Argenti, Paul A. and Courtney M. Barnes (2009). Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications. New York: McGraw Hill.

Even three years after it was published, this volume maintains its place as one of the best books dealing with new media and public relations. Billed as “a corporate survival guide for the Web 2.0 world,” Argenti and Barnes provide us with a powerful message that continues to have meaning in the realm of Web 3.0. Argenti is Professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and one of the world’s leading experts in corporate communication while Barnes, who previously was Editor of PR News, is a Vice President at Edelman where her responsibilities include social media and digital communications strategy development and content creation for clients as well as new business development. Their book shows how some of the world’s smartest companies are responding to the explosion of blogs, social networking sites, wikis, video sharing sites, and other powerful digital communications platforms with creative and strategic digital communications strategies based on transparency, authenticity, and inclusion. The book includes case studies illustrating digital communications best practices at HP, Southwest Airlines, Sony, Dell, IBM, Starbucks, HBO, FedEx, GE, and other major organizations. The authors provide guidance about how to gain manageable control over an organization’s internal and external communications in today’s virtual world.

What it means:

Perhaps the best way to answer the “what it means” question is to refer to quotes from leading public relations executives who have reviewed this book.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM says the book is, “An insightful and practical compass for navigating the new ocean of globally distributed information, expertise, and relationships.”

Bob Pearson, President of the Blog Council, claims “Argenti and Barnes have made a clear case for why companies should embed this expertise into the DNA of their organization.”

Bill Margaritis, Vice President of Corporation Communications and Investor Relations, FedEx, claims this book, “should be required reading for both corporate communications and C-level executives who seek to mastr their strategic grasp of this new world.”

Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman, says, “Argenti and Barnes recognize the dialectic between control and credibility. Communicators need to inform the on-going conversation instead of relying on messaging.”


Book. 290 pages. Nine chapters. 34

Key findings:

1)      The new digital world has provided profound changes that continuously redefine the way organizations react with their stakeholders, especially in terms of two-way communications facilitated by digital platforms.

2)      Chief communications officers must rethink the way they position themselves internally in order to have a positive impact on the actions of external stakeholders.

3)      All of these new technologies have redefined the role of public relations and corporate communications in organizations.

4)      New media have dramatically changed the media relations discipline.

5)      A “cohesive corporate culture” is attainable even for organizations whose staff is dispersed across different continents, but this also introduces unique challenges.

6)      Digital platforms are requiring public relations and communications functions to work in tandem with marketing, human resources, investor relations, and other organizational functions.

7)      Research suggests stakeholders frequently use the Web to research the “green,” environmental and social responsibility activities of organizations.

How to use:

This book could be used effectively as a refresher text by someone with considerable knowledge about new media and public relations as well as by the novice who wanted to quickly and conveniently have more than 30 recently written articles about social media in one package.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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