Books to Read Before This Year Ends

With the weather getting cooler and holidays approaching, it is that time of year where we are about to find ourselves inside more with a little extra free time. Instead of watching Netflix for countless hours, we could spend our time learning about how to get ahead in the ever-evolving public relations industry. Here are four books by industry leaders and experts that prepare professionals to build their own PR empires.

1. “Improvise” by Fred Cook

In this read, the former CEO of Golin, Fred Cook, invites us to take a glance into his life leading up to his career as a CEO of an award-winning PR agency. He shows readers that his career was a bit of an unconventional one, but that in each job he worked from schoolteacher to doorman, he took away valuable connections and skills that brought him to the career he holds today.

It is full of lessons on how young professionals can grow skills in their everyday lives and various jobs that they can use in their future PR careers. Readers will learn how to hustle, create meaningful relationships and improvise their way to the top.

2. “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer

For professionals who wish to work in a PR agency or with a company that works with international clients, “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer is a must read. To work well with people from other countries, professionals need to truly understand differing cultures.

“The Culture Map” walks the reader through how different countries communicate in eight areas of business: communicating through body language, giving and receiving feedback, persuasion, trust, scheduling, disagreements, decisions, and hierarchy. The book is full of firsthand examples from Meyer’s experiences working abroad and has lots of charts that professionals can refer to when comparing different countries’ views on topics. Ultimately, the book is a fun read, and it will give professionals guidelines on how to do business with people from other countries.

3. “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald S. Passman

The entertainment business is always hot, and this read is a must for anyone who wants to be a part of it. This book was recommended to me by a music manager in Nashville who has worked with bands such as Five Seconds of Summer and the Zac Brown Band.

In this read, Passman teaches the reader all aspects of the music business like touring, copywriting, licensing, retail merchandising and even how to negotiate pay. The music business can be extremely complicated and complex, but Passman makes it easy for young professionals to understand and shared incredible knowledge to enter the industry and navigate it like a pro.

4. “Contagious” by Jonah Berger

Understanding the art of messaging and how to create popularity is essential for PR professionals. In this read, Wharton professor Jonah Berger walks young professionals through the six types of messaging that create powerful campaigns and explains how to best utilize them to benefit the companies they work for. The six types are as follows: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value and stories.

Throughout the book, Berger uses examples from companies like Kit Kat, United Airlines, Livestrong and Please Don’t Tell, one of New York’s most renowned cocktail bars, to show why some messages capture audiences’ attention and others fail. He explains the science behind why things catch on and teaches readers how to craft messages that their target audiences will identify with and remember. Understanding the science behind messaging will help young professionals learn how to make successful commercials, campaigns and promotions for their clients.

No matter what section of PR you want to work in, these books will give you a leg up on other professionals and boost your career. If you have a little free time, grab these books, curl up in a cozy corner, and absorb some knowledge.

Editor’s Note: Enjoy the books listed in this article? Consider sharing them with your network! Be sure to use the #BooksForPRSSA tag on social media while posting. All #BooksForPRSSA posts generate book donations (courtesy of Rodney and Sasha Glassman) for Kids Need to Read, a nonprofit that equips underserved children with books across the country. (Note- this campaign runs through the end of December 2020).


Julianna Kendall is a graduate student at the University of Alabama pursuing a Master’s in public relations and advertising. She is also a writer/editor for Platform Magazine. Most of her time is spent traveling with friends, writing, and building her professional portfolio. Julianna’s next steps are to graduate and find a job as a publicist in the publishing industry, so she can help new talents tell their stories to the world. 

1 thought on “Books to Read Before This Year Ends

    • Author gravatar

      Julianna, thank you for this great list of suggestions.

      I have a follow up request for you to consider. A student who is currently enrolled in my class at San Diego State University is interested in pursuing a PR career in the music industry. I am sending her the book you recommended and I’m wondering if the music manager who recommended it to you would be someone that my student could interview? I am trying to identify PR contacts for her to conduct informational interviews with, and perhaps this is a start?

      Appreciate your assistance.

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