Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, A Review


One of my favorites podcasts is FIR (For Immediate Release) with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. I was intrigued with a recent interview  with Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge about their new book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.
I bought the book.
I’m working my way through it now. I say “working” because it’s not an easy read. I appreciate that. I’ve read so many breezy books filled with slogans, cliches and battle cries that having to really concentrate is a nice change of pace.

I’m reviewing this in two parts because it brings up a lot of issues in this time of apocalyptic transition in communications.

The book revolves around the concept of “PR 2.0,” coined by Solis. It takes a realistic look at what’s wrong with PR today (PR hacks, spammers, lazy “pros” who don’t know or care about the audience they’re pitching to).  I like it.  Call a hack a hack and go forward.  Show them how to improve and if they don’t, follow Wired editor Chris Anderson’s lead and blacklist them.

The book has five parts: “The True Value of PR;” “Facilitating Conversations: New Tools & Techniques;” “Participating in Social Media;” “A Promising Future;” “Convergence.”

The authors do a good job of looking briefly at the history of PR and how after 100 years it has morphed from “throwing it out there and seeing what sticks” to getting to know the “people formerly known as your audience,” participating in conversations and giving and taking.

It’s a huge  transition to go from a century of traditional media that force fed the masses to a global community of “tribes” as Seth Godin defines it.

I started my career as a reporter for a daily newspaper.  I also wrote review columns and did weekly radio shows.  I was an intimate part of the traditional media and I welcomed its downfall in the onslaught of  the rowdy, free-for-all world of blogs, podcasts, vidcasts, and Twitter.

Putting The Public. . . captures this transition very well.  In every chapter I learned something new.

There are also things  I take issue with.

More in Part 2.

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