Book Review: Full Frontal PR

The ever-enthusiastic Richard Laermer is a well-known public relations strategist. In his book Full Frontal PR, Laermer successfully covers the ins and outs of just about every aspect of the public relations function. At the same time, Laermer injects a much-needed dose of gusto, coolness and fun when covering the more traditional facets of public relations.

Richard Laermer is a recognized authority on public relations and media culture. Laermer is a former journalist who wears many hats. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of RLM, a public relations firm that serves the consumer, technology, business-to-business, health-care, entertainment, publishing and financial services industries. Laermer is also a contributing editor to PR News and writes for publications such as

The aim of Full Frontal PR is to teach its readers how to generate hype and use it to their advantage. Laermer’s book succeeds at this in almost every way.

Laermer starts off with an introduction into the dynamics of exposure: word-of-mouth promotion and media coverage. Word-of-mouth, as Laermer explains, is the best type of exposure. However, he is quick to point out that attaining such verbal promotion does not happen by accident. Generating and maintaining word-of-mouth exposure is a skill that requires much diligence. The remainder of the book educates the reader on the various ways to attain word-of-mouth exposure and the role the media plays in doing so.

Laermer does an excellent job of defining the role of the media and journalists. The author refers to the media as “merchants of exposure.” They are the keepers of the gate that leads to a world of publicity. Laermer starts off his chapter on media by describing the journalistic process. He debunks the myth that journalists creep in the shadows, where they meet with their mysterious sources of information. On the contrary, Laermer describes journalists as being just like you and me. They work at their desks waiting for a phone call or email that will give them a good story idea. What Laermer is saying, is that public relations specialists should not fear journalists. Why? Journalists, to a certain extent, rely on public relations specialists to carry out their jobs. I found this concept to be very enlightening, seeing as how contacting a journalist is often intimidating.

The bulk of Full Frontal PR is dedicated to addressing the “hows” and “whys” of generating exposure and buzz. In the section entitled “The Nitty-Gritty”, Laermer shows the reader most of the available avenues of generating buzz. It is this section, chapters three through six, that make Full Frontal PR a must have for anyone who wants to learn more about public relations.

In chapter three, Laermer defines the power tools public relations specialists use to gain exposure. The tools and techniques described are analyst meetings, beta and product testing, producing b-roll footage, embargoing, exclusives, holding publicity events, in-person interviews, leaking information, performing media tours, holding press conferences, developing press kits and releases and producing surveys and trend stories. Laermer not only defines what these tools and techniques are, he also identifies the best ways to use them. This chapter further honed my understanding of all the various public relations tactics and therefore I consider it my favorite in the book.

Chapter four is another gem of information. Here, Laermer explains how to find the right news hook in order to sway reporters into using your story idea. Chapters five and six focus on how to pitch your story to the media and how to become a confident spokesperson in order to win over the press. The remaining chapters of Full Frontal PR focus on establishing and maintaining good media relations, gaining exposure on a national level and the new tools of exposure that the Internet offers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Full Frontal PR. Richard Laermer obviously understands public relations and its benefits. I found that the true value of Full Frontal PR is in its educational use. Laermer not only clearly defines public relations, buzz and various publicity tools, but he also explains to the reader how to best use those tools. Throughout the entire book, Laermer uses callouts to highlight special sections of information. These callouts usually contain very useful insights that expand one’s knowledge of public relations and generating publicity. As an added bonus, Laermer includes lists of his favorite resources. These lists contain everything from his favorite news websites, to stay up-to-date with the latest buzz, to his preferred tools for generating publicity.

In conclusion, Richard Laermer’s Full Frontal PR is a must read for anyone looking to educate themselves with the ins and outs of public relations. Seasoned public relations specialists would also be well served by buying and reading a copy for themselves.

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13 Responses to “Book Review: Full Frontal PR”

  1. 1 Mike Sacks April 13, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    I recently finished reading that book as it well, and found it very helpful, especially because my job with Ruder Finn mostly involves pitching right now.

    My worry with these kind of books is that PR will continue to be viewed as just the intermediary bewteen an organization and the media, when it is so much more.

  2. 2 Michael Morton April 13, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Good point Mike.

    PR entails so much more than dealing with the media. For me, one of the more exciting aspects of PR is event planning.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. 3 Andrew April 13, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    One thing I liked about this book was that it really stressed how PR is about helping reporters do their jobs, rather than just getting your story out there. If you’re doing your job right, you’re helping inform the media about what’s happening on their beat, not just pushing product. It changed the way I pitch.

  4. 4 Michael Morton April 13, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    I agree, Andrew.

    I personally have not had much experience in pitching stories to reporters (my PR experience has been mostly event planning and the writing of releases and brochures). However, the section covering pitches definitely educated me on how it should be done.

  5. 5 Kevin April 19, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Michael – It is a good book and one of the reasons I asked Richard to join me in running the Bad Pitch blog.

    More of his insight can be found there if you are interested:


  6. 6 Michael Morton April 20, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Kevin, thank you for the post!

    I am a regular reader and fan of the Bad Pitch Blog. I love the insights that both you and Richard provide.

  7. 7 Article Marketer Gman December 1, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Hear Hear!

    I fully agree, and I am in advertising.
    PR is definitely the most important part of a launch,
    but after? Advertising takes over entirely, unless there
    is a singular development to report on, then PR comes back
    into play.

    But PR has it’s own inherent limitations- it can help develop
    awareness about a brand, but it has no long term value in the
    customer aquisition and retention strategy- that honor belongs
    to advertising!


    Glenn “Gman” Grundberg

  8. 8 Michael Morton December 3, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I completely agree Glenn.

    Thanks for the post!

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Who am I ?

My name is Michael Morton. I believe in bringing energy and professionalism into the office, that knowledge is power, that leadership trumps management, that customers are more influential than advertisements, that content is king, and that two heads are better than one. I currently lead the marketing efforts of the Strategic Alliances department of my company. Let’s talk marketing!

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