As the editor of an agricultural magazine I am regularly offered free copies of books to review. Most of these offers are for books that are not of specific interest to the cattle or beef industries. For obvious reasons, most offers to write a book review are declined.

This week, however, I received a request for a book review that grabbed my attention. No, I have no intention of writing a review – the book is titled “Raising Goats for Dummies” – but the review request from a public relations agency left me contemplating writing my own book. I think I’ll call it “Public Relations for Dummies.”

The headline on the e-mail that grabbed my attention? “Fed up with the Food Industry? Go Organic with Goats!”

Now, before I go any further, let me admit to being a dummy about goats. If I suddenly – and inexplicably – develop an urge to raise goats this book would be just the ticket for me. And let me also say that I have no ill feelings toward anyone who chooses to raise goats – or even someone who chooses to write a whole book about goats.

No, my comments are reserved for the exceptionally poor choice the author of “Raising Goats for Dummies” made in hiring a PR firm to promote their book. Now, I don’t know this person – Dottie DeHart – who wrote the release asking me to write a book review. But if I did know her I would give her the first copy of my yet unpublished book – "Public Relations for Dummies."

I think the first bit of advice I would give any PR writer is – know your audience. For instance, if I were sending out requests for reviews to, say, the editor of a beef publication, it might not be a good idea to include the following:

“It’s been said ‘you are what you eat.’ These days, that’s pretty scary. Families everywhere are fed up with the food industry—tired of heavily processed meals, hormone-injected meats, and sugar-and-salt-filled snacks—and are taking control of where their own nourishment comes from. And that doesn’t just mean adding a veggie garden to your backyard—it might mean adding a herd of goats there as well.

“That’s right. Often kept for their dairy-producing capabilities, goats are considered the ‘green’ alternative to cows: they cost less to feed, take up less space, and contribute less methane gas (which means less global warming)! They’re also smart, friendly companions that are easy to manage with the proper set-up.”

Let’s see, you just sent this memo to a cow editor asking him to do you a favor, yet you managed to disparage cows no less than six times in the first two paragraphs! Hmmm… I’m beginning to think it’s going to take you a while to get through that first chapter of my book about knowing your audience.

The release about “Raising Goats for Dummies” also provides a list of the lessons that are included in the book. I’ve listed a few of them here with my editorial comments in parentheses.

* The 10 common mistakes that first-time goat owners make (You mean other than being first-time goat owners?)
* How to make your property goat-ready (After my divorce, I presume?)
* Taking care of your goats: everything from grooming to first-aid (I won’t be caught dead grooming a goat.)
* Ten tips for showing your goat (What I will need is tips for hiding my goats.)
* The top 10 misconceptions about goats (Really, if any of my notions about goats are misconceived I’d just as soon not know.)
* Goat milk recipes the whole family will love! (Trust me, my family can’t be bribed into eating anything laced with goat milk.)

Source: Greg Henderson, Drovers