Today’s Communicators Need Answers… Deirdre Breakenridge Provides Them.

In today’s modern world of needing information quickly, communicating effectively is paramount. We rely on accuracy, ethics, and an adaptable mindset to be assist clients as well as educate tomorrow’s leaders. If there is anyone that understands these skills and challenges, it’s Deirdre Breakenridge.

On October 4, 2017, Deirdre published her latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators: A Guide to Effective Business Communication.” I’ve known Deirdre as a colleague, collaborator, mentor, and (most importantly) friend for over ten years. Her knowledge and foresight about our profession and its direction is trusted by volumes of leaders, students, and brands worldwide. Having known this book was coming, and having read all of her others, Deirdre offered me a copy (for ethical and transparency sake, I offered to blog and write a review on Amazon). I have never been disappointed in the books she has written or co-written because they are filled with information we, as public relations pros need. Let’s be honest, we are students always. We require constant education and learning to stay sharp in the era of “fake news” and mistrust.

Image: Routledge

Deirdre starts off the book with a perfect introduction: “Every modern communicator has a question.” Frankly, we do (and should always have them). This kicks off over 150 questions today’s pros ask. Some range from simple, while others focus on the more challenging. The questions spread over eight chapters, like “Learning the Essentials,” Taking Your Stories to the Next Level,” and “Measuring Your Success.” Sprinkled along the way are insights from respected professionals Gini Dietrich, Neal Schaffer, and Heather Whaling.

Of all the questions asked in the book, question number 70 jumped out at me. “What Does it Mean to Take the Best of “Traditional” Forward?” This question is one I ask and, then, discuss with students in my Comm 301 (Public Relations) classes in the School of Communications at American University. I’m old enough to remember when we’d have information about an event mailed via the post office as well as by fax. But, good PR transcends any new technology. Deirdre has seven points that state no matter what tech is preferred today and what channels and platforms pop up, good PR means:

Practicing ethical communication with your internal and external stakeholders; planning programs with measurable goals and objectives; creating more meaningful and innovative customer experiences; and developing strategic communication to create mutually beneficial, long-term relationships.

While these are only a few mentioned in the chapter, it strengthens what we need to do better for tomorrow’s industry leaders and today’s clients. Notice what the first point is: practicing ethical communication. If we continue to keep ethics top of mind, the best of our traditions will be learned more effectively, in my opinion. Deirdre understands this, saying the goal is the health and well-being of the business and public you serve. Good PR brings the best of our traditional roots forward, she adds.

I had a student ask me if this book would be for them and could not say “Absolutely” fast enough. Question 95 asks if should you still write and distribute good news releases (simple answer, YES) and Question 154 wants to know if it’s better to be proactive or just wait to be asked. These are just two questions that students have asked me in the past, either in the classroom, in Twitter chats, or during talks to PRSSA chapters around the country. Deirdre is in the classroom, too, and is the co-host and co-creator of #PRStudChat on Twitter.

“Answers for Modern Communicators” goes beyond just being a follow-these-points-and-you’ll-make-it book. In fact, none of Deirdre’s books take that outline. It’s “Answers,” though, that helps to guide, nurture, and offer advice to all from her vast experience in the communications field. Without question, this book will be one that you constantly refer back to, highlight with a pen (I did), and reference in a blog, class lecture, or a podcast.

As long as Deirdre Breakenridge continues to write books to guide our practice with her honest insights and career experience, we should all read and listen. I’m glad I did for “Answers” and will continue to listen and learn from a trusted industry leader and friend.