Book Review: ‘Putting the Public Back in Public Relations’

If you’ve spent any time reading the PR bloggers in the past two years, you won’t gain a lot from “Putting the Public Back into Public Relations.” You’ve heard it all before. And while PPBPR could be useful to an audience of late adopters, I still can’t recommend it, even to the novices.

Here’s my rationale.

solisPPBPR, by Brian Solis and Dierdre Breakenridge, sets out to explain “how social media is (sic) reinventing the aging business of public relations.” It purports to tell us what’s wrong with public relations, and how social media will fix it. But the problems addressed in the book really aren’t with public relations at all.

The “aging PR business” described in PPBPR is a process of one-way marketing communication centered on pitching stories to media gatekeepers. That’s called publicity, and it’s simply one of many tools used (and abused) by marketers, publicists, and PR folks, too.

If you’re one who believes PR is primarily about pitching media, see my posts here and here. It’s critical to know that public relations is way more than just telling and selling stories. It’s about creating and maintaining productive relationships with all of the organization’s publics. And yes, social media are helping us do that.

Part I of PPBPR offers up a dose of social-media evangelism and talks of how SM is changing the PR landscape. This lesson has value, but the Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) and The Long Tail (2006), covered that ground well, and PPBPR adds little more to the discussion.

Part II of PPBPR is a primer of social-media tactics. SM novices may find value in these chapters, which offer solid advice on using social media tactics such as blogs, social-media releases and video releases. But to be fair, most of this information is presented more concisely by authors like David Meerman Scott and Shel Holtz.

Part III offers some good tips on measurement and metrics, but if ROI is your focus, read Katie Paine’s Measuring Public Relationships.

Some additional concerns:

PPBPR is way too long. The book stretches 100 pages worth of material to 300 pages of text, much of it at an abstract level. I blame the editors at FT Press for this failing. They should have demanded extensive revisions to purge redundancies and trim rambling passages. The book reads like a first draft, not a polished work.

PPBPR ignores most of the PR literature and fails to acknowledge PR innovators. The idea that “PR is about relationships” didn’t originate in social media circles or with this Social Media Manifesto. PR scholars like Jim & Larissa Grunig, Otto Lerbinger, Albert Sullivan and practitioner-lecturers like the late Pat Jackson began the relationship discussion in the late 1970s and they wrote about it extensively for 25 years. More of my thoughts here.

DiffusionOfInnovation[1]All of the folks I mention deserve footnotes or credit lines in PPBPR. Ditto for Everett Rogers, whose famous “innovation curve” and his adoption process are discussed in PPBPR (p. 224) with no credit whatsoever to the creator.

Too much opinion, not enough evidence. Given that social media are no longer all that new, I’m puzzled that PPBPR relies almost exclusively on anecdotes and opinions to make its case. For example:

If you polled those decision makers responsible for managing communications strategies about how they characterize PR, the following common themes would undoubtedly emerge:

  • PR just doesn’t “get it.” …

Eight more bullet points follow that one. But since no one actually did this poll, how can the authors be certain how it would turn out? This is conjecture, not fact, which I suppose gives it validity equal to this blog post. :-)  Here’s another:

Unfortunately, a significant percentage of people (whether bloggers, reporters or analysts) still think that PR professionals are merely spin artists who focus on pitching, blasting, and cranking out poorly written news releases. (p. 93)

And we know this to be true, how? Does research to support the assertion, or is it simply the authors’ opinions once again? I can read blogs for opinions. A book must be held to a higher standard.

So, I won’t be recommending PPBPR to my friends, my colleagues or my students. While the book might be somewhat useful for late adopters of social media, getting through it is a chore. You’ll find the same information in other books that are better organized and more tightly written.

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40 Responses to Book Review: ‘Putting the Public Back in Public Relations’

  1. Ed Lee says:

    so…not something i should put on my reading list for the next vacation?

    as always bill, you continue to add value and reason to the ongoing “conversation” around PR’s evolution. while many social media “experts” are getting all breathless about another book from one of their own, you bring it all back to what this is really all about in the first place – communicators using new channels to complement existing channels to fulfill their mandate.

