Five books professional communicators must read
There are more than 26,000 books on communication available for sale on Amazon.
While it’s nice to know that there are plenty of resources on the subject, it’s also easy to see how someone wanting to become a better communicator could be overwhelmed by choice.
A person couldn’t read all of that advice in a lifetime. And, I’ll be honest, I certainly haven’t read it all either. But I am an avid reader and I love reading about communication-related topics, including writing, speaking, social media, blogging, and public relations.
Based on my reading thus far, here (in no particular order) are five of those 26,000 books that every communications professional must read.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie actually should have titled this book “Using the Manners Your Momma Taught You.” I read this book every fall with public relations students, and I get something from it every time I read it. Carnegie’s advice is simple like smile, be a good listener and remember people’s names, but it’s a great reminder about how to treat others through the busyness of life and business.
Platform is one of those books that I remember thinking, “this is a life changer” as I read it. The book is described as a “step-by-step guide to building your own (personal or business) presence.” The description fits. The book’s key concept is breaking through the online clutter or “noise” to make your brand different, relevant and noticeable. To help the reader accomplish this goal, Hyatt offers advice on everything from blogging to social media and preparing a media kit for your brand.
Hyatt’s credibility certainly legitimizes the book. He isn’t just another writer trying to sell you a book about things he purports to understand. He’s a former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, a best-selling author and his blog has more than 600,000 subscribers.
Everybody Writes is the writing book for this decade. I also read this book every fall with my media writing students. The premise of Handley’s book is simple—We may not all be journalists or authors, but we’re all writers. Why? Because, from social media updates to email messages, we’re all writing essentially all day, every day. Handley provides writing rules on everything from basic grammar to writing headlines for marketing content.
Handley’s witty personality shines through in her writing and her journalism background and success with MarketingProfs gives her the credibility she needs to be an expert on writing.
Everybody Writes is a must-read for everyone who writes… which, if you’ve been paying attention, you know is everyone.
4. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Zinsser wrote THE book on the craft of non-fiction writing. If you haven’t read it, you must. I read this book every fall with my media writing students. We actually read it just before Everybody Writes, since Zinsser’s book is the older classic. My students love his chapter on the “bits and pieces” of writing, which reviews parts of speech and provides advice on grammar usage. I’m fonder of his timeless advice on the importance of reading and writing and how there are no short cuts.
Geisler’s book on workplace behavior and management is a must read for leaders, especially those in the newsroom, where Geisler got her start before becoming Poynter’s leadership and management guru. This is another book I reread with classes. The students never fail to love it and I get something new out of it every time. Geisler gives specific, honest advice on managing various personalities and how to manage yourself. Following Geisler’s advice can help managers transform into workplace leaders.
With more than 26,000 books on the list, you can see how paring it down could be difficult, but these are books that I read repeatedly and always learn from. Any professional communicator would be remiss not to read these books. I promise they’ll be worth your time.
Dr. Kenna Griffin (@profkrg) is an assistant professor of mass communications and director of student publications at Oklahoma City University. She is the author of the Prof KRG blog, which serves as a practical resource for student journalists and the host of the weekly#EditorTherapy Twitter chat for student media editors. She is a journalist, reader, shoe lover, wife, mother of two, and the spoiler of a couple of adorable dogs.
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