A Novel Approach to Reading: In Defense of the Lowly Book

IPads and Nooks and Kindles have gotten more than their share of PR and media coverage.  There has been a press battle among them with press releases flying fast and furious.  And the media campaigns are working.  They’re selling.  These e-reader devices are fine for reading magazines.   I suppose they could be okay for reading some non-fiction books.  But when it comes to reading fiction, there I firmly draw the line.  It’s not so much that I’m a Ludite in this arena; it’s that as a reader you lose so much of the essential reading experience when you shift from a book to a shrunken computer.  There is a certain romance to reading novels that supersedes merely looking at and digesting words.

I’m an admitted novel junkie.  I cannot go to sleep without reading for at least half an hour.  And it has to be a novel.  Reading non fiction or current affairs as I lie in bed only serves to agitate me.  With a novel, I can blissfully drift towards Morpheus.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Before I find myself lying in bed lost in strange and foreign lives and worlds, I need to choose the book.  Here too, I admit to being old school.  I actually go to bookstores.  Not only do I go, I do so with the same enthusiasm as a five year old goes to a toy store.  It’s an outing, an experience, an adventure.  I never know what I’ll find and seldom go with any particular book in mind.  I browse, pick up the various books, study the covers, and touch the pages, read some pages; it’s a totally sensual experience and not simply a visual one.  You touch books, feel them.  Books have a scent.  You can read them aloud and make it an experience that touches all of the senses.  Reading novels is not simply about the words, but about the experience of choosing, holding and being engulfed by a book.

If the focus is on how many volumes you can carry in a particular device and how quickly you can read a particular book, I’d say you’re losing a good deal of the joy.

There are people who like to figure out the most practical and least time consuming ways to eat; people who have shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They get their nutrients, their calories, but, at least from my perspective, they’ve lost quite a bit in that bargain.

And that is not unlike what I fear we’re losing when it comes reading.  It’s meant to be a sensual experience.  The focus is not supposed to be on transferring information from a machine into your brain.   The physical book, with its specific size, layout, cover, graphics, font and paper, is all a part of the total experience.

I suppose it’s an experience that is losing ground, as e-books and various pads and devices flourish.  Oh, well, I hold on to my book mania.  Plus, at least on my end, I really don’t have much of a choice.  You see, I often fall asleep while I’m reading, drifting off as I’m lost in a novel.  And, there are times, when said book falls from my hands to the floor.  This isn’t a constant occurrence, but it’s happened often enough.  And my novels, being the sturdy troopers they are, take the plummeting and live on to fight another day.  They neither complain, nor do they break.    Now think of me lying in bed reading my IPad and having it tumble onto the floor.  Disaster!  Reading would become such an expensive pastime; I wouldn’t be able to afford it.  No, I’ll happily stay on the sidelines in this e-reader revolution and stick with the romance of my books.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

Tew, Sarah. “Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad:…”  Photo. CNET. 05 12 May 2012. 21 May 2012. <http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20009738-1/kindle-vs-nook-vs-ipad-which-e-book-reader-should-you-buy/>
Carr, Austin. “Twitter Stats Reveal How the iPad, Nook, and Kindle Stack Up.” Photo. Fast Company. 11 Jan 2011. 21 May 2012.  <http://www.fastcompany.com/1716018/how-the-ipad-kindle-and-nook-stack-up-on-twitter>

The Steve Jobs Factor

Although I never really realized it, I’ve been talking about Steve Jobs on almost a daily basis for the last several years.  Whenever I’d talk to a prospective client or review a campaign with a new employee or teach an intern about how PR really woks, Jobs is who I’d point to.  He’d be the one I’d use to illustrate how to successfully launch and sustain an effective media relations campaign.

The thing about Jobs was not just that he was an expert marketer but that he was the best at what he did and he showed such passion for his work that it was infectious.  When Steve Jobs launched a new product, it wasn’t just a launch, it was a news story; it was an event.  The media and the public would wait with baited breath for a Steve Jobs launch.

I always marveled at how he melded creativity and vision with business and marketing.  Few if any have done so at such a high level.  Jobs didn’t only brand Apple, he branded Steve Jobs.  It was genius, the campaigns mirrored each other.  If you read an article on Apple, you’d immediately think of Steve Jobs and if you saw a TV interview with Jobs, Apple would be at the forefront.  His focus was on style, design, as well as function and usability.  He created a coolness factor unlike any other.

