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Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Sandusky’

Dottie Sandusky and John Zeigler Aren’t Helping to Repair Penn State’s Reputation

Just under a month ago, Yale School of Management senior associate dean Jerry Sonnenfeld published an op-ed in USA Today praising Penn State’s board for overcoming the Jerry Sandusky scandal by moving on rather than fighting.

A subsequent New Republic piece by Alec MacGillis criticized the op-ed, framing it as a summary of Penn State AOR Edelman’s (correct) damage control strategy rather than a statement of Sonnenfeld’s personal opinion. To outside observers, moving forward certainly feels like the right idea—but Matt Lauer and John Zeigler seem determined to make it harder for Penn State to do so.

While we don’t take great pleasure in today’s blanket coverage of Lauer’s interview with Dottie Sandusky, it is compellingly disturbing.

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‘Penn State Lives Here’ Won’t Kill That Other Campus Memory

Source: Lehigh Valley NewsMore than $50 million in University legal fees. At least 52 counts of child molestation spanning 15 years. All from one repugnant and malevolent human being that has a special and infernal place in the bowels of hell with his name on it.

That is the summary of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal that rocked this nation and nearly demolished Penn State University.

The rally cry heard across Happy Valley as always been “We are…Penn State.” However, that cry has been muted insurmountably because in most Americans’ minds, we are not Penn State.

Needless to say, the mile-wide skidmark Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno left on that once-esteemed university makes that campus squawk more of a reminder of the past than the pride of the present. 

Faculty know this. Students hate this. And now, the ivory towers has done something to change this. Whelp, kinda.

The university has officially rolled out its new branding campaign, Penn State Lives Here. I get the wording — in essence, what is here now should be the merit of the campus.

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More Charges Filed in Penn State Case

Another chapter in the long, sundry case of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky further emphasizes the challenges faced by Edelman PR, La Torre Communications and the institution itself as all work to restore the school’s previous reputation for greatness in both sports and academics.

Unfortunately, this latest update will undoubtedly inflict more damage on the school: it concerns staff attempts to cover up, deny or, at the very least, minimize the scandal. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly just announced charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children, and failure to report suspected child abuse against former University President Graham Spanier.

That’s quite a list–and we didn’t even mention the additional charges brought against the school’s former athletic director and vice president of business and finance, both of whom await trial in January.

Spanier’s greatest offense? After stepping down, he claimed that no one had ever mentioned the possibility of ongoing child abuse during his time at Penn State–but the email trail told a very different story.

Penn State’s board members and PR reps have been wishing Spanier would slink away and disappear for some time: first they argued over whether he’d resigned on his own volition after “going rogue and altering a press release that had been a collaborative effort”, and then he participated in this very ill-advised interview for some unknown reason.

Penn State and its PR organizations will never have to defend Graham Spanier again. Unfortunately, the law is far from done with him–and his case will expose the public to yet another angle on a tragic tale that can never be untold.

Sandusky Sentenced, Proclaims Innocence and Blames Victims

We almost hate to give more blogspace to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. But he’s about to be sentenced, and he’s used his last “public relations” opportunity to proclaim his innocence in what can only be called a wild-eyed conspiracy theory rant recorded in prison by his lawyer and later aired on Penn State radio.

Why did Sandusky’s lawyer (who now claims that his client was denied due process during a “rush to trial”) choose to record this statement? In it, the offender accuses “the media”, Penn State officials, and the local police of conspiring to destroy him. Yet, he says:

“…they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage.”

Beyond creepy. The worst part is the section in which Sandusky urges the public not to trust his accusers. Why? Because they were troubled kids who sought help—at his charity!

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Penn State Moves Forward on Two Fronts

Two of the parties involved in the ongoing Penn State child abuse scandal have decided to try and salvage their reputations—with very different goals, methods and results.

On the one hand, disgraced former president Graham Spanier has gone on a “PR offensive,” booking TV appearances and other interviews in an attempt to portray himself as a competent manager who was somehow oblivious to the abuse that just happened to be going on right under his nose. He even claimed that he himself endured physical abuse at the hands of his father–and while that makes for a true horror story, we fail to see how it would make him any less culpable in this case.

Newsday speculates that he may be taking this route because the investigation technically remains open–he wants to avoid prosecution while preserving his ability to continue a career in academics. But we can’t see Spanier achieving his goal of discrediting the findings of the FBI, especially when he wrote emails that appear to agree with former athletic director Tim Curley’s decision to avoid contacting child-welfare authorities in response to allegations made against Jerry Sandusky in 2001. Spanier looks more than a little desperate, and we have some advice for whoever happens to represent him: Leave that sinking ship.

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Can This Woman Save Penn State’s Reputation?

We’re not sure if the task of doing damage control for Penn State is the toughest, most thankless PR gig in the country right now, but it’s got to be pretty close. According to a recent Reuters article, the University is hoping that Karen Peetz, chairman of the school’s board of trustees and big-name executive at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., can help them resuscitate their severely damaged reputation despite the fact that she doesn’t work in the PR field and never really signed up for the job.

While some grads remain true to their alma mater, Penn State’s star has clearly dimmed in the eyes of the public. All agree that the school made some huge ethical and public relations mistakes when dealing with (or trying to wish away) the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. While the school hired PR firms to deal with the fallout, Peetz has effectively served as its public face during this most difficult hour even as her dual roles in PR and finance threaten to collide with one another. Read more

Penn State Hires Ketchum

Photo: Pennsylvania Attorney General Office via AP

Penn State’s Board of Trustees has hired Ketchum to handle crisis comms, Ad Age reports. The hire was made on November 6, the day after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested. The firm has already helped with the press conference announcing that coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were leaving their positions.

According to Ad Age, Ketchum has about 50 crisis experts in the U.S.

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Bob Costas Praised for Sandusky Interview

Sports broadcaster Bob Costas is drawing cheers this morning following last night’s Rock Center interview with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with crimes tied with that school’s child sexual abuse scandal. Costas’ tough line of questioning went into sometimes graphic detail about the allegations against Sandusky.

Oprah Winfrey and CNN’s Paul Begala are among those commending Costas on a job well done. And, according to the @NBCNewsPR Twitter feed, Bob Costas is the second most searched term on Google this morning.

Costas also appeared on Morning Joe today to talk about the interview and his new book. During today’s interview he classified some of Sandusky’s answers as “odd” and “very strange.” We’ve got that clip, care of Huffington Post, after the jump.

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Paterno Announces Retirement, Says Penn State Has Bigger Issues to Address

Photo: AP

After 46 years and a career that had gone down as the best in college sports history, Joe Paterno has announced that he’s retiring at the end of this season, his reputation in tatters over a child abuse sex scandal that has shaken all of Penn State.

“Joe Pa” announced his retirement in a statement that came a day after the university’s board announced that he wouldn’t be coaching next year.

“At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” the statement reads.

The backwards chronology of the announcement is in keeping with the inadequate way the university has handled the scandal, starting years ago.

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