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Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World

2012 nonfiction book by Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorley

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The paradigm has shifted and businesses and organizations need to adjust accordingly.

  • Nov 22, 2012
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"When PR works well it has greater credibility than advertising, whether it's street cred or the more formal kind measured by big polling firms--because when someone else says something good about you, it's worth infinitely more than when you say something good about yourself." -- page 9

Time was when companies could pretty much create an image of themselves through sophisticated ad campaigns and make patently outrageous claims about the merits of the goods and service that they produced. According to authors Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorley such so-called "conventional wisdom" has been turned upside-down in recent years. It would appear that these days public relations rather than advertising is the main focus in the business plans of a growing number of businesses and organizations. Essentially it seems to boil down to this - it matters not how one wants to be perceived. Rather what truly matters is how one is actually perceived. In their new book "Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World" Seitel and Doorley offer up a number of interesting case studies to back up their thesis. And since both of these gentlemen have spent virtually their entire careers in the public relations game they clearly know what they are talking about. There is much food for thought in this volume.

According to the authors, "reputation" can be defined as "what the individual or organization stands for". They cite the case of Johnson & Johnson, a great American company that has been around since 1886. Back in 1943 Robert Wood Johnson II, the son of one of the founding brothers introduced a Credo for his company that stated "Take care of the customer first, then our employees, and then our communities, and the shareholders will get a fair return." This philosophy has served the company well over the years. Recall the way J & J responded to the unfortunate Tylenol tampering case back in 1982. Despite the fact that were clearly not responsible for what had happened the company chose to recall every last bottle of Tylenol. They put the safety of the public ahead of profits and took a major financial hit in the short run. But by doing the right thing J & J gained the admiration and respect of an entire nation. You just can't buy publicity like that. On the flip side, Seitel and Doorley cite the reckless and inept way ExxonMobil handled the Exxon Valdez oil spill back in 1989. Clearly, this was a public relations nightmare that could have been avoided. Then there was the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This is another fascinating case study on the do's and don'ts of public relations. The authors have plenty to say about how BP, Chairman Tony Hayward and President Barack Obama handled this situation. All would take a PR hit for the way they handled this disaster. Fortunately most of those seeking to enhance their reputation do so by taking the high road. However, there are those egotistical, singularly-focused individuals who have succeeded in building a reputation through pursuing the low-road. The authors cite Nancy Grace, Al Sharpton and Donald Trump as examples.

If you are the owner of a small or medium size business it seems to me that reading "Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World" could prove to be a very worthwhile read for you. Ditto for those who are involved in public relations or fund-raising in the non-profit world. In the pages of this book you will discover the increasing importance of word-of-mouth, relationships and free publicity. The authors have put their considerable experience to work in helping you to draw up a blueprint for enhancing what is potentially your most valuable asset--your reputation. The simple fact of the matter is that while traditional advertising still has its place but it simply does pack the wallop that it used to. Although I found the writing to be a bit dry at times I still believe that this is a book that certainly deserves a look. Highly recommended!

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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Good public relations is no longer just icing—it’s a strategic imperative more important to your competitive success than even advertising or marketing. This is true whether you’re a century-old multibillion-dollar corporation or a penniless startup. In Rethinking Reputation, public relations guru Fraser Seitel and John Doorley, founder of the Academy for Communication Excellence and Leadership at Johnson & Johnson, examine a fascinating new set of case studies—including the BP oil spill and the launch of CitySlips—to glean the PR dos and don’ts for the new media world, covering both standard reputation maintenance and crisis management. They also show start-up companies and entrenched organizations how to use the power of word-of-mouth to jump-start business like never before. This is a wake-up call from two industry legends—for public relations professionals as well as entrepreneurs, CEOs, and anyone else tasked with representing their organization to the world.

These new media lessons include:

*Remember that research is cheaper, and more critical, than ever.
*Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good—launch your idea before someone else does.
*Don’t get so excited about social media that you forget about traditional media.
*In a crisis, you are never offstage.
*Never lie, never whine, and never try to predict the future!

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