A handbook for pushing the limits of PR to inventing things, rather than only promoting them. When PR teams live or die on the success or failure of the products and services they support, Invention in PR shows how they can take a stronger hand in their creation.
This book says the profession can do better than waiting for someone else to determine, develop and package what a company sells. It spurs PR pros to go beyond what they're handed and come up with new products and services that change a brand's life.
Through tales of award-winning campaigns passionately told by their creator, readers learn how to apply invention at the beginning of the PR process and take away usable strategies and tactics. With PR under constant pressure to evolve, communications pioneer Adam Ritchie uncovers practitioners' aptitude for invention and empowers them to harness it.
For PR professionals ready to rebel against taking a back seat to their counterparts in marketing and advertising, Invention in PR teaches them how to beat every other discipline to the punch by coming up with the product or service idea first.
This guide will fire up professionals of all generations about what they can build. It will change the way experienced pros approach their jobs, and inspire students to break the rules in the best possible ways.
Table of Contents
Foreword, Author's Note, Prologue, Chapter 1: Invention in PR, Chapter 2: Types and Quality, Chapter 3: Type I: Invention, Chapter 4: Type II: Creation, Chapter 5: Type III: Transformation, Chapter 6: Misses, Chapter 7: Invention in a Crisis, Chapter 8: Habits, Chapter 9: Approach, Chapter 10: The Charge, Acknowledgments, About the Author, Index
Adam Ritchie advocates for public relations to evolve from its past as an organization's mouthpiece to its future as an organization's creative engine. Nationally regarded in the U.S., he's been named the field's most innovative professional (PRovoke), launched campaigns honored as the most creative (PRWeek) and runs a practice recognized as the top boutique agency in the country (PR News). He has won every award in the industry multiple times, presented at dozens of conferences and spoken at more than 50 universities on the topic of this book.
"Despite the fact that earned media has never been more effective or necessary for brand storytelling and communication, PR pros still struggle to convince stakeholders they are the natural creative firestarters. But, at its best, PR is essentially an ideas business. Adam Ritchie's 'Invention in PR' gives you a jump-start to stimulating creativity and coming up with inventive activations that really move the needle and make audiences care."
- PRWeek Editorial Director Steve Barrett
"By putting invention at the top of PR's to-do list, Adam Ritchie has fundamentally flipped the industry's charge from promoting the products and services clients already have, to creating them. Ritchie has made a successful go of doing just that, and in 'Invention in PR' he instructively lays out the reasoning for his signature approach to PR, and ways of making it work. The book is a must-read for the gamut of people in the communications business: as thought-provoking for newcomers wanting to make their mark, as for industry vets looking to mix things up."
- PRovoke Senior Reporter Diana Marszalek
"After reading a few pages of 'Invention in PR,' you'll realize there are at least two reasons why it's not like other PR books. First, Adam Ritchie is a realist. He admits up-front that the case studies and examples most of us read in PR books are 'highly polished, written for future clients, awards judges and textbooks.' They rarely include hurdles faced or mistakes made. As such, they don’t resemble PR in the real world, where as Adam writes, 'Even the most lauded campaigns are a series of secret battles lost and won, internally and externally. Nothing falls into place.' Adam offers examples of how PR pros overcome obstacles so they can make things fall into place. And second, this book is different because Adam's ideas about PR are evolutionary. Adam felt PR could do more than promote companies and their products. Instead, Adam thought PR could create products that would earn media. Of course, Adam knows his thinking about PR pros creating products is unconventional. Let your mind roam. Consider his arguments. The results could be invigorating."
- PR News Editor Seth Arenstein
"For PR and communications pros looking to stop taking orders and become essential business advisors, Adam Ritchie's book is a must-read collection of case studies and career lessons for making a PR campaign an intrinsic part of the enterprise. In example after award-winning example, Ritchie offers a fresh perspective on creative PR work, where communicators are in the driver's seat and their inventiveness and business-savvy provide the keys to earning recognition from top decision-makers."
