Tom Garrity

Some #PR insight for my second cousin, James Comey

In Crisis Communication, Life, Messaging, Reputation, Uncategorized on May 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

 

The second most polarizing figure in America today is the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey.  Yes, at one point, he was number one, no doubt.

Mr. Comey’s grandmother on his mom’s side and my grandmother on my dad’s side are sisters.  I always knew his grandmother as Aunt Irene.  Mary and Irene Broderick grew up in New York and got along tremendously well. Ensuring that future generations were connected was not on their watch, just a casualty of the nuclear family.

Despite the distance, I am proud of the bloodline that connects our lineage. Yes, I had thought about giving him a call at the office; the potential thought of discussing public relation approaches with my second cousin sounded kind of cool. But in lieu of the awkward telephone handoffs of explaining the family relation for a dozen or so times with federal agents, only to leave a message with a very capable civilian, I opted to put a few of my thoughts on this blog.

As a public relations practitioner for the past 24 years, what insight could I possibly someone who has “been there and done that” in the gauntlet of public opinion?

First, I’d give former FBI Director three quick recaps:

  • The New Yorker story and 60 minutes interview resulted in solid media coverage to share who you are as a person. This is key to creating credibility and likeability.
  • The multiple news announcements about the Clinton e-mail server could have been handled better. While I am convinced that in your mind you were doing the right thing, it came across as disjointed and politically motivated.
  • Conducting an overview briefing to discuss the process for the respective Flynn and Trump/Russia investigations would have helped to shape future media coverage and conversations without giving away any of the investigative findings.

Then I’d ask, “ok, what’s next for you?”  And follow some of these questions (which would surely spur other questions):

  1. What does a win look like? Why?
  2. Where do you want to be professionally three years from now?
  3. How do you want the news headlines to read six months from now, or a year (if you care)?
  4. Are there any pressing issues or public activities taking place within the next 48-72 hours? List them and explain how they might impact the responses to any of the first three questions.

Based on his answers, we’d develop message and a strategy. As a result of that conversation, some exclusive one on one media interviews would be proposed unique to print (New York Times), radio (Michael Smerconish) and television (60 minutes).

Last question that I would ask: tell me about Aunt Irene!

Navigating the Conservative Divide

In Messaging, Uncategorized on March 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Foothills

The congressional stalemate over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the inauguration of the American Health Care Act should not have come as a surprise if perspectives of New Mexico conservatives were taken into consideration.

The increasing split among traditional “republican” institutions like the oil and gas industry or the church and religious organizations are testament to the changing tide of conservatives, akin to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

This split, identified in the 2016 Garrity Perception Survey, served not only as a precursor of the national presidential election but also as a guide for what is playing out during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

While I touched on some of these splits in this May 2016 blog post “A Political Divide as Scenic as the Taos Gorge” , it is important to revisit some of the key items that have surfaced and will surface in some form or fashion.

Medical System – Conservatives are more favorable than those who identify themselves as “somewhat conservative” (SW/C).  Interestingly, according to this quantitative study, liberals and conservatives are aligned in one group just as moderates and somewhat conservatives are aligned.  Insight: National healthcare policy should play to the middle if politicians want to win popular opinion.

Solar/Wind – Conservatives are not favorable toward renewable energy; only 37 percent of residents are favorable toward the industry.  This is in stark contrast to those who identify themselves as SW/C, 55 percent of whom are favorable toward the solar and wind industry. That 18 point divide is significant.  Also, the SW/C and moderates are more aligned than those right of center. Insight: The Trump Administration’s unraveling of the Obama Administration’s Clean Energy Plan should focus on the political middle ground of those favorable toward the solar and wind industry if there is desire of winning public approval.

Church/Religious Institutions – The 19 percentage point split between conservatives (82 percent) and SW/C (63 percent) should be a red flare for how some social issues and belief systems are perceived by New Mexico residents.  Recently, the Catholic Church, under its new papal leadership, has been reaching more towards the middle ground on some hot button language; even if it has just been in its message and tone.  In contrast, some other belief groups have been pushing more to the fringe.  Insight: Public opinion over current and future Republican Supreme Court Nominees, and their ability to successfully navigate the confirmation process, will need to find a way to mimic the tone being exhibited by the Catholic Church when trying to reach the middle ground.

These are interesting times, indeed.  While research provides only a snapshot in time, the glimpse can help elected and appointed officials navigate difficult terrain.

A Political Divide as Scenic as The Taos Gorge

In Reputation, Uncategorized on May 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

TGG Taos GorgeThe divide in the Republican party is not quite as prominent as the Taos Gorge, but it is close.

In the headlines, the Republican split is playing itself out on the national level with the presidential primary.  On a state level the split has manifested itself with the election of a new national committeeman.

The 2016 Garrity Perception Survey tells a somewhat more in-depth story, highlighting a fundamental rift among New Mexico residents who consider themselves “somewhat conservative” or “conservative.”

The philosophical split surfaced as a part of a scientific, statewide, third party survey commissioned by The Garrity Group and conducted by Albuquerque’s Research & Polling.  The survey focused on gauging favorability of industries, trust of professions among other topics related to perceptions of government and business.  The demographic data, also known as the “cross-tabs” is where some of the disparities between those who consider themselves to be “somewhat conservative” or “conservative” surfaced.

Favorability of…

Somewhat Conservative

Conservative

Oil & Gas Industry

51%

79%

Solar & Wind Industry

55%

33%

National Banks

44%

35%

Public Schools

33%

47%

Medical System

39%

50%

State Universities

73%

60%

National Laboratories

62%

71%

Church & Religious Institutions

63%

82%

The above chart highlights disparities of greater than 10 percent between those who identify themselves as “somewhat conservative” or “conservative.”  The survey, conducted at the end of February 2016 has a 95 percent level of confidence.

The survey shows clear splits in favorability of the oil/gas, solar/wind and  church/religious institutions.  Come voting time, it will be interesting to know if these split ideologies will are reflected on the primary and general election ballot.

Finally, responses to the question “what do you feel causes more problems in government?” highlights an additional rift between the traditionally Republican factions. Those who identify themselves as somewhat conservative are more likely to blame problems in government on “elected officials who are not willing to compromise” opposed to conservatives who blame “elected officials who are not willing to stand up for their principles.”

What do you feel causes more problems in government?

Somewhat Conservative

Conservative

Elected Officials who are not willing to stand up for their principles

33%

50%

Elected officials who are not willing to compromise

48%

29%

Both

14%

17%

Don’t Know/Won’t Say

5%

4%

TGG Taos Gorge Bridge

One final insight on the split related to favorability of industries and institutions; in the areas of the greatest differences, those who identify themselves as “somewhat conservative” align more with registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

A copy of the topline results can be secured through http://garrityperceptionsurvey.com