I am in Detroit at the PRSSA National Conference and today, we heard from Craig Newmark , the founder and currently a customer service rep for Craigslist . At first I honestly was a bit disenchanted with him, as I have never used or even been on Craigslist. Also, at the beginning of his presentation he spoke is disjointed sentences and he was a bit late arriving to the conference room. But he did say some very important things, things that I feel are highly insightful not only into the mindset of a genius and the culture of Craiglist, but also ideas that translate into what PR is at it's heart.
One of the first things I took from Craig, was his repeating several phrases like, "I'm being told..." or "I read that...". Now initially, I was annoyed because it seemed like he was full of crap, but thinking about it, these are crucial credibility establishing statements that he was making. Craig is a self-proclaimed nerd, pocket-protector and all, and his nerd tendencies and natural curiosity lead him to read a great amount. And not only does Craig read a ton, but he remembers it and uses it to develop ideas for Craigslist. Craig understands that his power lies in his ability to translate ideas into user-friendly mediums so a community of people can easily access and evolve those ideas. Craiglist, as described by moderator Paula Tutman , "is the classifieds on steroids, with and intravaneous drip of uranium." She went on to say, "If the White House put an ad on Craigslist, they could find Osama Bin Laden before the election!"
Craig ended up being much more thought provoking than I expected. He used one metaphor of Web 2.0 being similar to the Revolutionary War, with bloggers being Thomas Paine and Silence Dogood, or that the first major viral app was Martin Luther's 95 Theses . Regardless of his nerdiness and his suffering from ACS (Attempted Comedy Syndrome), Craig's emphasis on "making sure I listen to people" and developing Craiglist as a "Culture of Trust" have served him well, and I found him thoroughly enjoyable and informative, even if it was a bit short.