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“The Message is the Messenger” [Infographic]

Last week Jeremiah Owyang asked me what theme unites all of our infographics.  The answer is “change.”  The Content Grid provides marketers with content marketing framework – in other words, a model for change.  The Blog Tree represents a fundamental change in the way a list is conceived, applied and visualized.  The History of SXSW, which commemorates the 25th anniversary of the South by Southwest festival, is a celebration of change.

“Change” is also the lead character in today’s Eloqua + JESS3 infographic.  “The Message is the Messenger” examines some of the people – the multidimensional personal brands – who are driving change in the world of new media.

(click image to download full-sized PDF)

The Message is the Messenger


A century ago, mathematician A.N. Whitehead said, “The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.”  The democratization of media is an advancement that is “wrecking” the media institutions that dominated the eras in which Whitehead and subsequent futurists like Marshall McLuhan (whose aphorism “the medium is the message” inspired the title of the infographic … and the SXSW panel it teases) lived.

In some ways, there is an apocalyptic quality to this infographic – almost as if creating it required us to sort through the rubble caused by the collapse of traditional media’s empire.  What we found is the rise of the personal brand. When the medium no longer matters, trust shifts to the messenger.  In other words, media has become truly personal, and this infographic visualizes some of the most trusted voices in personal media and the disciplines within which they wield the most influence.

This is neither a scientific nor exhaustive list.  There are, of course, far more than 86 trustworthy "personal media outlets" in the world.  Certainly there is a mathematical angle – for example, the median Klout score of those depicted is over 60 – but rather than rely solely on an algorithm, the team that created this graphic turned to our own lives.  We asked ourselves: Who do we trust – and about what topics – when it comes to the information we consume?  Who influences, inspires and challenges us?

Then we semi-scientifically (a.k.a., subjectively) assigned each person up to three "categories," in order of the individual's career focus and content output. Categories included public relations, journalism, author, speaking, community management, research/analysis, advocacy, entrepreneurship, brand marketing, blogging, and a few others.  Here's an example.  Take Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications (Eloqua's PR firm).  Todd is fundamentally a PR guy.  So we ranked PR first.  But he started SHIFT, so he's also an entrepreneur, which was bucketed second.  PR-Squared is an immensely successful blog, so we tagged him "blogger" third.  We followed this process for everyone depicted on the infographic.  Then the final output is essentially one massive, multi-node Venn Diagram.

Without question, we could have doubled, tripled, quadrupled the number of “personal brands” included.  But, for us, these are people who drive change.  If you’d like to follow them too, our public “The Message is the Messenger” Twitter list is a great place to begin.  If you want to dig into this topic even deeper, come to the panel we’re moderating at SXSW.  It’s titled Media Tomorrow: The Message is the Messenger and it will be held on March 13th at 3:30 PM.  Owyang, Sarah Evans, Leslie Bradshaw and Jennifer Van Grove will all participate.

As always, we are open to ideas for names to add or changes to make.  That’s what the comments field is all about.

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