Summer Book Club Discussion: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

As a part of the PRSA New Pros Blog Summer Book Club, our first book was “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” by Deirdre Breakenridge and Brian Solis. The book had good insight on the future of public relations, where we are now and how public relations and social media work together for the PR 2.0 era. Both have since released updated books on public relations and business since this 2009 release.

Here are a few highlights of the book and things to note.


  • The book is really about how social media is putting the public back in public relations and has “reinvented” public relations and how the industry has to change and evolve.
  • We have a lot of issues facing the public relations field, and some even say our industry needs a PR makeover. Traditional PR tactics aren’t always as effective anymore.
  • We have to a part of the story and the actual conversation now more than ever. It’s not about us, it’s about the consumer and the consistent messaging and dialogue.
  • There are so many social tools out there, but the tools will change and the people using social media will not.
  • Rather than focusing on the need to get brand information out there, the focus should be on the social factor of social media. Facilitate conversation and relationships; do not just broadcast, and change from spin to influence.
  • Social media is not just public relations, it affects the entire organization/company.
  • The future of public relations is about community and community building (they also throw in a lot of tips and guidelines for community managers here).
  • New titles in the PR industry include: chief social officer, community advocate, community builder, community relations manager, social media evangelist.
  • The past of PR meets the future of PR by embracing changes brought on by social media and incorporating strategy for marketing, analytics, customer service, crowdsourcing and more.

Things to note:

  • A lot of this book is based on opinion and does not necessarily have data, polls, research, case studies, etc. to back up what is proposed.
  • Social media is not new anymore, and the content of this book is beyond basics at this point in 2013; it could be more for late adapters of social media.
  • Public relations changed with social media, but a lot of the basics still remain the same, and social media is just a tool in the entire box.

Did you read the book? What are your thoughts?


  • What do you think is the future of public relations? If social media was PR 2.0, what will PR 3.0 look like?
  • Is social media really a new thing anymore? What brands are using it best?
  • How do you get the community involved more in your brand conversation?
  • Do you think social media has put a focus back on ethics in PR with its need for transparency?
  • How do you win leadership support for your social media tactics, or do you face little push-back?


Lauren GrayLauren Gray is a junior associate in digital at Finn Partners in New York City and also serves as the PRSSA immediate past president for the current National Committee. Connect with her on Twitter: @laurenkgray.

Summer Book Club: June Selection–Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

Just because summer will officially begin this month and vacations take center stage doesn’t mean we should all take a break from learning. June starts our annual Summer Book Club on the PRSA New Professionals Section blog, and the first book selection has been made!

When you’re on your way to the beach or sitting in the car or plane, make sure you grab or download a copy of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” by Deirdre Breakenridge and Brian Solis. At the end of the month, we’ll have a recap of the book along with discussion around the key takeaways. You may even see these topics appear in our monthly #NPPRSA Twitter chat!

See how describes “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations”:

Forget the “pitch”: Yesterday’s PR techniques just don’t work anymore. That’s the bad news. Here’s the great news: Social Media and Web 2.0 offer you an unprecedented opportunity to make PR work better than ever before. This book shows how to reinvent PR around two-way conversations, bring the “public” back into public relations and get results that traditional PR people can only dream about. Drawing on their unparalleled experience making Social Media work for business, PR’s Brian Solis and industry leader Deirdre Breakenridge show how to transform the way you think, plan, prioritize, and deliver PR services. You’ll learn powerful new ways to build the relationships that matter, and reach a new generation of influencers…leverage platforms ranging from Twitter to Facebook…truly embed yourself in the communities that are shaping the future. Best of all, you won’t just learn how to add value in the Web 2.0 world: You’ll learn how to prove how new, intelligent, and socially rooted PR will transform your organization into a proactive, participatory communication powerhouse that is in touch and informed with its community of stakeholders.

I’ll be reading on my Kindle with you. We hope you join us for another lively discussion on the New Pros blog this summer!


Heather SliwinskiHeather Sliwinski is an account executive at KemperLesnik, a Chicago-based public relations agency, providing media relations and social media services to a variety of B2B clients. She has held positions in marketing and event planning for corporations, nonprofits and higher education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications with an emphasis in strategic communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sliwinski is the blog co-chair and chair-elect for the PRSA New Professionals Section. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Summer Book Club-June: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

In just a few days, the calendar will say summer is officially upon us, and returning this year to the PRSA New Professionals blog is our popular Summer Book Club. We polled our social media followers, and our members selected our June book. At the end of the month, we will be discussing “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell.

