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Book Review: Executing Crisis: A C-Suite Crisis Leadership Survival Guide

Executing Crisis: A C-Suite Crisis Leadership Survival Guide. By Jo Robertson. Rothstein Publishing;; 207 pages; $69.99.

1220-Book-Review-Executing-Crisis-A-C-Suite-Crisis-Leadership-Survival-Guide.jpg“No successful crisis response begins on the day of the crisis,” writes Jo Robertson in her book, Executing Crisis: A C-Suite Crisis Leadership Survival Guide. While this truism is known to all emergency and security managers, the book provides a novel approach to crisis planning and management. Geared towards corporate leadership and crisis managers, the book’s case studies and questions for further thought make it an easy, educational read for any security or emergency management audience.

As I read Executing Crisis in February 2020, I found the book to be a solid introduction to crisis communication principles. Reading the book three months later in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the book took on a new utility. Nearly everyone who has stepped up to a podium to discuss aspects of the disease and the response could have benefited from the book’s commonsense communication strategies. From identifying a crisis dream team and picking up signals to providing actionable information, the book’s recommendations are fundamental to successful crisis management. Further, Roberts encourages the reader to consider questions about commonly accepted best practices and how these may need to be adjusted for the changing news and social media environments.

The author’s long history of building and advising organizations on emergency management is evident. She provides a concise summary of crisis response best practices and introduces novel concepts as well, including building a darksite—previously built, but hidden, pages that can be made available to ease the search for information following a disaster—and developing unofficial spokespersons who have positive experiences to share.

Using dozens of real-world, approachable cases, Executing Crisis demonstrates the lessons described in each chapter. With its easy readability, this work provides a solid handbook for those new to crisis management and a useful reference for those looking to improve their crisis communication approaches.

Reviewer: Deena Disraelly, PhD, is a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses and an adjunct professor at The George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science. She has more than 20 years of experience in emergency management and serves on the ASIS Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime Council.