Good Counsel and Bad Publicity
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?