As PR professionals, our ultimate goal is to spread word about our clients, companies or causes, and Gladwell discusses how ideas and trends can catch and spread like wildfire. We hope you join us, read along and take part in the discussion in a few weeks! review of “The Tipping Point”:

“The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell’s The Tipping Pointhas quite a few interesting twists on the subject…Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the “stickiness” of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell’s closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that “tipping point,” like “future shock” or “chaos theory,” will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows–or at least knows by name. –Ron Hogan

Summer Book Club-July: Be Your Own Best Publicist Discussion

From the moment I read the title of the latest book club selection, “Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work”, the human resources side of me was intrigued. Authors Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, offer a fresh perspective on marketing yourself by using basic PR skills to create and manage your professional reputation as you climb the corporate ladder.

Managing reputations of organizations is no different than managing our own reputation. You are representing yourself when you go into a job interview or pitch an idea, so why not put your PR experience and skills to work for you? Readjust your thinking, and view yourself as your client. How would you sell…you? The thought is a little scary, but Kleiman and Weinsaft share their tips and techniques to help you through the process. Below, I outline four of my personal takeaways from this book club selection:

Prepare Your Pitch

Spend some time thinking about your elevator pitch and perfect it. “Knowing how to communicate concisely and clearly will help you hook the interest of whomever you are pitching,” say Kleiman and Weinsaft. Concise is the key word—you want to be mindful of everyone’s time, especially someone who may hold the key to you future.

Craft Your Message

You’ve got their attention, now what? You landed an interview or that important meeting from your great pitch, so now it’s times to expand your message. Kleiman and Weinsaft say you should build out your pitch to a speech focusing on three key attributes or goals. As you create your message, keep in mind your target audience. Practice makes perfect–once you have finished creating your message, practice, practice, practice.

Build Your Network

With competition for job opportunities becoming tighter and tighter, sometimes knowing someone on the inside can help you get your foot in the door. As PR pros, we know the value of relationship building. Kleiman and Weinsaft stress, “the most important thing you can do is to build a rapport between yourself and those with whom you are looking to do business.” The title of Chapter Four says it all – It’s All About Who You Know (and Who Knows You). Build a network of trust by following-up periodically just to say hello. Avoid reaching out only when you need something.

Protect Your Personal Brand

Always put your best foot forward because you never know who is watching. You’ve worked hard to build your reputation so protect it. Kleiman and Weinsaft remind us that how we dress, how we speak and the people we choose to surround ourselves with can influence other’s perceptions of us. Social media makes it easy for us to share our personal thoughts online. Protect your online reputations by managing what you say and share online. “Before posting a comment, images or video, think like a publicist would about a client,” say Kleiman and Weinsaft. You should not only be monitoring what you say, you should also monitor what others are sharing about you as well. Again, think like a publicist, always be prepared for what could go wrong and have plan to correct what has gone wrong. 

I enjoyed reading this book, it satisfied my both the HR and PR side of me. There are many more PR tips and techniques Kleiman and Weinsaft share on self-promotion, including sections to create your own “Personal PR Action Plan”.

Let’s talk about the book…

  1. What will you do differently because of reading this book?
  2. Tell us some of your own personal tips on creating your personal brand.
  3. What are some of your favorite tips and techniques the author shared?
  4. Do you believe it’s important to integrate social media into your life? Why or Why not?
  5. What tools do you use to manage your online reputation?
  6. We all make mistakes—to err is to be human. Where have you tackled a crisis concerning your personal brand, and what did you learn from the experience?

Summer Book Club–July:Be Your Own Best Publicist

The PRSA New Pros Blog Summer Book Club continues with its selection for July—“Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work” by Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper.

As PR professionals (or PR hopefuls), we are used to promoting our companies or clients.  However, it is just as important to leverage our PR skills to cultivate our careers as well.  By creating a brand for ourselves, Kleiman and Cooper say we can develop our careers and create a professional image for successful advancement.  Their website summarizes topics covered in their book:

In one of the toughest job markets in more than 20 years, with the unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, as well as dwindling job openings and promotion opportunities, standing out and making a good impression is more vital than ever.  This helpful, easy-to-follow guide shows anyone looking to land a new job, attract freelance assignments, stay essential in a current position or get that coveted promotion how they can use PR skills to achieve their goals.

Written by two seasoned public relations professionals, Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How To Use PR Techniques To Get Noticed, Get Hired & Get Rewarded At Work breaks down the fundamentals of PR and how they can be implemented to promote oneself.  Through humorous but informative anecdotes, tips and exercises, this book will arm people with the confidence, knowledge and tactics to help them market themselves in the workplace.

Grab your copy today!  Discussion for “Be Your Own Best Publicist” starts the first week of August.  Check with PRSA New Pros blog, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to join in the conversation.

If you missed the June discussion, it is not too late to join in!  Share your thoughts on “UnMarketing” here.

New Pros: What topics are you hoping Kleiman and Cooper cover?  Are there specific questions you hope are answered?