In a previous professional life, I was VP of Communications for Focus on the Family. In addition to being one of the most trusted organizations worldwide that helps couples raise their children and nurture their marriages, it also has (understatement alert!) been known to wander into the public square from time to time. The organization’s founder, Dr. James Dobson, was long one of the most influential leaders among politically conservative evangelical Christians, so he “committed news” a lot, as I like to say, which kept me busy a lot, as I like to be.

That was particularly true in the election years of 2004 and 2008 — when who he determined to support for president was an above-the-fold story. We hop in the #throwbackthursday machine today to revisit a moment in the ’08 campaign cycle when I was charged with one of the most important things PR pros do: setting the record straight.

When you’re a newsmaker, reporters and pundits will misreport or mischaracterize your statements — usually just because they made a mistake, but sometimes because they want to make hay. When that happens, it is critical to act quickly and decisively to put the true facts in play — which is what I did in this letter the the editor from Oct. 30, 2007. No, this piece did not enjoy the same profile that the original incorrect story did (and neither will a correction issued by a media outlet), but having a clarification of what you really said and meant on the record is something you can always point back to when someone dredges up the misguided narrative. That makes it worth its weight in public-relations gold.

One final, only tangentially related note: It’s interesting to read my words from nine years ago in light of the current election cycle, and some of the discussions happening right now with the phrase “third party” in them.

Dobson didn’t propose a third political party




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