A down-to-earth primer on the fine art of wielding power and exercising influence in pursuit of defined objectives, from a top public relations practitioner. Dilenschneider (CEO at Hill & Knowlton, Inc.) never promises rose gardens. Indeed, corporate executives or other VIPs who follow his advice to the letter must exert themselves--setting agendas, establishing priorities, identifying key constituencies, overseeing campaigns, and otherwise working hard--to achieve desired results, which may range from securing evenhanded press coverage in the midst of a crisis through disarming special-interest critics, defending against unwelcome acquisition bids, or achieving legislative goals. Dismissing ""image quacks"" who stress form over substance, the author offers a well-organized briefing on how to employ PR tactics and strategies to gain at least partial control over events. Drawing freely on his own career for anecdotal support, Dilenschneider sets great store by intelligence gathering, mainly to minimize the possibility of unpleasant surprises. He's also realistic about visibility, e.g., recommending that upwardly mobile managers concentrate on pro bono projects with ""recognizable impact."" Nor does the author shy from making object lessons of clients and prospects who came to grief for failure to follow his communications precepts; cases in point include the proprietor of the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, South Korea (whose hosting of the 1988 Olympic Games proved less than a showcase), and Ross Johnson (deposed head of RJR-Nabisco). On the plus side, Dilenschneider provides behind-the-scenes reports on the putatively constructive role his finn played in the Kansas City Hyatt disaster, the Chilean grape scare, the Marathon Oil takeover, and allied emergencies. Instructive, often entertaining, counsel for those whose lot it is to deal with publics of various sorts.