How to stay relevant in the shortest time possible (My reading list)


I’m often asked in my college classes for recommendations on the best resources to help them stay relevant in a fast-changing world.

I recently heard an interesting take on relevance. Somebody told me “relevance means you can still solve problems.” There might be more to it than that, but I think that’s a good start. How do we achiever that?

There are several components of relevance:

  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Staying on top of the trends

That’s a lot — Too much to address in one blog post! However, I can help you with that last one. The best way to stay on top of changing market trends is through a consistent reading regimen.

Today I’m providing my personal list of the best resources to stay on top of the digital marketing world, more or less in order of importance. If you review these resources on a regular basis you’ll surely be the smartest person in the room at your next digital marketing event!

A caveat: All of these resources are either corporate or curated newsletters. I have not included any personal blogs I read because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings if they are excluded.

These are my best resources that I read on a consistent basis. In the comment section below, please add your favorite newsletter or journal!  My list (In order):


Medium (paid) — I have a paid subscription to Medium and you should too. I can select my personal interests and the Medium editors select the best writing on those subjects. I get some new idea or inspiration from Medium every single day.

The New York Times (paid) — World trends, great tech coverage, keen opinions, business insight. No other publication delivers such a broad scope of essential news and insights.  The NYT also teaches you how to tell a great story! Check out how they created this multimedia presentation of Apollo 11.

McKinsey Quarterly (free) — The best research on many business trends with frequent marketing insights. Probably my most-quoted source after The New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal (paid) — I have subscribed to the WSJ since I was 19! Of course it is the go-to source for business news, but over the last few years it has also done a remarkable job with its investigative journalism.

The Economist (paid) — If you want to appear informed at a dinner party, read The Economist’s short takes on world trends each week.

Fast Company (paid) — I get tons of ideas and inspiration from the digital version of this magazine.

Exponential View (free) by Azeem Azhar. I first met Azeem when he was a pioneering entrepreneur in the influence marketing space. He is a tech journalist and a brilliant mind. His curated newsletter always introduces you to something new in the digital world. He offers a premium subscription (I am a subscriber) but the free version is fine.

Digiday Daily (free) — Great high-level coverage of ad agency and social media trends. They also have outstanding on-the-ground coverage of industry conferences.

Benedict’s Newsletter (free) — Smart and to the point, Benedict Evans gives you the digital era news that matters each week. Always something new to learn here.

The Full Monty (free) — I never miss a word of Scott Monty’s pithy take on the digital world. He has scaled back the scope of The Full Monty (perhaps it is the Half Monty now) but he still discovers interesting and relevant reading material.


Nieman Journalism Lab (free) — Essential views on the future of media from Harvard University.

MIT Sloane Management Review (free) — Spectacular, in-depth business content. Not all of it is relevant to me, but this is a remarkable journal.

eConsultancy (free) — The value here is original research. A couple times a year they come up with something that makes it into one of my blog posts or even a book, so it is definitely worth your time.

Marketing Dive (free) — Very good daily round-up of marketing developments.

Wired (paid) — Wired used to be one of my favorite magazines but it has declined in relevance in the past few years, in my view.

AdAge Wake Up Call (free) –A daily summary of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device.


IAB Smart Brief (free) — Curated newsletter specializing in digital advertising issues and trends.

Marketing Charts (free) — One or twice a month I see some stat that catches my attention. Be sure to dig down and look at the sources. Some of the data may not be totally reliable.

Flowing Data (free) — This daily newsletter provides interesting examples of data visualization.

New Atlas (free) — This newsletter is not strictly related to marketing or business but it does cover cool tech, science, and gadget trends. I breeze through it each day.

Social Media Examiner — You will not learn about what’s next from SME, but you’ll get a snootful of “what is.” If you live in the granular world of “Five video marketing mistakes and what to do about them,” then this is your homeroom. I keep an eye on social media developments through this beloved site.

Harvard Business Review (free) — HBR has become markedly less interesting in the last two years but I still give their daily email a glance.

Hope this helps. What others would you add as you work to stay relevant?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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