I hope you never have to manage a crisis like this

No, I'm not related to her, but I'm SO HAPPY she's doing so well.

That's what I still find myself saying upon being introduced to new people, even now, on the 20th anniversary of Elizabeth Smart's miraculous rescue.

Next to her courage and that of her family, the biggest reason for this repeated inquiry is Chris Thomas. He's the public relations professional who kept her story alive with both professional expertise and an almost superhuman power of will. I got to know Chris on the PR speaking circuit, as we have often been invited to give keynotes at the same industry conferences.

Chris and Elizabeth were on Good Morning America last week talking about Chris’ new book, Unexpected, which reveals some previously undisclosed detail about the media frenzy surrounding Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery.

Chris generously invited me to read an advanced copy, so I started it one evening and then had to blow off the next day of work until I finished it. I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about the PR intricacies of Elizabeth's case. But reading this book was mind-blowing.

I had no idea how low the media were willing to go. Network producers purposely blasting static in Chris’ earpiece during a live interview to throw him off his messaging? Seriously! Forcing the family to hold off announcing news that could help find Elizabeth so they could run an exclusive on their own schedule?

I highly recommend you get this book (pre-order now, comes out March 7) and learn from his vast crisis management experience.

I'll admit – as intrigued as I was to uncover the unrevealed accounts of Elizabeth's case, I didn't have much interest in Chris' life story, which I assumed was pretty normal. But I quickly found myself sucked into that narrative, too, and then at the end of the book utterly amazed at how his seemingly disparate and highly unusual life experiences combined to mold him into the one person on Earth who could handle the PR groundwork that contributed to this miracle happy ending.

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This article was originally published on February 22, 2023

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