While the college admission scandal is far from over, the legal and PR teams are working overtime while dodging paparazzi, issuing press statements and some entering early guilty pleas. One action that stands out and is getting praise in PR circles is the statement issued by Actress Felicity Huffman:
“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.
“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
The statement by Huffman, who is getting crisis PR support from our Croft Society colleague Larry Kopp of The TASC Group, addresses what we always advise crisis communications clients:
This statement was issued early in the process. Dragging your feet during a crisis only makes matters worse.
This has apology all over it. Whether you choose to believe her not, the statement says she accepts her guilt, was wrong, is ashamed, has no excuse, broke the law, engaged in dishonesty and is sorry.
There’s no attempt at “I’m sorry if you were offended” here. Huffman owned it by including “I” or “my” 21 times in the statement.
Huffman addresses the widespread outrage over the privileged and wealthy who, through this scheme, were taking spots from families that approached the college selection process honestly.
Adding “and I’ll never do this again” is unnecessary. In the case of accidents, embezzlement, sexual harassment and other crisis situations, a statement must show you are taking steps such as firing an employee or changing safety protocols.
Need help with a crisis? Time is of the essence so give us a call or contact us today.
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