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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on August 23, 2003
While there are some interesting points in this book -- obviously, the central being that too many marketing professionals ignore the brand-building power of positive PR -- what's good about the book is too often overshadowed by what's not-so-good: specifically, that the book revisits its premises again and again in such a way that they begin to sound desperate and that much of what the Rieses hypothesize is not backed by any sort of research.
Most disturbing is their habit of trashing prospective clients who apparently dared not to buy into their PR-based strategies. Relating how they suggested Guatemala change its name to Guatemaya to boost tourism (through more direct association with the Mayan ruins that constitute their biggest tourist attraction) tells you more about how realistically the Rieses approach solutions than anything else. What if the approach *hadn't* worked? And even if it had, it's hard to believe the resulting increase in tourism would have erased the cost of changing the country's name.
Also, they conveniently point out examples which tend to support their theories but ignore those that don't. They rail against line extensions, citing failures like Chevrolet's ill-fated Geo line, but say nothing about the success of extensions like Colgate Total, Diet Coke, or countless other revenue-boosting extensions. They praise the celebrity CEO, suggesting a CEO should spend 50% of his time (?!?) promoting a company via PR efforts, but fail to foresee the potential damage to the brand once that CEO becomes mired in his own bad PR (see: Martha Stewart). Also, anyone who's read Jim Collins's "Good to Great" knows a self-promoting, PR-hungry CEO is not necessarily the kind who leads a brand to dominance. Unlike the Rieses, Collins has the research to prove that.
It's not all bad. Certainly, their point about advertising agencies interested more in splashy creative that promotes the agency's interests as much -- if not moreso -- than the client's is well-taken. But for all the would-be clients they ridicule for not accepting the ideas they offered in their consultation, the Rieses never seem to quantify the success of a client who signed off on their strategy. In the end, they put forth an interesting hypothesis, but you have to wade through a lot of self-serving pitchmanship (and in a relatively slim volume at that) before getting there.
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on June 10, 2003
I bought this book since I have been working in many different aspects of both PR and advertising over a decade. From the cover and a quick browse, I was sure it was going to be a much better read. Instead, I found it is poorly researched, abundant in silly comparisons and contradictions.
The more I read into the book, the more the repetitions and the poorly thought "facts" that are repeated every few pages annoyed me. There is no research, no charts, no graphics or comparisons with hard numbers and sources proving the sole hypothesis of the book. The concepts presented here don't take into account market and social forces, such as economics, mismanagement, different values and moral standards, etc. Instead we get the simplistic and poorly supported argument "Advertising doesn't work, PR does" about a hundred times.
The truth is, both advertising and PR are valuable tools in building a brand, but neither advertising nor PR will save a poorly managed company nor make a poorly designed product a class leader. However, the book chooses to omit this fact and focuses entirely on PR as a company saving measure that can be minimally supported by advertising. Of course, it ignores the fact that these days PR has about as much credibility as advertising.
I don't believe this book will not stand the test of time, as even now some of its concepts have been proven wrong. But if you take this book as an example of how to get a PR message out, it is invaluable: witness all the four and five star reviews this book is generating, mostly on the basis of its author's reputation. Ironically, the content of the book strikes me more as an advertisement for PR than as a PR exercise.
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on November 8, 2002
As a public relations professional for the past 20 years, I welcomed this book. I certainly agree with his premise - Advertising doesn't live up to the claims - It is a broken function that often doesn't focus on the needs of the company. However, the author's indignant treatment and baseless accusations are hard to take and doesn't make the point.

The author needs to back up his statements. You can't just say the same thing over and over and expect people to accept it because you've said it 100 times. "Advertising has no credibility," - according to what study? "Public relations is believed by the consuming public," - prove it. Public relations is X% more believable according to this research. I know these things to be true but this book did nothing to forward the argument.

And come on - the country of Guatemala should change its name to attract more tourists? Kiwi airlines failed because it had a bad name? What about overhead spending, an increasingly difficult regulatory environment, diminishing demand, etc. He ignores the millions of other factors when making his wild claims. The author's analysis is too simplistic and one-dimensional.

I'm saddened by all of this. I was hoping for evidence, not just anecdotal evidence and far-flung examples, but real research. This comes off as just another insecure PR guy grasping for what he can to make his point. There is more to this profession!
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on January 6, 2004
The central theme of the book is credibility and how PR is the surest route to building it, since "No one believes advertising." As other reviewers have pointed out, there are a number of arguments based on correlation, rather than cause-effect: "Chevrolet spends the most on advertising and has (therefore?) the lowest sales." Even more irritating are the armchair assessments of what other companies/countries should have done when building their campaigns with no real supporting evidence that the recommended strategies would have been effective. Guatemaya? In addition, even though the authors assert that PR is the best way to build a brand, they point out that it doesn't appear that the professional PR organizations (which are few and far between) even mention this fact in their charters. So, what it really comes down to is a very specific view of PR, using a very specific PR strategy which, as luck would have it, can't be found at a local PR firm...
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on March 29, 2004
Regardless of the fact that the Ries' recently opened their own PR firm, and are "marketing" it through the regular channels (including advertising venues), the book does offer a PR perspective, albeit an alternative view of what can be accomplished in brand introduction. However, the majority of Integrated Marketing Communication campaigns adequately do the same and even more. Securing space in newspapers (the standard PR vocation), and attempting to get something for "free" still drives the PR industry. The demise of advertising is highly premature ($249.2 billion in 2003). The business of America Mr. Ries is still business. The "spin" remains too thin and lacks legitimate credibility. IMC....That's where we're going.
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on September 17, 2002
Interesting, yes; convincing? Hardly. You will not be surprised to learn that the Ries are in the business of PR, and this book is nothing more than an extended sales pitch to prosepctive customers.
There are still plenty of good examples out there on the efficacy of good advertising campaigns. Consider the single bet-the-company ad that turned from a near-bankrupt entity into a profitible enterprise. Or Apple's original Mac ad.
Advertising, like any other business, has its share of trends and fads, and right now the big fad is PR-based advertising. This, too, will pass, and we won't have to read books like this one.
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on May 13, 2003
Interesting as a concept; however, the unreasonably "passionate" attack on advertising, using fragile -easy to reverse- arguments, makes you doubt about its credibility.
This very subject, approached, explored, and presented in a different way, could have resulted in a great book.
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on February 20, 2003
Some of it is true... PR's wax and advertising's wane. But there's not enough insight, strategic or tactical information to make this book a valuable tool for anyone who accepts the hypothesis and now wants to know what to do about it.
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