Cluetrain Manifesto at 15: work in progress
We continue to be surprised by the changes that the Internet is having on the business of public relations and organisational communication. We had plenty of warning. The Cluetrain Manifesto written in 1999 by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger foretold everything we know today.
“The authors borrow its name from Karl Marx, its form from Martin Luther, its spirit from Martin Luther King and its manners from Hunter S. Thompson,” he added.
The Cluetrain Manifesto is a set of 95 theses organised and put forward as a manifesto, or call to action, for organisations operating in Internet-connected markets.
If you haven’t read the book I urge you to buy a copy. It’s a book that I reread every 12-months or so. It’s as relevant today as the day it was first published.
Digital thinker and doer Euan Semple is a fellow believer.
“When talking to folks in ‘digital’ marketing agencies I mention Cluetrain. It's like a test. If I get a blank look I know what I am dealing with,” he wrote.
Societal and organisational change is slow, really slow. The impact of the Internet on society and organisations is going to takes generations to work through. In the scheme of things 15 years is half a modern generation.
Here are my favourite 20 of the 95 Cluetrain theses that I believe are set to influence organisational communication in the next 15 years as they have in the last 15 years.
#1 Markets are conversations.
#3 Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
#6 The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
#7 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.
#11 People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditised products.
#12 There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
#20 Companies need to realise their markets are often laughing. At them.
#21 Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.
#26 Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.
#34 To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
#35 But first, they must belong to a community.
#53 There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market.
#56 These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognise each other's voices.
#57 Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.
#64 We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.
#74 We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.
#75 If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.
#76 We've got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we'd be willing to pay for. Got a minute?
#82 Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?
#83 We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.