At the height of the dot-com boom, I was vice president of marketing at NewsEdge Corporation, a NASDAQ-traded online news distributor with more than $70 million in annual revenue. My multimillion-dollar marketing budget included tens of thousands of dollars per month for a public relations agency, hundreds of thousands per year for print advertising and glossy collateral materials, and expensive participation at a dozen trade shows a year. My team put these things on our marketing to-do list, worked like hell to execute, and paid the big bucks because that's what marketing and PR people did. These efforts made us feel good because we were doing something, but the programs were not producing significant, measurable results.

At the same time, drawing on experience I had gained in my previous position as Asia marketing director for the online division of Knight-Ridder, then one of the largest newspaper companies in the world, my team and I quietly created content-based, “thought leadership” marketing and PR programs on the web. Against the advice of the PR agency professionals we had on retainer (who insisted that press releases were only for the press), we wrote and sent dozens of releases ourselves. Each time we sent a release, it appeared on online services such as Yahoo!, resulting in sales leads. Even though our advertising agency told us not to put the valuable information “somewhere where competitors could steal it,” we created a monthly newsletter called TheEdge ...

Get The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.