- PR Daily Editor Ted Kitterman
"This book is filled with wonderful examples of true creativity and ingenuity. Adam Ritchie is a bona fide out-of-the-box thinker, and it has been a pleasure to follow his work over the years and consistently recognize him for these superbly crafted successful campaigns. There are myriad examples included here that speak to his clever planning and execution, which truly define PR success in the modern era. I recommend this brilliant book to PR practitioners young and old. There are valuable lessons and actionable takeaways for all."
- Bulldog Reporter Editor Richard Carufel
"Getting Adam Ritchie's creative brain into a book is akin to catching lightning in a bottle, only less dangerous and far more electric. Energize your next PR campaign with inspiration from this volume of true stories!"
- PR Nation Host Robert Johnson
"It is far too common for PR professionals to be shut out of key decision making, often coming into projects too late to make a difference. This is a detriment not only to PR professionals and the industry, but also to various projects and organizations as a whole. Adam Ritchie's 'Invention in PR' is the first book to serve such a unique antidote to this important issue. His account of how PR can help shape product development is revolutionary."
- PR Talk Host Amy Rosenberg
"Once you read this book, it is impossible to think about PR in the same way ever again. It can have more meaning and substance than you might have believed. I loved the narrative of taking charge of your destiny through original ideas, and pushing back on boring, stuffy client briefs that have you acting as a fulfillment service – as opposed to pushing boundaries and making history. The quote that resonated with me the most was, 'Innovation streamlines the arrow. Invention creates the bullet.' Definitely going to use that one. And as a Scottish person, a bonus was the Loch Ness Monster even getting a mention!"
- The Drum Managing Director of Events Lynn Lester
"Adam Ritchie is an iconoclast and nonconformist in an industry that gets advanced and built by iconoclasts and nonconformists. It's easy to play it safe and follow industry or client norms, but Adam is smart enough to recognize that creativity thrives in discomfort. His book is a peak into that thought process,and provides a roadmap to break through and disrupt in a sea of sameness."
- Molson Coors Beverage Company President, Emerging Growth Pete Marino
"Adam Ritchie has a passion for PR and a unique gift as a storyteller with an edgy style. I love bringing something new and different to the table. He wrote the book – literally this book – on bringing something new and different to the table. I have seen him speak about Invention in PR many times throughout my career, and every time I learn something new. His bold and fierce approach to PR is refreshing, timely and unique to him. His guidance, advice and case studies are something every communicator, student and organization should know and apply to their campaigns. Personally, he is one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know. He is also one of the smartest people I know. From his parents, to his college roommate, to his former interns, they all say the same thing: Adam is simply Adam. A curious, genius, hard-worker who helps those in need. I am so proud of my dear friend and PR colleague Adam Ritchie for what he has accomplished and continues to accomplish. I hope everyone who reads this book gets inspired, empowered and brings a little invention to their table."
- IBM Manager, Digital and Advocacy Communications Brandi Boatner
"Your first trigger pull should always be aimed at the audacious.' When I read that sentence, it brought me back to my first introduction to Adam Ritchie, when I knew he possessed a level of creativity, wisdom and intelligence beyond his years. Nearly two decades later, he has gone on to flip the industry on its head with 'Invention in PR.' Endlessly talented in music and PR, he is a unique risk-taker grounded in knowledge of human behavior and informed by research on society and trends. He is one of the most hard-working, perseverant people I've ever met. All of those attributes are what make his case studies and insights within the book invaluable. 'Invention in PR' is informative and inspiring for any PR, marketing or communications practitioner who wants to move beyond staid strategies and tactics. I highly recommend it for pros who want a peek into the work of Adam Ritchie Brand Direction and its founder, whose inventive work has won every award in the industry."
- New Balance Global Community Outreach Manager Amy Sweeney
"Adam Ritchie offers us the valuable cheat codes to the future of PR, showing how we can have as much influence on product development as we do on product promotion."
