This year’s Ben Bronstein Lecture in Ethics and Public Relations featured a discussion on something that is very close to home for the entire Penn State community.
Public relations professor Steve Manuel, president of The Lukaszewski Group Jim Lukaszewski, and Associated Press reporter Genaro Armas answered questions from the audience regarding the Sandusky case.
Christine Booth (sophomore- journalism) said she thought the lecture was “interesting to see how they would’ve handled it” and that it was “interesting they were willing to talk about it and critique it.”
Members of the audience asked questions that ranged from how to find out about an organization’s code of ethics, and how people work for products that cause harm such as alcohol and tobacco, to how the family of late football coach Joe Paterno handled its public relation efforts.
Lukaszewski said that since the Paterno family has the right to challenge the judgement of the Freeh Report, it is entitled to take an aggressive approach.
Manuel also added that since Joe Paterno made the statement, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” it gave off the perception, “I’m guilty.”
Professor of ethics and telecommunications Patrick Parsons said that given the nature of this yearly lecture, it was clear to those involved with the lecture’s planning that the night would revolve around the Sandusky case.
Parsons said that for this year’s lecture, “you have to start in your own house.”
Parsons said he reached out to Manuel to be a part of this lecture since he teaches the class on crisis communications, something that relates directly to the Sandusky case. He said Manuel has also started focusing his freshman seminar classes on this topic.
Manuel then reached out to Lukaszewski since he is also in the public relations field as someone outside of the Penn State community, and also Armas to get another outside perspective.
Manuel said he wanted to be a part of the lecture to talk about what Penn State didn’t do, should have done, and still isn’t doing.
He explained that it is important for every company and institution to have a crisis management plan in place since many do not, and those students who learn about this subject are better prepared for jobs.
He said that people don’t think well in a crisis, but if there is a plan in place, workers only have to fill in the gaps in order to address the problem.
Manuel said that 95 percent of corporate crisis begin internally, and that members in the organization tend to look outward to find the problem.