Seth’s Tribal Order

In December, I read Seth Godin’s wisp of a book Tribes in which the esteemed digital pundit rallies his marketing-minded readers to break with tradition and take a leading role in the new world order.

In a January 2008 post on his blog, he explained it this way:

“Brand management is so 1999. Brand management was top down, internally focused, political and money based. It involved an MBA managing the brand, the ads, the shelf space, etc. The MBA argued with product development and manufacturing to get decent stuff, and with the CFO to get more cash to spend on ads. Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.”

The book bowed in October 2008 and was well received. At a scant 160 pages, it’s also a relatively quick, yet most worthwhile undertaking. Setting his new tribal order aside, Seth’s Blog today serves up a short tutorial on the difference between PR and publicity:

“Publicity is the act of getting ink….PR is the strategic crafting of your story….”

Now there’s something that hasn’t changed in my decades toiling in this space, even with the upheaval we’ve witnessed these last several years.

As noted in my post yesterday, Twitter founder Evan Williams can get as much ink as he wants…for the moment…but his microblogging platform’s fate will ultimately be determined by the qualitative aspects of that exposure. In other words, he’d likely be better served by a seasoned public relations strategist (who’ll help shape his story), not a publicist.

Seth closed his post today with this keen observation:

“In my experience, a few people have a publicity problem, but almost everyone has a PR problem. You need to solve that one first. And you probably won’t accomplish that if you hire a publicity firm and don’t even give them the freedom and access they need to work with you on your story.”

Thanks, Seth, for the reassuring (and redeeming) words of advice.