“Silence is despicable” is the words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky – and even after Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty, the fact that so many saw something yet stayed silent is what Penn State has to own up to before that can speak of recovery.
Brand Penn State’s brand has been tremendously damaged by the Jerry Sandusky story, and while the guilty verdict can start the road to recovery for Penn State, it’s far from the end. Penn State will rightfully face many lingering negative effects for many years to come.
This issue wasn’t one of a lone child molester – it was an entire institution turning a blind eye, and that is an awful story for a university to tell. The high profile negative media for Penn State isn’t over – there’s still other investigations and lawsuits underway, and in many ways, the Penn State legacy is very damaged.
How many 7th, 8th and 9th graders today will want to attend a school which turned a blind eye to molestation? Big business won’t value a Penn State degree the same way – proof can be seen in the 30 percent fall in applications to Penn State law school.
Many more steps need to be taken before Penn State can discuss a road to recovery – they are still paying Mike McQueary, a Penn State assistant football coach who witnessed a young boy being sexually assaulted in a shower and said nothing.
The challenge Penn State faces is that many people knew about Sandusky – and many said nothing. A guilty plea for Sandusky may start the road to a public relations recovery – but it’s far from the end of the road. No matter what crisis PR firm may be hired – they can’t change the facts that Penn State turned a blind eye.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky said “Silence is despicable” – and the fact that so many said nothing is what Penn State has to address. How will that be changed - then they can speak of moving on.
Ronn Torossian is Founder of 5WPR a NY PR Agency.