Sunday August 4, 2013
How often do PR and communication folk read books about what they do for a living? Of course we read when we are studying but I suspect that it often stops there.
That’s a shame. I think this is partly because finding out about PR and communication books is difficult. Other fields – I am thinking management and HR for example – always have book reviews in their key magazine. It doesn’t tend to be the same with PR and comms. (But there is a great blog that does this - mentioned at the end of this posting.)
Even with all the great free online content that is out there, a good book still has a lot of offer. So, with summer hols upon us, I thought it the perfect time to select a couple of summer PR reads from the new books on offer – nothing too heavy going, but books that have something different to offer and that can inspire us as practitioners.
My first selection is all about leadership (a topic close to our hearts as we have just launched a leadership programme – ‘scuse plug but it is very rightly the topic du jour with us!).
Strategic Public Relations Leadership by Professor Anne Gregory and Paul Willis talks about the responsibilities of PR leaders (could just as easily be internal comms or other comms discipline). They list these as: planner, catalyst, expert technician, internal educator and consultant. The book outlines the roles and how to make a success of them. As communicators, our role is changing, we need to be the ones who lead not just our teams, but our organisations through this global and social media orientated world - this books shows the way.
As you would expect from Anne and Paul, this book is based not only on their own experiences but has a firm academic underpinning. Having said that, the language is clear and no nonsense. It is highly practical. As someone who teaches across the PR disciplines I can see this book being just as useful to someone studying the topic as to someone who finds his or herself in a leadership position.
To me, this book captures what it is that turns someone with good technical communication skills into a valued leader of communication. So, buy, read on the beach, come home and get promoted!
My second choice is very different. The Art of Perception: Memoirs of a Life in PR is by Bob Leaf ex Burson-Marsteller. This is a great summer or airplane read for anyone interested not just in PR, but in global business. It is fascinating to learn how Burson-Marsteller built a global brand and the story is peppered with great anecdotes and gossip.
Bob's story is relevant for today's communication practitioner in many ways but in particular the emphasis that he puts on cultural differences. As more and more practitioners are required to work globally this is a great reminder of the need to understand and respect other cultures.
So is PR 'perception management'? Bob himself admits in the book that the term has a manipulative ring about and I must say it does for me, personally it isn't a term that I feel totally comfortable with but that doesn't take away from what is an enjoyable read containing useful learning for any practitioner. I came away from reading this wishing I could have been there and done that !
Have you got a favourite PR or communication book to recommend for some summer reading?
Finally, the blog I mentioned at the start - Richard Bailey's blog "Behind the Spin" is the go-to place for PR and comms book reviews. So do check it out.
Happy summer reading. (Now, where did I put my copy of Grazia....?)