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Book Review: “Be Your Own Best Publicist”

by Alexandra Williams on March 22, 2011

I recently volunteered to review the book “Be Your Own Best Publicist: Build Your Reputation; Make Yourself Indispensable; Promote Brand You” by Jessica Kleiman & Meryl Weinsaft Cooper.

I’m not a PR professional, nor do I know either of the authors. I got a free copy of the book, though!

I chose to review this book because I am a small business person who can always use helpful tips and techniques. Once I’m rich (fame – meh), I shall happily hire out this chore (as long as my PR company can properly construct a press release and produce good spelling and grammar)!

So I read this book completely from the angle of a learner, not to compare and contrast.

With that in mind, I found it to be a fairly comprehensive introduction to self-promotion. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are sound bites, key messages and news flashes, which distill information into quick take-aways.

I liked these because they are easy to remember, appear easy to implement, and are motivating and practical.

Putting the “you only have a few seconds to grab the reader/listener’s attention” adage into practice, the authors gave very catchy (and descriptive) titles to their chapters:

  • Communication is Key
  • Always Have a Plan (and a Back-Up Plan)
  • Be a Know-It-All (in a Good Way)
  • It’s All About Who You Know (and Who Knows You)
  • The Message is the Medium
  • Looks Aren’t Everything (But They Sure Help)
  • What do I Have to Do to Get Noticed Around Here?
  • Toot Your Own Horn (but Not Too Loudly)
  • Brush Up on Your Social (Media) Studies
  • Gratification Doesn’t Have to be Instant
  • Every Crisis is an Opportunity

This appealed to me because I knew what to expect from each chapter. As a person who loves alliteration, I also was drawn to the section breakdowns: Prepare, Project and Protect. Each section and chapter stayed on topic and gave specific advice and examples.

For a non-professional public relations person, this is one of the book’s strong points. Another strong point is the use of language – the authors didn’t try to impress with industry lingo that might dazzle, yet confuse, nor did they patronize or try to sell. They combined their two writing styles seamlessly and in a helpful, businessperson-to-businessperson manner.

Maybe because I am already a professional communicator, I sort of quickly read through the communications-oriented bits. My favorite section of the book was about dressing to stand out - getting a personal style that “brands” you. There is even a 3-step exercise to guide you.

But… also because I am an editor, I was not all that enthralled with the grammatical and spelling errors. Those should have been caught prior to publication as there are enough of them to make one wonder if the proofreader was um, wandering…

My other criticism has to do with the illustrative examples – it felt like the authors wrote around the anecdotes and examples sometimes, just to get them in.

But those are minor criticisms – overall I think this is an excellent resource and starting point for anyone who is at the beginning and needs the basics.

And for you PR pros, it puts you in a good light! It subtly sells the profession, leaving me with the feeling that, “I could do this myself and do a good job of it. Yet I’d much rather leave it to a pro.” Kleiman and Cooper managed to simultaneously give away their “secrets” while putting forth a case for the public relations industry.

More from Women Grow Business:

Alexandra Williams, MA, co-writes Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, a humorous fitness blog with her twin sister, Kymberly, in the hope that readers will laugh themselves into a fit state. Together they speak at events, on the radio and in public rest stops. Alexandra is a contributing editor and writer for IDEA Fitness Journal, and teaches in the exercise sports studies department at UC Santa Barbara. Talk to Alexandra on Twitter, where she goes by @Alexandrafunfit.

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