April 13, 2010

Citizen Marketers: ck's Group Review


By Wendy McHale, Publisher

"Citizen Kane" is my all-time favorite film, and our book title "Citizen Marketers" is something of an homage to Orson Wells' brilliant and still-influential work."

So begins an email we received yesterday from Ben McConnell, whose co-writer is Jackie Huba; together of which they have written and just published "Citizen Marketers, When People Are the Message."

Read it. We did. It was "homework" given to us over the holidays as part of a new group we were invited to join called Group Review. "Maybe you haven't heard: our Book Club's Group Review is officially O.P.E.N. for biz, baby!". So writes the creator and producer of this remarkable work, our good friend and collaborator, ck, otherwise known as Christina Kerley. She explains Group Review like this:

Think of Group Review as a BIG party (sans the martinis and mushroom puffs). And what is a big party, really? Why it's a bunch of little parties with crowds left, right and center discussing different subjects they find interesting, or that interest them at the moment.


You will find it here on Marketing Profs. The topic of the book is "social media," and is most likely the first of its kind to tackle the subject; we think, in an incredibly fascinating and comprehensive way. This is a blog which reviews a book written expressly about blogs, so hold on to your Rosebuds! It's turning out to be something of a "war of the words."

Does art imitates life or does life imitate art? Yes.

Now for you Kane "Filters, Fanatics, Facilitators and Firecrackers," with similar respect Ben McConnell has for the Citizen Kane film and for the wonderful book he and Jackie Huba produced, check out a couple of articles (below this piece) about the inimitable Citizen Kane, a.k.a. Orson Welles, which were previously published here at the MadAve Journal.

Here is the original uncondensed review of "Citizen Marketers," written by "mchale" for Group Review.


Citizen Marketers: Citizen Kane's Ghost

By mchale

How much similarity is there between we citizen marketers of today and Citizen Kane of yesterday, the fictional 20th century figure, whose mélange of characteristics were exposed to his peers and the entire world to see?

Kane was selfish, brilliant, inquisitive, a collector, had the ability to explore any facet of society he so chose, had a need and a power to share his views and was intent to changing the planet to see things the way he did? I see a similarity between Orson Welles' character and each of us today, empowered by the net as we are in a way only a few daring and impudent individuals such as Kane were back in his day.

Everyone has a selfish side. The net allows us all to dive deep into our individual and collective sub-consciousness. Citizen Marketer states it's all about us. We the people are the message. That phrase, "we the people" once used to mean the collective community of individuals acting as a group, who by doing so was empowered to affect change. Today, due to the net, it probably would be written, I, the person.

For as much as the net allows us to each find similar communities of similar interest, thought and persuasion, it also enables us to act independently, the power of one, like Kane did, and have the same equivalent power to make our views known that require companies and institutions alike stand up and take notice.

The book "Citizen Marketers" focuses on those individuals who have a laser-sharp interest in a specific area that can either delight or (mostly) infuriate marketing companies who once had the power and selfish agenda to ignore the effect individuals can have on their business. Today the net gives each of us the platform Kane had. Marketers now must ignore each of us at their peril. Read it. It's filled with serious and humorous examples of how the power of one person can create a firestorm of problems for companies such as Dell and/or Apple Computers to spend $$ millions to correct a problem they used to ignore. Absurd as it sounds; it also shows how companies such as Coca-Cola or Target would prefer to ignore individuals who are actually evangelists of their brand.

My biggest problem with the book; a microcosm of the evangelism we see on Silicon Alley and Madison Avenue is that there are very few, if any sources or books that talk about the negative power of the net. It ultimately became plain for everyone to see how "Citizen Kane's" ego ultimately took over and ran ramshod over anything and anyone he so desired. Back then, he had the power to build or break anyone he so chose. "Citizen Marketers" shows that with much focus, legitimacy and activism, each of us can do so too.

Which means that new media can empower the darker angels of our nature to use its platform to fool, exploit and harm perfectly legitimate enterprises and/or individuals of one type or another by using the exact same tactics heralded in the book. There are no case studies on this. It irritates me that so many books published are "happy talk-esque" and only talk about the good. I wish someone would put the spotlight on those not so warm and fuzzy examples. I think Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are uniquely qualified to do so. Their new book uses the tagline, "When people are the message." That assumes it's a good thing. To be more specific, perhaps it should say, "When people are the "Noblesse Oblige" message. The next Citizen Marketers tag line should be "When people are the "Riffraff" Message." Then, we will understand the full context of the "art of the possible" and become more responsible, for what is still a medium in its infancy. Thoughts from the authors? Are you up to the challenge? Do you think it is a worthwhile endeavor? Thoughts from the Book Club readers? Is there something already published out there? If not, should there be?

Like Kane said, "You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man."


Post script: Rather than boldly challenge the authors to write it and since I'm well aware that something of substance appears relatively painless to produce from the view of the peanut gallery (which I expect is where I am sitting) this writer acknowledges that it very easy to criticize than to create.

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