The outdated PR textbook

A week ago was the first time in two years I really cleaned my closet. It was  time for me to throw out college papers and empty boxes. One thing I found on the bottom of my closet was one of my old PR textbooks from college, Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice.


I started reading it again. Before I knew it I was far into the 390 page book, reading strategies that no longer apply, old case studies and definitions that I’ve never used in my professional career.

The 2004 edition did not have one word about social media. It makes you realize how much change the public relations world has gone through in the last few years.

I really hope that version of the book is decommissioned.

2 Responses to “The outdated PR textbook”

  1. Dawn Gilpin - February 23rd, 2009

    Hee. I’m in that textbook. ;>

    Publishing times are long, so that 2004 edition was written in 2000-2002. We are finally starting to see books with more inclusion of new and social media.

    While I (obviously, I hope) think those tools are important, I’m not sure they should make or break a textbook. At least some of those concepts and definitions you’ve never used might be useful, now that you have a context for them, or they might be things that you apply without thinking about them consciously. Or maybe they just don’t have anything to do with the specific kind of work that you do.

    In any case, I firmly believe that strategic thinking is the most important skill of any PR practitioner, which holds regardless of how our communication tools or context might evolve. I see my primary job as a PR professor as that of helping students learn to think strategically, using a toolbox of theories, concepts, and applied practice. I help them realize that they need to be constantly alert to changes in the media environment, but the basic principles of effective communication don’t change all that much. And for that, even a slightly outdated textbook will also do the trick.

    (This is why I get so angry at publishers who come out with new editions every year, usually for extremely minor, cosmetic revisions, just so they can force students to keep paying more and more for their books. I’d rather have them wait and do a major overhaul every five years or so instead.)


  2. Caroline Black - June 28th, 2010

    I do agree with you – I wrote The PR Practitioners Desk Top Guide (Thorogood) back in 2001 that was published in 2002.I updated it in 2008 and the second edition appeared in 2009 – I was loathe to include specific case histories for precisely the reasons above. Use of internet and social networking for organisations’ communications purposes is evolving all the time so it does make the printed book format difficult…hey ho – keep up with innovative ideas by looking at who wins awards for best practice in the field (eg CIPR Excellent awards) Caro xxx


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