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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Does Society Benefit From Your Message?

Are Marketers, Media, Publicists, Book Publishers, and Advertisers Spinning America Out Of Control?



I always wanted to be a journalist but when I got out of college in the late 80’s, I realized that to break into the news media in New York City with no experience was nearly impossible.  

I applied to every newspaper – even the weekly community publications – as well as every radio and television station.  I must have sent at least 50 resumes sent, with cover letters that indicated my dream was to find and uphold the truth as a newsman.  

No one called me back.  

I did get a few bland but polite letters that essentially said “no thanks.”  I am not even sure if I would have offered to work for free that I would have gotten through the door.

The typical path to working for the news media is to break in somewhere else, usually in smaller cities, where fewer people are exposed to your mistakes.  New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston – none of these cities hold promise for the young, inexperienced journalist.  But I didn’t want to relocate, especially to a city far from friends and family.  If the city was to be small enough to boost my career, it was probably too small to afford the lifestyle I’d come to experience in NYC.  Once you grow up here and get used to being in the middle of everything, it’s hard to find excitement elsewhere.  You don’t dump the prom queen for a nerd, do you?

But that New York-centric snobbery may have held back my career.  Instead of becoming a journalist, I became a book publicist.  I turned to the opposite of journalism and the media.  I went to the dark side.

Journalists, though they work hand-in-hand with publicists, despise flacks.  They hate to think of themselves as dependent on people who may be paid much better than them, who often seek to promote a specific person, product or service none of which is based on the merits, the facts or the needs of the public, but because the client seeks to serve its agenda, usually involving money, politics or ego – or the trifecta of sinful motivators.

Society can’t afford for marketers, promoters, and advertisers to overly or adversely influence what really matters to us – our relationships, our money, our health and our balanced structure and values.

I, as a publicist and a marketer, don’t want to be stopped from practicing my craft, but I do implore the industries dedicated to influencing others to clean up their act.  We’d have better government, better industries, and better citizens as a result.

As it is, the information industry is a blur.  Does the consumer really know when something is an infomercial or advertorial?  Do they know when payola is involved?  Do they know that certain things are paid-for – and not based on merit?  Do they see how who owns the media influences it?  Do they know when product placement is involved?  Do they know of all the messages, products and ideas that they will never hear about because the media, marketers, promoters, or ad agencies weren’t paid to showcase them?

Every industry is incapable – and unwilling to – regulate itself.  Few will change their stripes without cause or incentive.

No one is innocent in the mass media monopoly of manipulation.  Few have the purity of purpose behind what they do.

The government wants to stay in power and control other countries and competing politicians, and suppress citizens.  So it spins messages that help its cause- at all costs.

Corporations need to keep stock prices high and profits flowing, so they use spin against competitors, government regulators, or anything that stands in their way.

Non-profits, even those with seemingly good purposes and messages, also need spin to make sure the donations flow – not just to fund programs, but the salaries of those running the organization.

Advertising agencies, marketing firms, and public relations professionals are all paid to put forth a message.  There’s no such thing as a non-profit PR firm.  They only say and do what’s in their best interests – and to push their clients’ agendas.

The media, supposedly unbiased and the gatekeepers of the world, are not quite that pious.  They give coverage to what gets viewers, readers, and listeners.  They cover what their advertiser demographics require.  They cover what meets the preferences, leanings, and biases of what the owner dictates -- or the journalist prefers.

Too often the industries of advertising, publicity, and marketing create “consumer wants” for things that aren’t needed or even worthy.  It’s all a game – a big tease.  Our life seems like a giant infomercial.

We all “market” some type of self-interest the minute we speak or leave our homes.  At a minimum, we have a sense of self-preservation and will take certain measures to sustain our lives and our interests.  Everyone has a conflict of interest, between themselves and everyone else.

When we compete for something – a job, a sale, a home – we certainly are taking steps to build ourselves up and put others down.  All of advertising, marketing, and PR directly and indirectly does this.

Americans breed optimism and opportunity.  We see capitalism and democracy as ways to live by.  But does all of this make us consumeristic, gullible, and open to anything?

Our economy runs on the idea of convincing people they need something when in fact they don’t.  Our economy runs on lies, false hopes, unmet promises, half-truths, distorted images, hype, unsubstantiated claims, reckless statements, and unprovable scenarios. The economy is a fictional scenario that is recreated with every sale.

We each find ways to live with ourselves, to reconcile our role in the way the world is, to defend, permit, accept and justify what we do – or fail to do.  But have we let the world of spin get out of control to the point there’s little legitimacy to any institution, organization, or individual?

So where does the truth lie?

Are publicists mere mercenary hacks who use style over substance to push forth a meritless agenda with no time to check out – and no desire to learn – whether their clients are truthful, good, or proper?  Do publicists lie, silence the truth, and fail to discuss the drawbacks?  Do they care what sells?  Do they feel any obligation to others, in terms of what the people really need to know?  Do some publicists see what they do as merely a game or a paycheck, something without consequence or relevance?  Do some publicists feel guilty and secretly wish their client is rejected by consumers or put in check by the news media?  Worst of all, do some publicists let the truth escape them because they willfully ignore it and choose not to pursue it?

Or can publicists be ethical people who work within the law and the codes of conduct of their profession and the business world?  Can they take action that is seen as positive, useful, even heroic? I am proud that in promoting books the idea and the story is the product. I promote thoughts and discussions.

Any position of power can be corrupted and any individual can corrupt the power of a position.  All fields have good and bad people and sometimes one side is winning by a landslide.  It’s up to all of us to keep each other honest or the fabric of society tears apart.  Journalists and publicists may seem like they are on opposite sides, but the truth is, they work together and collaborate to shape, influence, and record the world simultaneously as it is, as it could be, and as it should be.

