Trust Ryan Holiday, He’s Lying

In a day and age dominated by digital media, one’s sense of humor is measured by the amount of likes on a Facebook status, an article’s credibility is gauged by how many times it’s shared, and a journalist’s paycheck is determined by number of page views or blog posts.  This ever-changing technology has given us access to information and news in an instant, but has changed the way we perceive that content, and even it’s accuracy.

At least, that’s what author, self proclaimed media manipulator, blogger, publicist, and New Orleans resident, Ryan Holiday, is trying to prove in his new book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.   Holiday is a star player, and puppet master in this game where marketers influence the media, who in turn, feeds the masses with sometimes inaccurate stories and, subsequently, dictate what stories are deemed newsworthy and trending. It’s a vicious cycle where fibs turn into scandals, but, unfortunately, it’s how modern day media works.

It’s all a game of deception, and Holiday would know – he is a professional and expert in the art of manipulation.  He earned his title as Media Manipulator after years of working as a media strategist for Tucker Max and Dov Charney, as well as several best selling authors. He is also the marketing mastermind behind American Apparel’s eye catching brand. He acquired this success by lying.

In the book, Holiday describes his trajectory – from the steps he took to garner press for his clients to how the system eventually turned on him.  It all starts by implanting a fake story or leaking fake scoop to a blog and online platforms such as Gawker and The Huffington Post. Then, the news takes on a life of its own when larger media outlets pick it up, subsequently turning a small fib into controversy of epic proportions.  Eventually, the tactics backfire when the lies go viral and turn into truths, sometimes negatively impacting readers, consumers, careers, friendships, and credibility.The book exposes this strategy, how it’s shaped the media industry, and how it has shaped the way readers perceive the news, explaining in startling detail and honesty how he has become successful with it and the consequences that have eventually ensued.  Referencing his manipulation as an addiction and paralleling new media to a growing monster that needs to be fed, Holiday describes how these common practices have changed the entire media industry today.

The book is well written – easy to read, but descriptive; appalling, yet insightful; fascinating and honest. Holiday describes the cycle of new media using his own experiences as examples, as well as some of the most recent news stories and controversies.

The book is also a marriage of economics and philosophy. It describes the financial incentives and structure behind new media, and how you can use this current system to your advantage to get the media to publicize whatever you want.  It then takes an existential look as to why the system is ultimately harmful, and how it has shaped the media industry. While intriguing, it leaves you wondering if Holiday is a modern day hero trying to stop this harmful system he helped corrupt, or if we, the readers, are just another pawn in this game of manipulation.   Regardless, it definitely gets you thinking, and will change the way you perceive those shared articles and provocative headlines.

The controversial book was released just last week, and has already received a ton of critique from within the industry, not surprisingly, all over the internet.. The book raises several questions and flaws in new media, but it will only really frighten those in the industry who have been victims of false gossip, driven by Facebook shares, ruled by deadlines, and providers of unchecked information.

So, who should be reading this book? Entrepreneurs, advertisers, bloggers, blog readers, and, as we transition into new system in which our main news source will be delivered digitally, all of New Orleans.

You can pick up your copy of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator and catch Ryan Holiday tonight, Tuesday, July 31, at Octavia Books at 6 PM.