Review: Trust Me, I’m Lying

This book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the media works in the modern age – its disturbing and astonishing in equal measure.

In Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, Ryan Holiday describes the media strategies he used to take American Apparel to the heights of fame and takes aim at the blogosphere that he so carefully manipulated for a whole range of clients.

Holiday is a media strategist, Stoic, former apprentice to Robert Greene and quite possibly someone who will be recognized as the most influential author of our time.

In a book filled with examples from across the media, Holiday outlines how he would seed stories with blogs and smaller media outlets. In a phenomenon he dubs feeding up the chain, these links are then sent to lager media outlets that were fearful of missing out on a big story.

This phenomenon has become much more powerful with the rise of the blogosphere where organisations such as the now-defunct Gawker (the subject of his recent book Conspiracy) have limitless space and to publish “news” and are driven not by accuracy but by the pageviews that drive revenues from advertising. Indeed, bloggers are often paid page view bonuses, casting all sense of journalistic integrity firmly in the bin.

Perhaps my favourite anecdote was how he defaced billboards he had paid for to create a fake news story about a boycott of the Tucker Max movie “I hope they serve beer in hell”. He then sent photos of the vandalism to blogs and started a real protest movement against the film.

The protests generated pages of free publicity for the film which gained quickly gained an unprecedented level of notoriety – even if it wasn’t the box office smash the team had hoped for.

In the book he writes “I orchestrated fake tweets and and posted fake comments in articles online. I even won a contest for being the first one to send in a picture of a defaced ad in Chicago (thanks for the free T-shirt, Chicago RedEye. Oh, also, that photo was from New York.)”

Incidents like the one above are not new, but the power and reach has expanded dramatically as the traditional news media wane and our desire for instant news gratification has increased.

Its easy to see how the strategies and tactics outlined in this book have been used to help now-President Trump to eclipse his rival candidates and take the White House, how the Brexit campaign was so such a powerful movement both online and offline and how the heart of our democratic processes are at risk from both inside an doutside manipulation.

Now I know, you might be thinking this is ll baloney, but trust me, I’m not lying – having worked in PR and marketing for years this is how the media works. I’ve even turned my hand to a few “tricks” in the past, but nothing on this scale.

This book is a must-read, you’ll never view the news in the same way again!

To get the book simply click here.

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