Book Reviews

Public Relations

Public Relations Marketing: Making a Splash Without Much Cash

Author: Stephanie Seacord
Publisher Entrepreneur Press
Publication Date: October 1998

Reviewer:Joel Klebanoff
Joel Klebanoff, is a copywriter and marketing communications consultant specializing in the information technology industry. He is president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc.

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I have a confession. The Oasis Press has been sending me review copies of marketing communications books from their catalog, hoping that I'll review them for MarcommWise. This is the third of it's books that I've reviewed (the other two are Advertising Without and Agency and Connecting Online. There may be more by the time you read this.)

Two common attributes of Oasis Press books have become apparent. The first is that its books are directed at small business. This is not surprising as the publisher's tag line is "The Leading Publisher of Small Business Information."

The second common attribute that I've found is that the books deliver strictly information you can use. You won't find the management fad du jour -- just practical information and recommendations you can put to work in your business.

That's what is in Public Relations Marketing -- useful suggestions about how to put public relations to work for your business. It covers the use of e-mail, marketing collateral, newsletters, marketing events, press releases and press kits, media relations, sponsorships and other helpful hints. 

The book's subtitle is "Making a Splash Without Much Cash." A suggestion in the introduction goes even further and suggests, "you should set a goal of never paying for anything until all the other avenues have been exhausted for making an audience aware of your message for free."

Not all of the suggested courses of action are free, but those that are not free are relatively inexpensive.

Why is "relatively" in bold and italics? Because "inexpensive" is a relative word. A Fortune 500 company would not need to think twice about the cost of any of the suggestions in this book. However an under-funded or un-funded Mom & Pop's Local House of Licorice might, for example, balk at the cost of sponsoring a NASCAR race event and providing company branded attire to all customers and employees who attend (one of the examples in the book).

Practical Examples

The book offers many examples to illustrate its points, but ...

Public Relations Marketing is based on a series of articles that Stephanie Seacord wrote  for Motorsport Marketing News. While the book expands beyond those articles to provide advice that is broadly applicable, the majority of the examples are still based on motor sports.

It does not take much imagination to extrapolate the examples to other areas, but, for the most part, this effort is left up to the reader. (The focus on motor sports is not total. There are other examples scattered throughout and two of the three appendices -- a sample public relations standards manual and a sample crises communications plan -- are based on a hotel example.)

The writing style makes this book an easy read. If you had to classify it on a scale from "recreational reading" to "academic text," it would fall slightly to the recreational side of center.

File the next two comments in the "incredibly trivial criticisms" drawer.

First, the author seems uncertain as to the intended reader. At times it is written as if the reader is a public relations professional external to the organization being promoted. A few paragraphs later, without warning, it switches to writing as if the reader is someone promoting his or her own business. However, this only creates minor confusion and should not stop you from reading the book.

His or her ... that's a segue into the second comment. This one is even more trifling and is a question of personal style. Writing in a non-sexist language is a very noble goal, but I find "s/he," used extensively throughout the book, annoying. There are other ways to avoid sexism without resorting to this out-of-fashion, contrived, non-English construct. Enough said.

And, enough petty criticisms. If you are looking for a good book with some practical advice on public relations, you've found it.