Review: Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe

I realize that I am a tad bit “late” on my review of the book “Join the Conversation” by Joseph Jaffe, but as the saying goes – better late than never. OK, I really hate cliche sayings, but I can’t seem to think of a better one right now.

After Reading Joseph Jaffe’s first book, “Life after the 30 Second Spot” and subsequently subscribing to his blog at, I jumped on the chance to review his latest book “Join the Conversation” under a system called UNMTPNM, or “Use New Marketing to Prove New Marketing.” In the experiment, Jaffe sent out review copies of his book to several bloggers in turn for a review… and also a promise to pay the book forward when they were done.

Like his first book, Jaffe writes a lot like I think… with parentheticals and sometimes off-the wall references. In addition, many of the references are “in your face” such as when he talks about getting a “rod shoved up” a certain part of the anatomy. All in good fun of course.

The main question I had throughout the book is for whom it was written. It contains numerous examples of ways corporations have “missed the conversation” and in turn had public relations nightmares. An example being a man who built his entire living room furniture out of FedEx boxes, and was consequently sued by FedEx instead of supported. If I were take a guess, I would say the book is directed towards advertising/marketing/promotions CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, rather than new media people such as myself.
I was particular interested in the case studies since I had sort of a “join the conversation” moment myself 2 years ago with Adam Curry of PodShow. I had a problem – I wanted an iPod. I had a second problem – I didn’t want to pay the $300 for the video iPod. Now most people would have just sucked it up and saved up to buy something they wanted, but through a series of events, a web site called was born. When Adam Curry heard of it through a podcast comment to his show, The Daily Source Code, he immediately saw the opportunity to plug GoDaddy’s domain registration company, and launched a contest of his own “Who needs an iPod more than Troy?” The catch – you head to register a domain name through GoDaddy. The promotion was a success. (Plus I got an iPod!)

Jaffe’s book is full of the opposite kind of story – the companies who missed the boat. The points he brings up help the reader learn to recognize opportunities to leverage new media into good PR, based on oftentimes negative reviews or customer comments.
The book’s chapters stand alone nicely, so it is easy to pick up, read a chapter, and then pick it up again in a couple of days. One of the things that I think could have used a little more consideration is starting a conversation. Too many of the examples mentioned were reactionary stories. ie: Joe Blow posts a blog post and Youtube video about company X and company X does (or in most case doesn’t) respond. In this case the consumer/user (sorry Joseph) initiates the communication. But there has to be example of corporate initiated conversation out there, someplace. (besides the make your own commercials)

One place I felt myself slump at was when he talks about the 6 C’s. Long ago, when the Internet started, my friend and mentor Jim Moloshok of Warner Bros. Online would talk to me about Content, Community and Commerce. This was ingrained in my so much that I even just started a blog called .

Oh great, there goes all of my credibility, Jaffe says it is no longer completely accurate. Is my blog done before it even began? I don’t think so. No matter how many more C’s you add on, Content, Community and Commerce will continue to be the “ring leaders” in successful web sites and media.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. There are a lot of great ideas on how to take a potentially bad situation and turn it around. I intend to “pay it forward” to a member of the Des Moines Bloganostra at the next meeting