Good Counsel and Bad Publicity

Monday, 16 July @ 7:22 PM

I wonder how engaged the public relations team at Penn State was in 2001.

As CNN reported on Thursday, “An effort to avoid bad publicity ‘is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities.'”

Bad publicity? We all know what happened there. Of course, outing the Sandusky scandal at any point would have garnered negative publicity. But in this case, a little bad publicity pales in comparison to the blast that has since rocked the school and the reputations of so many as devastatingly as has the last six months.

Sometimes in the public relations business, it is with great trepidation that we have to do the most unthinkable of things. We have to tell the truth, shine a light on what our organization has done wrong, attach our name as spokeperson to something that was not done right.

As counselors, it is our responsibility to guide those we advise to the best course in terms of their public image. I used to think that the greatest value I brought to the organizations I serve was my willingness to be aggressive with reporters. Then, I thought my value was my aggressiveness with clients. Today, after more than a decade in the business, I’ve realized the real value I bring is to understand my client’s business and guide them not only in what to say, but to understand how that will be received on the other end. Most importantly, my value is to speak up.

If someone at Penn State had voiced this and had the gumption to convince others, realizing the exponential multiplier the word “cover-up” has in any media story, then we all would likely have a different image in our minds today when we imagine the legendary Nittany Lions.

Besides Watergate, any other favorite reminders of cover-ups gone media circus?

3 thoughts on “Good Counsel and Bad Publicity

  1. I’m not sure about cover-ups… but I would love to hear your thoughts about the recent issues with Susan G Komen. I’m sure nonprofit users of Philanthropegie could learn a lot from that experience.

  2. The best summary I saw was posted to about three nonprofit lessons from the Komen debacle (note, avoid being in the position to handle anything that will carry the word “crisis” or “debacle” based on your performance):

    You’ll note the first line after the third suggestion, which is to “Talk to the media.”

    “And do so as quickly as possible. Because if you don’t, somebody else will.”

  3. Pingback: Preventative Screening | Philanthropegie

By creating an account you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Not sure where to start?

Read most read articles & helpful resources