On Thursday, I had the chance to read The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, by Al and Laura Ries. Over the last few years, I've had a lot of opportunities to read technology, business and marketing-oriented books, and while most had some great qualities, there tends to either be too much fluffery without specifics, or dry tales that don't seem to relate to today's business world. In stark contrast, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR eloquently and directly stated its hypothesis and purpose, then went out and backed up the comments with detailed examples covering a wide variety of industries, from foods to automotive, through technology and the Internet.
Al and Laura, through a series of company-driven stories, explain how while much of companies' marketing budgets are allocated to wide-spread advertising campaigns that are difficult to support by real business growth, more significant results can be seen through deliberate, focused execution on public relations. They argue that public relations needs to be the first move, followed by advertising to sustain the brand, not to create the brand. Yet, advertising firms are lauded for their creativity, even when it can't be tied to business benefits, and woe be to the CEO or marketing executive who proposes unfocused advertising without first claiming success through PR. They give several examples where those who signed off on the big checks weren't there to collect their own in the end.
If you're in the business of promotion, or any business, really, the book is a great kickoff point for strategy and budgeting. Buy it on Amazon.