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INTERVIEW: Allison Goodin re: ‘Penn State Lives Here’

Penn_State_Lives_Here_LionA couple of weeks ago, beleaguered Penn State University came out with a new marketing campaign “Penn State Lives Here,” which was covered on PRNewser. This post (humbly submitted by yours truly) got the attention of one Allison Goodin, assistant director of university relations for Penn State Lehigh Valley.

We are a friend to the flack and the journo equally, and without reservation.

To wit, I asked Ms. Goodin a few questions about this campaign. My questions were based on its timing, challenges to overcome the devil’s own Jerry Sandusky and what impact she wants this campaign to have on the student body.

Much as I would encourage any of our readers, if a post is focused on your brand, holler back. We have no enmity toward the follow-up. A big shout out to Allison for the email, and on behalf of all of us at PRNewser, we wish Penn State University the best…or in this case, the happiest in the Valley.

Her interview is after the jump:

SPW: You felt your quote in Lehigh Valley Live was taken slightly out of context. Explain:

AG I didn’t “sense the looming cynicism” [about the campaign starting close to Sandusky's resolution]. I was asked a direct question by the reporter about whether the initiative was a reaction to the scandal and I gave as honest an answer as I could.

SPW: With regard to the Penn State Lives Here initiative, does the University think it will erase what has happened?

AG: Absolutely not. But as much as Penn State has an obligation to right those wrongs to the best of its ability (a goal toward which it has made significant strides since 2011), it also has an obligation to laud the impressive achievements of some its more than 98,000 students, 600,000+ living alumni, and 40,000+ faculty and staff.

Penn State Lives Here and its supporting messaging gives those of us who communicate those stories on behalf of the university (I represent just one of 24 campuses across Pennsylvania) a framework for doing so in a unified, consistent and clear way. The hope is that it will also provide the entire university community opportunities to connect with each other and Penn State, and complement already-established traditions (We Are…Penn State, for example).

SPW: Is a marketing campaign of this magnitude uncommon for institutions like Penn State?

AG: Embarking on an initiative like this is not uncommon for higher ed institutions and other brands. Over a period of time, a University Marketing Council was created with representatives from all university units, and also included non-University members. Qualitative research that included thousands of interviews was conducted, and quantitative research then honed-in on the messaging that seemed to best describe the impact of Penn State and Penn Staters. Eventually, Penn State Lives Here emerged as the creative theme that supported the messaging.

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