July 24th, 2013

When you have been in the field of communications for nearly three decades you learn a lot.

Some of it is good and some of it…not so good.

And John Landsberg, the founder of Bottom Line Communications, is now sharing many of his experiences in a new book titled “Confessions of a Corporate Sycophant,” a humorous look at a career in public relations.

The book—three years in the making—can be ordered on Amazon (Link) at a cost of $14.95 or for $12.00 via   Landsberg even defines what a “sycophant” is in the first chapter for those who (like him) never heard of the word before.

Confessions of a Corporate SycophantIn “Confessions” Landsberg shares many of the challenges he has dealt with his his career in corporate life.  What do you do when your company’s telephone directory features a coupon offering $25 off on an abortion?   What do you do when your president wants more blue in your annual report cover when it is going to be shipped in a few hours?

Or he reveals the circumstances how he went and had a prostate exam in the hope a TV journalist would do a story on a client. She didn’t.

“Most books on corporate PR are pretty generic and sound like textbooks,” says Landsberg.  “I wanted to share how it is in real-life and the goofy things that come up on a regular basis that PR folks have to handle.

“Sure, there are serious issues in communications, but there are some things in my career that I have dealt with that are just plain funny,” he adds.

Landsberg, who has taught PR/communications/marketing at several colleges,  says he tried to intersperse practical advice for communicators along with behind-the-scenes things that occur on a regular basis.

“Take for example a visit by the late, great Walter Cronkite that I was involved in,” he says.  “I told the client we needed to do a walk-through before Walter arrived just to make sure everything would go smoothly.   As expected, the client just kind of rolled his eyes with that ‘What a pain in the butt this guy is’ look.

“As it turned out Walter was supposed to sit in a rocking chair that had just been constructed, but we discovered the maintenance guys simply took the chair out of the box and set it on the floor.  The fact the rocking chair didn’t actually rock didn’t seem to concern those guys. We found the rocker thingies in the dumpster and put them on right before Walter showed up.”

How about the famous, “I wouldn’t change a thing” answer people often give?

“Actually, I probably would have changed a lot of things in my career,” he says, laughing.  “But as a PR Puke you deal with the hand you have been dealt. I have found that many of the ridiculous things I did are much funnier today than when I had to face them in real time.”

Landsberg began his career as a sportswriter and decided early-on that covering jocks saying the same stupid things over and over was numbing.  He jumped to the “dark side” (corporate PR) and never looked back while working in Cleveland, Mansfield (OH) and Kansas City.  He has media trained more than 400 executives during his career and founded Bottom Line Communications in 1996.

Today he is based in Bluffton, SC, and still works with a variety of clients and is a frequent guest speaker/lecturer.  He can be reached at or (913) 710-3760.

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    It has been called “appalling journalism.”

    That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.

    Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).

    Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.

    Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece.  Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.

    In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began.  There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.

    Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).

    In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “my intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

    Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).

    However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).

    This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews.  Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.

    However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.


    Published May 29, 2016 at 8:30 am - 2 Comments It has been called “appalling journalism.” That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light. Long-time NBC Today Show star and ...


    In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.

    When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5.  However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.

    A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai,  who was working for ESPN and in a public place.   It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.

    A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site.  The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.

    What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.

    Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school.  However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.

    Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists.  Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.

    With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum.   Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.

    If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.

    The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty.  The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.

    A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.

    However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets.  That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.

    It’s a bad move.



    Published November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am - 5 Comments In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious. When rankings for the best ...