A kiss or a slap for digital PR? Share This Too Book Review
PR has struggled for many years with digital. Some have seen the potential, others have ignored or dismissed it. Even in organisations representing PR like the CIPR this schism has been quite apparent, but of late there have been attempts to move forward and Share This Too is the latest offering from the digital brains within the CIPR.
But coming on the back of the first Share This, a book which efficiently explained the new digital PR landscape in a friendly and welcoming way, the question has to be asked if there was need for a second book in the series just 15 months after the original came out?
The answer, quite simply, is yes. Share This Too isn't designed as a replacement for Share This. In many parts it builds upon what has gone before but while Share This was aimed at everyone in the industry, this feels more aimed at the account directors with ambition, the strategists and other mid-high level practitioners.
There are chapters by the likes of Ketchum's Kate Matlock, CIPR President to be Stephen Waddington, Philip Sheldrake, Stuart Bruce, Paul Fabretti and others covering topics like Social Commerce, Online Crisis Management, Mobile Media, The Visual Web and Social Capital.
Having said that, there are some chapters that feel almost like leftovers from Share This, chapters that are more basic than what surrounds them and the book suffers from a lack of cohesiveness in that area. Chapters on building an online personality are very worthwhile but seem basic compared to chapters on change management and digital anthropology.
Equally, the different styles from the myriad of authors can throw you. For example, the excellent chapter on CSR gives good details of the activities by Cisco, GE and BBVA – but when you get to the chapter on social business you're advised to have a walk around Burberry's Regent St store and go talk to the O2 social media team to see what they are doing. Now perhaps my review copy was missing the travel tickets to Regent Street and the O2 offices but it felt very much like a missed opportunity to provide a bit more info for those who expect the details to be in the book.
Other chapters also seem a bit out of sorts or places. The chapters on Corporate Comms could have been bunched – if not edited – together while a really good chapter on Digital and Pharma sticks out as it's the only chapter dedicated to one sector of external PR – there's no specific chapters to construction, travel, drinking, lobbying and so on and it makes you wonder if the editors are making a play for all the Digital PR people in the Pharma sector to buy the book on expenses.
There are a few other niggles too. A chapter on law seems very focused on England and Wales, forgetting that even within the UK framework of the CIPR there are areas called Scotland and Northern Ireland with their own laws – something which could have been covered in a few lines but the omission is striking. The chapter on seeing your CEO get online also seemed a little out of place. The odds are that if you're buying this book you already know the arguments for the CEO being online in some form or fashion – even Mashable has covered that topic in depth. It's a good chapter but would have been better placed in a book more aimed at CEOs.
Other niggles will depend on the reader. Some people have really enjoyed the chapter about engaged staff while I found it to be trying to hard to convince that all your staff should be shouting from the rooftops. By all means, have them shout but only if they want to. Not all employees want to be that engaged.
It may sound as if one is being overly negative about the book, but these are all minor issues. There is great material here – if nothing else, the last eight chapters justify the price of the book, giving practitioners a roadmap for the multiple ways PR will evolve, how to handle it and how to profit from it.
Is it an essential purchase? In a word, yes. To use the digital parlance of relationships, if Share This was a flash of ankle, this is the kiss, deeper and more rewarding, hinting at what is to come - if you put the work into it.
It's a deserving read but takes time to get the best out of it – just like a relationship. It's not for everyone. Give the Account Execs Share This or Brand Anarchy before this – but for those looking ahead or planning a long-term career in PR, this is what you get them this week as part of their continual development training.
The question now is will next year's Shar3 This, the third in the series, be a successful third date or a slap in the face?
Review by Craig McGill
Share This Too