CommCore Blog and News

Communicating If You Lost Money With Madoff

I guess if you haven’t heard by now from your mutual funds, 401K or pension plans if your money was invested with Bernie Madoff, you’re either in the clear or the fund communications department still has its head in the sand.

I’ve been looking for letters one way or another from different places where I invest. I’m attaching an email my wife received from her alma mater, Tufts University. It was direct , candid and straightforward. It reflects some of what we at CommCore Consulting Group cite as the best principles of crisis communications. Be direct, say what you can and then figure out a way to move on. This letter is consistent with other messages that Tufts has sent out regarding the financial crisis. Good work on their part:

“Dear Friends:
I have promised to keep you informed when the economic news of these extraordinary times has special significance for Tufts. The news this past week has been dominated by a financial scandal of unprecedented scale and scope. I am sorry to report that Tufts is one of a growing number of victims of the crimes allegedly committed by Bernard Madoff.

In 2005, the university’s Investment Committee authorized an investment with Ascot Partners, which in turn invested the entire sum with Madoff Securities. We have written off the value of this investment, which totaled $20 million, or slightly less than 2 percent of our endowment. This write-off will not significantly affect our operations. We will cooperate with any investigations of this fraud and will work to recoup as much of our investment as possible.
It is personally painful for me to communicate this information to you. We deeply appreciate the trust and confidence that each donor places in the university. We also have an obligation to our students and faculty to manage these resources wisely for their benefit. You have my word that we will look closely at our experience in this case so that we can strengthen our investment process for the future.

I will continue to keep you informed as we work our way through these difficult times. For now, I send all the members of the Tufts community my very best wishes for the holiday season ahead.

Lawrence S. Bacow

What have you come across, or what have you as a communications professional done, about communicating news on the impact of the Madoff scheme?