'Putting the Public Back in Public Relations' by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge (FT Press, 2009)

Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge feel now is the time for PR to lead the charge in owning social media communications.

Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge feel now is the time for PR to lead the charge in owning social media communications. Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a call to action that sheds light on how PR pros have a window of opportunity to reclaim a leadership position.
 
The authors convincingly explain how PR has always been about storytelling. Somewhere along the line, targeting “audiences” with “messages” stole the thunder and eroded PR's reputation. Today, we're talking to real people – not “users” –who are customers, reporters, bloggers, and visionaries. They crave real, meaningful conversations, free of marketing fluff and corporate-speak.
 
This book examines how social media can help reestablish those connections. It offers an organized, methodical approach to the underlying theories and technologies that define social media: traditional vs. new journalism, blogger relations, social media releases, VNRs 2.0, corporate blogging, social networking, and micromedia. The authors also spotlight trends in breaking news and navigating embargoes in a social media world that doesn't always follow old-establishment rules.
 
Social media titles are popping up everywhere, and Solis and Breakenridge note that there are few “experts” in a field that's still brand new. Still, both are notable “New PR” (which they describe as PR 1.0 plus PR 2.0) thought leaders whose insights can be trusted. They also offer this key note of comfort: regardless of any new tools, social media is about people, not technology.
 
This is a must-read for all PR pros. New PR involves a delicate mix of marketing, PR, community relations, product marketing, and customer service. It's about shifting rules, creative mindsets, and new positions like community manager or chief social officer.

Resisters face a possibly diminished role in New PR, suggest the authors. Yet those who lobby for change can become the influencers who will earn a seat at the table and evangelize how “messaging” and “pitches” are being replaced with camaraderie and collaboration.

Eric Chandler is an SVP at CJP Communications.

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