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Lipstick on a Pig: Winning In the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game Hardcover – January 31, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (January 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743271165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743271165
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,018,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lawyer Mike on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the book and I read it in three days. It was easy to read and the best parts are the stories she tells about her life in the Pentagon and other high profile jobs.

The story of Senator Mc Cain's actions around the Keating scandal were informative and the chilling recall of the events at the Pentagon during 9/11 kept me reading when I should have been working.

Clarke's style is irreverant (she says she is a "smart-ass" but this is after all a high class review) and she is direct. The stories of background on the process of embedding journalists in the military during the Iraq conflict are history that I'm happy to know about. The concept of putting journalists in combat and its effects are historical and this author was at the center of the decisions and the events.

The story of the Pentagon on 9/11 (Clarke was there) is told in an emotional manner. she brings home the destruction and the bravery and dedication of the Pentagon people. she brought it home to me, a guy from the Midwest who only watched the events on TV.

A fair amount of the book involves the author's work with Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfield (SecDef as she calls him in the book). She worked with him during pretty tough times and she still admires and respects him. Since the book was published after she left his employment, I think the opinions expressed are valid. Like Rumsfield or not, he is an important and powerful man and it was interesting to learn about him from someone who saw him function on a daily basis. Personally, I think he is pretty scarey on TV but he serves the country. He is not in the job for financial gain (I read he is loaded) and it is not a springboard to the Presidency or vice-presidency.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James T. Currie on March 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read the other reviews of this book, and I must admit to being confused by the negativity in some of them. This is a really terrific book: honest, helpful, insightful. Torie Clarke has worked in some of the most difficult public affairs positions in this country--cable industry, Sen. John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon--and she has learned her lessons well. What she says may not be totally original thoughts on how to represent your organization, but she has presented her observations lucidly and in entertaining style. Her advice to confront the bad news immediately is not often done here in Washington. We see every day politicians of every stripe who think it will just go away if they ignore it. Senator Trent Lott and his pronouncements on Strom Thurmond come immediately to mind, but there are many others. I was struck by Ms. Clarke's many tales of those who had owned up to their faux pas and the many others who did not. As a former public affairs officer myself, I can only echo Ms. Clarke's advice to get the principals out front and let them be the face of the organization. No one much wants to hear a flack speak for a group in a time of crisis. CEOs and generals and secretaries of cabinet agencies who hide behind their public affairs officers are never going to be as effective as those who don't, and Ms. Clarke has given plenty of reason for those high-ranking individuals to step forward and take the heat--just as they take the salary and prestige that goes with their position. This book is not big on theory; it is a very useful summary and guide for the practitioner.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ink & penner on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Is this a "how to" book on corporate communications? Is it a tell-all book on government PR strategies and heartless spin? When halfway through, I still couldn't figure out what Clarke was getting at. From pages and pages of lite references to Starbucks and Saving Private Ryan...from bin Laden to the Bishops' Conference...from the Pentagon to Prime Cable, she's all over the board in a listless (almost boring) effort about media, government, corporate people and corporate places, all of which she apparently had some kind of hand in image-shaping.

-But it's less a step-by-step primer on "spinless" ways to embrace the public's good graces than a strangely woven tour of her own career successes. If the reader wants an extended resume about how one former government media-meister "made it," this cute (but surface) read's an excellent work. If, instead, the goal is finding riveting insight on slippery PR, tough opinion on the media, out-spoken analysis of crooked business and of failing solutions to the accompanying problems (something other than the continuous drone about her own vague public relations strategy of "transparency." "transparency," "transparency."), forget about it. I certainly tried to "get into" the beat of the book; but I could not, constantly expecting to find the book's real substance as the pages turned. One star, but that's generous. -For effort.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By American Bandersnatch on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a very disappoining book. It comes across as if Torie Clarke dictated the whole thing in one go with no planning or preparation. There is no in-depth analysis of the subject, the whole book is very self-congratulatory and the writing style is casual and loose. On the plus side, it is a quick read and has some common sense observations on communications and public relations.
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