    Ed

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      Social media have spawned quite a few books that are haphazardly written and researched. Several authors (not Brian and Dierdre) have told me of immense pressure from publishers to complete the works and get them to market. My view? Writing well on deadline is a skill every PR professional must develop. If you can’t stand the pressure, don’t accept the advance.

      Some will say I’m being too “academic” in my views, and too harsh in my criticism. So be it. A book must be a thorough and rigorous investigation of a topic. And this one misses the mark.

    • David Jones says:

      I hate it when Ed beats me to the punch. I couldn’t agree more with his comment. I give full marks to people for making the effort to write a book. However, they’re not all seminal works. Thanks for your willingness to provide a thoughtful critique.

      • Bill Sledzik says:

        What troubles me most, David, is that folks reading these books don’t view them with a critical eye. But I’m also troubled by the entire public relations profession over the widespread ignorance of the literature. Don’t we owe that to our clients?

        I didn’t read the literature in grad school, nor did I read it when I came to the academy. I read it while I was a practitioner. Am I an odd duck? It would seem so.

        But like you, I salute anyone who takes the time to write a book on any topic. Not sure I have that kind of discipline. Besides, my wife would probably kill me.

  2. [...] Read more here: Book Review: 'Putting the Public Back in Public Relations … [...]

  3. Hi Bill, thanks for the fantastic review, both insightful and critical. As an aside, I wonder how many Tweeters will re-tweet this one without reading what it actually says…but I digress…

    As you know, I share your concern for public relations and communications history. Do you think the fact that so many PR students and professionals know so little of the field’s history plays a role here? There seems to be a correlation between lack of historical knowledge and the presentation of (supposedly) “new” theories and cases that are just a derivation of a past challenge.

    I guess this is a long-winded way of questioning how social media experts present their thoughts without acknowledging the work of their predecessors in academe or the professional world. I mean, c’mon, how about just a nod to the prevailing literature?

    Thanks again for a great review! I enjoyed reading it and I’ll share the thoughts of my students once they review it for a class assignment.

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      We’ve had this discussion before, Bob. My view — and I know it’s yours as well — is that professionals in any field have an obligation to read the literature and to understand both the theoretical and historical underpinnings of their discipline. This doesn’t mean you have to study public relations in college (I know you didn’t — and I took but 2 classes in the subject). But far too many who work in public relations are not familiar with the body of knowledge.

      To be fair, PPBPR does make reference to the contributions of Ivy Lee and Ed Bernays. But the evolution of PR toward a more balanced communication model took place long after Lee was dead and Bernays was retired. I will add that Bernays’ discussions of “adaptation” (from “The Engineering of Consent,” 1955) are among the first writing in PR to address the need for dialogue — a concept many in social media see as a revelation. But now I am getting all academic! So I’ll shut up.

  4. [...] Book Review: ‘Putting the Public Back in Public Relations’ « ToughSledding toughsledding.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/book-review-putting-the-public-back-in-public-relations – view page – cached #RSS 2.0 ToughSledding » Book Review: ‘Putting the Public Back in Public Relations’ Comments Feed ToughSledding Let’s try this again! Read any good books on Public Relations 2.0? — From the page [...]

  5. Greg Smith says:

    Yikes. They really don’t have much of a clue about PR, do they, Bill? Publicity? And people buy this stuff?

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      Thanks for coming by, Greg, and a big G’day to you.

      Many of us buy and read books based on what our thought leaders say about them. And while none of my “trust agents” have written favorably about PPBPR as yet, two highly visible folks in the 2.0 space — Seth Godin and Paul Gillin — contributed glowing praise for the dust jacket. That’s troubling.

  6. That’ll save me some cash.

  7. Bill Sledzik says:

    The stack of unread social media books on my coffee table is now more than a foot high. I’ll get through ‘em — one at a time! As for the cash, my accountant lets me write it off as a business expense. That’s helps, and I’m almost sure it’s legal.

