Recommended books for comms pros…

Every week I am contacted by professional communicators worldwide who ask my opinion as they are on the hunt for books on internal communication, social media, PR and employee engagement.

I’ve published my annual recommendations in the form of Amazon lists on my blog since 2009 and highlighted the books I’ve contributed to. Today I’ve decided to share my recent purchases with you to help you choose.

RachelMiller_CIPRInsideBack in January this year I was fortunate enough to be awarded the inaugural Best Individual Contribution to Internal Communication Award at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Inside awards (pictured).

Part of that honour included a learning bursary to spend as I wished on my own professional development, which is known as the Clare Latham award.

After blogging about it and thinking long and hard, this week I finally chose what to do with the bursary. I have invested it in two ways – firstly in a newspaper subscription so I can keep up-to-date while on maternity leave in the year ahead.

Secondly by refreshing my bookshelves and buying some Comms and PR books, the majority were published this year and I’ve included the publishers and date info in case you want to track them down for yourself.

(P.s. Today is the closing date for the CIPR Inside awards – do get your entry in by 6pm UK time if you haven’t already).

Bookworms unite

My shelves are already groaning under the weight of all the comms books I’ve purchased and been sent over the years and I love rummaging through them to spark ideas and provide additional context and theory for my clients.

They’re an invaluable resource when clients are looking for ‘additional evidence’ to underpin my or their thinking. I often refer to my academic texts to reassure them and equip them to have conversations with their stakeholders internally.

Share This I found out this week one of the books I’ve contributed to, Share This: Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals is still high in the Amazon PR book charts, remaining at number five, two-and-a-half years after it was published by Wiley (2012).

I wrote the chapter on Employee Engagement: How social media are changing internal communication. The book’s description says: Share This is a practical handbook to the biggest changes taking place in the media and its professions by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social Media Panel. The book was conceived and written by more than 20 public relations practitioners representing a cross-section of public, private and voluntary sector expertise using many of the social tools and techniques that it addresses. 

The book is split into 26 chapters over eight topic areas covering the media and public relations industry, planning, social networks, online media relations, monitoring and measurement, skills, industry change and the future of the industry. It’s a pragmatic guide for anyone that works in public relations and wants to continue working in the industry.

So what did I buy?
The following titles are currently winging their way to me and I can’t wait to read them. All the descriptions are via Amazon.

I also bought some books on WordPress to help me constantly improve my website by learning more about the back-end of how it all works:

book_strategic_ICStrategic Internal Communication: How to Build Employee Engagement and Performance by David Cowan. Kogan Page (2014).

While most organisations recognise that the external communication between customers and shareholders is crucial to the success of a business, very few consider the implications of their internal communication or develop a clear strategy for it. So while management decisions may be perfectly rational, badly executed communication can leave staff across the organisation confused, worried or disinterested. Strategic Internal Communication offers a complete approach to building engagement, performance and cultural integration in any organisation. It looks at the relation between the traditional silos of internal communication, HR and employee engagement and demonstrates, using the new Dialogue Box approach, how to use communication more effectively and strategically to break down these barriers.

book_corpcommsCorporate Communication: A Guide to Theory and Practice by Joep Cornelisse. 4th edition. SAGE publications (2014).

Academically grounded, it covers the key concepts, principles and models within corporate communication by bringing together academic knowledge and insights from the subject areas of management and communication. It combines this academic base with a clear practical outlook – practical cases illustrate the theory and each chapter also focuses on models and exercises. The international scope of the book, featuring cases from around the globe has been instrumental in its success and has now been used by nearly 20,000 students across over 50 different countries from New York to Helsinki, Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro for students studying Corporate Communication, Organizational Communication, PR and Marketing Communications and as an invaluable source for reflective practitioners.

book_smSocial Media Explained: Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend by Mark W. Schaefer. (2014)

Too busy to spend hours trying to learn the fundamentals of social media marketing? This is the book for you! Mark Schaefer, author of the best-selling books “Return On Influence” and “The Tao of Twitter” unravels the most misunderstood and confusing business trend in this fun and easy-to-read book. “Social Media Explained” explores the fundamental strategies and answers the biggest questions every business professional needs to answer before diving into a social media initiative! The is the must-have guide for understanding the sociological and psychological drivers that make social media marketing work.

book_PRmasterclassThe PR Masterclass: How to Develop a Public Relations Strategy That Works by Alex Singleton. Wiley (2014).

