I don't even pretend to understand what the children involved in the allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are going through.
I don't understand the thinking (or lack thereof) that took place with university management either.
But one thing I do know for a fact, the current administration that is dealing with the fallout of what happened had to scramble to find a PR firm to assist with crisis management.
Now, I know that a university with a large enrollment has to have internal marketing personnel that maintain the school's brand. They work on newsletters and brochures, Twitter feeds and social media outlets, websites and other collateral that is used to recruit alumni dollars and new students. They should, at a prestigious university like Penn State, have a coordinated effort in maintaining branding rules, language usage and marketing strategy.
The School of Business Administration teaches marketing as an area of study at the university. I even found a job posting for a new Assistant Professor of Marketing. So, you would think, that a Big Ten school would be able to look internally for thought leadership, strategy and institutional knowledge developed in a Branding 101 course.
What dumbfounds me is that Penn State isn't alone in this category. Often large organizations lack the leadership and they fail to have a flexible crisis plan on stand-by. It doesn't take much to put together an outline to have at the ready should any situation arise – for good or for bad. If there isn't a way to have a plan done internally, at least have someone tapped to go to when the need arises.
Did the Packers have a PR plan ready when they won the Super Bowl? Yep. Did they trash the plan that was in place in case the Steelers won in Dallas last season? Yep. The Brewers front office was at the ready after every playoff game, no matter the outcome.
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