Did you resolve to read more industry related material in the new year?
Here’s a list to help you get started. It’s four of the best books on PR published in 2011 and early 2012, and one that’s scheduled to hit shelves later this year.
1. “Measure What Matters,”
by Katie Delahaye Paine (Wiley)
Two books were published by Wiley earlier this year on the important topic of measurement and evaluation. Philip Sheldrake's is in many ways the more ambitious (it also makes it onto my list), but Katie Paine's is a book for the intelligent practitioner and deserves to be widely known and used.
The author tells us:
“The notion that a PR person is someone who has to deal only with the press is just ... antiquated. A good PR person is focused on his or her relationships—be they local media, national bloggers, employees, or community organizers.”
So how do you measure the quality of these key relationships? This book offers practical insights into measuring events and key relationships with influencers, employees, local communities, and so on.
2. “Public Relations: A Managerial Perspective,”
by Danny Moss and Barbara DeSanto (Sage)
Although this book isn’t expected to hit bookshelves until late 2012, it’s worth the wait.
This book is the heir to Grunig and Hunt's widely-cited “Managing Public Relations” in that it addresses the same issues and concerns: Is public relations a distinctive activity? How does it contribute to organizational effectiveness?
I expect to return frequently to the chapters written by Danny Moss in particular.
The collection is rather repetitive, however, as each author has been instructed to refer to the editors' “C-MACIE model.” It also has a glaring omission: no chapter on measurement and evaluation.
3. “The Public Relations Handbook,”
(Fourth Edition), by Alison Theaker (Routledge)
Over a 10-year period, Alison Theaker has produced four editions of this useful standard text, and the new edition is a substantial reworking of what went before.
It's now almost 500 pages, and contains new chapters by Philip Young, Liam FitzPatrick, Mark Phillimore, Heather Yaxley, and Simon Wakeman, among others. Johanna Fawkes has reworked her useful chapters on “What is public relations?” and “Public relations and communications.” And they are now essential reading for any student of the subject.
I applaud the author and the publishers for having resisted the pressure to present this as a glossy, colorful text. Instead, they let the words and ideas do the communicating. Others may disagree with me, and I was sorry not to have found space here for one such colorful textbook: Averill Gordon's wide-ranging Public Relations
, published by Oxford University Press.
4. “PR Today: The Authoritative Guide to Public Relations,”
by Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy (Palgrave Macmillan)
If what has gone before seems a bit too earnest for you, then this should be the one book you read. Though the authors teach public relations at university, this is an anti-academic text; “The Unauthorized Guide to Public Relations” might be a better subtitle.
The themes will be familiar to those who know the authors' previous work, “PR: A Persuasive Industry?” It was among my favorites in 2008
. This book goes beyond analysis of the industry into a section on PR planning and strategy, and another section on PR practice.
One example will give a flavor of the authors' approach. They introduce their chapter on PR Ethics with: “Some textbooks treat PR as though it is a branch of moral philosophy. Such an approach leaves most PR practitioners bemused and is of little practical use.”
5. “The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age,”
by Philip Sheldrake (Wiley).
This is the most ambitious and challenging book of the year. Its analysis of the problems facing public relations is brilliant (the author is an engineer, a manager and a marketer, giving him a broad perspective).
His reframing of public relations as the activity that manages influence is intriguing. He hopes to see people appointed to the post of chief influence officer: “Ideally, the chief influence officer will have a varied background covering marketing, PR, customer service, HR, product development and operations.”
What is less successful is his attempt to turn the balanced scorecard concept into the “Influence Scorecard.” At this point, the book feels like a first draft, and already it's been superseded by further work by AMEC
Sheldrake's book is the most interesting of 2011, but Katie Paine's is the more useful, hence their relative positions on the list.
Any titles you’d like to share?
Richard Bailey is a public relations educator in the U.K. He teaches at universities and trains practitioners. A version of this story appeared on Bailey’s blog, PR Studies.