Tom Garrity

Rules of Engagement

In Crisis Communication on July 11, 2009 at 1:26 am

Political pundits in New Mexico indicate this is “the” week that indictments will be handed down from a grand jury impaneled to hear claims of pay-to-play.  Of course, “this” has been the week ever since a prominent New Mexican withdrew his name as the Cabinet Secretary nominee for the United States Department of Commerce.  Whether it is or isn’t the week, I’ll be posting a few items to consider in the event you or someone you know is on the receiving end of a federal indictment.

There is a courtroom of public opinion and a courtroom of law.  You need professionals in both arenas to make sure you can survive and have some resemblance of a life when the dust settles.  Since I am not an attorney, my insight only focuses on shaping public opinion.

One of my favorite public service announcements of all time was produced for the Partnership for a Drug Free America, it and aired during the Reagan era.  It showed a hot skillet with an egg being fried broken and fried with the words, “This is your brain; this is your brain on drugs.”  It is timeless because of its simplicity.

With that in mind, surviving a life changing event like an indictment is also timeless.  If you are guilty of the accusations then you should repent and come clean.  If you are innocent of the accusations, you should fight aggressively.

What we see time and time again are people thinking they can work out of their situation by mixing these two basic truths. 

The result, often those who are guilty of the accusations fight aggressively to prove their innocence.  We saw this play out over the last several years with former State Senator Manny Aragon pleading his innocence, only to later plead guilty to many of the same federal charges.

The rules of engagement are simple; the situations that got you to this point are complex.  How do you share this information with credibility?  We’ll address that in tomorrow’s installment “Developing Your Approach”.

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