Like most people in these PR/Digital/Marketing industries, I’ve read my fair share of geek books in my time.
In fact nowadays, industry news and views is pretty much all I read (except for a fascinating book over the Christmas holidays about the science behind death by journalist Mary Roach called “Stiff” - highly recommended!)
Anyway, back to today.
I’ve been meaning to do some book reviews for a while, having not done one since 2015’s review of the Student’s Guide to an Epic Online Reputation by Wayne Denner.
However, with so many of the books I’ve enjoyed appearing on already-existing lists I always thought, why bother?
Books like Jon Ronson’s “So you’ve Been Publicly Shamed” which is a psychological rollercoaster of a look into the effects of our social media treatment of those who make mistakes online…
And books like Emma Gannon’s bestseller “Ctl, Alt; Delete” which is just the best anecdotal read for those of us who grew up at the ‘Dawn of the Interwebs’. And if you don’t already listen to her podcasts of the same name, then you really need to get onto that, pronto. I mean, what are you doing with your life??
And books like Amy Schmittaur’s latest release “Vlog Like A Boss” which I’m eagerly awaiting delivery of due to my love of her SavvySexySocial YouTube channel. Also, because my son wants to become a “YouTuber” so I’m helping him make his own New Zealand vlogs for friends and family back home (and my skills are rusty-as, as they say here in NZ).
The Must-Read PR Book of 2017
But then a link to a book draft landed in my Twitter messages last month that made me sit up and take notice.
Now I know Rich Leigh (now known as “Mr PR”, very funny story, look it up) from the online world since my days following his PRexamples blog. Then I followed his journey out into his own agency which is doing great things with Digital PR and has now just rebranded as Radioactive PR.
We’ve Skyped too, back last year when I knew he was penning a book and I passed him the contact details for one of the most badass economists I know: Susan HayesCulleton AKA The Positive Economist (whose brilliant book I also read last year - it’s called “The Savvy Guide To Making More Money.”) This book is invaluable if you’re struggling to grasp the economics of things like profit margins and scaling up as well as Susan’s amazing tips for business development globally (they work ,trust me, #WorkingInNewZealand)
Susan kindly met me for coffee, she gave me tonnes of business advice for emigrating, she signed my copy of the book and just basically I want her to adopt me, so , yeh…
I knew Richard’s book would also be good.
No BS is basically his Modus Operandi.
I’ve read pretty much every well-known PR industry book there is. Most of them are crap. Basically. God help me but some of the “best” I didn’t even bother to finish. They try to be edgy. But usually they’re written by people too old, or too high up the food chains, or too cloaked in jargon, to really speak to a young person starting out in the crazy game, a young person who needs to know the how and the why to work on the ground right now.
Rich is like ‘the rest of us.’ He didn’t go through the elite school system. He didn’t break into the industry through an unpaid internship his Mammy and Daddy helped him fund. He didn’t wait until his 40s to have kids (or not at all). He’s got by on sheer talent and determination alone. For so long its been hard as a young woman, from a comprehensive inner-city school background to relate to the plethora of middle class, white, male voices leading the industry from London (the centre of the Universe). Until now…
“Myths of PR: All Publicity is Good Publicity and Other Popular Misconceptions”
I loved this book SO much that it’s the first industry book I wish I’d written myself.
It’s pretty solid (I read my early copy on Google Docs but it was a good 200+ pages and possibly still is when printed). Yet in between how busy I’ve been getting back to freelance writing work post-emigration, I still finished it in four days.
Rich attacks every myth of the industry head on in a style that is friendly, funny, accessible even to people who don’t work in PR - from a small business startup to a corporate CEO, or the plethora of students making big career decisions.
And he doesn’t just attack the usual suspects. Yes he talks about spin, and “all publicity is good publicity” and whether in-house or agency jobs are easier.
But Rich also tackles the subjects others are fearful to dip their toe into. Or if they do, they follow the same old rhetoric. They don’t delve or ask the hard questions. Rich has this knack for looking outside the box, coming at things from different angles. It explains perfectly why he has succeeded in PR.
For such a fun read, Rich is sure to relate everything back to well-referenced statistics and quotes. There are guest case studies and articles linked. He also brings a wealth of personal examples into the mix, particularly in some key areas like how to measure results and how to succeed in social media without budgets; he gives step-by-step advice and tips that many people already working in PR (but feeling rusty on the digital side of things) will really benefit from.
Personally, I don’t want to labour on the one chapter that I know will garner the most coverage in the book (“The Gender Wage Gap Figures”). Not because it’s not good - in fact it’s bloody brilliant - but because this book is so much more. What I will say is that Susan was indeed the perfect choice to guide us through this chapter (I’m claiming part responsibility for this pairing of great minds) because she has the ability to explain complex things. And I love that she shows us why we’re looking at the gender wage gap issue the wrong way round in places. We can’t tackle it successfully if we don’t dissect it properly.
But back to the whole book.
I honestly can’t recommend it enough. I’m not just saying this because I know Rich. In actual fact I don’t know him well enough to care about his feelings or his finances, really. And now that I live 11,700 miles away, what would he do if I said it was crap?!
Luckily, I didn’t have that dilemma.
It’s the single best PR book I’ve read. From one of the best PR professionals in the industry. In my humble opinion.
Myths of PR is released on 3rd April on Amazon but you can preorder a copy - it hit the Top 2 spot on pre-release sales alone!
PS I also wrote a how-to book last year on Digital PR for startups and small business owners. It’s called “Talk is Cheap: The Digital PR Your Startup Needs But Can’t Afford.”
It’s not as good as Rich’s book. But it’s cheaper. And smaller.
So I’ll just leave this wee link here…
PPS I love books. My love of writing stems from a love of reading. I always have a to-buy list on the go. Next up for pay-day-purchase are two more examples from the science geekery fabulousness side of the spectrum:
“Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind The Metropolis” (whose author - Laurie Winkless - has also just moved from the UK to New Zealand like me, and I’m determined to meet her!) And also Nathalie Nahai’s “Webs of Influence” book on the psychology of online persuasion.
(My birthday’s in August FYI).