  8. I was checking out iTunes U at the weekend and one of the “top” choices jumped out at me as it was a lecture for journalism students about propaganda and PR. A full hour of a one-sided perspective (with any counter-arguments in favour of PR immediately dismissed). It wasn’t just the use of anecdotal evidence by the lecturer, but the fact that all books referenced were of the personal opinion, best-seller nature (Flat Earth News and so on). No attempt to define or socially/historically contextualise either propaganda or PR.

    I couldn’t help but feel the lecture itself was great evidence of propaganda and would be good for PR practitioners to deconstruct as an analytical exercise.

    Mind you, the UK media also recently reported how (apparently) an increasing number of undergraduate students have no understanding of the concepts of robust research and critical perspectives. The Internet was blamed as the cause of this, but one also wonders about the use of books that do not credit other authors or show any understanding of the theory/models that underpin ideas they are presenting.

    I am so tired of seeing “new” models and concepts presented by authors and agencies which are nothing of the sort. Combine that with assertions and conjecture, is it any wonder that when marking student assignments, I keep asking them to substantiate or provide evidence to back up claims and opinions. And by that I don’t mean reference to Wikipedia or some dodgy survey.

  9. amymengel says:

    Bill, thanks for a thoughtful review. It’s nice to see a book review every now and then that isn’t lollipops and rainbows. There are so many social media books flooding the market and so little time to read them. It seems like every one gets a glowing review. Thanks for being honest in your assessment and saving me some time.

  10. Brian Solis says:

    Bill, I appreciate your honesty. I will think deeply about much of what you’ve written so that I can process, address, agree, and disagree with you now and over time. :)

    You’ve offered a lot valuable feedback and I appreciate it.

    Much of this post is driven by a partiality and expectation of construction, packaging, and academic procedures and standards, but doesn’t take into account the validity of personal and professional experience, advice and observations. They are ours and they are grounded in reality, documented from our work over the years and challenges and successes we faced along the way.

    Your assessment represents only one view of the state of the PR industry and those within it and you have chosen to prescribe alternative remedies. This is fine and also respected.

    This is a long-winded comment intended to offer insight into the passion, fervor, hope, and intentions that went into the book and also to address any questions proposed by commentators now and later.

    I was asked by my peers in the 2.0 world, many of the names you know, why I would want to write a book. I was reminded that we have blogs, Twitter, activity streams, et al, and therefore that’s where we should invest our time and energy.

    I’ve personally contributed articles, spoken at conferences around the world, and authored many papers and essays since the mid 90’s on the next generation of influence and public relations. I’ve received pushback and sparked debates from veterans who disagreed with my view of the evolution every step of the way. And believe it or not, this is still the case.

    Change is never easy. Nor is it absolute based on any one view. I’ve come to accept this…I still move forward however, as it’s necessary and important.

    I chose to write a book with Deirdre Breakenridge because I wanted to reach communications professionals who aren’t reading blogs, who don’t know what you know in terms history and direction, who have no idea which authorities to listen to, and more importantly, how to apply new stories and lessons within the framework of their professional reality. A disconnect exists between information and application.

    Remember, everyone is an expert in new media now and much of the advice shared publicly is inexperienced, impractical, and flat out wrong. The troubling aspects of this though, are wrapped in the lessons and directives that are presented and regarded as authoritative.

    Communications professionals at large are not embracing the work and insights uncovered within or by The Long Tail, ClueTrain, Jim and Larissa Grunig, Otto Lerbinger, Albert Sullivan, Pat Jackson. It’s unfortunate. At the same time (insert grand number here) of marketers are indeed reading Mashable, and blogs like it, seeking their advice on how to use Twitter, Facebook, and other tools and services in PR campaigns and marketing initiatives. Those authors haven’t the slightest notions of or appreciation for the evolution of PR. And, momentum indicates, that they may never need to…

    I’m the first person to say that relationships and conversations weren’t invented nor tapped because of Social Media. Much of what I learned actually goes back to the days of BBS, forums and user groups. But this was learned through practice, not theory…and those lessons fuel the words shared in that book.

    This is why I spend much of my time re-studying psychology and sociology as it impacts and benefits my work.

