Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Years Later the Cluetrain Manifesto Still has Poignant Message

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto. This little book predicted the future we are in now. The Cluetrain Manifesto consists of 95 revolutionary theses. The first is it’s most famous, “Markets are conversations.”

The Cluetrain authors stated: “It’s all about disruption, and the people taking back control of what they pay attention to.”

They call on us in organizations to speak with a “human voice.” #68 speaks to us in particular: “The inflated self-important jargon you sling around – in the press, at your conferences – what's that got to do with us?” People don’t want to hear that you are leveraging your resources to focus on your core competencies striving toward excellence.

I’m not really going to try to summarize the whole manifesto. You can read it online yourself or at least get an overview by reading the 95 theses. Plus you can see how bloggers from around the world are commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto today.

Much of the Cluetrain Manifesto was a bit frightening to the business world. The authors are quite clear that things are going to be different. And wow, were they right!

Communication has become easier for individuals. And in many ways, it has become more complicated for organizations, particularly in this transition period we are in.

What I find particularly interesting is that many of the ideals presented in the Cluetrain Manifesto are at the core of effective public relations and communications. While we often get a bad rap when our mistakes are so visible and our successes so seamless, PR is a truth-telling business. That means telling truth to customers, employees, reporters and communities. It also means telling truth to our bosses. Figuring out what the truth actually is requires listening. Effective communication requires listening.

Number 78 on the Cluetrain list says: “You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.” This new world of social media is not about pushing our finely-crafted messages to the masses through in more channels. It’s a tool for listening and responding… to individuals.

So today, let’s applaud the Cluetrain Manifesto authors – Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger – for telling it like it is.