problems and needs of your buyer personas.
  • You must unlearn spin. Instead, understand that people crave authenticity and transparency.
  • You must unlearn interrupting people with “messages.” Instead, publish online content they want to consume.
  • You must unlearn being egotistical and trying to force people to adapt to your terms. Instead create online content that addresses buyer problems.
  • You must unlearn the assumption that you must buy access. Instead, create something that becomes a World Wide Rave and let millions of people tell your story for you.

10. As we adapt to the new rules of marketing and PR, what are the emerging changes to keep an eye on?

This edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR includes an expanded chapter on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I introduced the chapter on AI in the last edition of the book, and since then the use of AI in marketing and public relations has become a much more important way to automate routine tasks to save time and money as well as to increase the success of marketing initiatives. AI can help marketers, such as analyzing which blog or email newsletter topics have the greatest chance of getting seen and shared, the best ways to write headlines for maximum exposure, the best time and day to post it, which channels are the best to share it on, and what hashtags are appropriate to use. As you consider AI in your organization, think about the routine tasks that drive business value that might be possible to automate. Even if you’re not using AI yet, you need to know what’s possible in this, perhaps, fastest changing aspect of marketing.


Thank you for the great conversation David! I hope everyone has enjoyed this peek into the mind of the person behind the in-depth eighth edition of the bestselling book The New Rules of Marketing & PR!

Image credits: David Meerman Scott


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here