You are accused of wrong doing. You are named in an indictment. Your name shows up in a “tell all book” about steroids in sports. What do you do?
Building/maintaining trust is a three part approach.
The first key to building/maintaining trust is to be truthful. Shortly after South Carolina’s Governor was caught-up in lies over his schedule and personal relationships, reporters around the country started asking for the schedules of various public officials. Access to public schedules is peeling back the first layer of the onion. Providing access to private schedules and commentary about the activities only increases the level of transparency.
The second key to building/maintaining trust is found in communicating directly with your audience. Be accessible. Communicate in a timely manner directly with them. The Governor of Alaska is taking this to an extreme. In announcing her resignation from office, she announced through the general media then pushed her comments through to her “friends” on FaceBook, providing her message direct and unfiltered.
The third key is timing. Timing is everything. You can be transparent and accessible, but if it is after the fact, your efforts are disingenuous. Case and point, let’s take a quick look at Roger Clemens. The baseball great was named in a “tell all” book where he was accused of taking steroids. His immediate criticism of the claims was to be expected, but he didn’t provide anything to support to his innocence. He used an attorney to speak on his behalf and then tried to use his star power on Capitol Hill to try and divert attention prior to his testimony before a Senate subcommittee. He could have helped his case by releasing his calendar and personal medical records (even just blood tests) to refute claims of where he was and what he was doing. That suggested approach is extreme but, if he had nothing to hide, it would have helped to turn the tide more than using attorneys and ‘he said she said” defenses.
Being truthful/transparent, accessible and timely in your positioning and response will help determine how long you will find yourself in the midst of the public spotlight.