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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre


11 Dec 2017

Best Wishes and Best Reads

Wayne Burns

As the holiday season looms, all of us at the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs wish you a festive and fabulous time with your loved ones, and some down time from managing issues, reputations, stakeholders, team members, budgets, up, down, and across.

If you are in the mood for some serious holiday reading that can give you a professional edge in 2018, or want to park your brain in an intellectual Club Med for a few hours a day, I have compiled my list of some of the best business and management books of 2017, some now in release for 2018, and a few classics that have proved the tests of time, and remain must-reads for leaders in corporate public affairs.

And before you close your laptop for the last time in 2017, take a quick look at the Centre’s professional development calendar, mark a few dates to look after your own professional development next year, and quickly register online. Think of it as an early Christmas present for yourself, and a New Year gift for your employing organisation.

Best wishes for 2018, along with some best reads.



1. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger

2. The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great, by Professor Joel C. Peterson

3. Animal Farm, George Orwell

4. On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

5. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance

6. Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer

7. Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life, by Tom Rath

8. Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

9. Sprint, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

10. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John C. Maxwell

11. Superbosses, by Sydney Finkelstein

12. The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership: What Top Military Commanders, Neuroscientists, and the Ancient Greeks Teach Us about Inspiring Teams, by W. Craig Reed, Gordon R. England

13. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, by Tim Ferriss 14. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip and Dan Heath

15. Business Adventures, by John Brooks

16. First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

17. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

18. Disrupted, by Dan Lyons



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9 Jun 2008

Political messaging

Wayne Burns

For those of you who may be following Australian politics today, the six-months old national Labor Government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is being admonished by the Opposition and by journalists for being enamored by 'spin' - a charge that tarnished seriously the credibility and community standing of British Prime Minister Tony Blair (who seemed to be always more popular overseas than at home.)

For six months, the Rudd Government has been criticised for allegedly doing what many governments have done for many year at the State level in Australia (all Labor in flavour at present.)

And that is, to try poke their parochial messages through national and international television and radio content on the nightly news, and to grab the newspaper headlines the following day.  They do this by packaging decisions or timing them daily so they have a better chance of being reported - a 'new' news story daily.

Observations have been made that the governance of the nation often commands media attention at any rate. And attempting to set the media agenda daily using an approach to the media tried and tested at the State Government level, can look like the Federal Government is harnessing overripe media relations tools to capture the news agenda.

Perceptions that any Federal Government packages and seeks to establish a new media focus daily is not new, and has been common practice for decades. However, the perception, among the media at least that this packaging is mostly 'spin' is also feeding also a view that the new Rudd Government is working too hard (not frequently a criticism of governments) and too fast. 

The truth may be, in fact, that the Government is working apace like any new government. But a perception that the Rudd Government's use of State Government-style media relations (that attempts daily to focus media attention daily on the Government working and succeeding) could also be feeding perceptions that the government is travelling too fast, too soon, and that it is 'spinning' its operations.

A risk for any government seeking to make its mark and reform is to balance its work delivering on election promises, and avoiding perceptions that it is 'spinning' its operations and achievements. This may be as much about the style and approach to relations with the media, as it is about a new Government and the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery getting used to the Rudd Opposition settling in as the Rudd Government.

There is considerable cynicism about 'spin' in politics in the community and among journalists (who by the way, are continually complaining about 'spin' as governments, corporations and even well-known individuals seek influence the messages about them and their activities).

An observation from the fringes of the political process in Australia where I sit is that the Rudd Government is no different from other governments in Australia (and many internationally) in wanting to ensure its messages get out to the community and key groups of voters.

One of the Rudd Government's important challenges, however, is to escape the label that it a master of spin.  That is a label that no government wants.

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