Some four weeks ago, I received a little book on Public Relations. The Art and Craft of PR, written by PR and marketing communications executive Sandra Stahl, who has poured the insights of her extensive experience leading domestic and global brand communications into this little book.
Before I tell you about the book, here’s something more about Stahl, to establish the quarter this book has come from: Sandra is a founding partner at jacobstahl and an adjunct professor in the Brand and Integrated Communications program at The City College of New York, and in her agency and corporate positions, and as co-founder of jacobstahl since 2003, Sandra has shaped communications strategies and campaigns for companies of all sizes, from leading multinationals to start-ups, as well as non-profit organizations and academic institutions.
Sandra is considered especially valuable to her clients and colleagues for the creativity and stakeholder insights she brings to communications solutions and her ability to distil the complex into the manageable. She has extensive experience in brand, corporate and internal communications with a distinctive strength in developing narratives that contribute to relationships that matter.
And now, about her book, The Art And Craft Of PR.
It’s an exquisite, big little book for the Public Relations professional. It’s not a didactic ‘teach’ but an insightful conversation that’s as effective as it is pithy.
Thankfully, it doesn’t waste any time on the ‘how to’ basics — like writing a pitch note or a press release. Instead, from the sweet spot between the ‘head’ of science and the ‘heart’ of art, the experienced and accomplished Stahl has created what, to my mind, is both, an intuitive and beautifully structured book on Public Relations for not just the young, but even the most accomplished professional.
The writing – as you would expect from a professional like Stahl — is expert, because the reading is super smooth and easy. There’s an economy of phrase and a wealth of inputs and insights in the really actionable – and eminently ‘internalise-able’ — narrative.
When I received the book to review it, I cursorily flipped it open to glance at it and to put it down in two minutes. I did just that in two, too, but it was two hours. To pick it up again as soon as I could push other things away, and finish a rewarding, intuitive, well-written and definitely one of the most insightful books on Public Relations that I’ve read in a long time.
What adds to its value for PR professionals is the excellent food for thought in the last chapter from some of the best minds in PR and Corporate Communication. For her debut book after three decades of great PR work, Stahl has obviously lovingly handpicked these leaders for their advice, because what each one of them has said will have you thinking and re-reading and sharing their words. Excellent stuff.
In fact, from the numerous extremely positive reactions to Stahl’s book, here’s one that, to my mind, beautifully enunciates the essence and personality of this useful book:
The practice of modern PR is both art and science, strategy and execution, fact and finely tuned intuition. This book taps into all of that and is a great practical guide: Mary Lynn Carver, Chief Communications Officer and Global Vice President, General Mills
And here’s another, by Sarah Papineau, published on Amazon.com: ‘The Art & Craft of PR is a gem. After decades of experience in public relations, Ms. Stahl distills some very useful nuggets on the art (big picture) and craft (tactics & tools) of her profession. Whether you are a consumer or generator of public relations, or just interested in the subject, this book is for you. Ms. Stahl succeeds in creating a page-turner with refreshing examples of why words matter, why listening is crucial, and what motivates people to change behaviour. One of my favorite examples is how rapper, Eminem, combed through the dictionary to find new ways to rhyme. Ms. Stahl explains how to avoid jargon and how to grow and keep up with new vocabulary.
The book also delves into the future of public relations and shows how it can and will evolve. A perfect gift for anyone involved in behavior change,a call to action, digital marketing, new media and any form of fund raising.’
“This book,” says a flyer from its publisher in India, Sage Books, “is built around the idea that PR as a communications discipline has no boundaries. It is the PR professional’s manual for creating that specific type of mindset and building the necessary skills to meet today’s communications challenges, which include mastery of the fundamentals, cultivating unbridled curiosity and creativity, the art of listening, and never losing sight of business objectives.”
“This book is a cornerstone for PR students and novices looking to break into the industry, and for junior and mid-level PR practitioners interested in learning new skills, which they can use to gain a creative edge on their competition.”
Indeed. This is a book I feel every PR professional – from the junior-most to the senior-most — in any PR Agency or function, big or small, must buy and read. Period.