The PR Masterclass is written by former newspaper, magazine and digital journalist Alex Singleton, who is now a prominent PR trainer and consultant. It reveals the secrets of effective PR and shows how to put in place a practical, reliable and successful media strategy for your product, business or activity – one that delivers the greatest results. Through the book, you get to discover how to develop and pitch effective newsworthy material, regardless of your budget. The PR Masterclass is aimed at PR professionals as well as small business owners and entrepreneurs implementing a PR strategy.

book_stratBrand Media Strategy, 2nd Edition: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era by Antony Young. Palgrave Macmillan (2014).

From YouTube to Facebook to the iPad, today’s media landscape offers more tools and platforms for the savvy marketer than ever before. And with this rapidly evolving technology comes powerful ways to track what’s working and what’s not—and to ensure that you get the maximum impact for your brand. Brand Media Strategy, Second Edition explains how innovative marketers today are employing advertising and media communications to grow and build their brands. It explores the value of advertising in mass media, the use of digital media programs, and the employment of nonpaid and nontraditional media vehicles. 

book_toolkitThe Public Relations Strategic Toolkit: An Essential Guide to Successful Public Relations by Alison Theaker and Heather Yaxley. Routledge (2012).

The Public Relations Strategic Toolkit provides a structured approach to understanding public relations and corporate communications. The focus is on professional skills development as well as approaches that are widely recognised as ‘best practice’. Original methods are considered alongside well established procedures to ensure the changing requirements of contemporary practice are reflected. Split into four parts covering the public relations profession, campaign planning, corporate communication and stakeholder engagement, this textbook covers everything involved in the critical practice of public relations in an accessible manner

What’s on my reading list?

I’m also currently reading and enjoying two internal comms books I was sent recently:

IC_LiamInternal Communications: A Manual for Practitioners (PR In Practice) by Liam Fitzpatrick and Klavs Valskov. Kogan Page (2014)

Get internal communications right in your organisation and the benefits are clear. Motivated staff, better financial performance, a strong external reputation and delighted customers are just a few of the reasons why getting your message over to staff effectively matters. ‘Internal Communications’ explores what good practice in internal communications looks like, providing a no-nonsense approach to devising an internal communications strategy based on the authors’ extensive experiences as consultants and in-house leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

It provides a step-by-step guide to: Building an internal communications team and plan, Devising messages and deciding which channels to use, Working with line managers and senior leaders, Researching and evaluating internal communications and Supporting change within an organisation.

The second book I’m reading is:

Cascade to conversation From Cascade to Conversation by Katie Macaulay. AB Publishing (2014).

From Cascade to Conversation challenges organisations to rethink how they communicate with their employees. It argues that organisations have lost control of the message – if they ever had it. People everywhere have found their voice. The audience no longer passively receives the message, but shares and shapes it. Broadcasting to employees is therefore becoming dangerously archaic in this digital age.

Success demands greater internal collaboration, which can only happen through genuine conversations. In an era when deference is in decline and trust in short supply, conversation also has the power to restore much-needed faith and confidence in our leaders. The book examines what the shift from cascade to conversation means for the employee communications profession – for the content we write, channels we build, measurement we undertake and the skills needed of leaders and practitioners.

I hope that helps if you’re on the lookout for something to read or to share with your team. What’s on your reading list?

Advent season on the All Things IC blog

advent_headerFrom 1 December until Christmas there’s plenty more to read right here on the All Things IC blog as I will be counting down to Christmas by featuring a guest writer a day.

I’ll be looking back at some of the articles I’ve published from comms pros throughout the year and sharing them with you.

Thank you as ever for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 28 November 2014.

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  1. […] After thinking long and hard, I bought some excellent comms books and a newspaper subscription to keep up-to-date during my maternity leave in 2015. I wrote about the bursary and my choices via my blog after crowdsourcing ideas of how to spend it. […]

  2. Guy Dennis says:

    Be very interested to know what you made of the internal comms books, and which was best (or what the best one out there is). Interesting blog post!

  3. Thanks for your comment Guy. Liam and Klavs’ book is well worth a read, I’ve been pleased with my choices, but that’s the one I’ve returned to the most.

  4. Ana says:

    I loved “Communicate to Influence: how to inspire your audience to action” by Kelly Becker and Ben Becker and “Pitch Perfect” by Bill McGowan

  5. […] I’ve also written Recommended reads for comms pros. […]

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