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on August 21, 2012
"Rethinking Reputation" is pretty much as it is described in the Book Description and Editorial Reviews of its Amazon page. The problem is I'm not sure if I liked it or not--based on what I was expecting when I bought it today on its publication date.

My expectation was that it would show how social media and the new world order of the internet has changed everything, and that public relations has had to adapt to keep up with those changes. There are definitely case studies and places in the book where that cause-and-effect relationship is covered explicitly. What I'm not so sure of is the way the book eclectically mixes together PR success stories and business case studies in Part I (How to Build Reputation) with a mixture of political, sports and disaster scenarios 'ripped from the headlines' in Part II (How to Protect Reputation). It's almost like PR 101 meets TMZ ... traditional media meets cable media ... with the authors then weighing in on who did good PR and who didn't -- even as many of these stories evolved over a period where PR was adjusting to the new realities of our internet- and social media-enabled world.

Something that's always been intriguing to me about two-author books is trying to analyze who wrote what so their writing styles and input blend together to appear as one. In this case I think the division of chapters between the authors contributes to the sometimes jarring transitions in the story-telling. Strictly from reading the authors' bios, it struck me that Fraser Seitel probably took the first shot at Chapters 1, 2 and most of Part II, while John Doorley wrote Chapters 3-5. Both authors were probably responsible for then editing the other's first-drafts and together summarizing the top 10 Lessons at the end of each chapter.

I was disappointed by the exclusive use of Democrats to demonstrate how politicians screw up when (probably) Seitel tells in detail how Charlie Rangle, John Edwards and Anthony Weiner tried to dig their way out of their PR problems and later how Bill Clinton became the ultimate political spin-meister. Just the use of one of many Republicans (think John Ensign, Mark Sanford, or David Vitter) might have provided a balanced view and not reminded me that Seitel appears a lot on Fox News. This was an unnecessary distraction away from the sincerity of the topic.

In general though, "Rethinking Reputation" does a nice job of showing how public relations can accomplish so much more when we are inundated by ads. The first chapter stars two young NYU graduates who use PR almost exclusively to blow up their shoe business. It was awesome looking at some of their YouTube videos to see how they were building personal relationships. Also in Chapter 2 you learn how unique PR ideas can do much more to draw excitement to your business or idea. If the book had continued down this path, it could have gotten more into the use of PR in a new media world.

Instead it shifts over to more of a Harvard case study approach in seeing how Roy Vagelos at Merck, T. Boone Pickens and Johnson & Johnson used/are using PR in their respective ways. And then in Part II the big shift occurs that intertwines a number of smaller, "pop culture" cases to illustrate how to protect your reputation when confronted by catastrophic issues. With all this variety, the book is a fast and entertaining read that in a way reflects the way we experience news of the world today -- news, politics, business, sports and entertainment -- all rolled together in our newspapers and websites.

I was hoping for a final chapter where they brought all of these perspectives together a little beyond the Lessons provided after each chapter. Instead they showed how it was possible for a company (Exxon) known primarily for a disaster (Exxon Valdez) to come full-circle to become one of the most PR-savvy companies in the world (ExxonMobil). The point being that if you understand how the world is changing it's possible for huge organizations and individuals to adapt.
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on December 26, 2012
Rethinking Reputation was an enjoyable read and took only about half a day to complete. Storytelling is certainly the strength of this book. Each chapter focuses on a handful of examples to draw the reader in and make a few practical points about public relations. The book is written in simple, plain English that anyone can understand. If you are a student of PR, you will likely find this an useful read. If you are a practitioner, then there are some good general reminders to be found as well.

As purely a matter of personal preference, there were a few things that disappointed me. Foremost, the book gave very little time to the topic of reputation. Honestly, the thesis of this book is that PR is better than marketing and advertising. Second, I usually choose books with more substance or research behind them, and in this sense I found the book to be a quick and easy read. Finally, the book is overwhelmingly focused on North America at a time when the world's economic center can be found in the East. Now these are just my personal preferences, and may not be shared by other readers.

