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Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control Kindle Edition

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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Masters of Disaster is the perfect playbook for how to respond when you're under enemy fire…a vital and fun read full of back-room tales for those who want to learn from America's greatest corporate and political scandals. (The Huffington Post)

A how-to brought to you by the guys who defended Clinton on impeachment. (The National Journal)

The go-to manual...Lehane and Fabiani are well positioned to distill the lessons of the baseball steroid scandal, Tiger Woods's infidelities, and Anthony Weiner's obscene tweets into clearly articulated principles. (starred review, Publishers Weekly)

If you are a public figure, or even a private citizen who might engender controversy, read this book and put its authors on your speed dial. These guys are truly the masters not only of avoiding or minimizing disaster, but of dealing with the kind of crises faced by ordinary people when they first encounter the media, the law or the blood sport we call politics. (Alan M. Dershowitz, author of The Trials of Zion)

In a hostile climate where reputations and markets can be capriciously destroyed in seconds, the old chestnuts about crisis management don't apply. What's needed is perspective from the seasoned Masters of Disaster who understand that damage control is a temperamental art, not grade school science. A valuable addition to the modern crisis canon. (Eric Dezenhall, CEO Dezenhall Resources, Ltd. and author of Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management)

Every board, every manager and now almost every individual now faces the possibility of being swept up in a firestorm of media and mangled message. Masters of Disaster provides both sound rules and great examples of both the positive and negative kind to guide us all through to the best possible outcomes. The only danger is that you won't read it in advance. I recommend it to all my board colleagues and CEO friends. (Howard Stevenson, Sarofim Rock Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School)

Today crisis is common, and news of scandal, whether large or small, spreads rapidly. Through detailed case studies that focus on both those who have successfully overcome a crisis and those who have failed, Masters of Disaster offers essential insight into crisis management. (Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitols and Washington Wizards)

Managing the world's most famous sports franchise is never dull, and there are times when I've turned to and found valuable tactics from this crisis management playbook. (Jeanie Buss, president, Los Angeles Lakers)

Think if you are not in the public eye, this book does not apply to you? Think again. Disaster will happen to all of us, when we least expect it. And if you are in the public eye -- this is mandatory survival reading! (Guerrino De Luca, CEO of Logitech)

About the Author

Christopher Lehane and Mark Fabiani have provided damage control for global Fortune 500 companies, prominent elected officials, and well-known celebrities. Previously, they worked for the Clinton White House as part of the "rapid-response" team employed to respond to the various investigations of the Clinton Administration. Boasting frequent media appearances for their expert commentary on the art of damage control, both authors are lawyers with degrees from Harvard Law School.
Bill Guttentag is a two-time Oscar-winning documentary and feature film writer producer-director. His films include the dramatic features Knife Fight and Live!, and the documentaries Nanking and Soundtrack for Revolution. He lectures at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1074 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0230341802
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Publication Date: December 11, 2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0096M8PL4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,446 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By James D. Crabtree VINE VOICE on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The need to control situations which threaten to overwhelm individuals and organizations is important, no doubt about that. And yes, there are certain strategies which do help mitigate these situations (release first, be honest, stop digging). However, I find the choice of examples to be... interesting.

Authors Lehane and Fabiani worked for the Clinton administration and were employed to deal with "investigations." The third author is listed as a writer-producer-director. His contribution could explain why there are so many pointless movie references in this book.

Almost every negative example is a Republican (George W. Bush's name appears on 20 pages). Every positive example is a Democrat (Bill 12, Hillary 5, Obama 9). The book actually uses the term "Republican Apparatchiks" to describe the sailors who served with Kerry during Vietnam (many of whom are lifelong democrats). When talking about the dangers of not coming out with the truth, it did NOT mention Bill Clinton's affair with an intern (Lewinsky 0).

This book wasn't even that well written. I found myself continually thinking about other books I had NOT read while leafing through the pages of this book. The "ten Commandments" are actually 4 or 5 repeated in different ways. The bottom line is, get an unbiased book on this topic. I'm sure they're out there.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brad Phillips, Author, The Media Training Bible on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's difficult to write a "how to" book on crisis communications. Each crisis has its own set of unique challenges, and what works well in one case may cause a company's demise in another.

But authors Christopher Lehane, Mark Fabiani, and Bill Guttentag--the first two former high-ranking White House officials and the third an Ocsar-winning filmmaker--do a wonderful job of arming readers with critical information they need to know to survive a personal or professional crisis.

Their book, Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Crisis Control, rightly points out that "we no longer have conventional news cycles but cycles within cycles." In today's media age, they write, crises "have become the normal state of nature," and that "scandal is an endlessly self-renewing resource."

Therefore, preparing in advance for crisis is more important today than ever before. Masters helps readers do that by detailing "Ten Commandments" of damage control, the purpose of which are to help restore trust to companies in crisis. Those rules include admonitions to speak to your core audience, avoid feeding the fire, respond with overwhelming force, and "destroy" opponents who dissemble.

But the greatest strength of this book is its case studies. The authors went into great detail on numerous recent scandals--ranging from those affecting Toyota, British Petroleum, Penn State University, Tiger Woods, baseball's steroid users, and a few politicians. The case studies read like good fiction, and I found myself flying through those pages. Even as an author
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JYK on December 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book provides very practical advice based on real-life examples of individuals and companies that managed or mismanaged career or reputation-destroying moments. Some handled crises well and came through stronger. Others fumbled and made mountains out of molehills.

The ten commandments are:

#1: Full disclosure
#2: Speak to your core audience
#3: Don't feed the fire
#4: Details matter
#5: Hold your head high
#6: Be straight about what you know, what you don't know, and what you are going to do to fix the problem
#7: Respond with overwhelming force
#8: First in, first out
#9: No swiftboating
#10: They dissemble, you destroy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on April 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A crisis is something that puts you or your organization's trust at risk with those audiences whose trust must be maintained to survive. Crises are everywhere and impact everyone - in fact, they're the normal state of nature. Underlying drivers are the vast proliferation of outlets communicating information and the speed with which information moves today. Moreover, during the past 50 years there has been a steady breakdown of public trust in political, business, education, and religious leaders. The public believes we are on the wrong track, wants answers, but lacks faith in the ability of traditional gatekeepers to provide useful and accurate answers.

The first rule to remember - 'It's not the crime, it's the cover-up,' a lesson forever imprinted by Watergate. Responses to a crisis must demonstrate that, despite the crisis, you can be trusted. Accomplishing that requires adhering to what the authors describe as the Ten Commandments of Damage Control built around doing no harm, taking a disciplined approach, and preserving your credibility.

The Do No Harm principle is often undermined by a desire to blame others (creates new enemies, does not appear forthright), provide instant responses to make 'the problem' go away (usually prove unsustainable and detrimental), and trying to spin the story (excuses, downplaying the seriousness).

Taking a disciplined approach requires preparation, mental toughness, and thinking long-term. 'Pivot points' are a key objective, achieved by drawing a line between the past and the future - they must include more than words (eg. a comprehensive and self-critical report, management changes at the top, an apology). Sooner is better.

The authors then introduce their 'ten commandments of damage control.
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