powerbook2010 PRWeek has published the PRWeek PowerBook 2010, a 106-page A5-size book sub-titled “The definitive guide to the most influential people in PR” in the UK.

The publication was launched at a shindig in central London last week, which I went along to. A good time was undoubtedly had by everyone there, according to the photos.

Afterwards, as I perused the book, I wondered how PRWeek came to decide who would be included (in fact, the first question that came to my mind when I was at the event). There’s no mention anywhere in the publication about this, a key point in my view in determining whether something that claims to be “definitive” has any authority to make that claim and whether you would at least give it your attention and perhaps recommend it to others.

I’d not heard of this publication before although I understand it has been published annually since 2007. I wondered how PRWeek determined the ranking order in the various Top 10 lists in the book. There’s no explanation. I guess my intrigue about this aspect was stimulated partly by the fact that I’m included in the Top 10 Digital list, coming it at number 10. How did PR Week determine my inclusion, I wondered. And a fundamental question: what does “influential” mean in the context of this book?

In the introduction starting on page 5, PRWeek makes it pretty clear that this book isn’t intended to be a scientific exercise. All it really says about how things have been arrived at is this:

[…] We have compiled mini-rankings of the key players in each specific PR discipline. These tables have been put together with the help of senior journalists and leading figures in the media and PR industry. […] We do not claim this to be a scientific exercise. It is based on the opinions of the senior figures we contacted, and incorporates the expertise of the PRWeek editorial team.

Some of the contributors are named on page 5, all in the media by the looks of it. That helps some although it makes it no clearer on how I can gauge whether the book is worth giving any serious attention to and whether I’d agree that it’s a definitive guide on who’s influential in the UK PR scene.

So I asked Cathy Wallace, features editor at PRWeek (and project editor for the PowerBook), a few questions about the book. She’s kindly said yes to my request to let me publish our email conversation in this post.