Book review of Rich Leigh’s Myths of PR
Meaning of true ‘thought leadership’ has been lost by the media industry due to oversharing. News is being created out of news, opinions of developments are rife and so zealous to render the mere idea of revolution just another dull day in the office. Out of the darkness of ‘fictional futuristic PR’, a place where robots could take our jobs but nobody is smart enough to apply the technology yet, emerges a hero.
Rich Leigh, who started his PR agency as a 27-year-old and well-known founder of the website PRexamples.com. His book ‘Myths of PR: All publicity is good publicity and other popular misconceptions’ due to be released on 3rd April 2017 examines popular myths in the industry and uses them as a vehicle for helping start-up owners, practitioners, and students, to improve their practice.
In Rich’s own words, “Myths are damaging. They hold us back and prevent us from looking at and assessing things clearly and intelligently”.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to have a digital pre-release copy of the book and reading it has been a real pleasure. Unlike other industry books, often tricky to break past academic or theoretical communication models, Rich writes as he speaks — this is not an easy feat. It’s effortless to read through chapters whilst learning and being challenged, almost as if Rich is having a one-on-one conversation with you.
A perusal of the book’s chapters awkwardly reveals the vast number of myths about the PR industry, some of which are not as straight-forward to answer as you may think. Starting from “PR is all spin, smokescreen and lies”, to “the press release is dead”, and ending on a potentially controversial but intelligent analysis on “gender wage gap figures”. One chapter that particularly challenged my way of thinking is “you have to pay to see social media benefits”.
The whole book really is a witty bundle of intelligent analysis brought to life by working world anecdotes. In many ways the launch of the book will breathe life into a quickly aging academic PR library; all of which far too irrelevant and difficult to penetrate by the types of people this book would be perfect for; practitioners, people looking to hire an agency, or students interested in entering the industry.
As Rich covers fairly early on in the book, the reason many myths exist about PR may be because we tend to be background operators. We desperately part with serious amounts of money to be recognised in glitzy industry awards because the reality is most the time practitioners are confined to the shadows. In fact, if you asked somebody on the street to name a PR person then Max Clifford’s name would probably appear, with connotations of unethical practice rife.
This needs to change and ‘Myths of PR’ is probably one of the first modern books on the market that understands all current industry debates, tackles myths with humour and evidence, all in a bid to improve the practice and understanding of its readers. I’m going to be buying at least 100 copies to give to people every time they ask what I do for a living.
PS. I’m not buying 100 copies… but you should buy one.