When it comes to choosing the best books for public information officers, it's a tough ask. There are so many great resources that it's understandable you might experience overwhelm. That's why We've tried to get the current offerings down to ten must-reads for the professional communicator and took suggestions from many of our PIO People who have read and used these books throughout their professional lives. Contains affiliate links.

The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need To Know Before Your Next Interview by Brad Phillips

Delivering an effective media interview today is more challenging than ever before. Today’s media spokesperson must compete with shrinking audience attention spans, cope with social media overload, and confront sensationalized reporting. Given those challenges, how can you create positive messages that cut through the noise and motivate your audiences? How can you respond to difficult questions in a confident manner that increases your credibility?

Judy Pal
Preparing for Crisis: A First Responder's Guide to Messaging When it Really Matters by Judy Pal

In the event of a crisis, today more than ever, first-responder public information officers (PIOs) including police, fire, EMS, hospitals and other agencies on the front lines, must be prepared to communicate immediately. When time is of the essence, telling people what they need to know will help an agency come through a crisis with the trust and confidence of a community intact.

See: Judy Pal Podcast with Robert Tornabene

Crisis Communication Strategies: How to Prepare in Advance, Respond Effectively and Recover in Full by Amanda Coleman

Crisis Communication Strategies is a must-have handbook which covers the whole span of the crisis from preparing and laying the groundwork before it occurs, during the incident, and the aftermath, including the move to recovery. It guides readers through each phase, providing details of what to consider, what should be done, and tips and checklists for improved responses.

See: Amanda Coleman Podcast with Robert Tornabene

Crisis Communications: A Casebook Approach (Routledge Communication Series) 5th Edition by Kathleen Fearn-Banks

Crisis Communications: A Casebook Approach presents case studies of organizational, corporate, and individual crises, and analyzes the communication responses to these situations. Demonstrating how professionals prepare for and respond to crises, as well as how they develop communications plans, this essential text explores crucial issues concerning communication with the news media, employees, and consumers in times of crisis.

Eric Kowalczyk
The Politics of Crisis: An Insider’s Prescription to Prevent Public Policy Disasters by Eric Kowalczyk

Across the country minority communities feel under attack by police officers. The Politics of Crisis explores how to change public policy decisions to reform the role of law enforcement. Centered around the harrowing events of the Freddie Gray riots that gripped Baltimore in 2015, The Politics of Crisis is a powerful examination of how everything can go wrong when police no longer serve their communities.

Effective Crisis Communication: Moving From Crisis to Opportunity by Robert R. Ulmer

In this fully updated Fourth Edition of Effective Crisis Communication, three of today’s most respected crisis/risk communication scholars provide the latest theories and innovative approaches for handling crisis. Unlike other crisis communication texts, this acclaimed book answers the question, "what now?" and explains how organizations can create the potential for opportunity, renewal, and growth through effective crisis communication.

Doug Levy
The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide To Public Information When Every Minute Counts by Doug Levy

Once the importance of the first 60 minutes was recognized and trauma care was streamlined around that golden hour, survival rates after car crashes and other major injuries improved dramatically. The same systematic approach works for communications, too. The Communications Golden Hour provides a framework that streamlines planning, preparation and training for emergencies large and small, from natural disasters to major crimes and everything in-between.

Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding by Timothy Coombs

Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding provides an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to the entire crisis communication process. Drawing on his extensive firsthand experience, Dr. Timothy Coombs uses a three-staged approach to crisis management (pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis), explains how crisis management can prevent or reduce the threats of a crisis, and provides guidelines for how best to act and react in an emergency situation.

Applied Crisis Communication and Crisis Management: Cases and Exercises by Timothy Coombs

Designed to give students and public relations professionals the knowledge and skills they need to become successful crisis managers, Applied Crisis Communication and Crisis Management: Cases and Exercises by W. Timothy Coombs, includes a wide range of cases that explore crisis communication and management in action using a practical approach. In the first two chapters, the author introduces key theories and principles in crisis communication, which students apply by analyzing 17 cases drawn from recent headlines.

Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals and Other Emergencies by Edward Segal

Crisis Ahead includes dozens of anecdotes, stories, and lessons about how companies, organizations, and individuals - ranging from Amazon, Apple, and the European Union, to Disney, Starbucks, and entrepreneur Elon Musk - have prepared for, created, managed, and communicated about crisis situations.

Want more books? You can see our ever-growing library of recommendations here. If you would like to suggest a book or an author, get in touch!

April 27, 2022

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