The book is very well written, the authors clearly know their subject well, and Rethinking Reputation is fun to read. I might note this book as a good starting point for those who are new to PR and ideal for executives who want to quickly understand more about communications.
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on May 19, 2013
This book gets off to a weak start. Chapter one is not about reputation management. It's about how a couple of NYU students launched a shoe company on a shoestring budget. (Hint: Find a patent attorney who will work for you without charge.) Chapters three and five sound like they could have been written by publicists for Merck and Johnson & Johnson. In fact, coauthor John Doorley has held positions at both firms (and he teaches at NYU). The chapter on T. Boone Pickens' energy independence campaign states that he spent $100 million "with more than half focused on paid media." That seems to undermine premise of the subtitle.

The real meat of the book begins on page 111. Part Two includes several examples of the right and wrong ways to handle a PR crisis. Cases include sports and political scandals, a series of challenges at Hewlett-Packard, and the BP oil spill fiasco. The final chapter describes how ExxonMobil has changed its approach to corporate communications; this is the only chapter which fits the theme of the subtitle.

In a section where the authors (rightfully) skewer Nancy Grace for being fast and loose with the facts, they also make inaccurate assertions. They write that "Whitney Houston was found drowned in a Hollywood bathtub in 2012" and "the LAPD has already reported that Houston's death wasn't the result of foul play or force or trauma to the body." In reality, Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel and the investigating agency was the Beverly Hills Police Department, not LAPD. These details may not be material to their point, but the sloppiness is hard to overlook while the authors (rightfully) berate contemporary media for being more concerned with speed of so-called breaking news than with accuracy.

There are four memorable lines that stand out in this book:
1. "The cardinal rule of public relations is never, ever lie."
2. "Silence grants the point"
3. "In a crisis, a leader needs to take charge immediately."
4. "The truth will out."

Although this may be tangential to the book itself, there's something in chapter four that I find difficult to reconcile with the cardinal rule. The Pickens campaign hired "DCI, a political consulting and lobbying firm with a knack for creating grassroots organizations..." The term grassroots implies that rank and file citizens are the source of the movement, not the target of it. So, a lobbying firm creating "grassroots" organizations strikes me as less than honest and transparent. (There's a book about this sort of nonsense called Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry.) For what it's worth, I agree with the goal of energy independence. My criticism is with what I perceive as deceptive PR tactics.
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on February 5, 2013
The first two chapters are great even if the same stories have been told elsewhere. The rest of the book is more about crisis management than PR. The authors try to make old proven crisis management solutions sound like something new. Read
"The new rules of marketing and PR" instead of this book.
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on February 20, 2013
Seitel and Doorley provide us with a number of yarns where they promote the importance of PR. I doubt many would question this, particularly in today's world of blogs, tweets, etc. Bottom line, word of mouth is getting louder, more visible, and potentially measurable. However, nowhere do they in anyway support their entitled premise "how PR trumps advertising in the new media world". Readable, but nothing exceptional. I agree with an earlier reviewer that The New Rules of Marketing & PR is the better read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 22, 2012
"When PR works well it has greater credibility than advertising, whether it's street cred or the more formal kind measured by big polling firms--because when someone else says something good about you, it's worth infinitely more than when you say something good about yourself." -- page 9

Time was when companies could pretty much create an image of themselves through sophisticated ad campaigns and make patently outrageous claims about the merits of the goods and service that they produced. According to authors Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorley such so-called "conventional wisdom" has been turned upside-down in recent years. It would appear that these days public relations rather than advertising is the main focus in the business plans of a growing number of businesses and organizations. Essentially it seems to boil down to this - it matters not how one wants to be perceived. Rather what truly matters is how one is actually perceived. In their new book "Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World" Seitel and Doorley offer up a number of interesting case studies to back up their thesis. And since both of these gentlemen have spent virtually their entire careers in the public relations game they clearly know what they are talking about. There is much food for thought in this volume.

