My mom does it for the wine. My sister does it for Oprah. I do it for the cash. (Okay, and because it makes me smarter.) Reasons to join a book club run the gamut, and whether you read with friends, colleagues or the Oprah fan club, book clubs are a great way to stay in the know.
Here at the Bradford Group, Book Club is an initiative that fosters continued learning and sharing of knowledge. It also fosters the burning hole in my pocket because we earn money for the books we read. Each quarter, Bradford team members choose a book from our carefully color-coordinated (but not necessarily logically organized) library. Topics range from Nashville history to best PR practices. We’re encouraged to find meaning in the books and complete a report that we share with the agency.
We recently had our 2015 Q4 book club brunch. Highlights of the meeting included reports from Meredith, Steven and Melody – and of course the bagels. Here are some of our favorite books from the quarter:
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
While we don’t write nonfiction at the Bradford Group, Meredith found value in this book because of editing tips. She recognized that many words we use don’t add meaning to what’s written and that, when possible, we should always employ use the simplest word that applies (see what I did there?). The author reminds writers to think small and convey a specific point well, rather than trying to cover something too broad. Meredith said that after reading the book, she would be more aware of word counts in her writing. She learned that most first drafts can be cut down by 50 percent, so she hopes to write more concisely moving forward.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Not all of the books in our library are about PR specifically. Steven chose a tearjerker – one about leaving a legacy and conquering obstacles. In The Last Lecture, a Carnegie Mellon professor diagnosed with terminal cancer compiles lessons he’s learned over the course of his life and prepares a lecture that his children can reference as they grow without him. In our meeting, Steven said that the book taught him to accept criticism and advice more easily. He referenced a quote from the book: “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.” The constant push for improvement reminded Steven of our “active” core value – we do the best we can for our clients, and if they provide criticism, we give them something better.
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer
Melody loved this book written by a movie producer who has interviewed some of the biggest names in the film industry. In it, he writes that curiosity is the key to success and says, “We are all trapped in our own way of thinking, trapped in our own way of relating to people. We get so used to seeing the world our way that we come to think that the world is the way we see it.” Melody related the book to our “active” core value and recognized that to best understand our clients and their needs, we need to ask the right questions – a lot of them!
Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) by George Lois
I first read this book as an advertising student in college. Written by a famous ad-man in short paragraphs without any “fluff” (see title), the book convinced me I wanted to write. But reading it as a PR professional gave me a new perspective. Lois writes, “All your ad campaigns must be built-in PR campaigns! … If your advertising doesn’t have the power to become a topic of conversation for everyone in the nation, you forfeit the chance for it to become famous. His point is that it all comes down to creative thinking and pursuing big ideas without caution. With my experience at both advertising and PR agencies, I recognize the tendency to doubt creative ideas and the need – especially in PR – to abandon that doubt. We don’t buy our media placements, we earn them, and to be successful we need to initiate contagious conversations.
In 2016, our theme for the first quarter promotes Better Book Club. Our goal is to have at least one book report from each Bradford groupie and to apply what we learn to our work. You may see updates about our books on social media, and you can expect another blog or two about what we’re reading.
Are you in a book club? Join our conversation – even if you’re just in it for the wine, we want to know what you’re reading!