This story about PR qualifies for ‘must read’

Alastair CampbellEvery now and again, something is written or said about the practice of public relations, its development and evolution, usually with the phrase “this is a must read” attached.

In my experience, much of what’s described as “must read” is anything but, especially when the words “social media” are added; it’s just spin for the PR.

Now and again, though, something is written that you really must read for its clarity of thought, its intellectual excellence, its demonstration of innovation in strategic thinking, its simplicity in and clarity of that thinking, and its powerful insight.

Alastair Campbell has written such an item, published today in The Huffington Post.

In “Why the World of PR Is Changing,” Campbell – most widely known as the communications chief at 10 Downing Street during Tony Blair‘s tenure there – tells a compelling story about a topic that has occupied thousands of column inches and millions of pixels height and width, taking as its foundational introduction a difficulty he encountered in planning a trip to Australia and how it was resolved in a conversation via Twitter:

[…] the PR landscape, like the media landscape, has changed beyond all recognition, and that public affairs now covers any interaction between any two people or organisations. That exchange was between me, my phone, and a guy on the other side of the world who saw a relevant Aussie address come up, and who got a grip. No journos, no PRs, no marketeers, just someone with a sense of the product – in this case one person’s feeling for Australia – and an understanding it was worth stepping in. The product, large or small, is what will decide the strength or weakness of the PR. Strategy, to me, has always been about the joining up of dots to paint a picture in the public mind as close to the one you want them to see. @sandihlogan landed a dot on my Aussie landscape that erased the negative dots my application had been landing.

And the stark simplicity of this, reflecting on an interview he did with former US president Bill Clinton around the time his autobiography came out:

[…] Objective, Strategy, Tactics had always been No. 1 on the list of 10 guidelines for leadership and strategy that I had on a postcard I always carried with me.

  1. OST.
  2. Be bold.
  3. Be adaptable.
  4. Best team leaders are best team players.
  5. Stay calm in a crisis.
  6. Listen but lead.
  7. Get good out of bad.
  8. YOU set the agenda.
  9. Head above parapet.
  10. Visualise the victory.

These are but two insightful snips from  a lengthy post that in my book qualifies as “must read.”

Do read Campbell’s full story that, The Huffington Post notes, is from a speech he gave at the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs Annual Oration on June 27 in Melbourne, Australia.

It could be a terrific start point for making your own stories “must read.”