Friday, April 05, 2013

Bad Instruction on Crisis Communications

A faculty colleague of mine shared an email she received  from one of our students who was taking a sports marketing class in a different department. The good news is that our student immediately recognized with horror the bad instruction this professor was giving on crisis communication situations in the sporting industry, as evidenced by a screen shot of a class lecture slide she shared:


Yes, this professor is actually teaching student to lie and avoid responsibility and accountability. 

We can only hope--and we do suspect--that whomever is teaching this class is an adjunct completely ignorant of proper  crisis communications theory and practice. I would bet this professor has never in their own past taken a bonafide public relations course or mingled with public relations professionals at a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) meeting.

Such instruction saddens me for several reasons. In the first place, it is wrong ethically. Secondly, it is wrong strategically, as many studies show honesty in crises maintains and increases positive reputation. Third this "professor" (I put the word in quotes because I'm tempted to call this ignorant sleazeball some terms that the FCC still does not allow to be broadcast) perpetuates the myth that public relations is about intentional deception, lies and spin. The fact that the word spin is actually used as an advocated  option sickens me: I insist with my students that "spin" is a four-letter  word that should never be spoken or practiced.

Here we have a root of the ongoing problem of the perception of the public relations industry. What this rent-a-prof is proposing is not even close to the educated, ethical and strategic practice that people who know what they are  talking about would teach. In other words, it is NOT public relations. But if the public witnesses denial, silence or "spin" they will call it PR even if done by a person whose job title and education background has nothing to do with public relations.

Again, the only good news to come out of this is evidence that one of our PR students learned well, so well that she identified the obviously ignorant instruction and shared her horror  with us. The next step is for all PR pros, even current students and recent grads, to speak truth to power and say NO!--PR is not about spin!

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