Culture Shock: Marketing and public relations is so last century

I’ve been reading Culture Shock by Will McInnes on and off since August. It’s that kind of book. I find that I need to put it down, reflect on the content, and then come back to it afresh.

Yesterday I turned to page 152. Here McInnes neatly captures all that is broken with marketing and public relations in the last century.

“Unfortunately, all too often, those in marketing and PR were the creators of opacity – obfuscating and obscuring simple, easy-to-answer truths like the fat or salt if a food product, or the true cost of a financial services product, or coaching the CEO to evade difficult questions in interviews, instead droning away at their key messages, disrespecting their interviews and their audiences.”


“Marketing [and PR] in the last century was an industrialised process of shoving stuff into the world. There wasn’t a great deal of participation, and there wasn’t – by the end of the century – a great deal of love of respect for Marketing with a capital M. In this mode, marketing was telling a tightly controlled story at industrial scale.”

Spot on. I challenge anyone in marketing or PR to come up with a case for the defence. You know how to submit a comment.

You’ll have to read the book to find out how McInnes suggests organisations, and specifically the marketing and public relations industries, re-engineer and tool-up for the 21st century.

Culture Shock challenges your preconceptions about the structure and management of organisations. It’s an ambitious book that sets a new agenda for the culture of organisations rooted in connectedness, openness and participation.

I’ll post a more complete review once I’ve finished reading it.

Thanks for stopping by. If you enjoyed this blog post you may like to receive future posts as they are published, via email. Please sign-up here.

Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.


  1. Thanks for writing about the book Mr Wadds :) I really appreciate it.

    It’s funny – some people have read the book in a sitting or over a weekend, but I can totally identify with what you say as I’m working through No Straight Lines by Alan Moore at the moment and having the same experience. There’s just too much there to digest on the spot, and I have to dip in!

    Love to hear your final analysis once you finish the whole thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *