From Publishers Weekly
A former Pentagon communications chief (2001–2003) tells how to deliver bad news, defuse scandal and build trusting relations with constituents and customers. While Clarke's book seems aimed at public officials and executives, her first piece of advice could serve just about anyone: "Deliver bad news yourself, and when you screw up, say so—fast!" If you don't, Clarke observes, aggressive reporters, resentful employees or the Internet will out you soon enough, and then you'll have to endure the pain of hearing others describe, and capitalize on, your mistake. The book's other suggestions are similarly worthy and familiar (know your audience, take chances, think outside the box). But the book's most interesting sections, in which Clarke describes her recent work for the Pentagon, are more memoir than how-to. She details, for example, the reasoning behind the department's decision to embed journalists during the Iraq invasion and the mechanics of putting that decision into action. The memoir/advice combination can get awkward at times—certainly, the volume would have been more compelling as a straight political book—and the connection between real life and the take-away lesson is sometimes loose. But overall Clarke has produced a solidly useful book. (Feb. 6)
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Clarke is a former communications director with the Pentagon in the early years of the Bush administration and a former advisor to Senator John McCain. From her years of experience, she offers broad principles on effective communication--most notably, that honesty is better than spin--and illustrates her advice with stories of how the powerful have suffered for their hubris. She begins each chapter with sound recommendations (e.g., admit to errors as soon as possible) and then offers a behind-the-scenes look at several instances where the powerful have either handled news events well or bungled them, from the decision to invade Iraq to the savings-and-loan scandal. The advice is useful for businesspeople and public figures, but readers interested in the intersection of public relations and public policy will also enjoy this book. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved