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Trust me PR is deadHow could I not read a book with that title?  After all, if PR is dead, I’m going to have to start thinking about a new career.

The book was written by Robert Phillips, formerly with Edelman.  HMA Public Relations, at one time, was an Edelman affiliate office, so I’ve always been interested in the works of that agency. My pal Gini hosted Robert on her blog as part of her author series.  So with those reasons in mind, I downloaded the book.

As for the review…I can appreciate the intent of the book but the telling of the story was confusing and disjointed.  The author uses many examples throughout the book to illustrate his points.  His sister is an attorney and fearing that he may be libeling some people, suggested that many of the examples be blacked out, making it even more difficult to understand.

The basic premise of the book?  The public relations industry needs to evolve and evolve quickly if it intends to stay around. We need to move from simply distributing “corporate speak” to truly engaging with our communities.  Organisations (his spelling not mine) must strive to gain the trust of its communities, its stakeholders and employees in order to be successful.  We can no longer put profit before the greater good.

OK. I do think, however, you can strive for profit and do good at the same time .

Then there’s this: if a leader is to be truly trusted then they must be held to account against these five questions.  On this basis alone, if trust is alive, then PR is surely dead.

  • A trusted leader must have the courage to ask bigger questions and be prepared to have bigger questions asked of them.
  • A trusted leader should be open and honest. They must be fully accountable for their actions.
  • A trusted leader empowers and enfranchises those around them – listening from the bottom-up and not just dictating from the top down.
  • A trusted leader understands that status quo is not sustainable.
  • A trusted leader walks the walk and does not just talk the talk.

I definitely can support that concept of establishing trust. But why can’t trust and PR co-exist?

I get the impression he’s not a big fan of corporate social responsibility either.  Not that businesses and organizations shouldn’t be doing them, but we shouldn’t be doing them simply for the public relations impact.  These programs need to be about social impact, social enterprise and social value.  Again, don’t disagree, but can’t you do socially good things and still get a little recognition for them, too?

Interesting side note:  The book was crowd-funded via Unbound.  More than 250 people came together to make it happen.  Isn’t that an example of public relations for the greater good?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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