Twelve years ago the book, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson was published. It gave us fable about mice and men and how each handles change. In the book Johnson’s mice discover the cheese is all gone and immediately begin to search for a new supply of cheese; however, the when the humans discover the cheese is gone they assume someone has moved it and become angry because they saw themselves as victims of change.
I think we can apply this lesson to the field of Public Relations. Some are handling the massive changes in the field with acceptance and are adapting to the new paradigm, but some are taking a more human approach and seeing themselves as victims.
The new social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging are seen by some as evil, corrupt, and useless. Some business people feel it is unfair that people are making purchasing decisions from information they glean off the free social media sites when they are paying for advertisements to influence them. Some in the traditional media (newspapers, commercial TV, radio, etc.) may feel it is unfair that their sources of revenue are abandoning them for inexpensive promotional tools on the Internet. It’s all soooo unfair.
Someone moved Public Relations and it’s just not right!
I mention this because a few weeks ago a friend let me borrow a book called The Publicity Handbook by David R. Yale and Andrew J. Carothers. It was published by McGraw-Hill in May of 2001. In the nine years since it was published the field of Public Relations was moved. What we knew and understood about communication and media in 2001 has little to do with the world of communications and media of 2010, and the speed of change seems to be accelerating. Consider just a few of the changes since 2001:
- Newspaper Circulation: Down 21% from 2001 (55.6 M) to 2009 (44.0 M) and newspapers lost over 10% in 2009 alone.
- Newspapers Closed: 105…in the first seven months of 2009.
- Social Media Sites: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. all started after 2001.
- Blackberry Smart Phones: 2002
So what can a book on publicity have to say that has any value in today’s environment?
Quite a bit. The Publicity Handbook is a good foundation for anyone who is trying to learn the basics of the field of publicity and I it is a book I would recommend; however, for me, it gives a measure of how much has changed in the past nine years.
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