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Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR [Hardcover]

Brian Solis , Deirdre K. Breakenridge

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Book Description

Feb. 19 2009

Forget the "pitch": Yesterday's PR techniques just don't work anymore. That's the bad news. Here's the great news: Social Media and Web 2.0 offer you an unprecedented opportunity to make PR work better than ever before. This book shows how to reinvent PR around two-way conversations, bring the "public" back into public relations and get results that traditional PR people can only dream about. Drawing on their unparalleled experience making Social Media work for business, PR 2.0.com's Brian Solis and industry leader Deirdre Breakenridge show how to transform the way you think, plan, prioritize, and deliver PR services. You'll learn powerful new ways to build the relationships that matter, and reach a new generation of influencers...leverage platforms ranging from Twitter to Facebook...truly embed yourself in the communities that are shaping the future. Best of all, you won't just learn how to add value in the Web 2.0 world: You'll learn how to prove how new, intelligent, and socially rooted PR will transform your organization into a proactive, participatory communication powerhouse that is in touch and informed with its community of stakeholders.

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Product Description

About the Author

Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley. One of the original thought leaders who paved the way for Social Media and PR 2.0, Solis cofounded the Social Media Club and is a founding member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup. He currently blogs about the evolution and future of PR and marketing at PR 2.0 (www.briansolis.com), which is considered one of the most influential marketing blogs in the world.


Deirdre Breakenridge is an author, entrepreneur and CEO of Pure Performance Communications. A 20 + year veteran in PR and marketing, she is the author of five FT Press books including her latest titles, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional , Putting the Public Back in Public Relations , and PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences .

Deirdre speaks both nationally and internationally on the topics of PR, social media and marketing. She is a recognized PR blogger at PR 2.0 strategies, and also the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a dynamic twitter chat with PR professionals, educators and students.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Social Media = The Reinvention of Public Relations

Public Relations as we know it is quickly changing. Many tried-and-true PR strategies that we know and rely on are becoming ineffective and irrelevant. We can no longer trust them to effectively reach and motivate today’s influencers.

The Web has changed everything. And the Social Web is empowering a new class of authoritative voices that we cannot ignore.

This rising group includes (and is being led by) people just like you. User-generated content (UGC) has flipped traditional PR and media on its head, leaving many communications professionals and journalists dazed and confused. They wonder why everything is changing so suddenly, seemingly overnight. However, these changes do not really represent “new” concepts. The “sudden” shift has actually been more than ten years in the making.

Social Media and Web 2.0 are altering the entire media landscape, placing the power of influence in the hands of regular people with expertise, opinions, and the drive and passion to share those opinions. This people-powered content evolution augments instead of replaces traditional media and expert influence. And in the process, entirely new layers of top-down and bottom-up influence have been created. These layers dramatically expand the number of information channels (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many).

Traditional influence flowed from a news or information gatherer (for example, a journalist) to his or her audience. Blogs, social networks, online forums, and other forms of Social Media have changed the dynamics of influence. New information is now readily shared among peers. This peer-to-peer sharing—in which you, personally, and as a client representative participate—now affords communications professionals the opportunity to reach beyond their “A-list” media when telling their story. We can now also reach the “magic middle,” that group of ideal customers who directly reach their peers through Social Media channels. As you’ll learn throughout this book, the participant’s story replaces the pushed messages of the past, now tailored for specific audiences; Social Media requires that we “share” stories that benefit all those engaged in the process by first learning what they’re specifically looking for.

Monologue has changed to dialogue, bringing a new era of Public Relations. It’s no longer about traditional media and analysts. PR must now also focus on the very people it wants to reach.

  • Everything is changing, and (in our opinion) it’s for the better.
  • People are blogging.
  • Journalists are becoming bloggers.
  • The masses are creating and sharing content via social networks.

Bloggers are gaining recognition as industry authorities, earning the same (and sometimes more) respect and reach as traditional media (and sometimes surpassing it).

PR veterans are suddenly finding themselves searching for guidance and answers as everything they know is changing right before their eyes. A new, hybrid breed of Web-savvy communications professionals is emerging, and companies and agencies are actively seeking these new experts to effectively compete, now and in the future.

These highly sought-after New Media PR practitioners include those who blog, run a podcast or video show, communicate in popular micromedia networks such as Twitter, create profiles across several social networks and actively cultivate their social graph, customize pages with an understanding of “lite” HTML, and participate in the communities that are important to them (whether professionally or personally). Genuine experience is the desired commodity, not just a willingness to venture into new marketing channels just because you have no other choice.

Therefore, it’s time to engage.