- Dunkin' Vice President, Communications Glen Schwartz
"The 'Invention in PR' approach is a completely new roadmap that is bold, brave and needed in a world where it's never been harder to break through the clutter. It redefines and repositions PR's role across a product's journey into consumers' hands, hearts and minds."
- ViacomCBS Velocity Executive Vice President Chris Ficarra
"Invention in PR' is a testament to the true core of creativity by an author with a healthy and irreverent disregard for the status quo, who refuses to let a label or job description prescribe how he approaches a challenge."
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. Vice President, User Experience Design Lead Katie Dadarria
"Invention in PR' is a refreshing take on public relations that goes beyond traditional tactics and presents a better way of thinking about the value PR pros provide."
- LEGO Education Digital Engagement Lead Amanda Fountain
"Invention in PR' made me re-excited about the industry and its future. I wish I could invent a time machine and take it back to my 22-year-old self, so she could read it and absolutely crush it for every client she touched. This book made me think of PR in a new light: not simply putting out fires or generating coverage, but generating true art. It should be part of every PR curriculum, with the caveat that the professor has to rappel into the first class from 50 feet in the air, wearing light-up gear. It also talks about failures, prepares readers for unavoidable snags and shows how some of the best in the biz can break the rules, but always do it above-board."
- Akamai Senior Manager, Corporate Communications Brenda Manacas
"With 'Invention in PR,' Adam Ritchie liberates the public relations profession and frees us from coloring within the lines. It's PR's manual for going from the safety of the back seat to driving the yellow Ferrari through a red light at 90 miles per hour. Ritchie doesn't consider himself a creative, saying, 'You don't get to pin that on yourself.' Well, I'm pinning it him. He's our industry's Albert Einstein – in a leather jacket."
- Takeda U.S. Neuroscience and Commercial Operations Communications Lead Monique Kelley Gigliotti
"What do you think the future of PR looks like? Adam Ritchie does it again and pushes the limits with 'Invention in PR.' Ritchie offers a refreshing new perspective that approaches PR as a means of invention, flipping traditional ideas upside down."
- Public Relations Society of America Director, Professional Development Jason Barnhart
"Adam Ritchie's invention-first focus on the discipline presents an inspiring and expansive way of thinking about the creativity that is core to what we do."
- PR Council President Kim Sample
"Adam Ritchie doesn't sugarcoat the challenges in his fast-moving guide to three pillars of success all public relations professionals should know, but are rarely taught: invention, creation and transformation. Guided by stories and lessons from his career, Ritchie shares action-oriented steps to turn his practical recommendations into habits for success."
- Institute for Public Relations President and Chief Executive Officer Tina McCorkindale
"Betsy Plank, a pioneering practitioner, once said that viewing PR in the narrow sense of simply publicizing new products and product improvements is a myopic attitude that will continue to relegate public relations to an also-ran in marketing strategy and budgeting. She went on to say that public relations must be directed toward the consumer's self-interest, not just that of the company or brand. With such an approach, public relations practitioners would be positioned to sense, analyze, interpret and influence the consumers marketers were trying to reach. And public relations planning would move from an after-the-fact consideration to a place of authority and respect early in the marketing strategy development. Plank made her comments back in 1968, but her words did not produce much change. Not that is, until Adam Ritchie came along. Like Plank, Ritchie sees a broader role for public relations, one he calls 'Invention in PR.' His book is a clarion call for practitioners. He says it's time we exercised our creative muscles and go beyond simply publicizing new products and become a source of invention and transformation. His book is highly readable, full of real-world examples and he keeps it real-world. He shows that taking a campaign from concept to implementation is not easy, but when it all comes together, it is magical. I can't wait to assign this book to my students. All practitioners involved with marketing and media need to read 'Invention in PR' to be reinvigorated and inspired."
- Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations Director Karla Gower
"Adam Ritchie is a rare talent and beyond brilliant. Soak up every bit of knowledge he's dispensing and you'll be a better PR professional. And you'll be more than entertained by the great stories he tells in pursuit of bringing the passion he has for his work to life. This is a must-read."
- Arthur W. Page Society Chairman Charlene Wheeless
"'Invention in PR' is a bold and no holds barred approach to building campaigns that will inspire every reader, no matter their stage of experience."
- The Museum of Public Relations Co-Founder Shelley Spector
"'Where has your work taken you today?' is a brilliant question posed by Adam Ritchie. If you are in PR, this book will encourage – no, insist – that your work doesn't start at the end of product development. Your role must spark new, better or transformational offerings. Period. If you need practical guidance, motivation or a kick in the ass to rethink your role as a PR professional, this book will give you a healthy dose of each."
- Content Marketing Institute General Manager Stephanie Stahl
"Adam Ritchie has always been a pioneer in our field, and 'Invention in PR' is a useful, fun read packed with practical advice and inspiring case studies that remind us how to love what we do. I look forward to seeing all the inventions this book is sure to spark!"
- Edelman Senior Vice President Anne Erhard
"'Invention in PR' is not an abstract or academic read. Learning comes from doing, and Adam Ritchie invites you to ride along on a career's worth of discovery."
- Weber Shandwick Executive Creative Director Jenna Young
"While this book is theoretically about PR Invention, it's really a book about the new expectations for brand creativity. Because how good can a 'big idea' really be if it's not driving media conversation? Today's best, most award-winning creative ideas are inherently newsworthy. PR is baked into them from the very beginning, not bolted on at the very end. The PR industry has been saying this for decades, yet most PR people have let their creativity be beaten out of them by best practices and swim lanes. Adam Ritchie is showing an entire generation it's possible to be both an amazing PR professional AND an amazing creative. Read this book and then walk into your next brainstorming meeting with the confidence that not only does PR deserve a seat at that table – it should also be the one leading the conversation."
- BCW Global Senior Vice President Steve Radick
"Adam Ritchie takes us through a PR revolution where our minds are tuned to the role of inventor and we bring more value to our clients."
- FleishmanHillard Senior Vice President Seth Bloom
"Adam Ritchie is one of the most unique and talented voices in PR. His limitless energy and determination to rethink traditional communications have earned him a seat at the product strategy table."
- Porter Novelli Executive Vice President Heather Breslau
"It's impossible to read this book and not have your head swirling with ideas. Adam Ritchie is a fountain of creativity and inspiration. His breakdown of the inventive PR process makes it accessible for anyone to push their limits and challenge themselves to create truly novel communications campaigns. 'Invention in PR' is a quick read, and well worth every moment."
- Allison+Partners Executive Vice President Paul Breton
"Adam Ritchie delivers a nontraditional and transformative view of PR's full potential. 'Invention in PR' is for professionals considering what's next, and where the product ideas of the future will originate."
- Zeno Group Managing Director Byron Calamese
"The advice Adam Ritchie shares in these pages will guide us into the next phase of PR's evolution."
- Ruder Finn Chief Executive Officer Kathy Bloomgarden
"Adam Ritchie has written an inspiring book with brilliant insight and examples of how in this industry, creativity is a given, but great success is found in being inventive."
- M Booth Senior Vice President, Entertainment Marketing and Partnerships Michelle Overall
"I love Adam Ritchie's 'Invention in PR' because it is a quick, one-sitting read which captures what I find magical about our profession. Adam has essentially made a taxonomy for invention and creativity in PR."
- PadillaCRT Co-Founder Patrice Tanaka
"Adam Ritchie has written a fun, useful and inspiring guide for using PR to truly create."
- Carmichael Lynch President Julie Batliner
"It's one thing to compile the PR industry's greatest hits. It's another to present interesting archetypes and a powerful approach by examining brands of all sizes. In example after example of what happens when the imagination gear is fully engaged in public relations, 'Invention in PR' encourages us all to twist the lens in new ways. While many of us look up and see clouds, Adam Ritchie is one of those people who sees fantastic creatures and stories in the sky."
