The Public Relations Handbook, Second Edition - Alison Theaker; Routledge , Taylor & Francis Group, 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RN; 29 West 35th Street, NY, NY 10001; [...] ISBN # 0415213347; 289 pages, $14
Reviewed by: G.A. "Andy" Marken III, Marken Communications Inc,
As one who gets his hands dirty in this business every day, reviewing an introductory book on the theories and practice of PR is always a challenge. At the same time we find them of assistance because they occasionally provide a glimpse into someone else's successes and failures that we can learn from.
Because Ms. Theaker has lived and taught on both sides of the Atlantic, this is one of those works that is worth reading. As one who gets his hands dirty in this business every day, reviewing an introductory book on the theories and practice of PR is always a challenge. At the same time we find them of assistance because they occasionally provide a glimpse into someone else's successes and failures that we can learn from.
Because Ms. Theaker has lived and taught on both sides of the Atlantic, this is one of those works that is worth reading.
As with most such handbooks, the author provides her own interpretation of history and development of the industry. For individuals thinking of entering the field or who are in their apprenticeship mode, her interpretations are well rounded because she provides an insight into the European and American approaches to public relations practice. Students and early entrants also get the obligatory look into the various specialties of the industry - financial PR, business ethics, governmental and non-profit PR - as well as providing exposure into the impact of the Internet and how it can be used by PR people.
Sometimes we are of the opinion that studies and analysis of Internet PR should best be placed only on the Net because it is in such a constant state of change and flux as it evolves in how it is viewed and used. Blogs were one hot and high on everyone's must-do list. They have finally gained sanity, meaning and control as the majority of people learn that only a few can actually make money in this arena and they become tired of venting their opinions only to find...relatively few people care what they think or about their opinions/positions. We are already entering into the areas of hundreds of thousands of global mini-communities of people congregating in voice and video rooms.
The value of Ms. Theaker's work is her numerous interviews with PR practitioners about their working practices and the case studies and examples she provide that are really multinational in scope.
The liberal use of reinforcement research that shows the relevance of specific points that the author makes transitions the ideas into items that are easily retained.
Ms. Theaker and her contributors do a good job of breaking down and explaining the overall industry as well as its segments and specialties. This discussion is undoubtedly useful for students and people just entering the field.
But we enjoyed and got the most useful information from their case studies and examples of real-world PR activities on both sides of the pond. These parts of the book are not only fun to read but deliver a new perspective on the subtle and not so subtle differences of regulations, the media and consumer impact in different areas of the globe.
Reading and reviewing the various PR plans, thought processes behind them and the impact/results gives readers the ability to understand that in most instances messages do not translate well. While the Internet may have eliminated country borders, it has not produced a "one world."
Depending upon the maturity and stability of a country's government, the history of its public and private institutions as well as the economic levels and its ingrained background of its population what achieves wild success in England can stumble in France, the U.S. and other countries. Programs American readers see covered in The Handbook will at times find themselves shaking their heads in disbelief as to why the British program was ever developed or approved. In addition, you'll often wonder how and why the work succeeded.
We found ourselves reading a number of the case studies and examples two and three times and gaining a greater appreciation of what works in other countries and why so many America developed programs fall short when they are taken overseas.
Ms. Theaker has drawn together a rich roster of contributors in her book to give the reader a broad perspective of the industry, its practices and its future. Since what we do locally increasingly has global impact, we would encourage student and seasoned professionals alike to read the book.
Since we increasingly must struggle with and deal with cultural and ethnic differences in our own country as well as abroad, it is becoming increasingly important for public relations practitioners to take what many might term "the long view" of their plans, programs and activities.