Is Penn State’s THON now a PR Tactic?

It has been quite the year for Penn State with Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse charges and the death of Joe Paterno. From a human perspective, it has been a year full of tragedy but from a public relations stand point, it has been a year of crisis management. Everyone’s question: Can Penn State recover?

While the answer is still not entirely clear, it is more than possible for Penn State to come back better than ever. A perfect example of this: Penn State’s THON raised $10.6 million for childhood cancer research this year and exceeded its goal by $1.1 million. The entire Penn State community banded together to support a cause they believe in.

From a public relations perspective, THON can be seen as a PR tactic that helped Penn State restore its image in the higher education world. This year’s THON commercial uses very specific language that talks about the challenges of the past year. In the video, the phrase “Many things have changed” flashes across the screen while a photo montage plays in the background. By using this terminology, Penn State recognizes that the environment around the event has changed drastically in the last year. However, the next phrase to be shown was “But what’s important remains the same…our families.” This phrase conveys the message that Penn State’s mission remains the same regardless of what happened during this year. They are a unified force that will be overcome any obstacle in order to raise money for the children in need.

Despite scandals and difficulties with fundraising before the event, THON raised the most money in the history of the program. The event can be seen as a PR tactic that helped restore Penn State’s image in the mist of recent challenges. Additionally, the success of THON shows the resiliency of the Penn State community. While there are still many steps to take in order to change the perception of Penn State, THON’s success has played a key role in the process.

Do you see THON as a PR tactic for Penn State? Why or why not? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Alex Crispino.

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