Trust Me, I’m Lying – Book Review

trust me im lying

I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs—as much as any one person can.” – Ryan Holiday

‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ is a provocative title for a thought provoking book about the job of a public relations manager as well as marketers.

‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ – A Brief Overview

The author, Ryan Holiday labels himself as a ‘media strategist’ and he reveals many tricks that he has used over his years as a media strategist. His main purpose: to drive sales.

Using an accusatory tone, Ryan Holiday bashes the entire blogosphere and the practice of driving traffic

He calls out several popular blogs (Gawker, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and even Seeking Alpha) and authors for tricking and deceiving readers using misleading headlines and poorly researched articles (some of which are fake) in the hope of driving traffic to their blogs.

On top of that, Ryan Holiday reveals 9 tactics that he (and the industry) uses to create viral articles that create awareness for his clients, and how some of these articles even make it into some of the huge media publishers (eg. WSJ, New York Times). Although some of these publicity are negative.

One Prominent Example of the method Ryan Holiday Talks about in ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’

50 shades of grey

Remember the release of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ movie?

On top of the usual publicity that most movies get these days (YouTube teasers, banners, etc), there were articles that dug out the strained relationship between the author, E.L. James and the film director, Sam Taylor-Johnson ,  ‘the fact’ that the lead actors hated each other , how even the actors think the movie is crap, and many other controversial articles.

And not to mention the efforts to boycott the film.

On doing a quick Google search, the websites with these articles have all been named in Ryan Holiday’s ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying‘. (No surprises there)

All these articles helped to push the Fifty Shades film into the sights of more potential movie-goers by creating controversy.

Imagine seeing a controversial headline related to the movie every time you scroll through your Facebook feed. How much more likely are people going to watch the movie, just to fulfill their curiosity?

Why should anyone who isn’t in the PR or marketing read this book?

If you are not in the PR or Marketing field, you’d probably thinking what this book has to do with you.

Well, Ryan Holiday dishes out an insider’s view of how your popular blog articles are truly generated. From its inception, through the process of getting spread along to more blogs and ultimately lands in front of you (most probably on your Facebook feeds in today’s case)

Here’s a spoiler: Most of the articles you read are based very very loosely on a rumor.

And these articles can evolve and take a life of their own (and become a ‘truth’) as they gain popularity, starts trending and gets re-written by other blogs or article sites.

Major Takeaway: Always take what you read online, with a pinch tablespoon of salt.

In line with that takeaway, this book has left me wondering how much of those local ‘blog wars’ we hear about are actually real. Or are they just staged publicity campaigns?

And, how much of this book (Trust Me, I’m Lying)  is actually ‘true’. Are the blogs, publishers and authors who were mentioned in the book really the ‘bad guys’ as the author puts it? Or did they simply allow the author to use their names in his book for more publicity?

Have you fallen for the tricks that PR and marketing departments do too?

Written by Yen Yee

Yen Yee

An aspiring digital entrepreneur who continues to learn and find her way around in the online world.


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