(UPDATE: Don’t miss my exchange with Craig Newmark in the comments to this posting. Then, at The Right Conversation, I explain why this little exchange indicates that Newmark is an Exec with a Clue About the Public Conversation.)
“Describing himself as ‘customer service representative first, founder second,’ Newmark maintains diligent communication with as many of the 10 million monthly users of his site as possible. ‘It’s enabled me to see that people around the world share the same values, and the best thing you can do is simply help other people out. Forgive me I’m seriously trying to be more cynical but there’s this do unto others vibe in the Craigslist community which seems to be pretty universal.'”
I’m seriously trying to be more cynical too, but…
In my opinion, I think cynicism is one of the most damaging and most prevalent aspects of the culture of mainstream media companies especially in the news business.
Cynicism is what makes you believe or claim that there’s no point in spending time conversing with “the masses,” whoever they may be in your case. After all, they’re only going to waste your time and they won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. Cynicism thwarts all conversation and especially keeps you from joining the public conversation or even denying the value of conversation.
How lame (even, dare I say, cowardly) is that?
Personally, I think all media (mainstream and otherwise) would benefit from execs in particular adopting Newmark’s approach to personally doing customer service to stay in touch with the customer base/audience as a regular part of the executive role. Not for PR, but as a crucial reality check.
It also seems like a rich potential source of serendipity. And it might even be fun or personally rewarding, too. Heck, it would probably be good for any kind of company.
…And yes, I would consider Craigslist a type of “media company,” if an odd one.