What If Marketers Published APIs?

    October 25, 2005

In the technology and Internet industries, a lot of companies publish what’s called an application protocol interface, or an API for short.

These special “hooks” enable software developers to build new fangled tools on top of existing platforms. For example, this mashup of Google Maps and Craig’s List was created using APIs. Same thing applies for this Flickr Sudoku game.

The same model could be applied to better journalism and marketing in the rip, mix, burn economy we live in. In fact, some are already experimenting. The BBC recently set up the Creative Archive License Group. The BBC hopes to foster innovation by letting anyone re-use its material for personal and educational purposes under the Creative Archive Licence. Currently some 100 clips are available for mixing.

This is just the beginning. Consider the following scenarios…

Imagine if Fidelity Investments released video/audio snippets of their new ad campaign featuring Paul McCartney for mixing. Citizen marketers could come up with new creations using components of the ad campaign, such as the music or even just images, provided they adhere to certain guidelines set forth by Fidelity. This could generate even more word of mouse.

Or what if BusinessWeek published a story that had half the factual reporting covered. Let’s just say they can’t confirm a certain fact with a secondary source. They could publish the article online and ask the community to corroborate the story or even take it in a different direction if that’s what the facts show.

Marketers and journalists need to take a page from the tech industry and start releasing “the bones” of what they produce into the wild and then wait and see what comes back. They might be surprised to find that what consumers create is far better than what the pros produce, fostering more innovation and better content. Whether they will try this is another story entirely. This is something Joseph Jaffe and I will take up on our next podcast.

Reader Comments

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.