Via View From the Bridge: Penn State’s Crisis is NOT a Crisis Communications Failure

Yesterday, the always excellent Bill Salvin published a great post on the Penn State fiasco. Instead of doing what most public information/crisis communications folks are doing (namely, analyzing the complete lack of good crisis communications principles at, really, any point in the crisis), he’s stepped back and approached it from the 10,000-foot level.

His point, and one that I’ve made in the past, is that NO amount of perfect crisis communications can fix a disaster. Granted, poor communications can doom a situation in which everything is going right, but if it’s a cluster-you-know-what, there is NOTHING your communications will do to fix the situation. It might delay the inevitable (as we saw in Penn State), but eventually everyone gets their comeuppance.

It’s not as if the communicators ever got close enough to make a recommendation about how to proceed. Senior people covered it up. You can’t blame the field-goal kicker for the loss if he never gets on the field to try and win the game.
I also believe that if the communicators did know about what was going on, they likely would have been unable to convince their leaders to do the right thing or have been complicit in the chosen course of action. I know that’s cynical, but they all drink the same water in Happy Valley.
Gerald Baron has talked in the past about communicators getting the old heave-ho because they were faced with a disastrous situation and not being able to clean up the un-clean-uppable. It’s a shame, and a sham. In situations like this, those at the top are the most guilty, and should be made to deal with it