I read a lot of books about public relations and marketing last year, and here’s a quick shout out to three of my very favorites. Just a little prediction: most of the the books on the 2011 list will be about social media (I already have three lined up!).
Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (November 2010)
by Wendell Potter
This was an over-the-holidays read, and I’m almost finished (look for a review soon) but I had to include it on this list. Potter is the former head of public relations (or self-proclaimed “spin-meister”) for health insurance company CIGNA. His congressional testimony after he stepped down from his position blew the whistle on the PR practices of the insurance industry in combating everything from their own bad publicity to the watering down of President Obama’s healthcare plan to the annihilation of President and Hillary Clinton’s efforts two decades ago. Potter takes us back into history to examine how some public relations tactics within the health insurance industry has negatively influenced the passage of a universal healthcare option for years to the benefit of the insurance industry. Potter points out that his chronicle isn’t indicative of the PR field as a whole, but I worry not everyone will be so forgiving of the entire industry.
Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead (August 2010)
by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan
The Grateful Dead empire and the story of its evolution contains tons of progressive marketing ideas, and this books captures them all. I blogged twice in 2010 about this great little book (lesson one and lesson two). Also, after you read it, get on iTunes and search for podcasts with Scott and Halligan; one of my favorites is an August 13, 2010 interview from Blog Talk Radio’s The A-List with Jennifer Lindsay. (The A-List is an interview podcast with social media and marketing movers and shakers.)
How We Decide (January 2010)
by Jonah Lehrer
In order to be effective and successful PR and marketing specialists, we need to understand the psychology behind why people buy, what’s important to them at each life stage, and how they come to conclusions in general. Lehrer explains the use of our rational and emotional sides of the brain, and how each factors into how we decide. The single-most important factor in building better decision-making skills, he says, is making mistakes: the best decision makers are “students of error.” That is, making mistakes is a good, necessary thing: it allows us to reconfigure our brains so that the next time, we get closer to making the right decision.
*Addition to original post! Social media focused books lined up for 2011 include: The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business by Tara Hunt; Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman; and Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods by Shel Israel.