Tom Garrity

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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

Understanding New Mexico’s Trust Deficit in our Legal System

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2015 at 4:51 am

The slaying of Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg Benner has generated significant criticism of the courts and justice system. Based on media reports, and admissions by various agencies, the suspect, Andrew Romero, slipped through and took advantage of “the system” to go on his crime spree, which resulted in the death of Officer Benner.

Public outrage toward the entities responsible for Romero’s release is intense. Flaws throughout the system all seemed to manifest in this one case. There were apparent issues with crime scene evidence, a judge was reportedly on leave for a time, the district attorney lacked experience, and the driver for a halfway house never showed up to pick up Romero.

Since 2011, New Mexico residents have been losing trust in judges, police officers, and lawyers, as well as losing favor with the courts and justice system. According to the Garrity Perception Survey, a scientific report conducted by Research & Polling, nearly all of the professions and institutions connected to the justice system have also seen an increase in distrust and unfavorable perceptions.

New Mexico residents’ favorability of the courts and justice system has dropped two points to 34 percent (2011-2015). During that same timeframe, the percentage of residents with an unfavorable perception has increased four points to 33 percent. Police officers, although gaining a lot of the trust lost in previous years, has seen trust slip by a point since 2011 to 54 percent; however, dis-trust among New Mexico residents has increased seven points to 26 percent in 2015. One of the largest increases of distrust among all professions surveyed.

Based on the research, only one of the institutions or professions are favored or trusted by New Mexico residents (meaning they failed to pass the 50 percent mark).

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, “when a company is distrusted, 57 percent of people will believe negative information after hearing it just one or two times. Conversely, when companies are trusted, 51 percent of people believe positive information about the company after hearing it just one or two times.”

It will take increased transparency coupled with an explanation of how “the system” operates for the courts and justice system to stem the tide of unfavorable perceptions and increased dis-trust among New Mexico residents. Often, providing insight about why things are the way they are provides peace of mind and starts to neutralize negativity.

CU Gibberish

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Ol MacDonald Credit Union

When picking up a race packet for a weekend 10K, I noticed a variety of things. A nice pen/stylus with the name of the event sponsor, a map of the course as well as promotions for a local restaurant and health club. Oh, there was also a brochure for Kasasa.

Kasa what?

Evidently, this is a trend for banks and credit unions. Instead of increasing relevance the old fashioned way by earning the customer’s trust, at least 230 credit unions across the United States (according to the ABQJournal) decided it would be best to confuse their customer by changing their institutions’ names to made up words.

What is a made up word? It is the letter version of “word salad”, gibberish. The kind of word that is not allowed in “Words with Friends.“

This article in The Financial Brand outlines a few of the gibberish heros. Comstar changed their name to an anagram of money, NYMEO. Another was Wynadotte FCU (which is one of the more challenging to spell) that changed to NuPath.

Recently, a credit union I use, changed their name from New Mexico Educators FCU to NUSENDA Credit Union. I first heard about the change through twitter then called my commercial banker to find out what the name change was all about. Was it a merger or acquisition? Are there any new services or member benefits? Does it mean that new branches are going to open near me? Is the artificial sweetener Splenda at play? Or was it a computer hack and all a bad dream?

The answer, “it was just a name change.” Really? A name change brought to us by the same industry that took years to depart from neck ties to open collared shirts because it was concerned the move might be seen as “radical” decides to change their name to a made up word?

It was either a so-called “branding expert” or a focus group gone wild that resulted in names like Kasasa, Nusenda and Nymeo.

Here is some free advice for any CEO considering a name change to either a made up or existing word: first focus on improving customer service and increasing relevance to your community. If things don’t turn around change your name or sell the business.

Will New Mexico’s Empty Churches Go on Sale?

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

An article in the Wall Street Journal this morning caught my attention and held it (yes sometimes I am a headline scanner): Europe’s Empty Churches Go on Sale.

The article by Naftali Bendavid provided insight on the flight of worshipers, resulting in the closure of churches around Europe.

Here is one paragraph from the story that jumped out to me: The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.

The article is worth a read; the paragraph doesn’t do it justice. A copy of the full article is here (subscription required): http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-empty-churches-go-on-sale-1420245359

The article ends with a quote from an overseer of a vacant church: “But there are not worshipers anymore.”

The article prompted me to see how the favorability of church/organized religion and trust of religious leaders are faring in the eyes of New Mexico residents. Those are two of the institutions and professions tracked annually in the Garrity Perception Survey.

Based on third party surveys of New Mexico residents, with a 95 percent confidence level, the church/organized religion and religious leaders have pause for concern.

