My eight must-reads for 2014

I know that time is precious (or money, or of the essence, or whatever) but I always think I benefit hugely by setting aside a bit of time to read around the subject.

There’s some great resources out there that will help you do your PR job better, grow in your communications career but also just think a bit differently about how you approach the subject.

So many eureka moments come from reading something helpful that either challenges your ideas completely or – conversely – totally confirms your views of how things should be done. I find that some of the most helpful advice or interesting reading often comes from other sectors or subjects that have nothing really to do with communications.

I’m a voracious reader of fiction as well as professional stuff so here’s my distilled list (which I was supposed to keep down to five):

#1 brand vandals and brand anarchy

Firstly I need to declare an interest here and say that I do know one of the authors and was interviewed as part of the second book. That being said these are the first two texts that should be on any reading list for people interested in PR, communications, social media or marketing. Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington really get this stuff and provide a blueprint of how the modern media and digital world currently exist, while sharing advice on what we can do about it. These are the books I tell everyone to read. You can read my original review here.

#2 This Huffington Post piece by Alistair Campbell

I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of the man or the politics but this is one of the most insightful and interesting things I’ve read on how the PR world is changing. I’ve probably read this ten times.

#3 Blogs

There’s been a lot of talk about the declining relevance of blogs as a medium but I still find them hugely useful. At a time when learning and training is difficult to access my favourite blogs provide a regular stream of relevant information, challenging ideas and opportunities to pick the brains of the smartest people on the web. Some of my favourites are: comms2point0, weeklyblogclub, Rachel Miller’s allthingsIC, Chris Bolton’s Whatsthepont, the CIPR conversation, Simon Wakeman’s blog and many more.

#4 The chimp paradox by Dr Steve Peters

My interest here was sparked because this is the psychiatrist the FA has just hired to make sure England don’t lose on penalties (again) at the World Cup this summer (no pressure then). He’s certainly got a fine pedigree and was credited with helping the Olympic cycling team cope with the huge pressure of London 2012 and still deliver that amazing medal haul. This book has some great practical tips and techniques to help understand personalities and why we act the way we do (and often not in the way we’d like)

#5 You are the message by Roger Ailes

This one is a bit old school as it’s a book on communications from the 1980s that feels more relevant in the digital age. An acquired taste for sure, but I’ve definitely taken some useful advice from it. Here’s my longer review.

#6 CIPR #PR2014

Again, I need to declare an interest here as I did a section on the North East, but I found reading the other submissions really interesting and gained a fascinating insight into PR in other sectors. See it here.

#7 @alivewithideas the Zombies are coming…

This is a fantastic, creative idea that was so well executed. I heard about it over twitter and later the agency send me a brilliant internal communications report themed around the coming Zombie apocalypse. It posed some hugely challenging organisational questions in a way that was clever, interesting and devoid of any corporate claptrap. It was great reading and had a huge social impact because of the way it sparked the imagination.

#8 – World war Z

Again with the Zombies. You may be detecting an obsession theme here. This is just a great book and because it’s written in the style of a mock-UN report it’s also a great exercise in using language to make dry, official reports seem more interesting. A few of the council reports I’ve been subjected to over the years could definitely have been brought to life with a few apocalyptic zombies (pun fully intended).

I hope this list is useful but do let me know if you have any thoughts or any other must-read texts that I should be reading.

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5 thoughts on “My eight must-reads for 2014

  1. Interesting point about the debate on the declining relevance of blogs. I can only speak in terms of how we use blogging as a project, but blogging still allows us to ponder points and also generate content quickly. Still finding it useful here!

    Some great resources here – couldn’t agree more about What’s the Pont and Weekly Blog Club!

    – Dyfrig

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