One of the best books I read in 2012 was Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World. It’s by two American authors, Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorley, and is a sensible, easy-to-read guide on managing a reputation and on crisis communication.
Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable by Steven Fink is also on the top of the list. I have read most books out there on crisis communications, and most are tediously academic. This one is heartfelt and practical because the author was personally involved during the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster when he served on the Pennsylvania Governor’s crisis management team. He has subsequently written a follow-up book called Crisis Communications: The Definitive Guide to Managing the Message, which I also recommend.
- PR: A Persuasive Industry? Spin, Public Relations and the Shaping of the Modern Media by Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy, is a useful guide to how public relations works, and is eminently realistic in its outlook. They authors don’t hold by the more outlandish claims of the PR chatterati, which is unsurprising given that one-half of the writing team spent most of his career in agencies, rather than just writing about them.
- Mark Weiner’s Unleashing the Power of PR is a challenge to the PR industry to carry out its measurement and evaluation better. The author has worked since 1994 implementing evaluation systems for public relations, so the book is not just theoretical, but full of practical advice and examples.
- Steve Harrison’s biography of Howard Gossage, Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man, examines one practitioner who fused advertising and public relations. Harrison’s book covers his most famous campaigns, techniques from which can usefully be copied today.
- Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals brings together a group of 24 leading UK practitioners who are part of the social media panel of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. It has become a handbook for best practice and the latest thinking.
- The Social Media MBA, edited by Christer Holloman, uses case studies from companies such as Dell and Kodak to show ways to reap bigger rewards from social media than the obvious ones.
- My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism by Andrew Marr gives an inside view of how the British press works, from a former newspaper editor and one of the BBC’s top talk show presenters.
Reading PRWeek (prweek.com in the UK and prweekus.com in the US) is a great way of keeping up with industry trends. There are excellent online magazines, The Drum (thedrum.com), Mark Ragan’s PR Daily (prdaily.com), The Holmes Report (holmesreport.com) and PRMoment (prmoment.com). In the UK, Communicate (communicatemagazine.co.uk) and CorpComms (corpcommsmagazine.co.uk) are well-respected subscription magazines, while, in the USA, O’Dwyer’s (www.odwyerpr.com) is a lively, even compulsive, read.
Behind the Spin (www.behindthespin.com) is a guide for students to the PR world. It has published interviews with industry heavyweights and useful information about courses.
Meanwhile, Twitter is an effective way of keeping up with the thinking of other figures in the PR industry, including many agency heads. I come across a lot of interesting research this way.
This is an edited extract from The PR Masterclass: How to Develop a Public Relations Strategy That Works, by Alex Singleton, published by Wiley, RRP £16.99