Category: Business, Leadership and coaching, Sales and marketing
Publication date: April 18, 2019
Extent: 192 pages

PR for Humans

How business leaders tell powerful stories

Mike Sergeant


*SHORT-LISTED FOR THE BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS 2020!* “There is no strategy without a story. There is no story without the main character. The main character is you.”
PR for Humans is for pure-of-heart storytellers who want to cut through the noise and the nonsense. It brings together the essential and timeless principles of effective leadership communication.
Belief. Clarity. Opinion. Energy. Context. Time. Humility. Imagery.
Why are these things so important? Why do most people in PR and ‘communications’ not even talk about them? Why is PR for Humans even more important in the age of A.I.? In this fresh and energetic guide, former BBC correspondent Mike Sergeant draws on twenty years of frontline experience to reveal the secrets that every CEO, partner, board member, PR director and business leader needs to know.
The principles and techniques he sets out in this book will help you deliver more powerful speeches, presentations, media interviews, videos, podcasts and blogs.
They are the rocket fuel for your business and your career.


“I love that the author starts from an audience perspective. As a brand strategist (and admirer of Seth Godin) the starting point has to be the WHO, it impacts everything else. “We should be imagining the audience first, asking ourselves: what do they know about us? Think about us? And what would we like them to think, feel and do?”

I firmly believe that the more time we invest in understanding the audience, the easier it is to mould the message for them to relate to and engage with. So too does the author.

And so he elaborates on the importance of the story. With the story being told being dependent on just who you are relating it to.

“Facts are important. But stories are vital if you want to enhance reputation.” It’s hard for us to make sense of lots of data, but a story can help us make sense of it. “Stories are about people, challenges, struggles, mistakes, hopes and dreams.” Stories are relatable. Evidence is essential. There are those who struggle to see a story, but the author is clear about the importance and impact. We need to take the time to look for the story. We are looking to move the audience from one point to another.

The brands we love are great storytellers and the author details examples to help us understand the principles he is postulating.

Stories require effort. It’s not a ‘get it out quickly’ but rather an iterative process. To be an authority, you need to have a context and the right content. Leaders (people, brands and businesses) see the value in this investment.

He describes a two-part process: finding your story, exploring timeless principles and then telling your story, outlining the techniques to do so, emphasising that great brands do both.

The author has certainly followed this approach. I found myself nodding as he verbalized many of my thoughts, that I have not been able to express anywhere near as clearly.

I loved these thoughts:

“Know your audience. Flatter them. Involve Them. Play to them. Win them. Keep them.

“You need a story to tell in the first place before… (hiring photographers etc)

“Social media is a very personal thing. All it does is expose and amplify who you are.”

“The conclusion usually comes first.” The business reader doesn’t have time. They want to stop reading as soon as possible.”

“Focus on the person, not the organization.”

“ Tell a powerful story. By humans. For humans.”

This book has broad appeal. It is for those who are looking to write meaningful content. It is inspiring, informative and a great guide. It is a great handbook. It’s a gem. I highly recommend you buy it. I intend to revisit it on a regular basis. There is just too much to take in in one reading. It’s deep. It’s rich. It’s inspiring.

With many thanks to the authors, the publishers, Practical Inspiration Publishing, and NetGalley for my free copy to review”


“A must-read for PR firms, business leaders and anyone interesting in understanding what it takes to be a great storyteller.”

“Absolutely love this book. It’s unique and personal but totally practical too. Essential!”

“The Mike Sergeant book is a must-read for business leaders in this most challenging of times. With a powerful mixture of stories as a journalist, as an interviewer, as a speech coach, Mike underlines the much forgotten “human” message. If you want to be listened to then tell a compelling story – this brilliant book tells you how.”

“‘PR for Humans’ is a must-read for anyone keen to understand what it takes to tell a powerful story in an effective and engaging way. This is an exceptional book that is full of invaluable insights.”

“I have been struggling to find a decent book on personal branding for years and finally, I have found this book. I work in the PR industry and part of my job is to represent individuals and their personal brands. Standard tomes on corporate and consumer brands do not apply to my work, but this book was spot on. It has two main parts, one is to understand the principles of communications in our connected world and the other is focused on the delivery side be it media relations or public speaking. It is not just for PRs, it is for all professionals who wish to further their career and understand that controlling their story will lead to future success and shaping their career trajectory.”


“People make stories. Stories create movements . Movements need leaders.” This quote is what this book is about. The book is a practical guide to creating engaging communication with audiences. Mike shares a lot of stories and gives a framework on creating your own story. All of the important areas are covered for public speaking. If you follow those guidelines and practice a lot, there is a big chance of being successful in own PR and in representing your company internally and externally.



