The article “Penn State sees decline in royalties from merchandise” of Wednesday is missing a very important point, one that Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers conspicuously failed to mention.
While merchandise sales may have decreased, it was Penn State’s decision, one of many knee-jerk reactions, to distance itself from Joe Paterno in every facet, including the licensing and sales of the highly-popular Paterno merchandise. All of that came off the shelves, resulting in a huge loss in sales/revenue for local retailers and the university.
As has been the case since this tragedy began, public information, on its own, or through direction by its high-priced public relations firm, has failed to tell all of the facts. It’s rare they even comment.
A great deal of blame for Penn State being “mired in negative publicity from the Jerry Sandusky scandal” can be attributed to the university’s failure to get ahead of the story and handle it in a way every credible public relations/crisis communications expert knows how. People who hate Penn State never bought Nittany Lion merchandise to begin with. The story simply pushed some of the fence-sitters over the edge.
Most of us are still loyal to Penn State because we have functioning brains capable of realizing that the one who did it is in prison; that an entire university is not culpable; and all the high-priced public relations in the world can’t spin good news out of it.
The writer is a senior lecturer in Penn State’s College of Communications.