- Fahlgren Mortine Executive Vice President Marty McDonald
"Adam Ritchie has always been one step ahead in this fast-paced industry of ours. Anything he writes is a must-read."
- PAN Communications President and Chief Executive Officer Philip Nardone
"Adam Ritchie is one of the few professionals to go beyond great PR and consistently deliver transformative PR. 'Invention in PR' is an essential resource for breaking out of communication ruts and looking at things in a new way."
- C+C General Manager Mark McClennan
"I wish I had written this. Adam Ritchie's new work has given me a true case of professional envy!"
- Bospar Principal Curtis Sparrer
"Adam Ritchie has the audacity to not just think outside the box; he's throwing out the box and showing us a whole new way. Using the muscles and disciplines of PR, he's seizing our moment to drive true invention. The time is now and Ritchie isn't waiting. Neither should we."
- Salient Global Chief Executive Officer and former Olson Engage President Bryan Specht
"I haven't been this freaking jazzed about PR since I first started in the industry more than 20 years ago. Adam Ritchie's unique approach to PR is exactly what the industry needs after spending many years in the shadows of the advertisers. After decades of PR agencies simply being asked to amplify whatever oddity the ad agency wanted to put out, the tables are turning. We are increasingly seeing brands open the floor to all agencies to come up with the lead creative idea. The best idea wins, period! And as Ritchie points out, rethinking the role of PR through the lens of invention gives us the opportunity to seize the day."
- Brodeur Partners Executive Vice President Scott Beaudoin
"Adam Ritchie is challenging the industry to write stories, which is more powerful than only telling them."
- Matter Communications Vice President Monica Higgins
"'Invention in PR' is relatable and fresh thinking. Adam Ritchie takes complicated concepts and breaks them down into an easily-digestible roadmap that elevates the PR discipline."
- Kite Hill Chief Executive Officer Tiffany Guarnaccia
"Adam Ritchie's 'Invention in PR' codifies a proven approach for brands large and small to creatively break through the noise, punch above their weight class and drive business results. Life's too short for boring ideas. Invent something!"
- Fallon Head of Creative Innovation Greg Swan
"What a read! Adam Ritchie's commitment to teaching and growing the philosophy of PR as a product and service inventor can help usher in a new era."
- MGH Chief Operating Officer and Director of Public Relations and Account Management Chris McMurry
"If the field of public relations were to hire a publicist, it would be well-served to retain Adam Ritchie. 'Invention in PR' is both an apt title and one that can’t help but fall short of describing what awaits the reader. This is in no small part due to Ritchie's novel insights into a skill I’ve always found near-impossible to explain, despite spending 30-plus years doing it! Thankfully, with 'Invention in PR,' someone has risen to the task of unlocking the mysteries of the amorphous entity that's paid my bills all these years. Ritchie's come so far, but in a way he's still working from the same location: the intersection of passion and creativity. It’s no easy place to reach, but 'Invention in PR' is as close as you’re likely to come to a guide."
- Nasty Little Man Founder Steve Martin
"Adam Ritchie has written the quintessential modern guide to PR. 'Invention in PR' transcends the standard how-to by offering vibrant, often personal anecdotes of Ritchie's incredibly inventive, sometimes off-the-wall, but always impactful campaigns. Fledgling and veteran publicists will come away with loads of inspiration, and brand entrepreneurs will no longer have to doubt the power of thinking to the sides."
- Vicious Kid Public Relations President Perry Serpa
"Corporate PR can be dry. Adam Ritchie maps out a way for you to stand out while adding real value. His campaigns are fun, helpful to the community and far more interesting than anything you are currently doing. Do as he says, and you'll be doing PR for the next 20 years."