‘A blast of fresh air. Mike cuts through the nonsense and delivers powerful storytelling lessons in a calm and fluent style. Essential reading.’ – Vahe Vartanian, Founder And CEO, Global Family Office Community ‘Mike Sergeant is a PR guru. Brilliant advice on getting your message to the people who need to hear it.’ – Jeremy Bowen, Middle East Editor, BBC News ‘In this age of fake news and failing trust, honest, open PR, with the customer at the heart of every message is the only way to progress. Mike’s observations and guidance throughout his book are sensitive and thought provoking.’ – Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, Founder, Genius ‘A small fortune worth of PR guidance, media and presentation training for the price of a book. And a good read as well’. – Chris Roberts, CEO, Invision Comms ‘Mike masterfully cuts through corporate smoke and mirrors to provide a wonderfully scripted and hugely credible common sense guide to public relations, drawing on his wealth of journalistic and PR experience. It nails what is so often overlooked – the power of compelling storytelling and that people are always at the heart of a good story. I’d recommend it to anyone joining the industry’. – Nicola Pearson, Head Of Corporate PR, British Airways ‘Fascinating, fun and full of useful advice.’ – Simon Lancaster, Speechwriter ‘Mike Sergeant’s brilliant manifesto for PR will help you find the human beings in your world and connect with them through stories they can relate to.’ – Tim Dunford, Senior PR Manager, Uswitch.Com ‘A must-read for everyone in business who wants to get their messages across.’ – Simon Bucks, Former Executive Producer, Sky Business News ‘Mike is 100% right that getting your story straight is at the heart of effective communication and his book will help you do that.’ – Guto Harri, Communications Professional and Presenter ‘A really useful book. In the world of high-speed internet, instagram, facebook, LinkedIn – finding the emotional connection with people is more important than ever.’ – Denys C. Shortt OBE, Chairman and Chief Executive, DCS Group (UK) Ltd ‘Mike has taken the essence of communication from his years as a journalist and now as a consultant and condensed it down to a single message. The power of good story. His book is thus enlightening, practical and informative as well as entertaining. Interestingly enough I observed myself slowing down to read the personal stories as these were the most fascinating aspects of the book. I shall certainly be incorporating these ideas into our future communications strategy as our business is all about human and personal interaction. The numbers are meaningless without the emotional and human connection with our families.’ – Mark Estcourt, Founder And CEO, Cavendish Family Office ‘PR FOR HUMANS is much more than PR for humans. It is an essential insight that can help transform leaders into great leaders. It is a simple masterclass that can help average communicators become great communicators. It shows how to influence reputation through story-telling. This book is a must-read for leaders who want to get to the top, and CEOs or politicians who want to stay at the top.’ – Edmund King OBE, AA President ‘The Mike Sergeant book is a must-read for business leaders in this most challenging time. With a powerful mixture of stories as a journalist to interviewing and working for corporate leaders, Mike underlines the much forgotten ‘human’ message. PR is about people, it is all it will ever be, if you want to be listened to then tell a compelling story. This book brilliantly tells you how.’ – Neil Sherlock CBE, Former Special Adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg ‘A reminder for every PR person to keep it human if you want to keep it successful.’ – Jonathan Charles, Managing Director, Communications, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ‘Sergeant cuts seamlessly through the chaotic, noisy and sometimes confusing messages widely available to budding storytellers. Clear, logical and beautifully simple, PR for Humans is the book that other writers wish they wrote.’ – Paul Griffin, Director, Reputation-Inc ‘Whatever your business, if you wish to connect with your audience then I recommend you read this book.’ – Danny Vassiliades, Principal, XPS Pensions Group ‘Applying filters has become all too easy. Mike’s book – drawing on 20 years of frontline experience – is a timely reminder that reality resonates.’ – Laura Brooks, Vice President Public Relations, MUFG


This Book INTRODUCTION The Awakening. The Billionaire. Stories Begin. Stories Accelerate. My Stories. What Even Is PR? On Reputation. PR for Humans. PART 1: FINDING YOUR STORY – PRINCIPLES 1. Belief Believe in Something. Be a Hedgehog. Connect. 2. Clarity Seek Clarity. Fire One Arrow. Soar and Dive. 3. Opinion Take a View. Stop Being the Accountant. Watch Your Personal Space. 4. Energy Energise. Seek Influence. Fear the Dark Side. 5. Context Get off Your Island. Draw Concentric Circles. Put the Customer in the Middle. Find Allies. 6. Time Root Yourself. Reach Back for Your Company Story. Be Present. Lead Your Company’s Action. Be the Future. Describe Your Company’s Future. Past, Present, Future. Control Time. 7. Humility Be Humble. Understand the Storyteller’s Paradox. Solve Someone’s Problem. Want Something. Be Funny. Be the Coach. Listen. Pause.
8. Imagery Use Metaphor. Use Words, but Think in Pictures. Use Numbers Imaginatively. Create Moments. PART 2: TELLING YOUR STORY – TECHNIQUES 1. Speeches Make It Personal. Find an Argument. Put TED to Bed. Start Strong. Finish Stronger. Pitch It. Know Your Audience. Be a Proper Chair. Own the Panel. 2. Performance Clench. (Try Not To) Use Slides. Use Props (Sometimes). Find Your Voice. Dress the Best. Memorise (Occasionally). Rehearse Seriously. Crush Nerves. 3. Media Talk to Journalists. Have a Goal for PR. Find Common Ground. Feel Newsworthy. Write Your Headlines. Find Soundbites. Use a Story Tree. Broadcast Happy. 4. Danger Stay on the Record. Watch Your Red Lines. Cut Down the Bridge. Lean into Crisis. 5. Content Get Video. Podcast Around the Campfi re. Find Photo Beauty. Get Human on Social. 6. Words Write Clearly. Rewrite Everything. Write from the Gut. CONCLUSION The People’s Princess. There’s Power in Love. Human PR. Author’s Note Select Bibliography



Paperback / 9781788600552 / April 18, 2019 / £15.99

Ebook / 9781788600569 / April 18, 2019 / £8.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £18.24


Mike Sergeant

Mike Sergeant is an international communications coach and PR adviser to CEOs and business leaders. Through his company he delivers media training, public speaking coaching and reputation advice. Mike began his career at CNN in 1996 before moving to Reuters, Sky News and the BBC – where he spent 13 years as a TV and radio correspondent covering business, politics and the Middle East. He lives in North London with his wife and two sons.