The Cluetrain and Permission Marketing

The Cluetrain Manifesto3 and Permission Marketing,4 both of 1999, were the first signposts that the status quo of marketing and public relations was about to end, and relatively abruptly. And from a personal perspective that was just fine – I was still in my twenties with comparatively little marketing and PR experience, so I was joining advantageously at just the moment when the rules were changing.

With a collection of assertions and a call to action, the Cluetrain authors painted a frank, unambiguous vision of the way in which the Internet would affect the way in which individuals communicate and organize, and the responses this revolution would demand of organizations.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

The authors, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, created a storm. On one side, the so-called digerati fanned the flames and, some would say, adopted the Manifesto quasi-religiously. The sceptics on the other side called the whole thing a cult and ...

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