No matter where the truth lies, there will be the need forgiveness, healing, and reliance on the grace of God.
However, from where I sit, as a public relations professional of a little more than 35 years, I immediately see an extreme media crises situation for the members of New Birth Church. Because I engage in media crisis management for my clients, I am sorry that New Birth did not kick in with a responsive media crisis plan immediately.
48 hours without a response leaves folks to draw their opinion from what they hear and see in the media. Interestingly enough, after two days of hysteria, some folks will tune the news out on the third day – feeling that they have “had enough.”
It just so happened that I recently wrote a book entitled “Getting the Word Out: How to Market Your Ministry.” The book includes a short chapter on “Managing a Media Crisis” where we just touch on the issue.
It seems to me that The Bishops’ team might have advised an immediate response to the media once it was determined the story was going nationwide. (CNN actually carried a visual of the complaint. ) The response should have been a basic statement to the fact — “allegations were made on the character of the man; however, these allegations do not eradicate all of the good works accomplished by Bishop Long and New Birth (and enumerate some of the positive actions).” Giving a few positive facts puts another point of view before the public for consideration. But we have been watching the media report a one-sided story which has now grown from sex with young men to include lavish lifestyle and much more.
In many instances, this is where the public relations professional and legal counsel differ in opinion. The client gets caught in the middle not knowing whose advice to take.
However, as a church community, I know that the people at New Birth are also concerned about the young men who are making the charges. These young men are obviously hurting. The entire church community — both Black and white – will feel the impact of this situation.
My heart goes out to Mrs. Long and everyone touched by this devastating story.