Jul 26th 2019

Top 5 summer reads for PR and marketing professionals

Books on a beach

Well, the summer is upon us (for now) and for many of those in work it means a bit of a summer break. I’ve had mine, soaking up sun, sherry, and cheese in Jerez de la Frontera, and it was delightfully accompanied by a John le Carré novel: A Perfect Spy.

Not into novels? Want to learn more about PR and marketing? I’ve put together a choice selection of fascinating and excellent titles that are perfect for PR professionals and great for a summer read.

PR book #1: To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink

This book was recommended to me by a friend and colleague, and I have to say, while I was a bit sceptical at first, this book really grew on me. The premise is that we all sell, and we all sell pretty much everything we do. Think of when you’ve managed to persuade your friends to go to your choice of restaurant for dinner: you’ve essentially sold it to them.

I didn’t agree with everything in the book, and it did give me a bit of an existential crisis, but it was definitely worth a read – certainly if you deal with people all day, no matter your level of seniority.

PR book #2:  Propaganda, Edward Bernays

Now, I confess I studied this at university, and a lot of it is quite dated, but some of the principles will ring a bell for anyone in the PR and marketing field. The title might sound a bit off, but reflects the period in which the book was written; when propaganda wasn’t the dirty word we think it is today. In many ways, Eddie Bernays was actually the father of PR as we know it, i.e. the industry of influencing multiple publics.

There are a few criticisms of this book in that it was written by Bernays essentially to sell his services (to sell is human though, right?), and that it is more of a historical document of interest than anything on which to base modern practices, but I would still very much recommend it.

PR book #3:  Spinning Farmed Salmon, David Miller, appearing in Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy

This isn’t a book in itself, but an academic article. Don’t get scared off by Harvard-style referencing though – in fact, this would have been the first in this book list, but thought that an actual book should probably be first. This article is a vastly critical dissection of a crisis communications campaign that was implemented to combat a study showing the apparent health dangers of eating farmed Scottish salmon. Whilst this may seem a bit banal, it gives a fascinating insight into PR from the point of view of an outsider and academic.

For anyone thinking of going into PR, or anyone already in PR, this is a great read that may make you rethink your choice of salmon in the future. The rest of the actual book from which it is taken, Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy, is also excellent – I relied on it heavily for multiple university essays and managed to graduate. Think of that what you will…

PR book #4: What makes a leader?, Daniel Goleman, appearing in HBR’s 10 Must Reads – On Emotional Intelligence

CURVEBALL IT’S ANOTHER ACADEMIC ARTICLE! Seriously though, for anyone who is looking to transition into a leadership role, starting their PR journey, or even feels like they could do with a refresh on some basic leadership principles, this is the article to read. Yes, sure, this isn’t a PR and marketing specific book, but it is worth the read, and something that I think everyone above Account Executive level should read at least once.

PR book #5: What are you reading?

Seriously, what would you recommend to people in PR, marketing and beyond as a must-read for everyone, no matter their level of seniority? I’m always up for thumbing through some pages in my downtime, and knowledge sharing I feel is one of the greatest gifts that we as hominids have. Let us know?

The thing is, that when we are on holiday, and digesting indulgences, there isn’t any reason that we can’t also digest words that will help us in our professional lives. As PRs, we know that our industry is ever changing, and in a constant state of flux with new tactics, techniques, and approaches to what we do. Continuous training and research not only helps us stimulate our own brains, but stimulates the campaigns we create for clients, and the ideas we put towards clients who might be looking to dip their toes into PR. So, dear reader, if connecting with an up-to-date agency that places a huge emphasis on continuous improvement and staying on the pulse of industry thinking sounds good to you, why not drop us a line and see how Babel might become your next good read?