Digital-First Leadership


Digital Marketing and PR with David Meerman Scott

May 3, 2022
Richard Bliss

In this episode, Richard Bliss and David Meerman Scott have a conversation about the evolution of marketing and public relations from the days before the digital world and now. Learn the old rules and the new rules: what is the same and what has changed. Listen for what you should currently be doing to get the attention of your customers on various platforms, how algorithm changes impact the information your audience receives from you, and how you should best digitally present yourself, your messaging, and your company to get in front of the people you're trying to reach.


Welcome to Digital First Leadership, the podcast that focuses on helping leaders and teams understand how to master the language of social media in today's digital-first world.

Richard Bliss:

Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Richard Bliss, and you're listening to the Digital First Leadership podcast. Today my guest is David Meerman Scott. David is the author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Eighth Edition, as well as 11 other books. David, thanks for joining me.

David Meerman Scott:

Richard, so great to be here. I'm so looking forward to this conversation.

Richard Bliss:

Well, as am I, because technically you and I have known each, I'm going to put this in air quotes, known each other for eight years at the time of this recording, yet neither one of us have any idea how that happened eight years ago. And we've really only come to know each other over this past year. So it's interesting, I think there's a need for new language in our spoken language.

Richard Bliss:

How do you know someone? If my daughter is going out on a date and I ask her, who are you going out with? Well, this guy I met. To her, she met her on some social app and that counts as, right? So I don't know.

David Meerman Scott:

Right. And so we met digitally. I don't know if that's a term, but we use it. We met digitally. We don't believe that we've ever met in person, although we could have, who knows?

Richard Bliss:

Who knows.

David Meerman Scott:

But not where it was a memorable meeting, yet we've had, I don't know, two dozen ways that we've connected where we can see one another, through Zoom or a platform like Zoom. So yeah, it doesn't feel any different than if we're next door neighbors or coworkers in the same company. And it's super interesting to me how it works.

Richard Bliss:

Congratulations. You're a grandfather, a brand new grandfather, right?

David Meerman Scott:

I am.

Richard Bliss:

We get to know these personal aspects of our lives, even though we've never spent, geographically in the same location at the same time.

David Meerman Scott:

As we're recording this, I am a grandfather as of four days ago, which is, I'm still processing it. It's super fabulous, but I'm still processing it. You've got a few years ahead of me in grandfather-dom.

Richard Bliss:

I do, but I think I'm going to catch up here with a wedding coming up and a daughter who's anxious to start making babies. I think I'm going to be with you right there. Let's talk about--

David Meerman Scott:

And the other thing is both of us look, act, feel, and are young.

Richard Bliss:

That's exactly right. That is exactly right. So let's talk about your book because one of the things that is going on here, the book I'm going to repeat the name. It's called The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Now it's the eighth edition because you wrote the first edition quite a few years ago, right?

David Meerman Scott:

I was writing the first edition in 2005 and 2006. And it came out in the first edition, in the middle of 2007. That's 15 years ago, which is super crazy. And it was the first book that ever, that came out, or at least the first book that got any traction that came out about the new ways to do marketing and public relations on the web.

David Meerman Scott:

And when it first came out, it was a groundbreaking book, I'm happy to say. It was selling so fast that my publisher, Wiley, I mean, couldn't keep it in print. I think we went back to like 15 or 20 printings just in the first year. It was six months on the Business Week bestseller list. And it's now used in many hundreds of university programs. It's on the desk of many people in the corporate world. It's published in 29 languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese.

David Meerman Scott:

And as you and I both know, the digital marketing and public relations space is constantly evolving. So every two years, roughly, it's almost pretty close to the pattern of every two years, I do a new addition. And so the new addition, May 2022, is just about to release. As we're recording this, it's just about to release and it's super exciting to constantly update it, to make sure that it's providing the kind of value, even today, that it did when it first came out 15 years ago.

Richard Bliss:

I owned one of those early additions, which is how I came into--

David Meerman Scott:

Thank you.

Richard Bliss:

Well, you're welcome. I was one of millions, obviously that came into contact with you and your thoughts on that. And so, and which I think in some ways has inspired me to be where I am in my career today. This podcast exists because of some of that content. Here's my question, in today's world, you have released this eighth edition. What are some of the things that you're seeing? Let's compare first edition 15 years ago, is it even similar or have we transformed so far in society that the concept of introducing why you should be on social media is no longer the discussion. It's simply, how should you be on social media? Has it gotten to that point?

David Meerman Scott:

Well, my book focuses on more than social media. It's all things digital. So it includes things like websites, email, newsletters, and so on, but all things digital. And I think what's super interesting to me is that the strategy that I wrote about has not changed in 15 years. The strategy is that the old rules of marketing and public relations were that you could either buy attention through advertising.

David Meerman Scott:

You buy a magazine ad, a radio ad, a TV ad, a billboard by the side of the road, you buy an email mailing list. You buy trade show space to display your stuff on the trade show floor, or you could try to bug members of the media to write or speak about you. Please, please, please write about my company because we're wonderful. That's traditional public relations, or you could hire a team of salespeople and knock on doors.

