Book Review: BRANDJACK by Quentin Langley


Brandjack: How your reputation is at risk from brand pirates and what to do about it.

by Quentin Langley

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Publication date: May 2014

316 pages

Described as the first book to analyse Brandjacking, Quentin Langley explores the idea that as brands increase their internet presence, they are making themselves susceptible to attacks that could misrepresent or potentially damage them in the long-term.

For all intents and purposes, this book is essentially a how-to guide for crisis communication and social media management; readers are encouraged to learn from the mistakes made by the case studies. In each case, Langley states the rights and wrongs of the situation, what was learned and how it should have been handled. This simple approach makes what could’ve been boring and repetitive, the opposite.

As someone recently introduced to the PR industry, I found the book informative, interesting and most importantly – easy to read. Although novices wouldn’t struggle to comprehend the subject matter, it’s obvious that this book has been written for companies and practitioners who encounter similar problems on a more frequent basis.

It’s obvious that Langley knows what he’s talking about too, while he primarily lectures at the University of Bedfordshire, he is also a consultant, journalist, former CIPR Council Member and Director of PR PeopleBank Ltd (a PR talent company). Without a doubt, the author’s depth and breadth of experience make him a fantastic writer, everything is explained so simply as if it was conversation.

As you would expect from a book about PR, one of the key themes revolves around relationships.  Langley recommends that readers need to invest in their relationships with their publics – staff, customers, investors, neighbours, politicians and business partners – and communicate so that they are motivated to help during a crisis and become brand ‘ambassadors’.

While there are only 5 chapters, the fourth offers 140 brandjack examples, something that must’ve required an extensive level of research on Langley’s behalf. This adds a sense of credibility to the book and readers are left inclined to follow Langley’s advice. Readers are also given free rein to pick and choose what they read as brandjacks are sorted into 9 categories. The option to pick up where you left off or start somewhere new adds yet another level to the reading experience.

The only criticism I can have with this book is that it’s all over far too soon. Aside from the brandjacks, Langley is only providing his voice and opinions for about 30 pages. While he offers up some thoroughly interesting points, I would’ve loved for them to have been expanded even further, especially considering how engrossed I became.

In truth, this is the Ronseal of PR books – it does exactly what is says on the tin. It broaches a relevant issue within the industry and provides preventative measures that companies and practitioners alike can take to avoid or minimalize the damage of being ‘brandjacked’. I honestly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for Langley’s next offering.


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