Assessment, Brand Anarchy Book Review

Title – Brand Anarchy

Page Count – 256

Authors – Steve Earl & Stephen Waddington

Publication Date – 2012

Published By – Bloomsbury


To be perfectly honest, the thought of creating a book review didn’t hugely appeal to me at first. Although I enjoy reading fiction at times, the piles of non-fiction textbooks we must read for University leave me with little desire to read others in my spare time. With this in mind I knew I had to choose a book that would be educational and yet still be interesting. I have followed and greatly respect both authors and so thought Brand Anarchy would be a good place to start.

Brand Anarchy is written by two well known UK based Public Relations practitioners Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington. Earl trained as a news and business reporter before moving into PR and has worked with many prestigious brands including Virgin, IBM, Toshiba and Tesco. He now runs Speed, Loewy’s PR division. Waddington has twenty years of experience as a Public Relations consultant, author and journalist. He is European digital and social media director for Ketchum and the President of the CIPR.

The text looks at the issues the Public Relations industry as a whole is facing as the profession tries to adapt to the ever-changing digital media age. However I feel it is also hugely useful to anybody working in, or even just interested in, digital media and communications.

The blurb of this book instantly makes a huge impact on the reader saying ‘the media landscape is growing diverse. It’s anarchy. Individuals, organisations and governments should not waste time wondering whether they have lost control of their reputations. The fact is that they have never had control.’ SH check the first sentence of this quote please. Is it ‘growing diverse’ or growing diversely?

I think this book has something for everyone. Whilst some fairly complicated issues are discussed they are done in an accessible easy going manner. Some sections will be second nature to the digital savvy next generation of PR Practitioners and but perhaps slightly unclear to more established executives. Whilst other sections include knowledge that can only be gained through experience, making it perfect for those just starting out or studying PR.

It is clear that the authors have a deep understanding of the industry. This knowledge has allowed them to uncomplicate some matters and make them much more interesting to a less practiced reader such as myself. Issues such as ‘Measuring Reputation’ are approached in an extremely fresh and honest way, the usually universally accepted ‘rules’ such as measuring results are critiqued brilliantly throughout the book.

I would say that the general topic covered is the transformation of reputation management in the present day. This transformation has been caused by the eruption of Digital Media. In particular, social media has given customers the power and opportunity to air all and any views they may wish to and this is concerning to brands. The modern practitioner must accept this change and create suitable content to appeal to the masses. “Brand’s aren’t all yours anyway: they exist in the minds of consumers”

For me, the best parts of this book are the interviews and case studies, it is always extremely interesting to hear about real life examples. Interviews with Seth Godin and Alastair Campbell were enlightening and memorable. Case studies again were extremely thought provoking. In particular issues which I remember reading about. Just two particularly memorable case studies were the 2010 BP Oil Spill and Asda’s 2008-2011 Daily Mirror saga.

Finally, any book that can include both a section entitled ‘Crap Detection’ and a paragraph which concentrates on Northumberland County Council (I’m a Northumbrian like Stephen Waddington) is a winner for me!

Word Count – 618




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