Saturday, November 25, 2006

The best books on public relations

Michael Kempner, president and CEO of MWW Group public relations, named the five best books on public relations for Opinion Journal.

Three of his titles are nonfiction. Here are the two novels, both endorsed by Friend of the Blog KvdW:
American Hero by Larry Beinhart
Retitled Wag the Dog: A Novel after the movie it inspired became a hit, American Hero was based on a real war (Desert Storm) and a real president (George H.W. Bush). The release of the 1997 movie "Wag the Dog," starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro, coincided with a real scandal: the President Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair. But regardless of historical context, the novel and the movie posed the same question: How far will a president go to extricate himself from the white-hot spotlight of media scrutiny and public outrage? Answer: all the way. By creating a fake war with the help of Hollywood, the White House PR machine manages to manipulate the public with frightening ease.
Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
This fine satirical novel concerns Nick Naylor, a spokesman for Big Tobacco who does a brilliant job of defending not only tobacco companies but also those who partake in the dangerous habit of using their products. Naylor skewers the media, bureaucrats and health officials with such ferocity and acumen that, amazingly, he somehow gets the reader to sympathize with Big Tobacco's plight. But because he's so good at his job, he becomes a target of both the FBI and, it appears, a zealous group of anti-tobacco terrorists, all of which puts him in the way of some richly entertaining mayhem. Christopher Buckley clearly understands the central principle of spin: However bad the trouble you're in, you can generally make the other side look worse.

Click here to read about the nonfiction titles on Kempner's list.
--Marshal Zeringue