Fact is stranger than fiction: Penn State has proven that repeatedly over the past month. The school has gone beyond critical mass and the meltdown has played out in front of tens of millions of sports fans and hundreds of millions of sickened citizens.
The Penn State debacle has all the ingredients of a PR witches brew that has boiled over into other programs, nationwide. The horrific claims alone make this a reputation management nightmare. But then there’s the lack of follow-up and possible cover-up that ensued. In total, there’s enough bad PR to cover the globe in a foot-thick gob of slime.
And, speaking of slime, how can anybody in his right mind agree to an interview with Bob Costas and spew forth incredibly damning sound bites? Where’s the limited access, carefully controlled messaging that goes along with crisis management?
There are no winners in this disaster. Victims are stacking up like cordwood and the University has taken a severe beating on all fronts. Some people have lost their jobs and surely there will be more to come.
Penn State has tried really hard to stay ahead of the crisis from a PR perspective. But, alas, with so many moving parts and an ever-changing landscape, it’s been a very difficult task. Unfortunately, the PR people at Penn State don’t control key players in the crisis or external messaging, and that has proven to be a most challenging part of the PR puzzle.