What’s on your reading list?

PR is a constantly evolving practice. How we did our jobs five years ago is quite different from how we do them now. It can seem frustrating at times to have to keep up with all the new developments, but aren’t we glad that other professions evolve: like digital technology, transportation and medicine? And so we PR practitioners too must adapt and stay current on everything that is changing in our industry and be attuned to every possible way that we can provide value to clients. I would like to suggest one radical approach to doing that: Read books!

In our time-crunched society, it’s tempting to try to get all of your new information from articles online, and certainly online content is key for the newest of the new developments in social media and technology. But if it’s depth you need, you must take it a step further. Here are some books to help you fill up your PR arsenal.
AP Stylebook (the CURRENT version!)

You will not find anyone at Obsidian without either a hard copy of this book and/or access to the AP Stylebook’s online database. It is simply a must. The changing media landscape (another heavily evolving industry!) means that there are far fewer reporters to do the same amount of work. In order to be a highly valued PR person with great relationships with the media, it helps if you make their jobs easier. One major way we at Obsidian do that is always writing in AP style. If a reporter or editor can lift your news release straight from your Word document and publish it with no or few changes, you have just won some serious credibility, my friend.

“The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly” by David Meerman Scott

This book is a highly reviewed tome that details all the newest ways we as marketers can reach out to various audiences. It includes information and chapters on mobile marketing, real-time marketing and PR, and new ways of collecting online metrics. Author David Meerman Scott has been the VP of marketing for two publicly traded companies and now serves as an adviser for emerging companies.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

Of course you know about this book. Everyone does! There’s a reason for that—it’s awesome! And his seven habits, including being proactive, beginning with the end in mind and understanding before being understood, are so relevant to PR. If you’ve read it before your PR career, take a fresh look at it now and see if you can’t use some of these habits to make you a stronger PR practitioner.


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

The Journal of Marketing Research said “Influence” is one of the “most important books written in the last ten years” for marketers. That’s because anyone in any role in the marketing and PR realm must have some power of persuasion. You must be able to persuade reporters to write about you, persuade executives to give social media a chance, persuade potential customers to consider your product or service. If you’re in development or fundraising, the need for persuasive technique is much more obvious. Following Dr. Cialdini’s recommendations, such as his “rule for reciprocity,” will get any marketer, PR person or salesperson further in their quest for whatever they seek.
“Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver” by Dave Kerpen          

Kerpen is also the author of last 2011’s “Likeable Social Media,” which is a USA Todayand New York Times bestseller. In “Likeable Business,” which was released in October 2012, he introduces to readers the 11 principles of business likeability, such as authenticity, transparency and simplicity. The book includes case studies and plenty of in-depth content on how businesses can spur growth, profits and success by being likeable online.

“The Book of Business (Un)Awesome” by Scott Stratten

How much do you invest in arming your front-line staff with the skills they need to make a good first impression on your customers? When it comes to your business being awesome – or unawesome – success or failure is not usually because of upper management. It’s the everyday heroes who interact with your customers – cashiers, floor salesmen, customer service representatives, etc. Social media influencer and marketing pro Scott Stratten offers great examples of companies being awesome, and alternately unawesome, in business.
You and your employees are your brand. Stratten’s entertaining and fast read shows how you can ensure success (and failure) across all areas of business through marketing, PR, social media and those most important: your ambassadors.

Let us know what some of your favorite PR books are! And remember that many books can have PR implications, even if they don’t seem to at face value.
You and I know how much joy, knowledge and fulfillment can be drawn from reading…but many adults do not. An estimated 30 million adults in the U.S. can read only at an elementary school level or below. You can help by becoming a tutor with Literacy Mid-South or donating to its adult literacy program. Visit www.literacymidsouth.org for more information.