Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Some time ago, a publicist contacted me and asked if I would do a book review on the blog. I was surprised by that request, because I hardly think my opinions sell books, but I told her that I would. I cautioned her that I am a tough reviewer, and if I didn't like the book, I would say so. I never heard from her again until a day ago. There was a Fedex envelope in the office bulging to the point of bursting. Inside was a press kit and book. The publicist, Melissa Weiner, of Stray Dog Media in Santa Fe, NM, wrote a letter that was a little too cute. It opened thus, "There is a clich , "We all make mistakes."

The book is called Talespin: Public relations disasters -- inside stories & lessons learnt. It's good, but it's the kind of work that you won't read from cover to cover. The book is filled with mini-case studies followed by pithy advice, somewhat like Aesop's Fables. Its contents run from A to Z (literally) with anywhere from one to seven mini disaster case studies under each letter. Some are funny, some outrageous and some Acts of God that no PR practitioner could have anticipated. The writer, an Australian, Gerry McCusker, is partial to European football stories and to zingy language to brighten things.

Is this an essential work for the practitioner's shelf? No, but it is decent and worth investigating, if you want to get an idea of what can go wrong in this business. (In short, anything and everything.) McCusker's advice is good if conventional, but there is nothing wrong with that. Too much advice in PR is bad and unconventional.

So if you are interested, here is the ISBN: 0 7494 4259 X.

I don't think I will make it a practice of reviewing books, but Melissa showed courage in contacting me, so she deserves something in return. Besides, I envy anyone who lives and works in Santa Fe.

That's funny, Jim. I just got a call an hour ago asking if I'd review the same book on my blog.

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