As with any major loss, PR disasters are followed by their own stages of grief: Exasperation, Investigation, Supplication, Cynicism, Reservation, and Speculation. Just ask the University of Virginia. You’ll recall, the president of that school, Teresa Sullivan, was forced to resign amid concerns about tuition, curriculum, and other issues facing colleges and universities across the nation. The secretive way the situation was handled raised many eyebrows.
The ouster and then reinstatement of UVA’s president has become a PR training manual on public relations meltdowns. Nevertheless, for UVA, the healing process has begun, and the time is right for an analysis of just what happened from a PR standpoint.