PSU trustees turn focus to strengthening image
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State is shifting its public relations emphasis from defending its reputation to proactively trying to strengthen it. That was the message Richard Edelman shared and the board of trustees embraced at a meeting on Sunday morning.
The Edelman PR firm was hired by Penn State in April. In front of the trustees and a sparse gathering of the public, Mr. Edelman outlined the strategy.
Starting this week, Penn State will begin its "faces" campaign, in which select students, alumni and professors will be highlighted for their accomplishments online, on posters on campus and during a video spot at the season-opening football game.
For transparency, Mr. Edelman said the university would make public a governance report that provided information on how Penn State is implementing its Freeh report recommendations.
He also spoke of the need to engage with media so as to control the narrative surrounding the Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal when the one-year anniversary of the grand jury presentment comes in November.
"The stories they are considering for the first anniversary, we have to shape," Mr. Edelman said.
The board discussed other ideas for the football game, such as highlighting Penn State's high graduation rate of football players on the scoreboard.
Acting athletic director Dave Joyner told board members the athletic department had "semi-secret" plans that would showcase the intersection of academics with athletics.
Earlier in the meeting, the board of trustees also set a timeline for its search for a new president, expressing the need to start in January 2013 and have a candidate selected by January 2014. President Rodney Erickson plans to step down in June of 2014.
Board chairwoman Karen Peetz commented that the biggest development from the weekend dealt with relationships on the board. She said the trustees met on Saturday morning, before the afternoon public session, and aired their personal grievances, coming to the conclusion that they needed to shape their differing opinions for the best of Penn State.
"Frankly it's been a tough two months so we had the time to kind of step back and say, 'What are we all about?' " Ms. Peetz said.
First Published August 27, 2012 12:00 am