PR often suffers from a lack of PR for the PR” says Brain Solis and Deirdre Breakenridg in their book ‘Putting the Public Back in Public Relations’. The book is sets out to describe “how social media is reinventing the business of public relations.” Authors tries to put forward the idea that traditional public relations still matters but today’s PR professionals need to embrace social media as the future of PR. The book was written and published in the year 2009 and it sets the context and justifies the comms trends very well according to that period. But the problems addressed in the book really are not with public relations according to today’s trend.
The book tries to educate and better prepare comms practitioners to engage with the public in a landscape that is redefined by social media. Social media has altered the flow of information. It means that the public, once reliant on traditional media to consume and disseminate information, has become highly depended on social media to create, curate, and share what it deems relevant. The book also intends to tell us what is wrong with public relations, and how social media will fix it. The author uses a term called “PR 2.0” to describe the idea of “most powerful” a term coined by Solis in the 1990s.
The authors believe that PR professionals need to spend a significant amount of time when working with reporters, bloggers, analysts, and other influencers to understand the intentions and purpose of the story. One story no longer applies to the masses. Throughout the book, the authors reiterate several key points like this. These include to target your audience, emphasis on what is the content that you represent, engage in conversation, customize your message, and measure success. Again, for anyone who is engaged in PR these are familiar concepts frequently taught and used in communication planning and practices. Throughout the book the authors depict how social media are dictating new priorities and practices for public relations professionals and their clients. While most of the claims that is made by the authors significant for the flourishing influence of social media but there is a distinct shortage of practical advice and techniques on how the reader is supposed to use it.
While reading this book I used several questions to scrutinize the core ideas addressed in this book to get the best out of it. One of the important questions that I asked myself is that whether Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a suitable book for novices and students who are learning the realm of PR as a profession. The direct answer is ‘NO’. Most of what Solis and Breakenridge propose is readily available online and there is a lack of strategic lessons to be mentioned in this book. What remains in this book is familiar, often we get this information by borrowing from proven research papers. They tried to reframe and repackage it through the lens of social media.
This blog post originally appeared on Vani Krishna’s blog: vaanikrishna.wordpress.com
Vani is a part of the Class of 2021 of PG Programme in PR and Corporate Communications at SCoRe Mumbai. She pursued her bachelor’s degree from Mangalore University. She is passionate about Sports and Arts. She has done an internship in a Kerala based PR firm Davidson PR & Communications, and with the Department of Information and Public Relations- (I&PRD) Kerala Government. She can be reached at @VK_thefernweh on Twitter, and as Vani Krishna on LinkedIn.