- The Planetary Group Owner Adam Lewis
"'Invention in PR' is an incredibly conversational and engaging read, as timeless as Edward Bernays himself."
- Top Hat Founder Ben Butler
"'Invention in PR' is a book every public relations, marketing and advertising professional must read. I have always said, when in crisis, the solution must match the emotional level of the crisis itself to counteract and help put out the crisis fire. Author and PR expert Adam Ritchie gets that emotional intelligence is the greatest tool in the crisis management toolbox. I give 'Invention in PR' two Rep Doc thumbs up!"
- Reputation Doctor President Mike Paul
"Adam Ritchie's highly creative lens on the public relations profession provides the freedom for all practitioners to dream and aspire to more collaborative, inventive relationships with their clients."
- Image Suite PR President, Communications Paula MacDonald
"In an approachable, real-world tone with evergreen content that is of-the-moment without veering into trendy, Adam Ritchie's blueprint for success shares the superpowers that led to his boutique shop becoming a little engine that could in the PR industry."
- Jill Siegel Communications President Jill Siegel
"Adam Ritchie is a masterful storyteller, and his entrepreneurial approach to solving problems is an adrenaline shot of inspiration with a practical path to making magic happen."
- Harvard University Adjunct Professor Kristian Darigan Merenda
"Adam Ritchie will ignite your passion for PR. Penned by one of the most creative minds in our field, 'Invention in PR' reveals how not to take what you're given, but instead to come up with something better. Something better is what this book is all about. It's a great read, an easy read, an exciting read and a motivating read."
- Syracuse University Director, Newhouse Public Diplomacy Program Dennis Kinsey
"Invention in PR' brings to life an invaluable framework for developing newsworthy products and services, which helps communication professionals get — and keep — a seat at the leadership table."
- DePaul University Director, Professional Communication Graduate Program Matt Ragas
"Adam Ritchie's book redefines PR as a more upstream function where powerful ideas drive invention and impact. The book's typology of the different forms of invention deserves to be widely taught and adopted."
- New York University Academic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor, Integrated Marketing and Communications Department Michael Diamond
"Adam Ritchie's 'Invention PR' is just what our profession deserves: an unapologetic and inspiring shot of creative adrenaline. It delights with invention-fueled ideas bursting with soul and audacity. Ritchie invites us to become authors of what our field should be, and have lots of fun along the way."
- Boston University Professor of Public Relations Steve Quigley
"It's rare when a book comes along that not only causes me to think about an industry in a totally new way — but also excites me about the possibilities such a new perspective presents. 'Invention in PR' did just that for me. Adam Ritchie completely redefines what the PR industry could and should be. The way he views his agency's place and responsibility in the field is something I look forward to sharing with my students who will soon become practitioners themselves. I want them to see themselves as inventors in the way Ritchie describes. I want them to understand that the ideation process isn't always easy or pretty — but it can be extremely rewarding in so many ways. And I want them to always be willing to challenge the status quo so that they'll not only be able to tell — but also write — the very best brand stories for their clients. 'Invention in PR' is a must-read for students, seasoned industry professionals and everyone in between. It has certainly reinvented the way I look at what's possible."
- Elon University Assistant Professor, Strategic Communications Michele Lashley
"For years I used to tell my students you can't invent products — that's not PR. But as Adam Ritchie details with his own experience, and by profiling many brands, inventing new products and services is the exciting frontier of PR."
- American University Assistant Professor/Senior Associate Director, Public Communication Division Pallavi Kumar
"Adam Ritchie's 'Invention in PR' promises to set the whole industry on fire and change it forever."
- University of Connecticut Academic Advisor, Department of Communication Joel Nebres
"It's rare that I read a PR book and not want to put it down. As I read 'Invention in PR,' I kept yelling, 'But what happened next?' and continuing on to the next chapter. You will gain some great, stealable ideas by reading this book."
- Spin Sucks Author and Creator of the PESO Model® Gini Dietrich