Author's Corner: A chat with John Landsberg, author of 'Confessions of a Corporate Sycophant'

eshaw@islandpacket.comMay 31, 2014 

Name: John Landsberg

Residence: Bluffton

Book: "Confessions of a Corporate Sycophant"

Printed by: Create Space

Where to buy: Amazon

First sentence: "Now let's discuss the title of this book."

Plot summary in 50 words or less: A career in public relations can be very challenging, but it can also be hilarious as you face some ridiculous situations. There are plenty of textbooks dealing with PR, but in this book I explain it from an insider's perspective. Incidentally, a sycophant is pretty much a suck-up, which often seems to be a big facet of the position.

Story behind the book: I have taught marketing and PR at the college level for years. My students and family kept telling me I had to write a book to share what PR is like in the real world. Kind of like when Toto pulls the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz (sorry, but I moved here from Kansas, and that is my favorite movie). What would you do if your telephone company featured a coupon in the Yellow Pages offering $25 off an abortion? Or if your boss tells you to get an executive on TV this weekend or else? How about being told to change the color of the annual report cover after thousands have been printed? Or trying to trade a prostate exam for a story? These are real-world cases you won't find in a PR textbook.

Career highlights: I had a great opportunity to handle PR duties for the late, great Walter Cronkite, and that experience is a chapter in my book about being prepared. I put on a press conference for coach Bobby Knight, and he gave me the dreaded "look" that he often gave his players when they screwed up. I also interviewed Bob Hope during my military days. He was a class act.

Previous writing experience: I began my journalism career as a sportswriter in Cleveland. I then switched over to PR and have now written more press releases, brochures, speeches and annual reports than I care to admit.

Earliest writing memory: I always wanted to be a sportswriter and would write stories about virtually any sporting event. When I actually became a sports reporter, it was not nearly as glamorous as I had envisioned, and I switched to corporate PR and never looked back.

Favorite books: "Tuesdays With Morrie," and I had a chance to work with author Mitch Albom. I also loved "The Man in the Mirror" and "Buy-ology."

What's next? My company, Bottom Line Communications, focuses on generating positive PR for clients, media training and crisis communications.

I think a book that outlines how to do an effective TV interview might be on the horizon. If you watch enough TV, you soon realize there is a real need for individuals to be able to handle an interview without sounding like idiots.

Follow reporter Erin Shaw on twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

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