How to get on in communications: Be nice – Part 1


This is an extract from a post that first appeared on the Zude PR website.

The original was a whopping 9,000 words and was in danger of crashing The Conversation’s system, So we’ve split it into five posts.

In this, the 1st extract, David Sawyer FCIPR, head of Zude PR, sets the scene/recounts the views of 12 of the world’s leading PR, SEO, content and social media marketing experts on why they “give it all away for free”/tells what he’s learnt from his involvement in the #PRstack project and why he feels karma is king for a new breed of communicators.

I, David Sawyer, am a Glasgow-based PR man who is evangelical about how PR, content marketing, SEO and social media marketing should work together to help organisations communicate.

I founded a Glasgow PR company last year to help clients do just that.

I am always learning and read around two hours of content every day. I share the four best bits in my weekly (Thursday evening) newsletter. If you want to join my Dad, Cousin Paul, and JP from Sixth Form on my list, sign up here. Never salesy, just valuable, helpful content.

If you like the cut of my jib and are thinking: “This is someone I could trust. Let’s get him in to sort our comms,” then I’m honoured. Here are the services I provide, here’s my chops, and here’s how to reach me.


You should read this article if:

  • You’re interested in hearing the exclusive thoughts of 36 of the world’s leading communications experts.
  • You work in public relations, SEO, content marketing or social media marketing.
  • You own a business and want to increase sales.
  • You’re thinking of completely overhauling how you market your company. But need reassurance that it’ll pay off.
  • You are finding it more and more difficult to get your company’s message heard.
  • You are interested in the psychology of life and what motivates people to take actions.
  • You have a belief in the essential goodness of human nature. But don’t think it’ll ever get you anywhere at work.
  • You have ever wondered if there is such a thing as a selfless act.
  • Your blog is just not working and you’re wondering why.

Still reading?

Let me open the door to a new world for you?

One Where Good Guys Win

One where the more truthful and honest you are, the more you enjoy your work, the more money you make.

One that few people know about.

Walk through the door and when you’ve stopped blinking, I’ll show you the light.

And if, when you get to the bottom of this post, you agree with me and the 36 experts’ experiences, share the secret with your friends.

In the meantime, while you get the Sun out of your eyes, indulge me for one minute as I share a wee story…

Why I Wrote This Post

I was chatting to my good friend Scott Guthrie the other day. Me in Glasgow, Scotland; him in Sydney. We both own PR companies, with a twist.

We were reflecting on the success of an inspiring project to which we’d both contributed time and effort. For free. It had led to the launch of a ground-breaking crowd-sourced ebook called My #PRstack.

We’d each penned a chapter. And we were questioning why.

Scott’s a nice guy. And while I haven’t asked him, I’d bet my house on him believing in karma.

Like me, he has a genuine desire to help. To share what he knows. To contribute and give back.

I would also wager that, like me, he hasn’t always been this way.

The predominant business culture of the past 20 years has been keep your head down, play your cards close to your chest and don’t, whatever you do, give away your trade secrets.

It’s difficult to break out of that paradigm unless there’s something in it for you.

So aside from the warm fuzzy feeling of making a contribution, Scott and I agreed that there was an element of enlightened self-interest in our enthusiastic participation in #PRstack. We both run businesses after all.

It’s something I’ve touched on in previous posts, and a subject that fascinates me.

What motivates me and others to “give it all away for free”? By this, I mean sharing our knowledge without fear or favour (don’t worry, we charge clients for our time…everyone’s got to make a living).

Is full disclosure the modern business world’s secret sauce? An alternative paradigm? A new way of working where nice guys/gals win.

I think so. And once you embrace it, there’s no turning back. Trust me.

Ask The Experts

So I jotted down a list of  PR/digital/SEO/content marketing influencers. The best, worldwide.

And for want of a better term I’m bracketing them in the category of “new PR”. Or “new communications” to be more accurate, as these once disparate disciplines are increasingly converging. Labels are unimportant; content is.

I reached out to people I know, people I have discussed this topic with, and people whose work I admire. They’re at the forefront of this new business paradigm, trailblazers if you will. They all share freely and all see the benefit. And they all blog.

Enlightened Self-Interest: The Pitch Email

I wrote:

  1. Why do you “give it all away for free”? Was there a specific lightbulb moment when your mindset shifted?
  2. What are the benefits and disbenefits to you of enlightened self-interest? How long did it take before it started paying off for you?
  3. Where, if anywhere, do you draw the full disclosure line?

Thirty-six gave me their time, and I am most grateful for their candour. I only asked for 50 words (they’re busy people) and to answer whichever question took their fancy.

But some couldn’t help themselves:O). Writers, eh. Give ‘em a platform….

So now your eyes have grown accustomed to the light. I’ll hand over to the stars of the show before wrapping up with what I get out of full (ish) transparency/being nice/sharing what I know.

Roll Of Honour

You should follow them on Twitter (I’m making it easy for you). I do:

Richard Bailey, Ryan Biddulph, Deirdre Breakenridge, Michael Brenner, Philippe Borremans, Stuart Bruce

Mike Carhart-Harris, Adam Connell, Andy Crestodina

Gini Dietrich, Jeff Domansky

Judy Gombita, Scott Guthrie

Sarah Hall, Ann Handley, Arik Hanson, Derek Howie

Doug Kessler

Larry Kim

Glenn Leibowitz, Rich Leigh

Julia McCoy, Mike McGrail, Rachel Miller, Sarah Moreton

Neil Patel, Sarah Pinch

Ted Rubin

David Meerman Scott, Cyrus Shepard, Dan Slee, Andrew Bruce Smith, Paul Sutton

Stephen Waddington, Angharad Welsh

Alex Yong

And Here’s What They Said

In alphabetical order so feel free to skip. But I would urge you to read them all like I have. I’ve learnt a lot. Some answered all three questions; some, one question; some gave their general thoughts; and some condensed it all into 50 words.

Photo credit: eflon / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: r.nial.bradshaw / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Natesh Ramasamy (Thanks for 1.4 Million+ views) / Foter / CC BY

Watch out for Part 2 next week

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