Summer Reads for PR Pros

August 4, 2017


It’s August and it’s likely a slower time at your office. Hopefully, you have some vacation days left. So why not use those extra Summer Fridays, early releases or long weekends to catch up on some reading that will give you a leg up on industry knowledge before the fall?

Below are a few of my favorite, classic PR-related book recommendations, plus a few other fun and interesting reads that will give you a new perspective on current events.

“Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time” by Bill McGowan

Media guru and Emmy Award-winning correspondent Bill McGowan’s 2014 book focuses on “how to get your message across and get what you want with pitch-perfect communication.” A trusted adviser to tech companies and a media coach to the stars, he serves up advice for the rest of the industry.

“Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris

Though it’s just a few years old, this book is a classic. By seamlessly blending grammar into a witty, enjoyable book, former New Yorker editor Mary Norris shares her language know-all. As Amazon’s book review notes, “Between You & Me” features “laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage.” Norris also has a great knack for storytelling.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

If you’ve been binging on this on-demand Hulu series, then take a step back and read the novel that inspired it all. The dystopian society portrayed here is ever more prevalent with today’s current political climate. Originally written in 1986, the novel depicts a futuristic world where people own women as property.

“Crystallizing Public Opinion” by Edward L. Bernays

In his first book, the father of public relations wrote: “Perhaps the most significant social, political and industrial fact about the present century is the increased attention which is paid to public opinion.” Bernays’ combination of crowd psychology and psychoanalytical ideas continues to prove how PR pros find success by managing public opinion.

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell

If you want to understand business in a more holistic manner and powerfully communicate with various audiences, then Malcolm Gladwell’s books are a good place to start. In particular, he defines the tipping point as, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point,” after which a product or idea spreads like wildfire. You’ll find ties to public relations in several parts of his book, including the statement “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” Finally, explore his three rules of epidemics: the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context.

“A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout and Sarah Corbett

Amanda Lindhout’s chaotic childhood leads her to catching the travel bug and leaving her native Canada to explore the world. In her memoir, which starts as an adventurous recap, she tells the story of her own kidnapping in Somalia and how perseverance can help you survive dire circumstances.

“Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy

A superstar in the advertising industry, David Ogilvy has also taught the public relations world quite a bit. His book provides specific strategies, tactics and techniques used by the man himself, and many cite it as a top read for anyone in business. 

Hanna Porterfield

Hanna Porterfield is the immediate past chair of PRSA’s New Professionals Section. She works in health care public relations as a senior manager of social media at W2O Group in Chicago and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Connect with her on Twitter: @citygirlhanna.


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