engage magazine issue 002 \\\\\\\'06 - Page 37

BUSINESS BOOKS 37 Book Reviews business plans are crucial. Banks and potential funders or investors need to see that you have clearly thought out all aspects of your business idea – and that it makes sense! You need to give yourself the best chance of success so plan, plan, plan. And remember the saying – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. How true this is! For a list of sample Business Plans visit www.bplans.org.uk. For further information contact your local Business Link or enterprise agency for advice or help with writing your business plan. For many SMEs Public Relations (PR) is something that they have had to come to grips with themselves rather than being in a position to employ a PR agency to help them promote their business. If you’re not sure what the world of PR is all about or how you really need to go about doing your own PR, see if any of these books could point you in the right direction. Reviewed by Caroline Lashley Public Relations – a practical guide to the basics Author: Philip Henslow Publisher: Kogan Page ISBN: 0–7494–2937–2 Price: £14.99 Part of their PR in practice series, ‘Public Relations’ is a good all–round basic book into public relations. Written some time ago in a straightforward style, it covers the whole range of public relations activities from working with publishers, printers and photographers, to business writing, sponsorship, exhibitions and events. Although it is aimed at those who are looking to be professional public relations practitioners (in fact this book is part of a series by Kogan Page and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations), the reason it’s been added here is because it is fairly comprehensive in terms of what anyone – whether in business or not – needs to learn fairly quickly of what’s possible in PR and what one has to be aware of when using it. An example of this is a brief outline of ethics and the law in public relations: most people doing their own public relations may have a vague notion of what the law is but very few will actually know – and sometimes what you don’t know can be fatal. Verdict? ‘Public Relations’ is a good book to have – and you may want to have this along with ‘Face The Media’ to make sure that most of the basics in PR are covered, especially if you – or someone in your company to whom you have this responsibility – are doing the PR work yourself. Be Your Own Spin Doctor – a practical guide to using the media Author: Paul Richards Publisher: Methuen Publishing ISBN: 1–884275–136–0 Price: £10.99 This comes recommended by none other than politico extraordinaire – now safely tucked away to Brussels – Peter Mandelson. This book is definitely aimed at those already handling their own public relations activities but feel a need for extra guidance on other options available in the PR toolkit. Richards explains very succinctly the whole ethos of “spin” – besides the fact it’s been around longer than newspapers, television, radio and the Internet – and the whole business of “truth” as a media commodity. One thing Richards is very clear about regarding “spin doctoring” is that it “is about presenting your message in the best possible light – not lying, cheating or dissembling” and that “everyone is at it – even journalists.” It also explains the importance of maintaining a good reputation – said to be more valuable than money. It can take decades to build a good one, and minutes to destroy it. A very useful section in “Be Your Own Spin Doctor” is its Chapter 5 “In the news or in the bin?” which I’d recommend to readers looking to use public relations to raise their profiles – actually read and digest before writing and distributing numerous press releases and wasting their time (along with that of any journalist). It actually shows by using real–life examples of what makes – and what doesn’t make – news as far as journalists are concerned. Verdict? A good investment to have on the bookshelf. Registering your business Once you’ve decided on your business name and are ready to register your business you could handle the registration process yourself however it is a good idea to get professional advice on what type of structure is correct for you ie. sole trader, limited company. An accountant, solicitor or company formation agent will be able to provide this service for you – at a fee, of course – as well as offer you general advice. The name of your company or business is very important and needs some thought as different company names give off different impressions. There are also some words you cannot use in your company name in the UK without permission. Face The Media (2nd edition) Author: Judith Byrne Publisher: How To Books ISBN: 1–85703–797–9 Price: £8.99 Regardless of which stage your business is at, at some point, you’ll need to be media–wise and media– savvy. If you’re on a budget on the public relations front, there’s much that can be done yourself, providing you know how both public relations and the media/press actually works. ‘Face The Media’ – positioning itself “as the complete guide to getting publicity and handling media opportunities” – certainly does what it says on the tin (actually, it’s on my shelf as a reference book). Ten chapters long, Face The Media has several case studies and most chapters have either action points or a handy checklist – a godsend necessity if you’re under pressure. 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