Here's my end-of-year list of the most notable books I've read about – or relevant to – public relations this year. (For the record, here's my list from the year before).
In truth, I've found much less to be excited about this year and it's perhaps telling that my top two are both updates of books first published around a decade ago. But the primary emphasis on PR and social media with a secondary emphasis on global public relations does fairly reflect developments in our industry.
- The Cluetrain Manifesto, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Doc Searls et al. Yes, we all now know that 'markets are conversations'. But it took the Cluetrain authors to come up with the most cogent critique of their own work: markets are also transactions – and relationships. A thought-provoking addition to the original manifesto (still freely available online). Sadly, it lacked further analysis of public relations, which claims to be the discipline which manages relationships (see next book). (Also see my review.)
- Online Public Relations, David Phillips and Philip Young. For this much improved second edition, the UK's internet PR maven David Phillips was joined by university lecturer Philip Young. Together, they have written a sophisticated and challenging book in which PR is conceptualised as relationship optimisation. (See my review.)
- Global Public Relations: Spanning Borders, Spanning Cultures, Alan Freitag and Ashli Quesinberry Stokes. What good timing! In the depths of a recession precipitated by failures in the financial system, and with doubts about the extent of western imperium, this was just the time to bring out a book challenging the anglo-centric view of public relations. An important academic text. (See my review.)
- Communications and behaviour change, Mairi Budge and others. This freely available and well-designed electronic booklet comes from the UK government's Central Office of Information. It draws on psychology to address the tough question surrounding communications for social good: how to get people to change their behaviour.
- Personal Reputation Management: Making the internet work for you, Louis Halpern and Roy Murphy. A practical guide, not an academic text, but it's not without concepts and an understanding of history. This book usefully applies branding principles to personal reputation, and search engine optimisation techniques to an individual's online presence. (See my review.)