Don’t Strain Your Brain. It’s Not That Hard To Put The “Public” Back In Public Relations.

Putting the Public Back in Public RelationsDuring South by Southwest, I had heard that Brian Solis would be having a book signing for his latest collaborative work of art (this time with Deirdre Breakenridge) “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations“. So I went out and bought it at the bookstore (and immediately got it signed). After reading his last book project with Geoff Livingston, I wanted to see if there would be something I could learn from reading this new publication.

Now, before we go any further, I know what you must be thinking. Yes, this is a book about public relations and communication. So why am I doing a review on this book? Just because I’d like to tailor this blog to marketing and the web doesn’t mean that I can’t review PR books – especially if they have some applicable value to how we communicate on the web, right?

After reading “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations“, I think I learned a little bit more on the power of social media and how to effectively build relationships and get your message across. It’s not all about pushing out your content and press releases anymore. It’s all about the new way of doing PR in the world today – PR 2.0. Frankly and honestly, this book is proof that social media isn’t killing PR. It’s a tool to help PR.

As you begin reading, you’re taken through a process of what PR was like back in the days before social media (Facebook, Delicious, Identi.ca, Twitter, Plurk, Myspace, etc.) and then grow to how you can succeed in PR without sounding like the proverbial “douche”. The book is not philosophical or formulaic but presents some real sound knowledge and advice on how to work with the community to have them embrace your news. Part of it focuses on how those in PR need to fully embrace social media and how they need to drop the buzzwords and…well…act more human-like. What I didn’t know before was that while we all had the traditional format of the press release, there are also versions that people use for social media. At the end of the day, the old rules are thrown out the window. Time to think more strategically on working with the community/consumers.

On a small side note…you might notice that I’m not using the word “audience”. That’s because after reading “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations“, I got the sense that the context of the word “audience” makes it sound somewhat impersonal and not conversational. Community and/or consumers makes it seem that the person-formerly known as “audience” is accepted and that the PR folks acknowledge their existence.

Working on building these types of relationships is perhaps the cornerstone of this entire book. Brian Solis & Deidre Breakenridge have put together a pretty good read on how to interact with bloggers along with some excerpts of blog posts/case studies to help accentuate their point. But what perhaps separates this book from any others that I’ve read to date is the inclusion of a chapter on social media metrics. I’ve always known that the metrics and analytics for social media are way different from traditional web, but this puts the icing on the cake. Good examples, samples, and resources that you can use to help in the conversions.

Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” is about bringing back the conversation. Instead of simply pushing information out to your consumers, talk to them. Get to know who you want to buy your product. I think that Solis and Breakenridge said it best with that the relationship starts with the people behind the brand (pg. 281). It’s a process. Are you following it?

  1. Observe your customers.
  2. Listen and pay attention to the conversation.
  3. Identify your community.
  4. Internalize and learn from feedback & dialogue.
  5. Route this information to appropriate internal teams.
  6. Process and find opportunities to improve & implement change.
  7. Participate with your customers, constituents, stakeholders & influencers.
  8. Provide feedback.
  9. Repeat.

There’s a lot more helpful information that I’m sure will be worth blogging about, but if you want to learn more about interacting with your customers and making a difference in PR, then I would suggest you buy this book. I, myself, have a marketing background (not a PR one) and found some interesting tidbits that I can take away to share with others. Oh, and if I still haven’t given you enough background on this book…in the appendix is a nice little guide that shows you the social web in all its glory so you can find out how best to interact with those communities. And to supplement it all, Brian Solis has also created (with the assistance of Jesse Thomas of JESS3) a Conversation Prism that maps out social media.

To quote Solis & Breakenridge, “In the social economy, relationships are the new currency.

How rich are you?

Read the book.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."