Much of the conventional wisdom about damage control and crisis PR is self-serving, self-congratulatory, self-deceiving, and flat out wrong. And no one knows it better than Eric Dezenhall and John Weber, who have helped countless companies, politicians, and celebrities get out of various kinds of trouble.
If you're facing a lawsuit, a sex scandal, a defective product, or allegations of insider trading, other PR experts will tell you to stay positive, get your message out, and everything will be just fine. But happy talk doesn't help much during a real crisis, and it's easy to lose sight of your real priorities. In a trial, for instance, you might want the whole world to think you're a wonderful person, but all that matters is whether 12 jurors think you're guilty.
Dezenhall and Weber are especially dismayed by flacks who compare every problem to the famous Tylenol/cyanide episode of 1982: supposedly proof that making nice, admitting fault, and taking immediate corrective action is all you need to do. In reality, Tylenol's situation was nothing like the typical corporate crisis.
The authors share many powerful lessons, including:
©2007 Eric Dezenhall and John Weber; (P)2007 Gildan Media Corp
"This is mandatory listen for any corporate person who is facing a gut-wrenching crisis now or is likely to one day: which of course means just about everybody." (Stanley Bing, author and Fortune columnist)
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"Infomercial For Authors' Crisis-comm Firm"
This is a poorly edited, poorly organized hodgepodge of crisis communications advice designed for a non-practitioner audience. Once you get beyond the initial premise that Tylenol's response to its product tampering scandal should not be the go-to strategy for every corporate crisis situation, there's very little additional value-add.
The book presents a number of "common sense" crisis responses that make sense when linked to a particular anecdote, but seemingly contradict strategies presented elsewhere in the book. There is little context to show when a particular strategy is appropriate.
While the authors say that they eschew crisis communications "alchemists," this book, when taken as a whole, seems to depict this branch of communications as nothing more than alchemy itself. While ostensively trying to help readers avoid crisis communications mistakes, the subtext is that crisis communications is too difficult to understand and should be left to experts... experts like the authors.
I resent blowing an audible credit and several hours of my time to what has turned out to be a slick, but academically vacant, infomercial. Unless you're looking for "thunk factor" - the sound this book will make hitting the desk of your CEO - in order to justify your hiring of the authors' communications firm, this book is a "pass."
It was enjoyable to learn more about the major corporate crises and what could have potentially helped them to avoid these pitfalls.
Yes, we listened to this during a road trip. My husband was intrigued as well.
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