An Executive Fights Back

During the well-publicized oil crisis of the I970's, populists looking for an easy answer to the problem of excruciatingly long lines at gas stations reflexively blamed the big oil companies. These barons of black gold were accused of bilking the public. So widespread was this sentiment that President Carter himself joined the chorus of blame. To many Americans it was simply self-evident that the oil companies were greedy. Almost every television report and newspaper story reinforced this story.

Standing against this tornado of public opinion was one man, a corporate Don Quixote who demonstrated tenacity, imagination, and flair: Herb Schmertz, Mobil Oil's vice president for public affairs. Schmertz has written Good-Bye to the Low-Profile: The Art of Creative Confrontation as a primer for other business executives who are likewise obliged to respond to media accusations, hi answer to the question "What do you do when Sixty Minutes calls?" Schmertz recommends a direct and complete response, while recognizing that much of what a business executive says may end up on the cutting room floor. Sixty Minutes always has the advantage in this confrontation, but there are steps that can be taken to limit the damage. Mr. Schmertz has superb instinct for response.

But this book goes well beyond advice on what to say to a television interviewer. Schmertz examines the ways corporations can enter the debate on...

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