Former N.C. First Lady Mary Easley’s brief employment at N.C State University recently resulted in four involuntary departures – hers, the chancellor’s, the provost’s and the chairman of the board of trustees. Read more about the details about this story.

While the feds explore whether Mary Easley’s husband, former N.C. Gov. Mike Easley, violated any campaign rules as they relate to her hiring, I feel confident saying some of the folks involved violated three basic rules about communicating with the media.

These are rules we at Sinclair & Co. cover during media training with clients and they are pretty fundamental:

  • Never lie. This seems like a no brainer, but time and time again people fail to heed this simple admonition. (Remember Richard Nixon? Bill Clinton?) Lying only makes your problem worse – and lies will always come to light.
  • When you have bad news to share, share it early and quickly. Bad news is just like a stuck-on Band-Aid® – you must address it quickly. Sure, it’ll hurt like heck and you may even scream, but then the pain is gone. As N.C. State officials learned the hard way, taking off a bad-news bandage bit by painful bit prolongs the agony for everyone involved.
  • Admit your mistakes – then move on. Martha Stewart is an excellent example of this. Sentenced to time in prison for insider training, Stewart came out ready to put the past behind her and move her career forward. Her prison time has become a mere mention in most articles; it’s no longer the primary focus.

The fundamentals of strong media relations really are the fundamentals of life – don’t lie, do the right thing and don’t dwell in the past.