Tracey Mendrek, Executive Vice President
A colleague recently recommended the book “Thank You for Smoking” by Christopher Buckley with a glowing review, calling it the funniest, best and maybe ONLY book about our business. Being an avid reader who tallies the pages I’ve read in an Excel document, I jumped right in. It was a great read beginning to end, like a roller coaster building momentum, with lots of twists and turns.
Buckley is no stranger to journalism, public relations or politics. The son of William F. Buckley and Patricia Buckley he is characterized as a political satirist. He is a former managing editor of Esquire Magazine, a speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush and has written a number of other books.
The protagonist, Nick Naylor, works for the tobacco industry, but you could insert the name of any trade organization and the story would resonate. Published in 1994, it is amazing how little public relations has changed in almost 20 years. Granted the members of the Mod Squad (I won’t spoil the story by identifying the acronym for Mod) who met for lunch weekly in the book would not be sitting around the table drinking vodka negronis or smoking cigarettes, but their strategy for dealing with crises would apply in 2013.
The Mod Squad was the safe haven, the place where the crisis communicators could share their stories, discuss strategy and work out conspiracy theories. Then, as well as now, we find ourselves on an island, trying to keep our clients happy, the media at bay, the lobbyist corralled and the politicians focused. We should all be so lucky to have a Mod Squad to keep us sane.
An appearance on Oprah, trip to Hollywood, Larry King and the security detail make this book one you don’t want to miss. Buckley is a witty writer and the topic stands the test of time.