This isn't a book review so much as a book alert (I haven't finished it yet). PR practitioners need to read "That Used To Be Us" by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. These guys have our world pegged — the world public relations is functioning in and facing. It's a web-based, fast-changing environment for our clients — large or small — and for us all. It's a scary, but, hopefully, exhilarating one.
The book's subtitle is "How America Fell Behind In the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back." It's not going to be easy. Images, so far, that I can't shake are of a textile manufacturer in Hong Kong saying "Now our motto is 'Source everywhere, manufacture everywhere, sell everywhere.' The whole notion of an 'export' is really disappearing." And of a "monumental mason" — a gravestone carver — in England explaining that "If I didn't buy my stone over the Internet from India, I'd be out of business."
Our clients are vulnerable to competition from anywhere and so, increasingly, are we. To get a better handle on all this — on living and doing business in what Tom Friedman has already explained is a "flat world," I expect to be living with "That Used to Be Us" for some time. Consider doing likewise. It's a book of PR portents.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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