As one news source put it, Duke University "keeps getting in the news for all the wrong reasons." The barrage of negative media attention to what are in all probability isolated and exceptional incidents at the university (a recent alumnus detailing her intimate encounters with Duke athletes; an email from a Duke fraternity inviting female students to a Halloween party in crass terms; the shutting down of an outdoor student party) offers a cautionary tale about the "snowball effect" that an incident involving perceived student misconduct can have on media relations for an institution. Journalists and experts on media relations alike have suggested that since a rape allegation in 2006 against three Duke lacrosse players, the local media have been quick to perpetuate negative stereotypes of the Duke student (even though the lacrosse players were found not guilty).
What this case demonstrates is the importance of ongoing image management and reputation recovery after a media crisis related to student behavior. If an institution does not take prompt action after a crisis -- and indeed, proactive action prior to a crisis -- to build a more positive image, the negative image can persist for years, as the case of Duke illustrates.
This week, Academic Impressions interviewed leading crisis communications expert Cindy Lawson (with the University of North Carolina Wilmington) for her advice on this issue.
We hope you’re enjoying this read. The full text of this article or report is complimentary for Academic Impressions members. Please login to your member account to read it!
If you're signed up to receive our Daily Pulse, but your institution does not have an active membership, you won't have access to this article.
FIND OUT ABOUT MEMBERSHIP:
An Academic Impressions membership provides multiple users on your campus with unlimited access to exclusive reports, research briefs, hundreds of free webcasts and online trainings, and discounts on conferences. Learn more about membership and get unlimited training and reading for you and your team today.