    To be fair though, I chose a different path and a different voice and tactic than one you may care for or appreciate, but that doesn’t mean that this book doesn’t offer value to many – many more than you choose to recognize and credit.

    In reality, this book proudly shares our stories, experiences, and observations. It’s based on our knowledge as defined by years of hard work, failures, and accomplishments.

    I have launched countless companies and guided numerous Fortune 1000 brands over 18 years. And to this day, I still continue to lead companies and their communications efforts to further my education, share my experiences, while helping businesses grow in the process.

    I’ve yet to meet a company who hired my group because they were thrilled with the performance of their previous PR person or team.

    I can assure you that the reporters and bloggers I work with believe that PR is a lost cause. How many journalists do you know that will unite globally in support of the press release and how it’s distributed? I can also assure you that each and every company, entrepreneur, agency, and consultant that I work with offer different views and impressions of PR and much of it unfortunately blurs the line between publicity and presence. Just read that recent article in the NY Times on “The New Web that PR is Spinning.” It doesn’t represent that state or direction of PR that I believe you and I envision. Yet it’s in the NY Times and therefore will serve as an industry benchmark to those who don’t know any better.

    I live and breathe this struggle on a daily basis. I see and navigate the challenges and obstructions associated with client expectations and impressions, PR stereotypes every day. I am also now contending with new forms of competition with every new hybrid agency or consultancy that launches to “cash in” on all things social – without regard for PR.

    I also respond to hundreds of individuals via conferences, blogs, tweets, and emails each week. The questions I receive from those with or without experience will surprise you. I’m witness to the programs sold by PR agencies and new media consultants on how to leverage and implement new media within service and marketing constructs. Much of it too, would surprise you – and not pleasantly.

    You are educating a new generation of public relations professionals who face a different workforce and set of defined and elusive expectations than previous generations. Your work and observations steer and influence their pursuits and in turn inspires others in how they educate their students. Also realize that I hire graduates and I see first hand what they know, how it applies to what we do, and attempt to narrow this gap through continued education and hands-on experience – without contributing to the circumstances that fuel disparaging and embarrassing posts and wikis created by so many bloggers and reporters about the PR people that make honest and avoidable mistakes.

    This is one of inspirations for this book. I wanted to contribute to helping students excel against the real world challenges they will face. Collectively, we contribute to their adaption, survival, and growth, as will many mentors in their careers.

    In the end, we simply possess different views of the PR industry and its current state and promise and the strategies and tactics that will define and propel its advancement. I can live with that.

    But does that make this book any less valuable?

    No.

    Does that make your review wrong?

    No.

    Are we (you & me) working towards the same goal of improving the industry for veterans and students today?

    I believe the answer is yes.

    What’s also important to me is that there are readers of this book who find it extremely helpful and invaluable.

    So, this book wasn’t written for you. I can’t change your opinion, nor do I intend to try. I respect your views and won’t hold it against you ;)

    Seth and Paul offered their candid feedback. Other individuals whom we both hold in high regard such as those mentioned in this post, Shel, Katie, and others, have also offered their support and I am grateful for it.

    This book is what it is and I’m proud of it. One day however, I will convince a publisher to allow me to write the books that delve deeper into the origins, visionaries, thinkers, social sciences, and lessons that will definitely outline the direction of these industries and when I do, I’ll also look forward to your assessment.

    Rather than go back and forth in the comments here, I would like to propose a productive discussion where we share and discuss our thoughts, observations, and vision in a forum where others can listen or read, but also ask questions of us – preferably in real time. Perhaps on BlogTalkRadio or through a video streaming/webinar service?

    With Respect and Gratitude,

    Brian

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for your response, Brian. Perhaps the greatest thing about social media is that it offers us all a chance to state opinions and to respond to those of others. You’ve made your case, and I’ll leave it to those reading the post to draw their own conclusions.

    As for a real-time discussion, feel free to send me your specific thoughts. It’s been a long while since I made my one and only appearance on Blog Talk Radio.

