The college admissions and basketball recruiting policies of a major university came under public scrutiny when one of its basketball players was featured on the front page of the Washington Post in a story highlighting the recruiting practices of several NCAA Division One schools. Similar stories appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal shortly thereafter. The university President was forced to immediately respond to questions about the integrity of the university’s admissions criteria and athletic program. The University retained O’Neill and Associates for strategic communications counsel and a media relations services.
O’Neill and Associates provided the university with strategic communications counsel, as well as direct crisis media relations services, to support the administration’s effort to address this issue.
- Message development to ensure the strongest possible response to the emerging crisis;
- Advice on proactive steps the university could take to shape the media’s coverage;
- Media training and interview preparation for key university officials;
- Outreach to national print and broadcast media outlets to ensure the university’s message was heard and fairly reported;
- Drafting of talking points, Q & A documents, fact sheets, advisories and press releases;
- Coordination with spokespeople, and serving as additional spokespeople as needed; and
- Serving as round-the-clock counsel to the administration.
As a result of O’Neill and Associates efforts, the university effectively handled this media attention and was able to communicate responsive messages which preserved the school’s integrity and reputation. O’Neill and Associates has subsequently worked with the university to help the school address other issues of news value on campus.
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