Burris: How Not to Handle a Crisis

As someone who has been on the receiving end of those phone calls from reporters calling for the blood of the person you work for, it's almost tempting to feel sorry for Senator Roland Burris and his people.


As someone who has been on the receiving end of those phone calls from reporters calling for the blood of the person you work for, it's almost tempting to feel sorry for Senator Roland Burris and his people.Almost.Burris has basically broken every rule in the book when it comes to crisis communications. He tried to get away with telling half-truths when he knew somewhere out there was a federal agent who could take him down. As a rule, no one spills faster than a federal agent who can take down a hypocritical politician—it's what they live for.Once the deed was done, Burris committed the second major mistake: He called a "lay it on the line" press conference when he knew he wasn't going to be completely forthcoming. Nothing screams, "get him" to a pack of media like the sight of a public figure clearly hiding something.When will politicians learn that the truth will always come out—and that blaming the media is used up? The public is dealing with real problems and they have no tolerance for politicians taking attention away from solving them.So politicians, remember: Tell the truth—if not from the start, at least when you get caught. And there is no one to blame but yourself.Debra DeShong Reed, Principal of Point Blank Public Affairs, was the senior communications advisor for the Kerry/Edwards Presidential campaign and Communications Director for former U.S. Senator Robert G. Torricelli


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