How to Apply the Medium is the Message to Your Own Marketing and PR


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Have you heard the phrase “the Medium is the Message”? While this phrase is often quotes the modern way we use this is of course from the original intent. I believe if we understand and exercise the original intent of this phrase it will make you a better marketer. So that’s what we cover today.

This phrase was originally coined by Marshall McLuhan and was popularized by his widely known book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964. The media landscape back then was quite different from it is today. Now we have a rise of new media with old forms of media increasingly playing catchup. Does that mean that this phrase “the medium is the message” is less relevant today?

Part of the challenge is this phrase has migrated from Mr McLuhan’s original intent. The phrase currently states that a medium (such as TV) itself is the message and not the content on the medium. While this is a relevant point because when you are on these platforms you do gain authority and there is a certain power there, this strays to far from what I think is a more powerful point. McLuhan used “medium” in a much broader way:

He identified the light bulb as a clear demonstration of the concept of “the medium is the message”. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that “a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.”

This original intent of this phrase is even more powerful when you understand the “light bulb” example. I believe it also should provide a great call to action for your own marketing.

Are You the Light Bulb of Your Market?

Before I jump in a little let me get something out-of-the-way. I’m not talking about thinking of yourself as a influencer. While that should be one goal in  your marketing and your strategy for your company… it’s not as powerful as thinking of yourself as a light bulb.

Think of the darkness. Your market is in darkness. What happens when you the “light bulb” shows up? People will huddle around, people will then huddle around the environment you create. When you think of your marketing and your communication this way it should flip a switch in your head. Is what you’re putting out, is the network your using, and is the platform you are communicating on creating an environment for people to huddle around?

This is why I think we need to get to the original definition of this phrase. Once you clearly focus your strategy on being the light in which your market gathers it frames your strategy and tactics. As usual we cover this in much more detail within today’s show.

What are your thoughts? Was this a good show? Was I clear? Please leave your comment below…


  1. i really like this article. The simplicity of the message and the image of the light bulb is very powerful. A great inspiration. Thank you

  2. @rossmac2310 I agree on the simplicity, I also think it puts your communication and strategy in the right frame of mind. Thanks for the comment

  3. I always took McLuhan’s quote to mean very similarly in the way you described. A great example are graffiti. Writing with a spray can on city walls was definitely a new medium of expression, but the content of the message wasnt really that important. The medium itself was the focus of that movement.

    This is the kind of shit I think about all the time. And dude, I know you, I’ve seen you online and I had no idea YouBrand was…you 🙂

    Since we’re in Link Minded tribe together and I dont know few folks, I figured let me see what vitalyvt got me in to 🙂

    Great line up in Link Minded..I will def feel way more confident and comfortable pushing your stuff via my stream. Chat soon and great job with the topic.

  4. @dino_dogan vitalyvt didn’t think about graffiti that way but that’s a good example. thanks for listening also great to talk to a fellow tribe member!

  5. I totally agree, whether it’s a physical location or an online presence, I’m always thinking of the outcome of services and interactions between people. If no one is being influenced by your “light” then it’s time to reframe some strategies. You hit it right on with this post @ScottScanlon . @dino_dogan I don’t know if you saw that documentary called “Exit Trough the Gift Shop” – I can definitely relate with that comment and your thoughts … since wholla look at triberr

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