Friday, March 28, 2014

Source Credibility 

A public official is charged with committing a misdeed.  The official hires a law firm and tells it to investigate.  The law firm's report exonerates the official and puts the blame elsewhere.  Would you believe the report?  This is the position that New Jersey's governor is in now that the state has spent a million dollars investigating whether the governor ordered or knew about improper lane closings on the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic for days.  Not surprisingly, two other investigations continue and the governor's opponents have declared the report to be a whitewash and not worth the paper it is printed on.  They say the state has wasted the money it spent to investigate the governor.  In terms of credibility, it has.  The governor knows -- or should know -- that source credibility is at issue.  Anyone who investigates himself is more than likely to find himself innocent.  Few will believe that the governor is exonerated until the two other investigations are done.  Even then, there will be lingering suspicion.

While it had good intentions, the Governor mistook that hiring someone to investigate himself would not sit well with public opinion. He should have simply denied the allegations and waited for a third-party to investigate him and be exonerated that way. We always need to be wary of our dealings with individuals, organizations and companies and think of how these dealings may affect our branding.

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