A Communications Playbook for Public Officials: How to Effectively Manage the Message, the Media, and Yourself

"In today's world, if you can’t communicate, you can't move forward.”

comms playbook book front cover

Authors: Robert R. Johnson, Jr. and Michael R. Fraser, PHD, MS

Release Date: March 21, 2023

Length: 192 Pages

Publisher: ASTHO

Price: $19.95 (paperback)

Where to buy:

A Communications Playbook for Public Officials is the first strategic skills primer book published by ASTHO. Created to help public officials, this book provides advice on how to respond to real media relations challenges. This book contains 73 detailed tips on how public officials can work with their communications teams to develop effective communications strategies and how they can manage their media relationships to deliver messages. Easy-to-read and drawing from examples of true crisis communications events, this book is a valuable resource helping readers understand the complexities of public relations and the changing landscape of media.

What You Will Learn

  • How to develop your communications strategy
  • How to communicate under pressure
  • Media tactics and how to use them to your advantage
  • How to prepare for media interviews


Dobbs Thomas.jpgThis is a must read for every state health official in the U.S. These tools are critical and important for public health communications."
Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH, Former State Health Officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health (2018-2022)

Mylynn-Tufte-EC.png"This book is amazing! It's actionable advice for anyone in public health. I definitely needed this book and recognized a few of the 'traps' I fell into. I hope public health programs pick this up and start teaching these tenants to students. There's a lot to learn here even if you're not a public official. Thanks for this great resource."
—Mylynn Tufte, BSN, MBA, MSIM, Former State Health Official of North Dakota (2017-2020)

Brian Turmail headshot"Having seen Robert in action during our tenures at the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, I have lived all the tips in this book, they work. If there is a single book every communications professional and most public officials should own, read, and follow, this is the one."
—Brian Turmail, Former Head of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation and Acting Head of Public Affairs for the Transportation Security Administration

Renea Nash-Nichols headshot"It's solid information that every public official and anyone thinking about holding an office from school board to POTUS would benefit from reading. Robert has a vast amount of experience on both sides of the fence. He is the perfect person to write this."
—Renea Nash-Nichols, Former Public Information Officer, City of Phoenix AZ; Assistant Teaching Professor, Bellisario College of Communications, The Pennsylvania State University