    • Cathy Brooks says:

      Bill,

      I will confess that I know and have worked with Brian, which is what brought me here first; but it was the thoughtful commentary and great nature of the open discourse in the comments that kept me and will bring me back.

      And I also am hoping that I might invite you to participate in a discussion with Brian on a weekly talk show I produce & host that explores an array of topics related to communications/social media and the like.

      Rather than bore your readers with a logistical discussion in the comments, if you are interested in having such a dialogue please drop me an email.

      As it’s said about the five blind men and the elephant, it’s the aggregate of diverse views that provides the most clear view of reality.

      I’ll hope we have a chance to engage in such a discussion on this very complex subject!

      • “It’s the aggregate of diverse views that provides the most clear view of reality.”

        Actually, no; that’s called politics. In the political realm today, there are thousands whose diverse views in the aggregate include Creationism. However, the universe, i.e. “reality,” appears very differently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method .

        Regrettably, this confusion is the both the fame and failure of Web 2.0.

        - Amanda

  12. A quick question for you…what book would you recommend on the history of PR? My path to the profession wasn’t through college (I was a Poli Sci major) and ended up on the public affairs team at FH (logical, but the history of PR wasn’t required–it came in fits and spurts from the many very smart veterans of PR there at FH). In other words, it wasn’t a formal education in PR, so I know I have gaps.

    (And of course I knew about Everett Rogers–that’s a little bothersome that it wasn’t referenced properly in the book.)

    If you can recommend a book that goes over the history of PR (preferably in an engaging way) I’d be mighty appreciative…

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      Sorry for the late reply, Jen. Been doing my “real” for a change.

      PR is pretty short on history books, sad to say. Scott Cutlip’s “The Unseen Power” is a good one, though I’ve not read it in 15 years. Scott was one of the premier historians in our field, but also an advocate for the field. Warning, it’s an academic book, ergo, quite costly. Borrow it from the library. It’s a good read.

      Also, for a “Cliff Notes” version of PR history, check out Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, by Glen Broom. It has the best treatment of PR history of all the PR Principles textbooks, but it’s also very costly, as well-researched textbooks tend to be.

      I loved Stuart Ewen’s, “PR: A Social History of Spin.” If you can’t tell by the title, it’s quite critical of the PR field, but it’s well researched and documented, and much of the criticism valid.

      You might also enjoy Larry Tye’s “The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations.” Same warning here as with Ewen’s book. It’s not an endorsement of the business.

      I asked my friend Bob Batchelor, who commented earlier, why he thought PR was so devoid of history texts. His comment to me via email:

      There is no natural fit for a PR history book in most curricula. It kind of fits in a couple, but wouldn’t be adopted widely, so the textbook publishers shy away. At more general publishers the bias re PR as spin or evil dampens the market.

  13. It’s just not as convoluted as Solis portrays.

    Here: The book is DOA. Two-way communications is certainly powerful… BUT it’s only ethical and appropriate in certain instances. Regrettably, the thesis that it’s universal… plays into the cult empowerment movement which Brian and other PR2 evangelists are trying to ride all the way to the bank.

    By and large, organizational communicators communicate “to” FOR A REASON! When we get into “with” and celebrate the use of faux “relationships,” we get into trouble. Commerce is best served by objective and arms length information. Read PRSA’s Code of Ethics. When we corrupt that, we corrupt a functional caveat emptor in effect robbing the consumer of real choice. In the end, let along the deep ethical challenges, PR2 screws up the very system we serve. PR2 is all about unearned hyper favoritism that sucks the air out of any incentive for merit.

    Sadly, Brian’s argument is made, lost and forever perpetuated right in the title: “Putting the Public Back in PR.” It’s cute pabulum that is irrefutable by small literal minds. But of course, how couldn’t that be true? Fact is it’s terrible junk thought.

    Anyway, in the end, Sledzik’s review is exact and pretty simple. “Does research support the assertion, or is it simply the authors’ opinions once again?” Brian meanders toward but can’t quite reach the straight and honest response. It’s “no.”

    - Amanda

  14. Katie Paine says:

    thanks for the shout out. I think you make some valid points, but i think there are alot of clueless folks out there that still need to read this.

