Monday, August 8

Crisis communications mistakes, Vol. 1

If you're going to deflect a reporter to a spokesperson, make sure it's not a dead end.

The board of directors of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in New York is on the hot seat. A former board member (who was one of the go-to-guys in launching liberal talk network Air America) is now being investigated for redirecting more than half-a-million dollars in grant money and "investing" it in the Air America startup.

Air America has been quick to point out that it is under new ownership, and has the appearance of deniability.

The current Gloria Wise board is running into trouble, though. Hugh Hewitt at the Weekly Standard tried getting some answers:
My producer and I have spent a lot of time trying to get a member of the board on the record about the investment. The only one who agreed to talk to us referred us to Rubenstein Public Relations. An assistant to Richard Rubenstein called me to relay that he didn't know anything about the "Gloria Wise story." Odd.
Either there is a huge disconnect in protocol at Rubenstein (which I highly doubt,) or someone is trying to buy some time.

To make matters worse, the article didn't mention which board member had been approached, so now this little cloud of avoidance is hanging over all of them, until it gets cleared up.

We've seen in the Richard Scrushy case how important your pre-trial PR posture can be. Looking like you're ducking tough questions is not the way to get there.