Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control

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Overview

Whether you're a politician caught with his pants down, a publicly traded company accused of accounting improprieties, a family-owned restaurant losing business because of a bad Yelp review or just the guy in the corner cubicle who has inadvertently pushed "reply all," a crisis can quickly become the make-or-break moment of your career. Regardless of if you work on Wall Street or Main Street, the President of the United States or principal of a school, a corporate counsel or a small town lawyer, most of us aren?t...

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Overview

Whether you're a politician caught with his pants down, a publicly traded company accused of accounting improprieties, a family-owned restaurant losing business because of a bad Yelp review or just the guy in the corner cubicle who has inadvertently pushed "reply all," a crisis can quickly become the make-or-break moment of your career. Regardless of if you work on Wall Street or Main Street, the President of the United States or principal of a school, a corporate counsel or a small town lawyer, most of us aren’t natural spin doctors, and it’s hard to resist the impulse to cover your tracks, lie, or act like nothing happened. But resist you must! In Masters of Disaster, crisis gurus Christopher Lehane and Mark Fabiani teach executives, lawyers, publicists and anyone else who may find themselves or their clients under the public microscope the ten commandments of damage control – that magic formula for mastering your disaster when it is your turn to take a tumble in the modern spin cycle. Based on their damage control work for clients like Bill Clinton, Goldman Sachs, and Lance Armstrong, the authors show how to play to win in today's world of real time news alerts, Twitter trend lines and viral videos rather than playing not to lose; how to meet your detractors head-on as opposed to taking a one-sided pounding; and how to emerge from a setback with your reputation intact instead of in tatters. Full of both lively personal anecdotes and hard-knuckled straight talk, this is a must-read if you want to be the master of your disaster.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This timely survey of recent PR crises (which even draws on the July 2012 Louis Freeh report on Penn State) will likely stand as the go-to manual for the foreseeable future. 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 of crisis responses (e.g., full disclosure; don’t feed the fire); they served on the “rapid-response” team for the Clinton White House. With filmmaker Guttentag, Lehane and Fabiani contrast thoughtful and effective responses with ineffective ones, noting, for example, how Eliot Spitzer quickly rehabilitated himself after resigning as New York’s governor for patronizing prostitutes, and how John Kerry’s presidential campaign made a fatal error in not moving promptly to rebut the Swift Boat campaign. The authors also make plain how much things have changed in the age of Twitter, where negative stories can spread electronically around the world in a microsecond, necessitating contingency plans that can get the responses out as soon as possible. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230341807
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/11/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,462,213
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Named a “Master of Disaster” by Newsweek and the “Master of the Political Dark Arts” by The New York Times, Christopher Lehane is a partner in the strategic communications firm Fabiani & Lehane, which provides high level counsel to corporate, entertainment, political and professional sports clients facing complex challenges typically involving some combination of the law, finance, government affairs and communications. His firm has represented the likes of Goldman Sachs, Lance Armstrong and Hollywood studios. Lehane, whose career began in Democratic politics and who continues to be active as a political consultant, served in various positions in the Clinton-Gore Administration during the 1990s, including Special Assistant Counsel to President Bill Clinton, Press Secretary for Vice President Al Gore and Counselor to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo (now the Governor of New York). A Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Lehane is a regular commentator and speaker on the art of damage control. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1994 and from Amherst College in 1990 and lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife, Andrea, and two sons, Dominic and Quincy.

 

 

Bill Guttentag is a two-time Oscar-winning feature film and documentary writer-producer-director. His films include the dramatic features Live!, starring Eva Mendes and Andre Braugher, and Knife Fight starring Rob Lowe, Julie Bowen, and Carrie-Ann Moss. His documentary features include Nanking, which premiered at the Sundance Film and Festival and Soundtrack for a Revolution Soundtrack for a Revolution which had its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2003 he won an Oscar for the documentary Twin Towers. He has also has received a second Oscar, three additional Oscar nominations, a Peabody Award, three Emmy Awards, two Writers Guild Award nominations, and a Robert Kennedy Journalism Award. His films have been selected for the Sundance Film Festival three times, and have played and won awards at numerous American and international film festivals. They have also received a number of special screenings internationally and in the US, including at the White House.

He was an executive producer and creator of the non-fiction series Law & Order: Crime & Punishment which ran for three seasons on NBC. His first novel, Boulevard, was published by Pegasus Books/W.W. Norton in 2010. He was a John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University and since 2001 he has been a lecturer at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.

 

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Table of Contents

Part I Crisis as a State of Nature

Prologue: Not a Question of If, but When 3

1 Crisis as a State of Nature 7

Part II It's a Matter of Life or Death: The Principles of Survival

2 Stop Digging 21

3 Do No Harm 25

4 Discipline 39

5 Credibility 49

Part III The Ten Commandments of Damage Control

6 Playing to Win 59

7 Commandment I: Full Disclosure 63

8 Commandment II: Speak to Your Core Audience 77

9 Commandment III: Don't Feed the Fire 95

10 Commandment IV: Details Matter 111

11 Commandment V: Hold Your Head High 131

12 Commandment VI: Be Straight about What You Know, What You Don't Know, and What You Are Going to Do to Fix the Problem 147

13 Commandment VII: Respond with Overwhelming Force 165

14 Commandment VIII: First In, First Out 181

15 Commandment IX: No Swiftboating 201

16 Commandment X: They Dissemble, You Destroy 219

17 The Damage Control Survival Kit 239

18 The User's Manual 241

Acknowledgments 245

Index 247

About the Authors 251

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Wow!  As a founder of a nonprofit foundation, I didn¿t think thi

    Wow!  As a founder of a nonprofit foundation, I didn’t think this book would apply to me.  Masters of Disaster has served as my survival guide. I found valuable useful tactics in managing many issues.  This book has something for everyone. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2014

    Awesome addition to my library, I am interested to learn more is

    Awesome addition to my library, I am interested to learn more is there a follow up book coming out?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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