Best Public Relations Books and Quora

There’s a new social media platform or tool born every 23 seconds (totally made up statistic but it sounds about right, doesn’t it?)  When you make your living in the social media and marketing world, you need to be aware of the new but also beware of the distraction factor that could pull you off-course.  Is this tool a potential time waster instead of a useful tool?  Quora is coming into its own lately and so I’ve started investigating it with an eye toward determining how useful it will be for me and my clients.

Yes, Quora is like Yahoo Answers.  I used to roam Yahoo Answers for one client, answering what was basically the same question over and over again.  I had a pretty standard response that I would put in to the almost daily reposting of the same question.  The answer gave useful information and promoted my client’s website (and provided a nifty inbound link.)  The answer regularly generated “Best Answer” votes and points.  Over time those links were responsible for a surprising amount of website traffic.  (Enough to keep me using up significant time-in-the-evening-in-front-of-the-TV searching for new postings of that same and similar questions.)

Yes, Quora seems to be the next big thing.  There, I said it.  The combination of useful info and useful people (Why, yes, Biz Stone did answer a Quora question about launching a product at SXSW) and a model that also connects you with new people.  I have already connected with a PR person in the UK who has a nice PR blog I hadn’t previously come across.

Use Quora and save $119.64/year.  Yes, Quora is a goldmine of questions which can be used to deliver inspiration to the most blocked blog writer…or check out Chris Brogan’s blog topic ideas service ($9.97/month).  Quora doesn’t promise to help you make money by blogging or provide a writer’s group via a weekly email but there is some good stuff there.  I answered a “Quora Question” on public relations books.  What do you think?  Good enough for a short blog post?

What are the Best PR Books out there?

My Answer: A lot depends on what you are looking for — are you a PR person looking to keep up on the latest industry trends or are you looking for a basic introductory PR book? Are you looking for info on media relations (a sub-category that people think IS Public Relations) or are you looking to understand the widespread practice of PR? Do you separate PR and marketing or want to understand where they overlap?

Based on 25 years of practicing PR, Marketing and now, Social Media Marketing, here are some suggestions from my bookcase:

  • The Marketer’s Guide to Public Relations by Thomas L. Harris — dated now but excellent for understanding where PR fits in with marketing and how it helps to move companies forward. Later on, Harris wrote Value-Added Public Relations about integrated marketing. Read them both for an understanding of where PR came from. The basics are still important even if some of the technology has changed.
  • The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott — encompasses a lot of new media but shows how traditional PR methods can be incorporated.
  • Paul Gillin’s books (any of them) are great — start with The New Influencers.
  • If you are going to be practicing PR and writing press releases, you will need to get yourself the ultimate word in press release writing style, an AP Style Guide. (I also recommend following the Fake AP Style Guide on Twitter just for the giggles.)
  • Every PR student ends up using a Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations textbook. There is also a little book, part of the “Essential Managers” books they sell at the airport with the same name. These are very different — the latter is an easily read overview of the industry and the other is a textbook for a semester long college-level class.
  • I also usually recommend a book called Toxic Sludge is Good for You for a no-holds barred look at how data is used (and manipulated) in PR.
  • The “New PR” types books are good for those integrating PR concepts and online marketing — look for books by Chris Brogan, Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman, Steve Garfield, Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah, Peter Shankman, Brian Solis, Seth Godin, etc.
  • Don’t overlook the Dummies series.

And, I am experimenting with Quora’s ability to connect me with new business.  (If I answer enough questions on PR, Marketing and Social Media Marketing, will Christine and I be getting a call from a potential new client?)