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October 05, 2005


Jim Ware

Elizabeth, I believe you ARE on to something here. Over the past year I've become a big believer in citizen activism - it's not enough just to vote in regular elections. We all need to become better informed, and it would be wonderful if we could contribute more directly to public discourse.

Now as a Californian, I am actually NOT a fan of our crazy initiative process where almost any special interest group can pull an end run around our duly elected legislators and throw a complicated, emotion-laden proposal on the ballot. But I do believe in, and want to see, better ways for citizens to communicate their views to their representatives.

What if representatives maintained wiki's or something like that where we as constituents could collaboratively and collectively compose proposed legislation, or express our views on specific issues?

It just might make democracy more real.

There's lots of complicating issues, of course, but I firmly believe it's time to try some new ways to communicate about important public issues.

Thanks for starting this!

David Phillips

Can I offer an idea? We are beginning to see a very different form of social interaction. Jim takes it further, but the pressure on elected officials is now quite considerable (I used to work in the business a long time ago) because issues can come to a head faster with citizen campaigning. He has a solution but the concept goes deeper.

Evidence of 'citizen journalism' is pretty widespread. Some is purposeful some serendipitous. We are also seeing evidence of citizen invention. The disagragated product development where the inventor does not have or want to make the prototype, test market, get stuck with a business angel and work 60 hours a week at selling.

What is happening is that the explicit (product/brand/corporation/politician) is offered up together with the implicit (values, emotions, passion) which makes the consumer more approachable and the corporation less so.

The convergence of interest is halted when there is an apparent lack of common values and distrust creeps in. Where common values are available relationships flourish, communities emerge and the word spreads.

Thus your concept is valid.

This networking function can be for good or ill but for marketers, it become difficult. It means that they (and their corporations) have to be able to recognise and interpret the signals and then respond. Traditional organisations are not designed to do that, only networked organisations can. Traditional corporations are shy of showing values and emotions and so struggle to respond.

We see the network community with its citizen democrat, journalist and inventor happening but are puzzled as to how our monoliths can respond.

They have to become networks too (in fact they are, but have a long industrial age hangover).

Citizen marketing is already going on but corporates have difficulty seeing it.

Here is an example: Coke reckons its brand is worth $70 billion on the balance sheet. How can this be? It owns the recipe and the packaging and distribution not the brand values. The brand values are tucked away in the heads of consumers. What Coke really owns is the relationship with its consumer publics and that is based on a two way street of shared values. “I'd like to buy the world a drink and keep it company...” – is about values not the can, liquid, distribution or even the name.

Citizen marketing has to be about listening and then offering genuine convergent values.

I'm with you – all the way.

Elizabeth Albrycht

Thanks for your ideas...the network is certainly a powerful metaphor to think with for this stuff, isn't it?



Check out the work of the Uk journalist/author Alan Mitchell, whose seminar book: 'rightsideup' and 'the new bottom line' have explored the implications of individual-centric commerce.

Explicit within that vision is the inversion you speak of.

Also implied are the mutual marketing phenomena that come to pass when individuals start to co-create value and manage corporations as supply-chains.

Also implied is the flip from corporate CRM solutions to individual-centric SRM solutions based on Personal Knowledge Banks.

Also implied are the content-rich, but productively lean communications models already coming into being through TiVO, podcasting, and various citizens media alluded to here and elsewhere.

In short. You'd like it. gives a flavour.


Oops. Elizabeth...I deprived you of your 'z'. sorry. t

Dana Voss

I think your blog post brings up some great ideas to think about. On a related note have you heard of the various news and media outlets engaging in citizen jounnalism? Certain outlets are paying journalists and photographers for their relevant stories and photos. This news tends to be stories that are best relative to the viewers.
This is an awesome way to get those "on the side line" acutally "in the game." I think that this idea of being more openminded will lead to a variety of perspectives.
As with citizen journalists, with citizen marketing,the audience creating the marketing is the best way to know what it is that the audience likes and dislikes. It makes one wonder why this concept hasn't been used before!
A previous blogging comment introduced the word "democracy." I must agree. I think that this involvement of those other than journalists and marketers is evident of democracy in it's purest form.

jack mardack


Forgive me for resuscitating what is on your blog (or on this blog, anyway) already a cold thread. I know how apt to be annoyed I would be if someone were summoning my attention - backwards - after I had moved on. I got here via , and before that, from somewhere near the line where Edelman has been flirting with Technorati to good effect.

[Note the segue]

Cynicism is a difficult beast to slay. It's not clear from your post where you think cynicism is encamped, Elizabeth. Let's assume you mean "cynicism" the way a Marketer would use it -- meaning simply... "Ain't buyin". In that case, the only possible cynics are in the eyes of anybody trying to sell something. And that means the consumers who ain't buying from business and the businesses who ain't buying from other businesses. The consumer is too busy shuttling between the church pew and the porn booth to muster cynicism in his mind. When a "buyer" gets a case of the nerves, he goes right to weepy self-loathing, and stays there until he finds himself again in a new desire to purchase. But, a seller -- aaah, a SELLER must go into despair when he isn't bought. And IF he stays un-bought for too long, despair crystallizes into a sharp bitterness that will shatter at the drop of a hat.

Believe me, I feel ya.

If you take a moment to Google my name right here, you'll see the kind of heavy-PR lifting I've been doing for the last 9 months. Check it out, I have been the most vocal, the most quoted the most active BUSINESSMAN championing FREE SPEECH in the English-speaking part of the online porn industry. And therein lies my problem. I need a sponsor to baptize me back into the business world of propriety, because I have been swimming in the muddy waters of porn -- lol. Actually, I'm not concerned about getting taken back for two reasons. I don't wish to be taken back. I have a better plan.

I bent Richard's ear about it (the plan) via Warren, which seemed to go well. But I have not heard back in a few days, and what with Les Blogs coming up so soon, it REALLY does seem a great moment for an agency, for SOME shiny new standard-bearing PR agency to step in and show the eight-rows back business world how to *blog*

And I tell ya, Elizabeth, Richard, et al, I think you're all gonna find that blogging is one helluva cure for the common cynic.

Jack Mardack

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