In 2011, 69 percent of New Mexico residents had a favorable view of the “Church or Organized Religion.” That is a good thing for those attached to the institution. Since then, it has all been downhill. According to the 2014 survey, only 59 percent of residents are favorable toward the “Church or Organized Religion.” A drop of 10 percent.

Meanwhile trust of “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders.” Has seen an even larger decline than favorability of the Church.

In 2011, 67 percent of New Mexico residents trusted “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders.” In 2014, that number is 52 percent. New Mexico residents’ trust of religious leaders has dropped 15 percent over the last four years.

Breaking down the four year numbers by region reveals that residents Southwest (-23%) and North Central (-21%) are losing trust of “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders” at a faster rate than those in other parts of New Mexico.

What does all of this mean? New Mexico religions institutions need to heed what is happening overseas and find ways to be relevant or face a possible similar fate as their brethren Europe.

Getting ABQ Into Tech

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2014 at 1:15 pm

InnovateABQThe great recession and double dip recession in Albuquerque continues to have a devastating impact. Some reports indicate the city lost $1.5 billion in wages since 2007.

On a personal and professional level, I’ve seen friends and competitors leave the state for other, greener pastures. I miss them but don’t blame them. We all have to do what is needed to survive and eventually thrive again.

One of the great bright spots in Albuquerque’s horizon is in the City of Albuquerque’s economic development office, Gary Oppedahl. In addition to being the department’s director, Gary is also a proven tech entrepreneur.

Sitting down with him recently, it is very easy to be optimistic about the future for tech firms in Albuquerque. He is one of “them” and speaks the tech language. This is a good thing. He plays to his strength’s which is knowing Albuquerque about as well as he knows the life cycle of tech companies.

It seemed like we had a 2-hour conversation in 30 minutes. Central to Gary’s plan to promote tech entrepreneurship in Albuquerque is a blueprint of sorts, developed by Brad Feld. Feld is the tech entrepreneur who captured and best explained tech success in Boulder, Colorado.

Gary told me that in order to appreciate Albuquerque’s developing tech road map that I should, “read Startup Communities by Brad Feld.” I downloaded the audio book and listened to it twice while traversing New Mexico for company business.

The premise of the book is built on an approach called the Boulder Thesis. It is a set of four rules that will help to create vibrant tech communities. Those foundation elements include: The tech community needs to be led by entrepreneurs, it needs to be a long term commitment, it needs to be inclusive and engage the community. Make sense? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Check out this fun and short sketchbook video by the Kaufman Foundation that does a better job of illustrating it.

Here is the exciting thing, the steps outlined in the Startup Communities book are already coming to life. ABQid is a tech accelerator that already has its first class. The 1 million cups of coffee mentorship approach is already 60 cups into its Albuquerque journey.

Both of these initiatives are under the InnovateABQ umbrella. It is a collaboration of public and private sector that is dedicated to creating an environment where the tech community can test, succeed and fail (only to try again).

Trust of Police Officers in #NM and #ABQ

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2014 at 2:15 am

The Garrity Perception Survey is a franchise element of The Garrity Group Public Relations.  Since 2011, the firm has commissioned Albuquerque-based Research + Polling to conduct the 3rd party, statewide, survey of New Mexico residents.

The survey provides insights to the favorability of 17 industries, trust of 14 professions and how New Mexico residents access news and information.  It has a 95 percent level of accuracy.  That means if you ask for the opinion of 10 random New Mexico residents, their answers will align with the survey 95 percent of the time.

Police officers are one of the 14 professions where trust is measured.

The survey question is phrased, “on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being very favorable and one being very unfavorable, what is your level of trust of police officers?” In Albuquerque, this is broad enough to include the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office, New Mexico State Police, United States Marshalls Service, Federal Bureau of investigation and other certified law enforcement officers.

The “favorability” numbers below represent New Mexico residents who responded with either 5 or 4.  The statewide survey was in the field the last week of February 2014 through the First Week of March 2014.

GPS11 to 14 Trust Police Region

When Albuquerque Police Chief Eden addressed the Albuquerque Economic Forum recently, he indicated wanting to increase trust of police officers as one of his goals.

Why only the “Top Line Data”?

The first year of the survey, representatives of the Albuquerque Police Department requested a copy of the results for the trust of police officers.  They wanted the information so they could respond to a media inquiry from KOAT-TV.  As a favor to the director of communications for the Mayors office and the APD communications staffer, I provided the valuable “cross-tab” information.

However, when I wanted to follow-up and explain the information, neither of them returned my phone, text or email messages.  That urgency to get the data, followed by their lack of responsiveness is why I only release the top line results to the public.  Our clients have access to all of the information.

Both of the city staffers are no longer employed by the Mayors office or APD.

 

2013 in review

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2012 in review

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.