I’ve read some terrific books this year, many of which skew towards PR, marketing and communications. Here are a few that got my attention.
As an aside, most of these books are hard copy versions.
I don’t know about you, but while I still buy digital books for Kindle, this year I’ve really swung back to having a physical copy in my hand. It takes up room in the house, but boy they’re better to read!
Agile PR: Expert Messaging in a Hyper-Connected, Always-On World
… PR has evolved: It used to be all about having, then selling the idea. Now it’s about telling the story in a compelling and believable way.”
I loved this book as it largely reinforced the way I’ve been thinking about PR for a few years now. I get ideas from most books I read and I love having my thinking and pre-set notions challenged because that is how you grow professionally.
But other times it’s simply gratifying to be nodding your head as you read, having a book validate your thoughts and philosophies around a particular subject.
This is what Agile PR has been for me this year, and in that respect, I found it inspiring and educational in equal measure.
The book’s author, Marian Salzman, is a renowned cultural trendspotter who heads up Havas PR globally.
She has managed to pull together the many disparate threads of what makes up the discipline of PR today (no mean feat BTW!), packaging them up for readers interested in learning how to more effectively get their story heard in a cluttered marketplace.
It’s all here: Messaging, storytelling, trends, tools, celebrity, geography, personal branding, cause-based communications, influence marketing, crisis management and PR measurement. Phew!
Welcome to PR in 2017!
101 Ways to Connect with Modern Newsrooms
In a way, it (the book) is an olive branch to the PR industry, an invitation to collaborate in a media world which relies on innovation for survival. Newsrooms are heeding advice from their audience, and nobody is closer to the coalface of the modern readership than the PR industry.”
I first read this book in 2016 but have revisited it regularly this year.
The author, Simon Holt, is a veteran journalist with Fairfax Media and was editor of a digital-only newsroom when he wrote the book. Importantly, he brings an up-to-the-minute perspective as to the evolution of newsrooms and how PR people need to potentially adjust their approach to journalists today.
This is easy to dip in and out of because it literally goes through 101 ways PR people can deal with journalists working in today’s modern newsroom. Lots of ideas, tips and insights, broken down for easy reading.
One key tenet of 101 Ways to Connect with Modern Newsrooms is that PR folk and journalists need to work collaboratively. It’s a philosophy I think that’s not always appreciated by either side of the fence.
101 Ways to Connect with Modern Newsrooms is very relevant and practical – perfect for newbies! That said, if you’re an experienced media relations specialist, I would also check out Simon’s book. Old habits die hard, and sometimes – because we’ve been in an industry for a certain period of time – we think we know it all. Only we don’t 🙂
LISTEN: Simon Holt on How to Pitch to Journalists (via Brand Newsroom)
KNOWN: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age
Look at what everyone else is doing, and then do something else. Be the Fruit Loop in the bowl of Cheerios.”
One of my all-time favourite bloggers is Mark Schaefer.
I’ve bought a number of his books over the journey and I really like his style.
We share a similar worldview and philosophy around social media and content marketing, so if you like the sorts of things I write about on PR Warrior, you’ll definitely get into Mark’s blog and books.
This one – Known – is focused on personal branding and, to me, has a lot more substance than other books on the subject I’ve looked at in the past. I think the key reason is because it’s grounded in research; that, and Mark has used the strategies outlined in the book to build his own brand and business, so there is a high degree of practicality about it.
Known is peppered with examples of people across a broad range of industries who have built their profile by doing the things Mark talks about in the book. They follow a linear process that takes in the following four steps:
- Finding your place
- Finding your space
- Finding your fuel
- Creating an actionable audience
If building your personal brand is important to your business or career, then you could do worse than spending a couple of hours delving into Known.
The New Rules of Marketing & PR (6th edition)
Organizations that understand the New Rules of Marketing and PR develop relationships directly with consumers like you and me.”
I talk about this book often because it is the bible of how to approach PR and marketing in today’s noisy, always-on, digital-first world.
Its author – David Meerman Scott – has been documenting the evolution of digital communications from a PR and marketing perspective for over a decade, and so what you get is a consistent narrative that hasn’t deviated from his original thinking, but still captures the nuances of, and changes in, social technologies and online publishing platforms.
I first read New Rules in when it came out in 2007 and have dipped in and out of revised editions since as the world of social media has changed. For example, the first book talked about MySpace and Second Life!
Crucially, David revitalises each edition with new examples and case studies which bring to life his theories and ideas.
The 6th edition includes a dozen fresh new examples of PR and marketing success and he has also updated many of the existing case studies that appear throughout the book, plus added sections on new social media services that have emerged since the previous edition, for example Snapchat and Facebook Live.
Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit
The marketing skills of tomorrow are equal parts marketing and publishing. To survive, we need to understand both, and the business model that is born from that mixture”
Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi are stalwarts of the content marketing scene so if you’re even remotely interested in seeing where marketing is going from a content and audience-building perspective, then this book should be on your radar.
I’m cheating a little bit because I have only just bought this book and haven’t given it a thorough reading, but I follow both gentleman extensively online and have read Joe’s previous books. Already I can tell this is a ‘must read’ for anyone in our industry.
At the heart of Killing Marketing is the philosophy that companies and organisations can deliver value to customers via the content they publish on their own media channels, and in doing so increase loyalty, advocacy and revenue.
In other words, as the authors put it, transforming your marketing strategy into a standalone profit centre. They call it the ‘media marketing revenue model’.
It’s a shift in mindset and one that won’t gel with many marketers. Which is exactly the reason why anyone in marketing should give it a go.
DO/ OPEN: How a simple email newsletter can transform your business
They (newsletters) build community. They build your brand. And they relentlessly build long-term growth.”
Going old school with this one: Email marketing, with emphasis on newsletters.
This is a small but beautifully designed book. A joy to read.
The author is David Hieatt, co-founder of Hiut Denim Co. based in the small Welsh town of Cardigan.
The company has built a reputation for growing a fiercely loyal community of fans for its brand, and its newsletter – which boasts open rates that exceed almost any industry standard – has played a large part in that growth.
Why I like this book is because it’s as far away from the spammy click-bait merchants of the internet marketing world (who give email marketing a bad name) as you can get.
The Hiut Denim crew are focused on delivering value over and above their products, as well as building a sense of community around their brand. And their email newsletter has allowed them to do just that.
Oh, and along the way it helped them transform their business.
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur: Ideas for meaningful work
” … we want to improve the quality of work throughout the week: to help foster creativity, fortify relationships and forge new communities and to inspire people to make business more personal.”
A little bit different to all the other books mentioned in this post.
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur is a magnificently produced coffee table book produced by the publishers of Kinfolk magazine.
So many of these sorts of books profile the ‘usual suspects’, but not this one, and that’s why it makes for interesting reading.
It covers 40 entrepreneurs of all different stripes, and is heavily skewed towards people running creative businesses in Europe, including architecture, design, retail and publishing, but also broking and consulting.
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur traces the journeys of creative ideas as they grow into fully-fledged successful business enterprises. It’s a big and broad book designed to open people’s eyes to the power of ideas and the meaning of work.
Dotted throughout the various interviews are ideas, insights and philosophies that thread into PR, marketing and branding. But more than that, it’s the purity of an ideal that resonates most strongly.
Oh, did I say it was magnificently produced?
The Lessons School Forgot: How to hack your way through the technology revolution
We are born natural entrepreneurs with a creative, artistic and sales mindset, then school invests 12 years in deliberately erasing it.”
This is a brilliant book by Melbourne’s own Steve Sammartino.
While not technically a PR and marketing book – it covers a massive amount of ground from money and success to startup entrepreneurship and the future of work – it’s in this list because I’m a big believer in marketing and PR people getting out of their bubble and looking at the broader trends and consequences of the technology revolution.
Sammartino was once an old-school marketer who saw the digital light and for years has understood the new ways of building and marketing to an audience. The man is, after all, a blogger at heart!
The Lessons School Forgot is subversive, challenging and up to the minute.
Potentially it will change the way you think about a lot of things that impact upon us as marketing professionals, and that makes it one powerful book.
Future Marketing: Winning in the prosumer age
Future Marketing is your handbook to navigate the exciting, upcoming terrain. So, take a seat, buckle up and get ready; the train to the future of marketing is leaving the station!”
Future Marketing is a well researched ‘joining of the dots’ that all marketers should read.
The marketing landscape is evolving at such speed it’s impossible to be across everything.
That’s why it’s important to have passionate experts such as Jon Wuebben to help guide us.
With Future Marketing, Jon has done the hard yards in terms of research, providing a rich vein of thoughts, ideas and insights that should get any marketer worth their salt excited about the possibilities ahead.
Heavy going, but recommended.
Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual
Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.”
This is not a business or marketing book, but if you heed the advice within its covers, it will make you a better person and therefore, a more effective PR and marketing professional.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea though.
Best-selling author Tim Ferriss describes its author, Jocko Willink, as “one of the scariest human beings imaginable”.
He is an ex-Navy SEAL and hugely successful podcaster. His Jocko Podcast has been downloaded millions of times and features episodes that sometimes extend past two hours in duration.
If you don’t mind a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ slap in the face every now and then, you might like what Willink offers up here.
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