New Book from Routledge: Visual and Spatial Public Relations

I’m delighted to post that I have a new edited collection out with Routledge: Visual Public Relations: Strategic Communication Beyond Text.

51-iW5359ZLWorking with former colleague, Dr Sarah Roberts-Bowman from Northumbria University, we’ve put together a collection that we believe offers a really interesting – and challenging – account of strategic communications that brings together a range of inter-disciplinary ideas to close down gaps in scholarship.

This from the introduction:

[W]e believe that non-textual domains of media and communication have been left largely unexamined within the field of public relations and strategic communication. Starting an exploration of the visual and spatial aspects of the fields will play a significant role in closing – or at least, beginning to close – a conceptual gap in the literature. … [S]uch a project will initiate and encourage interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to public relations and strategic communication. As this chapter (and the collection itself) progresses, the need to seek out and bridge conceptual divides with other, related fields, such as cultural and critical theories, design and anthropology will hopefully become clear.

In short, we are confident that by connecting broader perspectives on the visual and spatial dimensions of culture and media with public relations and strategic communication, a much-needed opportunity for furthering theories about, and research into, these fields can be developed.

In meeting this challenge we have brought together scholars from across the globe to discuss topics covering three main areas:

  • Theoretical and conceptual perspectives (from visual meaning-making to the communicative function of public spaces)
  • Applied visual and spatial communications (from comic books to statistical visualisations)
  • Research approaches (from multi-modal semiotic research to experimental, lab-based studies of emotion in communication)

More information is available on Routledge’s New Directions in Public Relations and Communication pages.

The book is available via Amazon (UK).

Share This: Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals

I’ve been involved with a great project over the past few months which finally came to fruition last week as the CIPR’s Social Media Advisory Panel launched a new social media and PR handbook.

Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals contains 25 chapters spanning strategic resources, practical guidance, industry change and tools and technologies across a range of different sectors written by a range of experienced practitioners.

The book came about, as fellow panel-ee Julio Romo writes, because after three years providing social media counsel for the CIPR:

“last year we thought that the time was right to put together a book for everybody in business – those in PR and communications, as well as those in marketing, finance, sales and customer service. After all, social cut’s across business disciplines.”

Since being listed on Amazon the book has sold out – not a bad performance by a book originally conceived as a sharable pdf ebook. Ever the inquisitor, I was thinking about what has made the book so popular earlier this week and I believe I’ve distilled it into the following factors:

  1. Firstly, the handbook draws together a wealth of smart and experienced senior practitioners who cover a wide range of different topics yielding comprehensive, expert content
  2. Secondly, the book provides specific cases and practical detail for the changing nature of social media and PR – not just repeating platitudes about how social media is ‘changing everything’
  3. Finally, many social media books are written by US authors whereas Share This comes at the topic from a clear UK context, incorporating case studies; campaigns results; statistics and insight from UK-based practitioners

My contribution, ‘Social Media and The Third Sector’, features in the industry change section and examines how organisations in the non-profit sector need to think about their communications and campaigning strategies in relation to what I term the ‘new networked reality‘ in which they now operate.

I suggest that the nature of the sector should be ideally suited to the socially motivated aspects of this networked space but that a lot of the strategic and tactical changes that organisations need to make can run counter to conventional organisational thinking.

The chapter concludes by pointing to a future where organisations will need to become ‘hybrid’ and work with strategically aligned online networks of supporters, partner organisations and the increasingly networked and active public.


The Marketing Century

The CIM has a new book out to mark the centenary of the organisation which, according to the press release I've been sent, celebrates the role of the marketing industry's trade body by providing "a comprehensive source of marketing’s evolution over the past one hundred years."


The book appears to cover a wide range of themes; although I haven't seeing a copy so I can't overly explicit about what's in there. I have, however, had a quick look at the chapter on digital marketing written by fellow CIPR social media panel member, Phillip Sheldrake.

It looks good. It nicely weaves a readable narrative about the origins and trajectory of digital marketing from the early days thorugh to current challenges for marketers while all the time offering practical insights. It's a pretty comprehensive chapter too, covering email, mobile, search and analytics.

It concludes with a really interesting take on the potential directons for the future of marketing. What I like is the way the information is kept top-line enough to remain plausible but granular enough to be useful.

It's also highly refreshing to see the 'Internet of Things' being raised as a theme – bringing the classically transactional world of marketing in step with a networked-services vision of the future.

My only – and frankly unjustified complaint – is that the chapter (and likely book) doesn't critically engage with the implications of some of developments. It's unjustified becasue it's a CIM textbook so unlikely to provide a deep critique of marketing and also because Phillip does reference the backlash against BT and Phorm in the section on digital data.

I'm also unconvinced of the book's bold claim it's able to predict the next 100 years of marketing – but maybe that's part of the marketing plan 🙂


History, historiography and Wikipedia

The Iraq War: Wikipedia Historiography

I’ve been doing some talking and thinking about post-digital recently. A big part of this involves how our
everyday lives have been – and are being – shaped by exposure to online networks and how this
immersion in networks of practice permeates into our real-world thinking.

Usually this is best revealed through our behaviour
and expectations, but colleague and friend Chris Applegate pointed me towards this
awe-inspiring blog post
by James Bridle that seems to neatly invert the notion of post-digital by
re-imagining a very digital product through a very non-digital channel.

Specifically, the James has published in book-form the entire series of edits made to the Wikipedia article on the Iraq War across a five year period from December 2004 to November 2009 – from invasion/liberation to retreat/victory. 

The series totals 12 volumes and incorporates a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages. It's truly awesome.

This idea absolutely inspired me. It sets out and makes tangible the idea of history not as a fixed entity of knowledge for knowing, but as a historiography; a
fluid discourse; a body of knowledge in flux.

Ex-Cluetrainee and Berkman Center Fellow,
David Weinberger, in his book Everything is Miscellaneous, terms this process social
the blogger in question, James Bridle, puts it more eloquently when he states that Wikipedia is:

"not only a resource for collating all
human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to
be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we
agree on, and what we cannot.

I cannot agree more.

Call it what you will, the sooner we – and particularly those in positions of authority, influence and power – can recognise and accept that the representation and manifestation of knowledge and
power is a dynamic, fluid, process that yields meaning and suggests outcomes that change over time, the sooner contemporary society will