David Meerman Scott:

So those were the three ways you could get noticed. And now, and as of the time that this book came out, there was another option. And that option was to earn attention by publishing great content, whether that's a podcast, like we're doing right now or a great website with fabulous content or a social media feed or photographs or YouTube videos or whatever it might be. And because the vast majority of humans, whether they're buying on behalf of their companies, the B2B marketplace or buying on behalf of themselves, a B2C marketplace, go to the web at some point when they're making buying decision. And so being on the web and being focused on it is super important, super interesting. So that's what's not changed since the first


Richard Bliss:

Got it. Now what's changed? so between the seventh edition and eighth edition, what >are we seeing that's changed, even in just the last two years?

David Meerman Scott:

So what I'm constantly doing in each edition is always looking for new examples. My

book is very, very, very much example focused. There's 50 or 60 examples in the book

and I'm constantly making sure that the examples that are in the older edition, if

they make sense to remain, they stay or I look for new examples and usually there's

nearly half of the stories get replaced with new stories.

David Meerman Scott:

And then I'm always looking for new ways, the new, new rules, I guess, new ways that

people can generate attention and new things that people need to think about. So

there's been a lot of changes. When I wrote the first edition I was writing in 05 and

06, Twitter didn't exist. Facebook was only for students and the first edition came

out in 07 and people reached out and they go, David, I like your book, but hey, you

didn't write about Twitter. Don't you know about Twitter?

David Meerman Scott:

And I'm like, "Yeah, I know about Twitter. I'm on Twitter, but it didn't exist when I

was writing it." And so, new services come and come. Snapchat and Instagram and

TikTok are all brand new and Clubhouse and others are all new, in various additions

as I've been writing and some have gone away. Google Plus was a popular social

network a decade ago and Google pulled the plug on Google Plus, so I got to make

sure that I write out those sorts of things.

David Meerman Scott:

What I think is one of the most important changes for the eighth edition though, the

most recent edition, is the rise of the importance of social media algorithms, both for

good and for bad. When social media first started, it was not algorithm driven. It was

basically reverse chronological order driven, meaning that on LinkedIn or on

Facebook or whatever, you would see the most recent post of the people you follow

on the top of your feed.

David Meerman Scott:

And that's how it worked is, you got a fire hose of however many follows you have,

whatever they were putting up. And over the last decade, each of the social

networks, more or less, have relied on algorithms to show you the content that

number one, they believe you'll be interested in seeing, but even more importantly,

that number two, the ones that will get you to stay on the platform longer because

when you stay on the platform longer, they can sell you more ads.

David Meerman Scott:

And so that means that the algorithms are tuned to what will make you stay on the

platform longer. Unfortunately, what some of the social networks, especially

Facebook have learned, is that anger and polarization and even worse, conspiracy

theories, get people to stay on the Facebook platform will longer and they've tuned

their algorithms to focus on that.

David Meerman Scott:

And so I'm really concerned that the algorithms, I believe are among the most

dangerous technologies ever invented, are driving the way that people consume

information in such a way that it leads to the events of January 6. It leads to people

questioning the safety of something like vaccines. I mean, there's a number of things

that these algorithms are driving. And I see that as pretty dangerous.

David Meerman Scott:

And as we're doing this recording, it's just, I think two days after, one or two days

after Elon Musk announced that he's planning to buy Twitter and that Twitter has

accepted his offer and it hasn't closed yet, of course, but it looks like that's likely to

happen. And he's looking, I believe from reading through the details of what he's

said, that he's still going to have those algorithms driving Twitter when he's the new

boss of Twitter. And so I think that's an issue that all marketers, executives, anyone

involved with digital needs to understand deeply how pervasive these algorithms

have become in our lives and in the ways that we deliver information to people.

Richard Bliss:

That certainly is true. And as he makes that purchase, I'm wondering, how's he going

to earn back $44 billion to justify the purchase of a platform that doesn't seem to be

able to figure out how to make money? LinkedIn just announced their earnings

reports, I think this morning. They're up, I think 34%, something like that. Microsoft's

announcing that, for the quarter. Right? But they generate vast amounts of their

revenue, 80% of their revenue comes from non-advertising. It comes from paying

customers, corporate accounts buying sales navigator licenses, buying the talent to

the LinkedIn recruiter. So their algorithm is geared very differently than to drive the

rage economy or that emotional divisiveness that you're talking about.

David Meerman Scott:

Right. No, I think that's true. LinkedIn is an exception in that, of the way that it's

being used. So interestingly, exactly the words that you've said, how is he going to

generate revenue, this thing is unlikely to generate revenue, was said when Musk

started Tesla and when Musk started his SpaceX project and also with the Boring

Company, his other project.

Richard Bliss:


David Meerman Scott:

And so it's really interesting, and those stocks were very low priced in the beginning

when they went public and have shot up in value, as he's proven that he's been able

to do something with them. So I don't underestimate what it is that he is trying to

figure out here. I can't predict what he's going to do. But one thing that I'm looking

to, which I would actually applaud is he's trying, is him getting rid of all the bots on

Twitter. There's millions and millions and millions of robots that are not associated

with an actual person on Twitter that are driving engagement.

