A highly readable, provocative, and stimulating PR guide.

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THE ART & CRAFT OF PR

CREATING THE MINDSET AND SKILLS TO SUCCEED IN PUBLIC RELATIONS TODAY

Relevant insights about public relations from a skilled practitioner.

This fine debut by Stahl, a co-founder of marketing communications agency Jacobstahl, is a concise overview of the PR field that offers a forward-looking perspective on the impact of modern communications technology. With precision and authority, Stahl covers the basics, raising important issues without delving into excessive detail. The book seems primarily intended for those considering a career in PR—the author teaches graduate courses in integrated communications at the City College of New York—but experienced practitioners may learn a thing or two, as well. The book’s 10 PR fundamentals, for example, are more intriguing than similar, more typical lists; they include “Curiosity,” “Message and Motive Integrity,” and “Story Telling.” Similarly, the section comparing “attraction” and “promotion” is intriguing: “attraction operates on a different rhythm than promotion. It feels friendlier, more relaxed. It doesn’t come with either the volume or the urgency of promotion. If orchestrated effectively, it can almost feel organic and inevitable.” Here, the author effectively and clearly associates the more sophisticated and subtle “attraction” with the power of PR. Stahl later uses the interesting term “gentle collisions,” borrowed from Michael Markowitz of Panera Bread, one of her clients, to explain how attraction creates “personal and authentic intersections in the everyday lives of the target audience.” There are specific tips and techniques, as well, as in a bulleted list of “ways to spark creativity,” and suggestions for keeping business objectives front and center when working on a PR strategy. The book closes with a chapter titled “Messages from the Masters,” which ably condenses the wisdom of 17 senior PR executives into digestible interview excerpts. Perhaps recognizing the relative brevity of her book, Stahl helpfully includes a section of additional resources.

A highly readable, provocative, and stimulating PR guide.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9991871-0-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: LID Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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