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.

 

Ronn Torossian

5WPR

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.