Don’t worry, though. It’s not too late to join and help guide the PR renaissance. You’re reading this book, so you already have a head start. The principles driving the New PR movement are not foreign; they’re deeply rooted in customer service, the social sciences, and community participation. When you look at it from the perspective of an ordinary person and not a marketer, you’ll quickly realize that you already have experience as a consumer—one who makes purchases and advises others about their purchases. You have what you need to start the change from within.

We’re writing this book for you.

Social Media will help us put the public back into Public Relations. With that in mind, we encourage you to jump in, but also to understand the dynamics of Social Media, the new world of influence, and the relevant tools necessary for successful participation. Our goal with this book is to make you Social Media literate and to start you down the path of becoming a New Media expert and, more important, a champion for change. We believe that this book will help you excel in your marketing career and give you the capability and confidence to help those around you, including the company you represent.

This book lays out the lessons you need to learn, direct from our experiences over this past decade of continuous evolution. The information (and, we hope, wisdom) included in this book comes from more than just our personal experiences. We have included insight from some of the most visionary, brilliant, and active authorities on the subject of PR and the socialization of media. We believe that these insights will help you understand New PR and encourage you to adapt your own professional practices to our new reality.

We all learn from one another.

Praise Quotes

“There will be two kinds of PR professionals in the future: those who read this book and get with the program, and the unemployed. Your choice.”

Seth Godin, Author of Tribes

“I am thrilled that there is finally a book about the right way to approach PR in today’s world, where hyper-connected conversations trump the old school broadcast mentality. Everyone who wants to build a career in PR or marketing should read this book.”

Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com

“Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a passionate and persuasive case for rewriting the rules of public relations. Authors Solis and Breakenridge expertly combine third-party perspective with case studies and examples to paint a picture of a profession on the brink of reinvention.”

Paul Gillin, Author, The New Influencers and Secrets
of Social Media Marketing

“Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is an excellent read. It is the right book at the right time, explaining the reinvention of Public Relations at the hands of Social Media. A must read for those innovative marketers charged with creating differentiation in today’s competitive marketplace.”

Trish Piontek, Director, Retail Marketing, Amerisource
Bergen Corporation

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite part of the book was Appendix B where the authors include a grid of URLs and short explanations for each. May 6 2009
By Jeff Lippincott - Published on Amazon.com
Not a bad book. I thought it read pretty well. It's full length, has some good content, and is current as far as I could see when it comes to the topic of social media MARKETING (SMM). And it presents SMM from the slant of a competent up-to-date public relations professional. If you are a public relations professional and have not yet crawled out of the Dark Ages and become computer literate, then I highly recommend you give this book a read. But for the rest of us who have been following SMM (whether we are public relations specialists or not), then I didn't really see much new covered or included in this tome. As a result I am going to drop my star rating for it down a notch. The book is broken into the following 5 parts and 19 chapters:

Part I. The true value of new PR (1-5)
Part II. Facilitating conversations: New tools & techniques (6-10)
Part III. Participating in social media (11-14)
Part IV. PR 2.0: A promising future (15-18)
Part V. Convergence (19)

0.1 -The socialization of media & PR 2.0
0.2 -Introduction: Social media is the reinvention of public relations
1. What's wrong with PR?
2. PR 2.0 versus public relations
3. PR 2.0 in a Web 2.0 world
4. Traditional versus new journalism
5. PR is about relationships
6. The language of new PR
7. Blogger relations
8. Social media releases (SMRs)
9. Video news releases (VNR) 2.0
10. Corporate blogging
11. Technology does not override the social sciences
12. Social networks: The online hub for your brand
13. Micromedia
14. New "marketing" roles
15. Community managers & customer service 2.0
16. Socialization of communication & service
17. The rules for breaking news
18. A new guide to metrics
19. PR 2.0 & PR 1.0 equals putting the public back in PR
A. The SEC & the importance of recognizing corporate blogs as public disclosure
B. It's alive! A roadmap to the social media dynamic landscape

I did not see a chapter on Investor Relations (IR). And since we all know that is ALL about public relations in large companies I viewed that as a gap, hole or deficiency in the book. I don't consider it to be something that can easily be merged into the topic of "corporate blogging." This is especially true after the authors included Appendix A regarding SEC regulations.

