Storification: How can you use books as part of your PR plan? Author, Contributor, or Subject?

By Jim James,


Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

In the SPEAK|pr methodology, the first part is the Storification of a business, because ultimately, stories are how people can associate and absorbs large amounts of information and data. On Park Howell’s Business of Story podcast, which is entirely dedicated to storytelling for your brand, he mentions that even the dollar bill is a story. Money itself, he explains, is a concept that people buy into because the essential story is that there is a promise of payment when you hold that piece of paper. The paper itself has negligible value, but there’s a story behind it. 

In 2018, the United States had some 675 million books sold with the global ebook market valued at 12 and a half million dollars. There are currently over 250, 000 business books in print fighting for limited shelf space or space on the Kindle reader or the New York Times bestsellers shelves. These days, books are becoming easier to publish, but the rationale for publishing them as also slightly changed. Most books today are selling, in terms of the business category, to the authors’ and the publishers’ communities. It is difficult for a book to become a global bestseller because of the fierce competition, the language, the interest levels, and the pace at which books are picked up and dropped. Desktop authoring technologies such as Scrivener or Ulysses make it easier to compile a book at home and later export it to an online publishing platform in order to self-publish. No longer is it required to have a publisher endorse, provide, or manage the distribution of a book. Much like podcasting or video with YouTube, publishing has now become accessible for everybody.

There are several different types of books: biographies like Richard Branson’s Like a Virgin, for example, or the Steve Jobs’ biography. There are also the how-to and life stories such as Kiyosaki Rich Dad, Poor Dad that has made a huge impression on many people. How-to books are perhaps the core element of the business category and more in tune with what we’re doing with SPEAK|pr. Warren Buffet still credits Benjamin Graham’s 1949 book The Intelligent Investor as being the best book on investing he has ever read. Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma talks about whether one should stay in the industry trend that they’re currently in or if they should break free to create something new. Steve Jobs uses this as an explanation for why Apple needed to embrace cloud computing and has also been favoured by Jeff Bezos. Good to Great and Built to Last books by Jim Collins have also helped create a paradigm for other entrepreneurs to work with. Confessions of a Pricing Man by Herman Simon talks about the impact of pricing on all aspects of life and is a reminder that it does not matter how good or bad the product is, but there is a price element that triggers consumption by a person, consumer, or company. Basically, everyone has their own taste when it comes to books that inspire and motivate. 

The influence of a published author

One of the things that people say about publishing is that only 5% is writing the book, while a whopping 95% is publishing. With podcasts, 20% is content creation and 80% is marketing. No matter what the numbers are, the point is that what you write or say is only a small part of the overall journey. Looking at public relations, a book can be used to leverage your business, build credibility with clients, and create recognition. Having a book can help position a person as an expert even if there is no PhD or university affiliation. People take pride in having a book as if to prove they have no need for the credentials of tertiary education. There have been opportunities that people such as Steve Jobs have received as a result of publishing a book, because books bring authority for the individual or the company.

The field of communication is constantly changing. New research papers are constantly becoming available, and there is the impact of new technologies on communication that are fundamentally shifting the PR domain, such as social media. The goal of SPEAK|pr is to help people running their own companies communicate better so that they can be better understood. In the process, more problems will be solved, more value, jobs, and security will be created, and stress and conflict will be reduced, making it a worthy topic for a book. Whether you’re successful or not, there’s a story there that somebody else would like to hear that could touch and support somebody else along that common journey. Writing a book is a great way of both articulating what you have learned, but also continuing to learn more and sharing that with other people. An obvious challenge with writing a book is that on average, it is anywhere from sixty to one hundred thousand words or one hundred and eighty to two hundred and fifty pages. With technology, however, there is no need to have the same level of self-discipline or skills. Several platforms can be helpful, one of them being Otter, which enables uploading of audio or video to their platform that will then be transcribed with the help of artificial intelligence. 

Part of the authority when writing books is showing continuity of thought that’s greater than an eight-hundred-word article or tweet. Readers are looking for those with authority who have a mastery of subject matter and can guide their readers through a bigger phase of growth. It is not necessary to write or speak sixty thousand words, rather, one can work with a partner or hire a ghostwriter. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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