  15. Bill Sledzik says:

    Gotta say this after listening to most of the FIR podcast (Shel Holtz & Neville Hobson). This review was the first thing they discussed.

    You can listen yourself here: http://tr.im/xGdO

    Brian suggests my criticism of the book is based on his not meeting “academic standards.” That’s nonsense, and if you read the post, you know it’s nonsense.

    I criticized it because 1) it presents opinion and personal experience and doesn’t back them with any substantive facts or research; 2) it uses ideas of others without crediting the sources, and that’s wrong; 3) it focuses largely on publicity in high-tech industries, not the broader practice of public relations; and 4) it simply is not well written, stretching 100 pages of material into 300 pages of text.

    Perhaps Brian’s comment illustrates my point best. His comment, while thoughtful and civil, reflects the same “long-winded” style of the book. (His word, not mine.)

    The authors of the other books I recommend, including the host of the FIR podcast, are both well written and well researched. Not so for PPBPR, which doesn’t add much new to the discussion.

  16. Brian Solis says:

    Bill I mentioned you on FIR because your post placed me in a state of reflection. As I said in my earlier comment, I will be thinking about this feedback for a while. Plus, I wanted people to read your take on the book. Not everything can be shining or stellar and I’m a proponent of balance.

    Let me be clear and not “long-winded,” my experience is my research and it is based on real-world successes and fumbles. I chose a book as the vehicle to share those lessons and observations. This format doesn’t work for you, so I take note. It works for others. I also take note. If I’m not learning how to improve, then I’m not learning…

    PPBPR is not in any way shape or form intended to serve as a bible. But it does, unlike others, give many readers tangible public relations tactics and strategies to place into practice immediately and intelligently in markets outside of, and including, technology.

    In reference to point number 2, I agree and will take your feedback to the publisher so that Rogers’ bell curve, et al, are duly credited.

    Again, I do value your feedback.

  17. What an interesting back-and-forth. Bill, I love that you never worry about speaking your mind and I’m glad to see someone add these points to the conversation. :)

    Here’s my two cents: I read PPBPR when it first came out — and loved it. Here’s why: I’ve spent my whole career in a PR agency environment. I’ve managed to “learn” social media by trial and error. While I have a good understanding of how it can work — and what our clients need to be doing — it’s always good to hear other perspectives and to learn from others who have been doing it much longer than I have. Bill, I agree with you that PR is so much more than media. Unfortunately, that’s not how much of the world (even outside high tech) sees it — and that’s part of the problem.

    If you’re a long-time social media early adapter, this book may not be for you. And, yes, there were certainly areas where the writing could have been tightened up. However, if you’re a PR person trying to convince clients that social media is something they should be integrating into their marketing efforts, I think there’s a lot of solid information in this book. For example, reading it helped me better articulate the case for social media — and that’s valuable as I try to sell it up the food chain at my agency and to clients.

    Heather (@prtini)

    • Heather,

      Articulate? Hardly. Actually, the point Bill makes is that by the book being unsubstantiated opinion, its arguments cloud the issues.

      That said, your rationale that it’s a good tool to “convince clients” is a little disturbing. Again, is the premise sound and is the proposition ethical? No. That’s a problem.

      Sure, unethical can be exceedingly effective. Hell, bribery is an accepted business practice in some developing countries. But for the integrity of the system, we’ve outlawed it here.

      All for good reason.

      Respectfully,

      - Amanda

      • I’m not even sure where to start with this one. You don’t know me at all, so for you to question my ethics is really out of line.

        Part of what we do as communicators is make recommendations to clients. The lines between PR, marketing, social media, customer service, etc are blurring. It’s our job to help clients develop and implement comprehensive communication plans that include a mix of strategies and tactics that aligns with their overall business goals. And for some companies, that may include social media. That doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone, and I wouldn’t recommend it for all companies. However, there are some situations when social media is appropriate and effective. Our job as PR counselors is to educate them. Nothing wrong — or unethical — about that.

      • Heather,

        Certainly, your intentions are innocent. Regrettably, you miss the point.

