Expect a continued firestorm of negative media for Rutgers University due to mismanagement of their ongoing crisis public relations issues. The new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann has been slammed in the media over the last few days for a variety of reasons – and the school has already been embattled due to previous scandals. They are making many mistakes in how they are handling the media – and one can expect to see more and more and more media on it because of it.
There’s a rule book to properly managing PR when under-fire – and in my humble opinion, Rutgers isn’t handling the process in the right way:
- Not making Julie Herman available for interviews. By not giving the media access to her only makes them whet their appetite more. She has to do interviews, like it or not. Shunning the media will not make this issue go away. Hiding is not an option. There are many rumors and innuendo about her and they have to be addressed.
- Whether via a one-on-one interview, or releasing a taped video statement, issuing a press release saying basically she is busy and doesn’t have time makes fools of the media. It’s a poor strategy.
- The President of the school isn’t joining her for the press conference – why? This is a major league crisis and the boss has to show up and take responsibility and answer the call.
Ignoring this issue won’t make it go away – Let’s look back at one of the most high-profile sports crisis situations of the last few years: Tiger Woods. What should have been a three- or four-day story grew because Woods waited too long to address the questions and the controversy. (and the mystery continued unanswered.) Had he given a statement immediately rather than many weeks later this story wouldn’t have gone as far.
Julie Hermann is going to face a gauntlet of media and is now in the big-leagues of major college sports. This issue won’t go away and needs to be handled immediately.
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Ronn is the CEO of 5WPR and author of best selling PR book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, and a regular contributor to Fox News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Insights Wired, Everything-PR and more.