In the classic movie The Third Man, actor Joseph Cotton attempts to find the truth amid conflicting stories surrounding the death of the character played by Orson Welles - an excellent metaphor for the central theme of this book. In the world of public relations, authors Rampton and Stauber find that the facts and theories presented to us as "expert opinion" are always conflicting, and they warn that it takes a lot of thoughtful searching to discover the truth.
The book exposes what is known in the public relations industry as the "third party technique" - having positive words and ideas about a product, service, or industry come from the mouth of another party, preferably perceived as an "expert," in order to make them seem more truthful and convincing.
Remember the old saw, "four out of five dentists recommend…."? Are we likely to stop and ask if anyone paid them to make this statement? Was there really a dissenting dentist or did four of five seem more believable? This same method, in ever more complex and subtle variations, is used again and again by groups hoping to sway public opinion.
Rampton and Stauber decry a universally embraced tenet of the PR industry which states that "the truth is not a thing to be discovered but a thing to be created, through artful word choices and careful arrangement of appearances." Examples include campaigns covering everything from DNA modified food products (referred to as "biogenetically gardened") to portrayals of industrial polluters as champions of the environment. Scientists, research institutes, and celebrities in the pay of corporate interests are scrutinized and exposed as craven, crafty and manipulative. The examples are replete with depictions of expert testimony misrepresenting science, and offering up pseudo-science and biased, misleading language.
The focus of the book is on large corporations, and does not fully address the idea that environmental groups and others in opposition may have biases of their own. However, it is largely in corporate public relations where the big money, estimated at $10 billion per year, gets spent, and where the most effective manipulations occur.
TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS may leave you wondering if you can believe anyone
or anything, which in fact is the goal of the book - to get the reader
thinking and asking questions about the "expert opinions" that pour from
our televisions, radios, and newspapers every day.
HD 53 .M67 2001
THE FIVE FACES OF GENIUS: THE SKILLS TO MASTER IDEAS AT WORK by Annette Moser-Wellman. Viking, 2001.
Author Moser-Wellman has combined her MBA and Masters Degree in Divinity to explore the wellsprings of creativity, and particularly how they can be tapped in the world of business. By investigating the styles and practices of brilliant artists, scientists and businessmen, she has developed five models of creative endeavor.
THE FIVE FACES OF GENIUS explores these models, expressed as five metaphors of creative thinking: the Seer, with a power to visualize, the Observer with a power to notice and collect details, the Alchemist with a power to connect disciplines and domains, the Fool with the power to find surprises and make breakthroughs, and the Sage with the power to simplify. Workers who exemplify and engage these characteristics, are considered "business artists."
Each image is matched with multiple examples. Akio Morita, founder of Sony, for example, is an Observer. As he watched his children lug sound equipment to the beach, he realized it should be easier to bring music everywhere you go. This led, of course, to the birth of the Sony Walkman. When Ray Kroc, a Seer, was a milkshake mixer salesman, he had a vision of speedy, inexpensive restaurants "dotting crossroads all over the country." Alchemists mix disparate elements, including other people's ideas, to create something new and unique, as Frank Lloyd Wright combined the structure of the natural world with architectural forms.
Following each example are short exercises that allow readers to determine their dominant creative skill, and their weakest one. Moser-Wellman offers good tips on honing and using these skills. For example, those who are meticulous in recording our appointments can also keep journal accounts of their musings, ideas and inspirations. Of course, she reminds us that what counts are the ideas that we do something about.
THE FIVE FACES OF GENIUS provides a fresh examination of the traits of
highly successful people through five unique lenses. More about this
approach is on the book's
HD 58.9 .C482 2001
THE PASSION PLAN AT WORK: BUILDING A PASSION-DRIVEN ORGANIZATION by Richard Chang. Jossey-Bass, 2001.
Author Richard Chang argues that passion is the primary requirement for 21st century business success because it is the strongest "competitive advantage an organization can claim." He defines passion as "personal intensity, the underlying force that fuels our strongest emotions." Just as individuals are fed and motivated by powerful feelings, organizations can also be inspired and defined by their collective intensity.
Passion benefits organizations in many ways, such as providing direction and focus, creating energy, encouraging creativity, improving performance, attracting employees and customers, building loyalty, and leading to increased profits. Chang expands the definition of "Profit" to mean the realization of an organization's desired goals - not just hard cash, but endurance, contributions to society, fulfilling experiences for its workers and genuine benefit to its customers. These are ideals that actually inspire vehement feelings and loyalties.
Everything starts with leaders developing a passion for their company. But it must also follow that they communicate this to the employees. They must make decisions based primarily on what inspires them rather that on what makes sense. And they must resist temptations to expand into areas that don't express what they are dedicated to.
Passion would seem to be an uncontrollable and spontaneous force, but the author explains how to cultivate and channel it in the workplace. This is especially important in groups, where "passions must be shared to be effective." Chang walks readers through a seven-step "passion plan," including examples from twelve award-winning companies, including Southwest Airlines and Disney, which model his approach.
This book invites you to imagine a corporate world which harnesses its
passions, unleashes their intensity and fervor, and channels them into
realizing its core beliefs, to the benefit of workers and customers alike.
Also recommended are:
HD 9696.2 .U64 I253 2001
IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST: THE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE BETWEEN NAZI GERMANY AND AMERICA'S MOST POWERFUL CORPORATION by Edwin Black. Crown Publishers, 2001.
HG 179 .D834 2001
PLEASE SEND MONEY: A FINANCIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR YOUNG ADULTS ON THEIR OWN by Dara Duguay. Sourcebooks, 2001.
HD 1382.5 .I689 2001
BUY, RENT, AND SELL: HOW TO PROFIT BY INVESTING IN RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE by Robert Irwin. McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business,
money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at