        Respectfully,

        - Amanda

  18. [...] not getting into this. But what I picked up was the use of being “too academic” as an explanation – as [...]

  19. prprofmv says:

    Since when is being “too academic” an insult?! This discussion stimulated me to write about being “too academic.” Here’s what I think being academic means.

  20. Judy Gombita says:

    Heather Whaling, regarding your comment: “Bill, I love that you never worry about speaking your mind,” I can tell you that Bill did not post this review quickly or lightly.

    In fact, Bill and I have been debating some of the premises of this book ever since I saw Brian Solis as a keynote speaker at the June Canadian Public Relations Society conference in Vancouver.

    For the record, I didn’t buy the book then and I don’t have plans to do so. I was bothered, during the keynote, about the lack of evidence and case studies to back up what was being said. I’m like Bill, I need more research and rigour (except I spell that word with a “u.”)

    Bill, what your post and all of the ensuing debate has led me to muse about is whether public relations is more of an art or a science. Science needs proof, of course. But even art (for the most part) needs training in the fundamentals….

    I’m glad you decided to bite the bullet and post this less-than-complimentary review. If social media people are expecting to play a key role in the big corporations/organizations’ limelight, they need to be prepared to take some knocks (in the real world) if their “new age” theories don’t hold up to scrutiny.

  21. Brian Solis says:

    Judy well said and I do appreciate this question, “Is PR an art or science?” Maybe it’s both. Exploring and attempting to answer the question also progresses the conversation forward.

    I’ve been practicing PR for many, many years and I do not and will not ever consider myself a “social media person.”

    I have and continue to take my knocks through real world scrutiny. I learn from some while also proving other “theories” through my work and its results. But it doesn’t take away from the validity of my experiences and the recommended lessons and tactics that Deirdre and I share in this book or in our work. Our experiences and education is all we really have to steer us in what we hope is the right direction.

    It’s not for everyone and I/we get that.

    But, contrary to the perceived sentiment shared in this thread, these experiences do indeed resonate with those who are faced with similar, shared challenges. There’s value in that as well…

    In the end, this industry can benefit from public collaboration, speculation, discussion and introspection. We each offer something unique to consider, interpret, research, and postulate. It’s what we do with this information that counts. I’d like to think that we’re all in this together.

    • Respectfully Brian, this is what I and others think your thesis sounds like: http://tinyurl.com/mtz3xj .

      If I may, I’d like to suggest: “The Age of American Unreason” by Susan Jacoby (see http://www.susanjacoby.com/ ). Also, do read Alex Jones, “Losing the News,” Chapter 4, “Objectivity’s Last Stand.”

      It’s not about YOUR perceptions and whether they resonate with some. It’s about *reason* which is a framework for all of us.

      - Amanda

  22. Bill Sledzik says:

    Sorry I missed most of today’s discussions. The “real job” had me hopping until 2, and the most incredible weather of the year had me on the bike for — well, way longer than I should have been.

    Thanks to all for joining a reasoned discussion here. Yeah, it got a little testy at times — and I added a bit to that. But spirited debate it good, and sometimes it gets a little messy. We don’t all have to agree, nor do we all have to walk away friends.

    I’ve read over the discussion. And nothing has changed my views. But I will add — to address Brian’s concern — that I never meant to devalue real world experience. I teach in a professional program that’s all about the real world, and I share the Kent State classrooms with 4 PR profs, all of whom have worked in the business at the senior level. But none of us teaches by anecdote alone. We are also immersed in the theory and the research as well.

  23. [...] and not very innovative (is the idea that PR is based on relationships really new?). Blogger, Bill Sledzik adds to my list of grievances by noting that PPBPR relies on too much opinion (Robert Scoble’s and [...]

  24. [...] happened to read Bill Sledzik’s less-than-glowing review of Brian Solis’ and Dierdre Breakenridge’s Putting the Public Back in Public Relations [...]

  25. [...] should replace the text books we already use. This is simply an addition to. In fact I would argue (and it has been discussed) you could find most everything in this book already outlined in other text books. What [...]

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