Often, when people hear terms such as crisis PR, crisis management, crisis public relations or litigation PR they envision a team of spin doctors doing damage control for a company or person whose acts have landed them in hot water.
What many people don’t often realize is that crisis PR can also mean using the power of the press to expose wrongdoing — not just providing a communications lifeboat to a company whose reputation is sinking fast.
At Red Banyan Group, crisis PR for our clients has come in many different forms. We have defended some clients who are being unfairly criticized. And we have also used the power of the press to increase scrutiny upon bad actors whose actions have harmed innocent people.
A number of years ago, our firm was retained by a law firm that wanted to expose a Ponzi schemer who was preying upon victims, stealing their life savings, wrecking their retirements and ruining their lives. These men and women were defrauded in their churches, where the self-described minister played upon their desires to improve their financial futures while also making socially conscious investments that benefited the community. Yet, it was a cynical scam. There were no investments, and the self-directed IRAs into which the victims transferred their funds were raided as the personal piggybanks of the Ponzi schemers. Often this was done with the tacit approval and even outright collusion of the companies administering the self-directed IRAs.
Through our strategic communications work with the plaintiff attorneys and the victims, we were able to drag the fraudster into the light. We exposed him for what he truly was. Our outreach to the media resulted in exposure that destroyed the carefully crafted false image that he had previously been able to build by duping the press and concocting a story of success that earned him admiration and glowing coverage in national outlets.
This week, a degree of justice finally came for the victims. While they will probably never recoup their lost savings, the perpetrator of these heartless crimes was convicted and sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison.
At Red Banyan Group we are humbled and deeply thankful for the opportunity to have played a role in achieving justice on behalf of the victims. We thank the federal agencies that investigated the facts, successfully tried and convicted this criminal, and ultimately held him accountable for his deplorable actions.
An oft-cited cliché is that “the truth shall set you free.” In this case, the power of PR took away the freedom of this fraudster and prevented other innocent men and women from falling victims to his scams.
This saga provides a clear illustration of why we do what we do for our clients. We fight for the truth. And the fight continues…