Book Club – Putting the “Public” Back in Public Relations

For this month’s (well, actually, last month’s) book report, I read Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge. The book began by asking a painfully honest question: “What’s wrong with PR?” There was a laundry list of wrong things from an array of people, but the goal wasn’t to diss our profession; it was giving us a starting point, a benchmark, from which we could then ask, “What can we do better to make PR more effective in these rapidly changing times?”

The book, overall, did not teach me much I hadn’t already heard, but it was insightful and went into great detail to explain that PR has been and always will be about telling good stories, but the new wave of PR is about engaging – not just talking at people. I’d like to share some of the highlights from the book:

Social media is empowering people to become the new influencers.

  • Social media and Web 2.0 are altering the entire media landscape, placing the power of influence in the hands of regular people with expertise, opinions and the drive and passion to share those opinions.

The new model of PR:

  • PR > Traditional Media > Customers
  • PR > New Influencers > Customers
  • PR > Customers
  • Customers > PR

The difference between PR and PR 2.0:

  • New releases v. engaging with communities
  • Spin v. relevance
  • Speaking in messages v. genuine conversations related to the subject matter of peers
  • Wire services v. social/conversation tools and networks

The current mantra driving the social media revolution is this: “If the news is important, it will find me.”

New journalism doesn’t just consist of the reporters interested in covering the news and offering their opinions about events affecting their lives. Everyday people are part of the equation, and they’re armed with digital cameras, podcasts, blogs and social networks. We’ve entered the era of citizen journalism and user-generated content.

What you invest in social networks is exactly what you will get out of them.

With every comment, new profile, update, post, image, or video uploaded, you are intentionally or inadvertently constructing an online persona that, at the very least, contributes to and ultimately creates a personality that is open to perception and interpretation – with or without your implicit direction.

Though you might think this is all stuff you’ve heard before, I still recommend skimming through Putting the Public Back in Public Relations. It underscores the fact that PR is about building relationships and telling great stories – there are just newer, more effective ways to do it.


Written by
at Apr 7, 2010

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