The publicity team for Putting the Public Back in Public Relations asked me for a review in this blog. This is the latest book by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge, two eminent thought leaders in the world of public relations and social media.
Their book is an in-depth discussion of their manifesto for “a New PR” — to reinvent the practice of PR given the onslaught of social media, new forms of peer-to-peer engagement, and the emergence of conversational marketing. There’s a lot to like in what they’re advocating, even though it threatens to turn the traditional practice of marketing inside out.
But — I’ve struggled for a week now to get my thoughts in order before writing the review, as requested by their publisher. (For my creative procrastination, see this post.)
Much as I agree with the ideas and approaches advocated by the co-authors, I have mixed feelings about the book itself. The book is chock full of great ideas, but it suffers from insufficient editing. It reads as if the publisher has conflated the blog postings of two prominent thinkers without investing sufficient time, energy (or political capital?) to edit out the redundancies.
The book would have been more powerful at half the length. I read it from start to finish but found it slow going due to the repetitious material. To be honest, if I hadn’t been asked to review it, I might have stopped reading midway through the book. But I’d made a promise, so I had to follow through.
Some infographics would have helped to illustrate the authors’ key ideas, and break up the monotony of the long running text. The page design was prosaic, which didn’t help.
In retrospect I’m not quite clear on the intended audience. Practicing PR professionals who have not yet tipped their toes into the waters of social media? Are there any left? It definitely felt like a primer for at least the first half of the book.
In reading this book I learned a dirty secret: PR pros have problems with self-esteem. The authors believe that those who embrace “the New PR” will deliver true value to their clients – and society – and will thereby regain respect for themselves and their profession.
In no particular order here are some thought nuggets that I enjoyed, and wrote down in my notebook (quotes from the book):
- a new set of accidental influencers
- the magic middle
- participant observation
- the art and science of marketing without marketing
- social network fatigue
- the ability to listen and engage in conversations without speaking in messages
- the shift of PR from a broadcast machine to community participation
Disclosure: I don’t know the authors and have never been a PR professional; however, as a high tech marketer I’ve worked with PR pros for years. Like all Apple marketers I was taught the Regis McKenna model for high tech marketing. This approach was also the conceptual grounding for high tech marketing guru Geoff Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and other groundbreaking business books. He worked for Regis McKenna before branching out on his own.
And I fully recognize that the adoption of “the New PR” means that marketers have to change their ways too.