by Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington,
What a joy to read a book written by two well established and authoritative practitioners of the dark arts of Public Relations – even if they did start life as Journalists! They take a well informed look at the rise and diversification of media platforms on which brands can be built and sacrificed. The book recognises how the role of the Public Relations Practitioner endeavouring to manage reputations is changing and becoming ever more complex. I was delighted to see within the first few words the acknowledgment that control has never been the honest working premise but the ability to connect with the customers, audience, publics – call them what you will – is the authentic route to success.
There is a glittering role call from the ranks of PR practice and academia that has informed the discussion and some insights into how PR practices can and will move forward. For me, PR has never been mere media relations, it is much bigger and brighter than selling in a story to disinterested ‘journos’. Although we still need to feed the media beast we have much more choice about where, when and how if we choose to think and plan. Telling the story is crucial to successful communications, being authentic and truthful with what you say is still vital; but engaging with the folks we need to influence is the priority – especially now they can hold conversations in a place that has no boundaries. Social media has opened the door to many more routes to engage those key influencers and has the potential to allow us to measure effectiveness better than ever before. But it has also opened the door to absolute ‘brand anarchy’ where any suggestion you can control a message is for the purveyors of snake oil.
Responsive, timely (24/7) two way communications and engagement; interpersonal skills and creativity, business nous and critical analysis are the backbone of the skills and knowledge of PR practitioners. The future requires a fearlessness that will embrace the new and measures real success. It’s a must read for those in and entering the profession. T
his book provides a superb stimulus for the discussions about effective PR and its role in the development and maintenance of good reputations. It rightly reminds us of the need to embrace the existing ways of measuring success and to take them forward with the new platforms. Our task now is to persuade clients to embrace the outcomes rather than the outputs – a pile of clippings, and minutes of airtime are still regarded by too many as the only tangible measurement, let’s move on together.