His story is truly a thing of legend, a visionary who co-founded a company in a garage and built it into the world’s leading tech Company.  Although no company’s success can be attributed to one person, it’s safe to say that without his vision, drive and passion Apple would not be the company we now know.  It’s incredible, what he accomplished.  He introduced the concept of the personal computer and of navigating by clicking a mouse.  From the Apple 1 and the Mac he went on to the iPod,  iPhone iTunes and the iPad tablet — all of which changed how we communicate and consume content.

As the story goes, Jobs dropped out of Oregon’s Reed College after one semester. He returned to audit a class in calligraphy, which influenced Apple’s aesthetic.  He launched the first Apple computer in 1975, selling his car to help finance the minuscule company.  After a successful run, the company hit some rough patches and Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985.  He founded NeXT and went on to form Pixar.  In 1997, he returned as CEO at Apple.  Although money never seemed to be the driving force behind Jobs, it certainly was a motivating factor.  In the summer of 2011, Apple listed more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury and for a bit surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company.

Hard to beat that success story.  From the public relations perspective it’s difficult to think of a more successful sustained campaign.  To be sure Apple and Jobs had their media glitches.  His personal image was not always the best.  His reputation for micromanaging and riding herd over those who worked for him was also legendary.  But overall the message was that of Steve Jobs being able to turn his visions into reality and change the world as we know it.  His PR focus was not on price point, but on innovation, design and excellence and that’s how Apple is viewed.

He’s gone now, but he’ll still be the one I bring up when talking about how a public relations campaign should be run and what PR can accomplish.  His campaigns were a mixture of entertainment, information and elegance.  Until someone else does it better, his approach remains the gold standard.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Livingston, Geoff. “Steve Jobs- Products”. Photo. Ragan’s PR Daily. 06 Oct. 2011. 07. Oct. 2011. <http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/9700.aspx&gt;

The Steve Jobs Approach to PR Magic

By branding yourself as well as your business, you set up a two-pronged marketing campaign.  By establishing yourself as an expert in your field, you become the authority, the go-to person in your particular arena.  This type of validation will then extend to your product or service.  People buy what they trust.  Establish yourself as an expert and you won’t need to sell your clients or customers, they will come to you.   People will look to you not only for your product or service but also for you advice, your savvy, your expertise.

That is what made Steve Jobs so immensely valuable to Apple.  Love him or hate him, people saw him as the innovator, as the one who changed the field, the one who came up with the most interesting and exciting products.   The one they could trust. Whenever Steve jobs presented a new product, be it the Mac, iPhone or iPad, it wasn’t just a presentation, it was an event; it was an experience.  Journalists would fall over one another to cover it. And it wasn’t simply a tech story; it was a pop culture event.  It would be covered on every type of media outlet from Wired, to the Wall Street Journal, to CNN, to Extra.

Okay, so you’re not Steve Jobs.  But you get my idea.  An effective PR approach is to establish and brand yourself as you brand your business; and branding is perhaps the main function of a successful media relations campaign.  Yes, you want to reach prospective customers and clients, but you also want to establish who and what you and your business are.  Remember you’re not selling a product or service, you’re building a brand that establishes your value in the marketplace.  That is precisely why you need to view PR as a long term process.  It’s impossible to establish a brand in a few months.  It is a cumulative process.  You need to be consistent.  You need to stay on course, particularly during the first six months, which are generally the toughest.

Building a brand comes down to creating a strong narrative, building a strong story that people relate to.  That’s where Jobs understood the process more than most.  The Apple brand came to be an ongoing story with new chapters being added with the launch of each new product.  Jobs established himself first as a wunderkind, then as a visionary, then as a shrewd business leader who could turn a business model on its head and open new markets.  But that legend didn’t simply happen on its own.  It was a well crafted, strategically organized public relations campaign.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, take a page from one of the shrewdest marketers we’ve seen in ages.  Brand yourself as you brand your business.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Flipboard: Become Your own Personal Publisher

Flipboard, a new social magazine application for the iPad has created quite the buzz.  It is quickly becoming the most popular free iPad application.   Flipboard converts an iPad into what is known as a social magazine. In essence it can make a tailor made magazine creating different sections from various social media sites, blogs and other online content.  It then organizes that content into a digital social magazine that readers can peruse with a flip of the wrist.  Flipboard is the latest social magazine.  As with Pulse, another app that allows users to create their own personalized publication, Flipboard illustrates one new trend in media and personalized publishing.  The mainstream media as well as bloggers and social media mavens will continue to publish and post their specific content, but with tools such as Flipboard every user can now be their own publisher and editor.  Think of it as publishing’s version of Tivo and the DVR.

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