PR Pros Should Read This Book

I have a book recommendation for all you PR pros out there. However, please allow me to preface this by answering a common question. With all the PR & marketing surrounding the upcoming U.S. election, I’m often asked why I don’t comment on it. The simple fact is, I don’t want this to become yet another political blog and it can be very difficult to separate commentary from political agenda. So, I have chosen to avoid discussing campaign strategies here. That said, the book, Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business by James Harding, editor of the Times of London, is a must-read for everyone in our industry.

The book outlines the rise of U.S. political strategists from the PR consultancy, Sawyer Miller Group, who have led the campaigns for every U.S. presidential candidate from Nixon to George W. Bush. Not only does Harding cover the campaigns these men created here in the states, but, even more fascinating is how their strategies have influenced PR strategies abroad. A great example is from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. As Harding tells it, Tony Blair was widely criticized for having “too much spin” in his campaign. So, positioning himself as the anti-spin candidate, Gordon’s tag was, “Not flash, just Gordon.” His entire campaign is a great example of spinning a no-spin image.

Harding goes on to outline how these U.S. PR strategists influenced political campaigns around the world, including Peru, the Philippines, Chile, Israel, throughout South America and Western Europe. There are some very interesting speech-writing episodes as well – particularly with ideas that work in one part of the world not necessarily translating to different cultures.

I hope you’ll pick it up; it’s a great read that’s funny, insightful and really rather inspiring in an odd way.

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