Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday Notes Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media ...

Link (Amazon)

A startling look into how someone can manipulate the news into covering the story they want them to write about. Would recommend reading if you’re looking to grow a brand or generate buzz. Practical tips for getting big news outlets to talk about you.

  • People can be influenced easily, all it takes is someone to feed the monster
  • Stories fight for your attention. The more provocative, the more likely you are to share it.

Book One – Feeding The Monster

  • We’re a country governed by public opinion and public opinion is governed by the press. So doesn’t it make sense to know what governs the press?
  • Cycle of why presidential race is covered two years in advance (also could be how Trump got elected): 
    • 1. Political blogs need things to cover; traffic increases during an election
    • 2. Reality (election cycle far away) does not align with this
    • 3. Political blogs create candidates early
    • 4. The person they cover, by nature of the coverage, becomes the candidate (or president)
    • 5. Blogs profit, the public loses
  • Level 1: The Entry Point – Small blogs or local websites.
  • Level 2: The Legacy Media – Media blogs that update often with less oversight
  • Level 3: National – NBC, NY Times
  • Traffic is money for blogs 
  • “Study the top stories at Digg or and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3 Bs – behavior, belief, or belongings – you’ll get a huge virus-like dispersion.” –Tim Ferriss
  • The most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes. (Happy works, too.)
  • Anger, fear, excitement, or laughter drive us to spread information. 
  • “Humiliation should not be suppressed. It should be monetized.” –The Atlantic
  • Most popular article titles in NY Times Magazine 2011: 1. Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? 2. How Little Sleep Can You Get Away With? 3. Is Sugar Toxic? 4. What’s The Single Best Exercise? 5. Do Cellphones Cause Brain Cancer?
  • Come up with an idea and let them think they were the ones who came up with it. Basically, write the headline, or hint at the options, in your email or press release.

Book Two – What Blogs Mean

  • Once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.
  • Blogs have long borrowed on the principle of implied credibility
  • Rumor and gossip are a light weight to lift up, but heavy to carry and hard to put down (Heisod)
  • The mind first believes, then evaluates
    • Once the mind has accepted a plausible explanation for something, it becomes a framework for all the information that is perceived after it. We’re drawn, subconsciously, to fit and contort all previous knowledge intot his framework.
  • We implicitly put a lot of trust in the written word.
  • Once you’re in a position of defending yourself, you have already lost (for example, if I call you a douche, how would you defend yourself without making it worse?)
  • The decline of public executions coincided almost exactly with the rise of the mass newspaper.
    • “In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press” –Oscar Wilde


  • When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information?
  • “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” –Upton Sinclair
  • Remember to spread a story, you’ve got to “sell them something they can sell.”

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