Editor’s note: This piece is part of Ragan’s Crisis Communications Guidebook, 2020 Edition. Get your copy of the full book here.
When Jeff Lanza—now a communications consultant—was a fledgling FBI agent, his boss assigned him to listen in on the wiretaps of a pair of Kansas City goodfellas named Tony and Joe.
In one conversation, Lanza recalls, Tony warned his fellow mobster that he had a hunch the FBI was tapping his phone. Quick-thinking Tony, though, had outsmarted the feds: He’d gotten a new phone number.
“I better not give it to you over the phone,” Tony said. “I’ll meet you for lunch.”
“I can’t,” Joe replied.
“OK, I’ll give it to you over the phone right now,” Tony said, “but I’ll give it to you backward.”