David Meerman Scott:

And I think if he's able to create a system where people pay somehow for, either

paying for some kind of registered user or every tweet, it costs you a penny or some

way that he can drive only real people on Twitter, that I think that will number one,

help Twitter to be a place that has less toxicity, but also perhaps a place that can

generate more profitability.

Richard Bliss:

I completely agree with you the ability to have a legitimate almost real time

conversation with a wide variety of people. I'm active on LinkedIn, kind of active on

Facebook. My kids think I'm not active enough on Instagram. Yes. Right. But having

Twitter, the ability to correspond with people, whether you agree or disagree, in

rapid fire, back and forth, lightweight, there is a certain value there. I do ask my

audience that I speak to, of all the social media platforms, which one would you pay

for? And other than LinkedIn, the answer is none. And so it'll be interesting to see if--

David Meerman Scott:

I think what's super interesting to me about Twitter is Twitter is for elites. It's a

small number of users relatively, 200 million. I don't know how many of those are

super active, but it's journalists, it's politicians, it's corporate executives, it's


Richard Bliss:

A technical audience, there's a lot of technical people.

David Meerman Scott:

There's a lot of technical, exactly, a lot of technical people. It's athletes, it's

entertainers. And anybody at the top of their game, whatever their game is, whether

they're an author or a journalist or a running for office or a government leader or a

corporate leader, it doesn't matter. If they're at the top of their game, they have to

be on Twitter as far as I can tell because that's where other people at the top of their

game communicate.

David Meerman Scott:

And so for that reason, I think, should he say that an account with, let's say a purple

checkmark, instead of a blue check, costs, the way that LinkedIn does, it costs $150 a year, whatever the number is. I think that people who value that network in a big

way, which is you and me and everyone else who's playing at the top of the game,

will happily do that.

David Meerman Scott:

And I think that a system with 20 or 30 million people who pay and everyone else

gets kicked off could be a really, really interesting number one business model,

number two, a very, very interesting place for all the people who are currently active

to remain. And I mean, if I had as deep pockets as he does, I might try going for

something like that. I mean, I don't know. You may know the answer to this. Do you

know how many people are premier or premium members of LinkedIn? Do you know

those numbers?

Richard Bliss:

Don't know those numbers.

David Meerman Scott:

I think it's a large number. [crosstalk 00:16:50]. I mean, it's in the millions.

Richard Bliss:


David Meerman Scott:

And I think it's like 150 bucks. I might be getting the number wrong, but that's what I

seem to remember. And they say, okay, I'm willing to pay that. I'm willing to pay 150

bucks to be a premier member of LinkedIn because LinkedIn is a valuable place for

me to communicate. I believe the same thing can be done with Twitter.

Richard Bliss:

And so it'll be interesting to see. And you would be somebody who would know, as

we look at your book. It's time to go, David. David, you and I can just, I feel like talk

forever about so many different things.

David Meerman Scott:

Yes, we could.

Richard Bliss:

So the books coming out, they can find it on Amazon. Again, it's called The New Rules

of Marketing and PR. It's a fantastic book. Some of our network of contacts got precopies. How do you say that? Amazon leaked out someDavid Meerman Scott:

Amazon screwed up. My, my publisher had an agreement with Amazon, that all the

books would be held for people who pre-order. And we had hundreds of pre-orders to be released on May 3. And I always pre-order one copy of my own books because I

want to see when I'm going to get it in the mail. And then some of our friends

reached out to me and goes, "Hey, I just got it." And then sure enough, yep, on my

doorstep was a copy. And I'm contacted my publisher and say, "What in the world's

going on? These are all supposed to release on May 3rd." And there was some sort of

technical glitch, but anyway, it's not a big deal.

Richard Bliss:

Some benefited.

David Meerman Scott:

Some people benefitted. Yeah. They have an early copy of the book.

Richard Bliss:

And they're all excited because they think it's going to be worth so much.

David Meerman Scott:

They could sell it for like one day. It's a scarce resource.

Richard Bliss:

Well I'm looking forward to get my copy. I appreciate you being on this show. This

has been great insights into the way you see in the world and the things that people

need to be paying attention to when it comes to how they're presenting their

marketing and PR in the digital world. So thank you for joining me, David.

David Meerman Scott:

Oh Richard, it's always a pleasure and I'll be happy to come on again and we can talk


Richard Bliss:

We can do that. You've been listening to the Digital First Leadership podcast. My

guest has been David Meerman Scott, talking about his new book, The New Rules of

Marketing and PR. You can find out on Amazon it's available May 3, and thank you for

listening and thank you for those who have been reaching out and corresponding

with me, who appreciate the content and the guests that I've had on show. I always

like hearing from you. Please find me on LinkedIn and you can also track down David

Meerman Scott on LinkedIn as well. Thanks for listening. Take care.

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