Richard Edelman is sounding like something of a PR coach to Penn State as the University seeks to rebuild its image after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. "We have been playing defense for the last five months..." Edelman told Penn State's trustees, "Now is the time to pivot." The school's PR offensive will include "Faces," a poster campaign that will highlight the accomplishments of students, alumni, and professors.
The Penn State trustees hired Edelman and La Torre Communications, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based firm, in April to help rebuild the university's reputation in a 12-month, competitively-bid association at $208,000 a month. In fleshing out the the firms' proposed PR program for the trustees, Richard Edelman advised against a national good-will advertising campaign like the one British Petroleum mounted after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. "A BP kind of solution is not appropriate at Penn State," Edelman told the trustees. "There will be more criticism for us if we try to advertise our way out of this crisis." He didn't rule advertising out longer term, however.
After the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal broke last fall, Penn State hired Ketchum for crisis communication support.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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