Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
To whomever speaks pejoratively about PR i.e., is this true or just PR, I would say PR can perform nobly and be almost religiously redemptive when empowered by a shot of truth on the rocks with a splash of justice.
It can be the unequivocal key to unlocking facts, underlining new evidence and empowering truth in a 22-year old murder case that is moving toward setting free an innocent man from prison in Houston, Texas.
There Lamar Burks has spent 19 years for a murder he did not commit, could not have committed because he wasn’t even in Houston when it happened. Recently another man admitted on-camera doing the fatal shooting while Burks was in Louisiana attending his sister’s wedding.
I’m a PR guy who has promoted many things over the years, from Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to AT&T cell phones, from fancy diets to delicatessens in Queens, NY, but never until now have I felt so proud of my PR because it is proving a man’s innocence.
Hope is rising that Burks may soon be released after a flood of new evidence is showing a former federal agent now charged with falsifying evidence in numerous other cases may have played an insidious role in Burks’ dubious prosecution.
That agent has been indicted in New Orleans for lying under oath, falsifying records, falsely identifying suspects, accepting bribes, and stealing cash and other property during arrests, according to court records.
Two of his law enforcement buddies also have pled guilty and several of the corrupt agent’s cases have been reversed or dismissed, including a double-murder case, because of the investigation.
A former federal prosecutor who represents Burks has advised the office of the Harris County District Attorney that the allegations against the disgraced DEA agent in the indictments are similar to what happened in Burks’ case.
Now prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump is taking on the more than two decades old case and held a press conference recently at the NAACP of Houston branch on behalf of Burks and his now-21-year-old daughter.
His daughter told FOX 26 it’s been hard growing up without her dad and talking to him over the phone between a glass window. She says her life goal is to free her dad as a growing number of activists also are petitioning for his release from prison.
Crump says he is working on an evidentiary hearing for Burks on January 22.
So, C’mon Crump. C’mon truth. C’mon justice. PR is rooting for you!
Vindicating and releasing Lamar from prison will be the biggest feather in PR’s cap. And I’ll happily offer a toast to justice with a double shot of Redemption Rye.
About the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group. Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78. His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the Pressident of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.