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February 19, 2013


President Bill Clinton had a lot of help surviving the scandals of his tenure — including from two aides who have written a book on the art of damage control.

Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani entitled their book with the nickname some Clinton aides gave them:Masters of Disaster, The Ten Commandments of Damage Control.

“Crisis is a constant state of nature in our Information Age,” write Lehane, Fabiani and their co-author, Bill Guttentag.

They add: “And in the modern spin cycle, whether you are a business protecting a brand, a public figure guarding your image, or that guy in the cubicle defending your reputation, if you do not fight back — even after a short, nasty, or brutish experience — you will no longer have your brand, your image, or your reputation.”

Among their prescriptions: Get truthful information out as soon as possible:

“In the Information Age, knowledge is power. In a crisis, when it comes to earning credibility, accurate information is the coin of the realm.

“Short of releasing information that could generate the equivalent of a death penalty for your organization (in which case, you are probably well beyond help), no matter how bad the information may be, packaging and releasing such negative information is among the most powerful ways to restore trust.”

In reviewing the book for National Journal, Ron Fournier writes:

“In a telephone interview, Lehane acknowledged the irony of two scandal-hardened operatives preaching trust. ‘We are in an age where there are huge trust issues with all institutions. That is ultimately what is at the heart of the crisis. People are challenging your credibility. You have to recognize it. You have to face up to it. You’re not going to spin your way out of it,’ he said.

“The book is filled with case studies, including some handled by Lehane and Fabiani for political and corporate clients (they run a California-based crisis-management firm).”


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