Published on November 23, 2019, at 12:00 p.m.
by Heather Griffith.
Storytelling is an essential skill for public relations practitioners: It’s a part of the everyday job to tell the stories of clients and use those stories to build relationships with key audiences. That is why reading is an incredibly important pastime for people in the public relations field.
Below are four reasons that PR people should indulge in good books as often as they can. Following those are two book recommendations from sources who have been interviewed for previous Platform Magazine articles this semester.
Reading makes it easier to connect with people.
There are plenty of books in the world, on a variety of topics. As a result, there are always new subjects to learn about. In the PR world, it is vital that professionals are well-versed on things relating to their clients’ industries and various things that affect their clients in order to better understand the needs of the clients and, therefore, connect better with the clients’ audiences.
Additionally, reading allows people to understand other cultures without hopping on a plane and traveling to a new country. “Reading books set in cultures different from our own provides knowledge of those cultures and the emotional and spiritual lives of the people who live there,” according to Lumerit Unbound.
Not only does reading help people better understand other cultures, it helps a person to be more empathetic towards others. A study completed by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano looked at how reading affects the Theory of Mind. The “Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires” and their study found that “ passages of literary fiction, in comparison to nonfiction or popular fiction, does indeed enhance the reader’s performance on theory of mind tasks.”
Reading makes you a better writer.
The more you read, the more you know — that includes words too. When you read more, you’re able to expand your vocabulary because you are reading lots of new words that you can then incorporate into your own personal vocabulary. Having a wider vocabulary allows people to expand their writing into new horizons.
As all PR practitioners know, writing is probably the most important skill for PR people to master. PR professionals write nearly every day of their careers and the better their writing is, the more likely it is to be picked up by the media or to be well-liked among key audiences. Readers who read great writers become better writers themselves.
Reading challenges you to be more creative.
Public relations is an incredibly creative field. In order to make a campaign stand out, it must venture beyond the conventional. When you read more, you have more stories, more ideas inside your head because you’ve read the creative stories and ideas of other people.
In a recent study at Emory University, “researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function.” Every time you open a book, you’re opening yourself up to new possibilities and pushing yourself to think beyond the ordinary, which in turn can benefit you in your work life.
Reading improves your verbal communication.
Not only do PR practitioners need to have excellent writing skills, but they also need to have superb verbal communication skills. Oftentimes, PR people act as the public representative of an organization, person or corporation they represent. Reading more allows you to improve your ability to articulate yourself well. In a recent study at When you read more, you will sound like a more well-spoken and intelligent representative.
Now for the book recommendations you’ve been waiting for.
Andy Pray, founder of Praytell agency
“I’m going to go with “Endurance,” it’s about the Shackleton voyage. Anybody who has not read the story of the Shackleton adventure will love it. It’s a book that shows how amazing people can be under difficult circumstances.”
Mary Beth Brown, Freshwater Land Trust communications director
“My favorite life/business book recommendation is “The Power of Habit.” The book breaks down our behaviors as series of habits and teaches how to break and reform better habits that inch us toward our goals.”
Mark Harris, visiting professor at The University of Alabama
“The best book — especially as you’re getting your career started — is whatever you’ll stay with. Develop the habit. Read good writing. Always have a book you’re reading for enjoyment. I just gave a student a copy of “Into Thin Air,” about a disaster on Mount Everest, just because I thought he’d enjoy it and stay with it.”
If you’re not sure what exactly would interest you, try starting with Business Insider’s list of “30 books every professional should read before turning 30.” Or maybe Forbes’ list of “5 books every ambitious millennial should read” is more your style. Either way, find something that works for you and get started.