Is America spinning out of control?

It’s something each of us must ask and answer.

Journalists could be the defenders and promoters of truth, the ones who put the forces of power in check while simultaneously inspiring, influencing, and enlightening the public to new ideas and approaches to life.

But the media can also be:

·         Biased
·         Lazy
·         Unaware
·         Underpaid and overworked
·         Influenced by politics
·         Impacted by ownership
·         Reactionary to competition

Do publishers publish the books that are well written and add to society’s experience of life – or do they only publish what they believe will sell and be profitable?  How do they bridge the gap between being a business and serving the greater good?

Authors must make a choice too – write what will get published or what needs to be published.

Do books democratize society – and serve as a check on the rich and famous, the powerful, and the media – or do they corrupt society with their values and ideas that may contradict the “right” way of life?  Is publishing a high art form or really just like any other business that turns out a marketable product?

Many books are churned out, especially self-published ones.  We’re overwhelmed by content, choice, and possibilities.  Do we need a streamlined filter to help us standardize and rate the massive amount of publications out there?  So many voices want to be heard, but there are too few controls to weigh them.  How do we know whom to listen to?

For better or worse, we have options and choices – look at Cable TV, satellite radio, the Internet and a magazine newsstand.  Is the decentralization of information good or bad?

We need a librarian, but not a censor.  We should not be afraid of the growing amount of information options, but we do need to do a better job of registering, reviewing and sharing all of it.  Our creative minds are turning out WMD – Words of Mass Destruction.

Is the public fully educated to understand all of the messages it’s exposed to?  No.  Is the media equipped to handle its role as some land of judge or cop?  No.  Can we trust promoters, marketers, or advertisers to put the world’s needs in front of theirs?  No.

We need a change in the way our world of mass information is created, digested, and shared.  But we also need the reform of every industry and aspect of life, from an overhaul of our laws and financial system to our political and personal lives.

The world is imperfect and our mass media mirrors or even creates that state of being.  But the power and responsibility to promote free speech and creativity will eventually lead us down the right path.

Do you believe me?


Book Excerpt

Too Many People?  A Problem in Values by Christopher Derrick

Society has simply taxed the environment and used up resources at an accelerated pace. Pollution, deforestation, killing off species, over-building -- that will spell out our disaster. Our rabid consumerism is burning up our energy sources, our water, and our landfills. We are a selfish, packaged, customized, throw-away society with no sense of value or appreciation for what we have.

Should any of us claim primacy over the other, the way humans claim primacy over non-humans? Will there be too many people for the common good? Is it time -- in the near future -- perhaps that we don’t just abort pregnancies but also kill off the elderly, the disables, the insane, the defective, the useless, the burdens of society? What’s the value of a life -- one over another? 

Interview With Author Jeff Weber  


What type of books do you write? So far I've written 10 books - 8 of which I published on Smashwords.  The first 3 books were my autobiography aptly titled - My Only Crime Was being Born.  I had many strange, bizarre things happen to me in my life and it felt like therapy to write about them.  My next book was an investing book - I guarantee You Will Buy Low Sell High and Make Money.  It's my ideas on Robert Lichello's AIM (Automatic Investment Management system for investing.  I put in many new ideas like a bear strategy for both stocks and options.  I also offer a free 1-year newsletter subscription to anyone buying my book. 

I was able to download my 43,000 tweets from the last 4 years and after organizing them was able to create 3 Jeff's Greatest Tweets books - 1 on Sarcasm & Humor, another on Politics & Economics and a 3rd on Greatest Inspirational Tweets.  A 4th book Greatest Religious Tweets will be done soon.

I also wrote a book completely different from everything else I wrote and it was the first fiction book I ever wrote.  It is a sexually erotic adult fantasy titled - The Island of Wanted Submission.  I had that book inside and it had to come out.  I also figure sex sells and my other books weren't exactly doing Harry Potter business so I figured give 'em what they want.

What is your newest book about? My Newest book is called Jeff's Greatest Inspirational Tweets.  I have been an avid tweeter for over 4 years and either written or retweeted about 43,000 tweets.  I always try to find good quotes that will help cheer up people, make their lives a better, give them good, positive thoughts.  When I got the chance to download all my tweets I organized them and I organized my inspirational tweets into about 450 categories - something for everybody.

What inspired you to write it? I like helping people and I figured sharing what great minds have said will help a lot of people lead better lives and give them the names of great thinkers they can look for.

What is the writing process like for you? It's very hectic with my 4-year granddaughter living with us.  I have a little spot in my sunroom.  Whenever it's quiet I write.  For most books I dictated into the computer using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice-recognition software.  I felt my thoughts flow better when I talking rather than typing and I already had an operation for carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

How does it feel to be a published author?   It feels good to know now I can plug my books to others and it's a great feeling every time somebody buys a book even though they haven't bought many.  At least I am giving myself a chance to be successful.

Any advice for struggling writers? Do your best job writing the book and then realize it is out of your hands.  Realize it is very hard for a new author to be an overnight success.  Join up with The Independent Author Network (#IAN1) on Twitter.  Then RT other books from #Smashwords and #IAN1 and then other authors will RT your books.  Work hard at marketing your book (I market a lot to my 152,000 twitter followers @jjjinvesting is my twitter name

Where do you see book publishing heading? I feel printed books will never die out completely but E-books will continue to grow because it's the only place new authors can get published.  http://www.smashwords.com has over 340,000 books published because they offer great on-site marketing, let authors publish for free and take 30% royalties on sales and market books to the big E-book sellers like Apple & Kindle.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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