Hey Howie You Should Write A Book About PR. Uh, No Thanks.

June 15, 2010

I hear this occasionally, most often when sharing my views about how upside-down the PR industry is and how I’m concerned about the BS epidemic running rampant through most firms. PR people love to tell clients how “everything is changing” and that companies need to think-differently about their communication strategy. So if everything is changing, and I agree a lot is, why do PR folks want to keep a tight grip on doing things the way they always have; over-promising and underdelivering, writing shitty press releases, bait&switching, charging extra for this and that, and on and on and on. Anyway – back to this whole book business.Â

I get asked several times a year if I’ve considered writing a book on PR and I always say “absolutely not”. For the most part I find it arrogant and shallow when PR people, who are still praciticing, pen books about the right-way to do PR. Besides, shouldn’t any PR person still in the game spend their time helping clients? I mean really– we’re not that interesting and most of it is the same recycled stuff just packaged differently. (Know your audience, have your key points, engage your customer, blah blah blah)Â However there are some exceptions, like every marketing book written by Seth Godin, Rafe Needleman’s Pro PR Tips, or works by Brain Solis. Smart guys – strong opinions – not afraid to be different, question the establishment and even offend. But your everyday agency flack who spends their day focused on business development and whoring out the agency in the interest of self promotional press or ridiculous PR awards? No thanks. But if I did write a book when I’m old, retired and cantankerous you can count on it being interesting – something that would be an equal opportunity offender taking aim at big agency PR people, clients, and even press. And I won’t do any book signings or ask former clients to say how great I was; in fact – I may not even make it available for sale!Â

But now I want to tell you about a fantastic book that I think you should buy immediately and I guarantee it will make you think differently about how you approach business. This isn’t one of those run of the mill books that has you looking for what inspires you and encourages you to know where you fall on a personality test. This is a no-bullshit business book that questions all the things we’ve been taught to believe like: growing for growths sake, always having to be the best, and the word “entrepreneur”. The book is called Rework, written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier. I haven’t finished it yet, but after reading page 141 – Picking a Fight- I had to put the book down and tell you about it. On 141 the guys say, “If you think a competitor sucks, say so. When you do that, you’ll find that others who agree with you will rally to your side. Being the anti-_________is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers”.  The book also says that “learning from mistakes is overrated” and “page after page after page of plans are a waste of time”. Rework is totally refreshing and absolutely worth your time – at least up to page 141.Â

Perhaps as I make my through this awesome book I’ll pick-up some inspiration for my own literary work. That was a joke.


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