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Connection Paper #1

Connection Paper #1

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Published by Jakita L. Jones

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Published by: Jakita L. Jones on Sep 28, 2012
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Connection Paper #1 COMM 605 Strategic Communication: Analysis and Theory Dr. John A. McArthur By: Jakita L.

Jones February 7, 2011

According to Seitel (2007), Ivy Ledbetter Lee is considered to be the father of modern public relations. Instead of conciliating the public, Lee believed that a business should strive to obtain public confidence and goodwill. In 1914, Lee was hired to assist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. with the crisis of the coal mining rebellion in Colorado known as the Ludlow Massacre. Ivy Lee advised Rockefeller to tell the truth, because the public would find out sooner or later and if the public ostracized what he was doing, change the policies into alignment with what the people want (Seitel, 2007, p. 30). Rockefeller followed Lee’s advice and formed a labor-management board to reconcile all workers’ hours, working conditions and wages. Lee’s recommendation gave Rockefeller the boost he needed and their plan was successful. The workers and the public began to view Rockefeller in a positive light. In addition, Lee tried to create a culture of normalcy within the Rockefeller family in which ordinary people could relate to and understand (Seitel, 2007, p. 30). In today’s society, I wonder if Ivy Lee’s philosophy and guidance on public relations could effectively assist organizations or celebrities of today who find themselves in unfavorable dilemmas. On September 21, 2010, CNN reporter Ashley Fantz (2010) wrote that Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, and Jamal Parris filed separate lawsuits alleging that Bishop Eddie L. Long, the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a mega church in DeKalb County, Georgia used his pastoral influence to coerce them into a sexual relationship with him. On September 24, Spencer LeGrande, a member of a New Birth satellite church in Charlotte, North Carolina, filed a similar suit, making him the fourth man to file a lawsuit claiming sexual misconduct by Long. The plaintiffs state that Long placed the men on the church’s payroll, bought them cars and other gifts, and took them separately on trips to destinations such as Kenya, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands, Trinidad, Honduras, New Zealand, and New York City. Long has denied the allegations through his attorneys and spokesman. Roland Martin, a commentator for TV One was scheduled to interview Long during a segment on the Tom Joyner Morning Show to discuss the two lawsuits. The lawsuit filed by Parris on September 22 prompted Long's team to cancel the Martin interview and a news conference.

Martin did speak with Long's attorney on the Tom Joyner Show. On September 26, Long spoke to the New Birth congregation but he did not address the issue directly. Long spoke of painful times and said "I've been accused. I'm under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man, but this thing, I'm going to fight" (Fantz, 2010). There are several dynamics to consider in this scenario; however, when Long failed to complete the initial interview with Roland Martin, he missed an opportunity to address the public early, which put his team in a position to react to the story and not create their own. Although, each situation is different, Lee informs us to tell the truth upfront and then strategize as the public responds to the truth. When Long finally addresses the public and his congregation he does not address the issue directly, nor does he admit innocence or guilt. Some would consider this to be an awful move in a crisis communication. While reviewing Long’s church address, I was very disappointed by his demeanor in which he addressed his congregation about the allegations. As Long made his last statement, he tossed the microphone on the podium and proceeded to walk off of the platform with a prideful and arrogant posture. Indeed, he might have been upset, but to preserve his brand and repair his reputation during a crisis, his behavior should have resembled a little more humility and class. Although, Long’s team did not follow Lee’s principles directly, it might have been in their best interest to do so by openly addressing the issue, employing a proactive strategy, instead of a reactive one. Being truthful and straightforwardly addressing the allegations certainly won’t erase the accusations, but in public relations, it does minimize the damage. It appears as though Ivy Lee’s ideologies can still be helpful in crisis of today, but some publicists are advising clients otherwise, which is to withhold or avoid the truth initially. In such cases, although honest information is the only way to communicate in a crisis situation, official channels of communication do not always tie up loose ends. In these situations, the "rumor mill" often becomes the trusted source for information. Furthermore, once the truth is exposed; it can increase the impact of the crisis and cause the individual to lose all credibility.

References Blake, John. (2010, October 30). Bishop Eddie Long speaks to the church. Podcast retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/10/28/bishop.long/index.html?iref=allsearch Fantz, Ashley. (2010). Televangelist Eddie Long: 'I'm going to fight' sex allegations. Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2010-09-26/justice/georgia.pastor.sex.charges_1_accusations-young-menworship?_s=PM:CRIME Seitel, Fraser P. (2007). The practice of public relations. New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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