Beyond Spin
by Markos Kounalakis, Drew Banks, and Kim Daus
Jossey-Bass, 1999, 266 pages, $27.

The New Goals of Corporate Communications

The leadership and management implications of the information economy have been explained in a number of best-selling books. Bureaucratic hierarchies that hoard knowledge and decision-making authority at the top have been discredited. Instead, organizational structures are being flattened, information is being distributed to all levels of the firm, and decision making is being pushed to front-line employees.

In Beyond Spin, authors Kounalakis, Banks, and Daus argue that corporate communications must also be dramatically altered to fit the new realities of the information age. Corporate communications must no longer focus on controlling "spin" -- ensuring that the company looks good at all costs. The authors compare this centrally controlled, dictatorial approach to the propaganda journalism of the Soviet Union's Pravda newspaper. Instead of Pravda journalism, write the authors, today's corporate communications must adopt the priorities and methods of Western social journalism -- the kind of free press that not only enlightens but also empowers employees to the benefit of all. "Organizational communications departments need to transition to an open, timely, and weighted free press that facilitates free-flowing information -- as opposed to the artery-clogging sludge of corporate speak," the authors argue.

Beyond Spin clearly presents why and how corporate communications must change. Examples of both effective and ineffective corporate communications -- notably a case study of the rebound of SGI (formerly known as Silicon Graphics Inc.) -- reinforce the argument. A lengthy appendix offers a workbook for creating an effective, "democratic" communications plan.

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