Jack Modzelewski is founder and president of JackKnifePR, a business
communications consulting firm in Chicago. His extensive career in public
relations, marketing, communications, and executive management included roles
with global agencies. Most recently, he was president of FleishmanHillard, where
he worked for more than 26 years in executive and international positions,
including five years as president of Europe & Africa and nearly five as president
of the Americas.
Modzelewski has more than thirty-five years of experience with corporate and
brand communications programs for a wide spectrum of big clients in the
telecommunications, automotive, food service, technology, energy, financial,
healthcare, and professional sports industries. He has worked with companies such
as McDonald’s, AT&T, General Motors, Chase Bank, Baxter, Tribune, Monsanto,
and Procter & Gamble. He also advised associations such as the Consumer
Electronics Association and not-for-profits such as St. Jude Children’s Research
He has considerable first-hand experience in corporate and financial
communications, mergers and organizational restructurings, issues management,
and all means of strategic stakeholder outreach. He has assisted clients in 25 major
crises, both domestic and international. One of Modzelewski’s past clients called
him the "counsellor’s counsellor."
He has given speeches and written articles on subjects spanning leadership,
international business, marketing and social media, and risk and crisis
management. He’s attended five World Economic Forum (WEF) conferences in
Davos and WEF meetings on five continents. He has been listed on PRWeek's
Global Power List and in 2015 was inducted in the Medill Hall of Achievement at
Northwestern University. He is currently chairman of the board of the Better
Government Association in Illinois, and also sits on the Medill board. Prior to his
career in public relations and communications, he was a multi-media, award-
With compelling stories and strategies, Talk Is Chief inspires leaders and
aspiring leaders to treat their daily communication practices as seriously as
their fiscal, operational, value creation, deal making, business transformation,
and other executive responsibilities.
Leaders today spend up to 90 percent of each day communicating to make good
things happen in their organizations. They communicate with colleagues, customers,
shareowners, creditors, regulators, advocates, and competitors. They influence
culture, opportunity, risk-taking, and risk aversion. The stakes in this new
communication environment are very high, driving home Winston Churchill's
statement: "The difference between mere management and leadership is
These days, leaders are likely to face adversity and career-testing situations. Crisis
defines leaders and their organizations. But it does not have to take them down.
Talk Is Chief provides sound advice, examples, and even a list of the "Ten
Commandments of Crisis Management" so that leaders can either avoid crises or
avert worst-case scenarios when confronted with an existential threat.
Jack Modzelewski’s vast years of experience working with numerous Fortune 500
companies as a communications consultant tells us that too many leaders
undervalue and therefore underperform their vital communication responsibilities.
They do so at their own disadvantage and sometimes peril in this age of heightened
activism, transparency, disinformation, and disruption.
Whether they recognize it or not, leaders are chief credibility officers, with
organizational reputations often resting on their words and actions, especially in
times of crisis. As a CEO quoted in the book said: "Communication shouldn’t be just
another hat that a CEO wears. It should be at the core of everything you do."
Leadership communication today—the ability for leaders to be heard and clearly
understood above the constant noise of the complicated worlds in which they must
lead or govern—is of the highest importance. It’s proven that effective leadership
communication inspires people to perform collectively better, leading to better
outcomes. Which is why Talk Is Chief is a must-read for twenty-first-century leaders.
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