To accomplish this goal I have been studying for the past 6 years straight, forming a strong educational background in both traditional and new, digital media, and discovering how these two areas might converge. Also, how they can and should reinforce and complement each other effectively during a campaign.
I’ve also been immersed in discovering how to spot and create newsworthy content, as well as the journalism, advertising and public relations industries and their respective strategies and practices.
During that time I have been reading voraciously about digital media and communication trends, traditional public relations, metrics and most interesting and compelling to me – PR in the era of web 2.0 and social media. For young communications professionals, such as myself, I wanted to share my current favorites when it comes to sources of relevant, engaging and most of all, helpful information about public relations today.
1. First and foremost, the Institute for Public Relations’s website is a great treasure trove of research, education and news related to the practice and the science behind public relations. Through its Essential Knowledge Project, the site provides free documents for downloading, which cover a multitude of topics related to the industry, and they are extremely enlightening for new college graduates or anyone for that matter that wants to keep up on excellent public relations practice. For example, the most recent docs I grabbed are titled “Social Media & Strategic Communications,” and “Using Web Analytics to Measure the Impact of Earned Online Media on Business Outcomes.”
2. Another well-known but useful website that covers with some breadth the public relations career choice, such as wages, projections and job outlook, is the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 edition for Public Relations Specialists. I would recommend this particular source of info more for someone considering the profession because you can learn about the nature of the work here and you can discover if its something that might interest you and be a good fit. I found the section on training, qualifications and the opportunities for advancement useful because it helped me to find what employers in the communications industry are currently looking for. Consequently, it also helped me to choose the academic and real-world paths that would best augment the skills I already have and make them more marketable.
3. Next, I highly recommend the newly released (2010) PR “handbook” by Robert L. Dilenschneider, of the Dilenschneider Group, titled “The AMA Handbook of Public Relations.” What I really like about this book and one of the main reasons I actually purchased it is because Dilenschneider writes it not only for the “digital immigrants” already in the field who need to catch up on social media and digital apps, and those who may want to rethink how to do their jobs, but it is also written for “The digital-savvy Millennials (born between 1980 and 2001) who know technology quite well, but not how to apply it to business and organizational problems.”
I believe this fact as well as the succinct information and relatively concentrated strategies contained inside, which highlight the advantages of combining the tools and techniques of the Internet with a conventional understanding of communications, makes this a very useful handbook in today’s changing world of influence and democratized media.
4. Another popular book that deals with the evolution of public relations and how what matters most is individual “people” not impersonal, mass audiences, is “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” by Brian Solis (@Brian Solis) and Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge). This book is great for college graduates or anyone in school looking to learn about the current iteration and practice of PR. The book is invaluable in explaining how to manage reputations and brands, effectively solve stakeholders’ problems and also how to form strong, genuine relationships between the brands we represent and the public, all by utilizing and transparently participating in social media and the communities that people are now forming and interacting in daily with great research, fervor and care.
Speaking with a “human voice” is key in PR and this book illustrates in detail how best to do this, and ever more importantly, how to convince those in the C-Suites of its value. I was assigned this book for a graduate course in 2009 called “New Media, New Markets” and I have reread it twice since! Check it out.
5. Lastly, I recommend the following blogs for new communications professionals such as myself:
Slice– This blog is from the staff at SHIFT Communications in Boston and it offers “snackable pr.” One reason I recommend it to those just starting out and the reason that I read it myself is because it is written by staff, therefore it can give you a good idea of the type of blogging PR agencies look for when hiring new people, and it will undoubtably give you a leg up if you are hired and asked to write on an company blog etc. It also contains some great info on new technology and how to utilize it in your daily job as a communications specialist. (For example check out this new post on TwAitter).
Bad Pitch Blog– This is a cool blog written by marketing communicator Kevin Dugan (@prblog) and former journalist and author Richard Laermer (@laermer). The reasoning behind including this blog here is because “effective” pitching that offers mutually beneficial opportunities is such a large part of excellent public relations. The blog is humorous, topical (which is key in PR) and it has a great angle and insight because Dugan is so familiar w/ media and what makes an effective pitch as well as anything to do w/ media relations.
Obviously there are plenty of other great sources on PR for young professionals and these are just the current ones I’m personally perusing. So, if you have any ideas on cool blogs, books, websites, white papers, slides presentations etc. that we should be checking out let me know!
*Update* Here is a great post by Steve Farnsworth (@Steveology) of the blog Digital Marketing Mercenary, which suggests the “Top 11 Must Read Social Media and Marketing Articles for 2009.” A few of his picks are especially relevant to this blog post; ideas and guidance for young communicator’s looking for PR/Social Media best practices. Here is the post: