Through good time and bad, few companies have been so prominently and constantly in the public eye as AT&T. As the company’s executive vice president of public relations, Dick Martin was not simply a fly on the wall in the company’s most senior counsels, but a full participant in their deliberations. He draws from his experience to debunk some of the popular wisdom surrounding “big‐time public relations.” Foremost among these myths is the broadly held notion that “perception is reality” followed closely by the advice that “a strong offense is the best defense.” On the contrary, Martin uses examples from AT&T’s recent history to demonstrate that companies are better served by addressing the reality underlying their perceptual problems. Further, he shows how responding to attacks in kind can give criticism greater traction and invite greater scrutiny. Martin dispels popular misconceptions regarding the practice of public relations, arguing it is not word‐smithing, glad‐handing or do‐gooding. It’s not pitching or spinning. It’s a function of general management and, in turbulent times, it’s an especially critical component of the strategic choices CEOs and boards must make.
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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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