My favorite part of the book was Appendix B where the authors include a grid of URLs and short explanations for each. I found it to be a wonderful crib sheet or toolkit for an SMM professional to use when building his or her marketing and PR game plans. 4 stars!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Putting the Public Back in Public Relations July 13 2009
By Kensington - Published on Amazon.com
Finally a PR book that doesn't suck! In fact, it's jam-packed with actual, tactical things you can do for your client TODAY, to start mattering in social universe. Too many PR books get bogged down by all theory (fluff) and no substance (meat). While this book does perhaps repeat one too many times the whole "we're no longer talking at people, but rather engaging in a conversation" mantra, it is by far the most useful PR book I've ever read. I won't read any PR book that is more than a year old and w/ a publishing date of March 2009, everything still seems relevant (today, anyway). Great read Brian.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wanted to know about Public Relations but were NOT afraid to ask July 30 2009
By K. Freberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the course of taking public relations classes for about seven years now - from my first Introduction to Public Relations course at the University of Florida to going on for my Masters in Strategic Public Relations at USC, to now taking PR Strategies, Crisis Communications, and PR Management (Theory) at the University of Tennessee. In every class, we would of course be using a classic PR textbook, or we would have to buy the course packet of readings that the professor felt was more appropriate for the class.

However, I came across a public relations book a few days ago that is both refreshing and enlightening that offers strategic insights into the field, discusses real world cases and issues that public relations professionals are dealing with in this changing business economy, and where PR as a profession is going to the future. The book that I am talking about is "Putting the Public Back in Public Relations" by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge.

The book has a lot to offer to not only established public relations professionals who have been working in the field for years, but for the younger generation of public relations professionals that are just about to enter the workplace in their first job. Future practitioners and professionals need to understand what is the current status of the field and where it will be heading (here is a great post by Brian Solis from his web site PR 2.0 on this very issue). There were several points that I liked about the book - first, it was very thorough in the realm of discussing the impact of social media on the public relations field. If you want to have a book that details you all of the elements of social media and how to use them effectively - this book then is a must-have!

Second, what I do like in the book is that it is very upfront and direct on what public relations professionals need to do. Unlike some PR textbooks where the author may go on and on for pages about something that they could have said in two sentences, both Solis and Breakenridge provide a nice structured frame in their writing with a lot of content for the reader to process and reflect upon. Plus, there are so many topics that are covered in this book that are very hip and relevant to the public relations professional today. From understanding the new language of the new PR to understanding how a social media press release works to looking at where PR will be in the future (PR 2.0 +PR 1.o = Putting the Public back in Public Relations) - it is all very insightful and what a great resource for PR professionals. I do agree with the authors that we as Public Relations professionals need to make sure that we are establishing long-term and effective relationships with our audiences, and we need to be online and use social media to understand it fully.

The only thing that I wished that the authors would have done in this book is to address an issue that is indeed present in regards to social media and public relations - and that is there seems to be a struggle between what the practitioners in public relations feel about social media and how they use it for their daily PR practices, and how the PR academicians and researchers perceive this new form of technology and how they are using this in the classroom. I have definitely seen a huge gap in this area - and for professors, we want to give our students to tools and resources that they will need to be successful in the workplace and at the first job - besides, these are going to be the leaders of the PR field, and it is our obligation to make sure that they know where the field stands in terms of social media and public relations - and what they need to know.

On another note, as a student and future PR professor / researcher - this would be something that I would be interested in looking at specifically. For example, what would be some of the skills that the authors would suggest that are essential for students to have at their first position? What types of class activities / assignments would they recommend professors give their students? Also, what is their perception of the gap between the practitioners in PR and the academic community in regards to social media - is there even a gap, and if there is one - how do we bridge together to become a more integrated field?

So, in summary - I would highly recommend the new book "Putting the Public back in Public Relations" to not only PR practitioners and professors, but also to students (undergraduate and graduate) in Public Relations and Marketing to get a great resource on the latest in social media and PR from two established professionals in the field.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
School of Advertising and Public Relations
Karen Freberg
Doctoral Student


University of Tennessee
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Used as textbook: Great ideas and examples, but repetitive Dec 15 2010
By K. M. Abrams - Published on Amazon.com
If you don't read this book word-for-word, cover-to-cover, you can probably still walk away with full absorption of the main points. I used this as a supplemental textbook in a PR Campaign Planning course at a major university, and I and the students found it quite repetitive. This resulted in them being bored with the book. The ideas and proposed new language of PR are inspiring, as other reviewers have commented, but are they realistic? We should definitely keep ideals at the forefront of our thoughts if we intend to stay relevant to clients and audiences (I mean, ..."people").

While inspiring to my students, they did not try any of the identified strategies in the book. I'm not sure if it was over their heads or if they prefer using "intuition" above book-prescribed examples. I personally found the examples and recommendations easy to put to use, which is why I thought my students would.

The book did guide an in-depth philosophical discussion that got them thinking how to use social media as a professional versus personally. A lot of students have difficulty making the leap from person to professional use, so I think the book helped there.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth reading Nov. 28 2009
By Dr. Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Apart from the title of this book, which caught my attention and made me buy it, the book is not worth reading. Instead of thoughtful analysis, it is unstructured, unfocused, superficial, and filled with hype, platitudes and significant amounts of self-promotion.

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