According to the authors, "reputation" can be defined as "what the individual or organization stands for". They cite the case of Johnson & Johnson, a great American company that has been around since 1886. Back in 1943 Robert Wood Johnson II, the son of one of the founding brothers introduced a Credo for his company that stated "Take care of the customer first, then our employees, and then our communities, and the shareholders will get a fair return." This philosophy has served the company well over the years. Recall the way J & J responded to the unfortunate Tylenol tampering case back in 1982. Despite the fact that were clearly not responsible for what had happened the company chose to recall every last bottle of Tylenol. They put the safety of the public ahead of profits and took a major financial hit in the short run. But by doing the right thing J & J gained the admiration and respect of an entire nation. You just can't buy publicity like that. On the flip side, Seitel and Doorley cite the reckless and inept way ExxonMobil handled the Exxon Valdez oil spill back in 1989. Clearly, this was a public relations nightmare that could have been avoided. Then there was the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This is another fascinating case study on the do's and don'ts of public relations. The authors have plenty to say about how BP, Chairman Tony Hayward and President Barack Obama handled this situation. All would take a PR hit for the way they handled this disaster. Fortunately most of those seeking to enhance their reputation do so by taking the high road. However, there are those egotistical, singularly-focused individuals who have succeeded in building a reputation through pursuing the low-road. The authors cite Nancy Grace, Al Sharpton and Donald Trump as examples.

If you are the owner of a small or medium size business it seems to me that reading "Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World" could prove to be a very worthwhile read for you. Ditto for those who are involved in public relations or fund-raising in the non-profit world. In the pages of this book you will discover the increasing importance of word-of-mouth, relationships and free publicity. The authors have put their considerable experience to work in helping you to draw up a blueprint for enhancing what is potentially your most valuable asset--your reputation. The simple fact of the matter is that while traditional advertising still has its place but it simply does pack the wallop that it used to. Although I found the writing to be a bit dry at times I still believe that this is a book that certainly deserves a look. Highly recommended!
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on May 6, 2013
Rethinking Reputation makes an ideal book for any student of communications. The clearly written case studies with first-hand commentary give the reader an excellent overview of the situation and the summary points at the end of each case provide a helpful wrap up. Communications is an experiential business, and short of actually living through each of these experiences the next best thing is to examine them critically and think through how one would manage in each instance. This book does a service by providing the cases and giving the reader an opportunity to think critically about how they would have handled a given situation while seeing how it was handled from the inside.
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on April 28, 2013
I picked up "Rethinking Reputation" knowing very little about PR, much less how it has changed with the advent of social media. This book was an excellent guide. Each chapter is centered on a case study that illustrates a company that either launched, grew, or managed a crisis using "reputation management" techniques. I was particularly interested to learn how scrappy young business owners won friends and influenced people not just by barraging everyone they know with Facebook posts but by cultivating relationships with important people in more savvy, time-honored ways like phone calls and personal meetings.

Seitel and Doorley sum up each chapter with a checklist of helpful takeaway points. After reading the book, I went through and reread these lists and was amazed to see just how much I'd learned. In the end, it gave me a real appreciation for all the good that company insiders can do on their firm's and customers' behalf: not just spinning half-truths from behind a curtain, as I'd long supposed, but by making smart, honest decisions to avoid just the kind of mess those half-truths often spawn. Highly recommended.
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on January 28, 2014
I was watching TV and someone mentioned this book. I am a marketing major and I decided to read it for my own interest. I must say this book is amazing. I have recommended it to all my friends not only marketing majors but people looking to start their own business. It tells you what you should and should not do in marketing. It shows you how a simple sentence can cause your company to come tumbling down. I lover this book and hope everyone else feels the same. Its an eye opener.

I am not receiving anything for this review im a women from Brooklyn looking to take over Marketing.
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on January 10, 2014
A revelation! This book really hit my hot buttons for telling me the new reality of PR, marketing and reputation management. I've been in PR for 23 years but this was an eye-opener about how the rules have changed. Highly recommended.
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