Brand Power of Print — Getting The Message Right
When a sex scandal rocked Pennsylvania State University last fall, the school faced a public relations dilemma: pretend that it didn’t happen, or confront the crisis head-on.
In its alumni magazine The Penn Stater, the university took the high road.
The magazine’s art director, Carole Otypka, boldly replaced the traditional color cover with a field of somber grey. Instead of stretching proudly across the masthead, the letters making up the magazine’s title lie in a jumbled heap. Tiny white type declares: “Our Darkest Days.”
The effect is visceral—a punch in the gut. The cover forces the reader to put down the rest of their mail and pay attention to the magazine—even if they don’t even want to think about the ugly crisis that spawned it.
• Collapse: How Could This Happen?
• Darkness: Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
• Identity: Everything We Thought We Know
• Legacy: What Joe Paterno Leaves Behind
• Responsibility: On Pride, and Going Forward
The editors prepared readers for the radical departure from standard practice by posting a pre-publication announcement on the magazine’s blog and inviting reader comments.
This remarkable publication shows what all companies strive to do in their communications pieces—tie core values to real actions. Midtown does not take a stance on the underlying issue that caused this public relations crisis and did not print the magazine. But we did want to share with you an example of the power of print. By taking a courageous step, The Penn Stater showed the world that it can face reality head-on — and its impact only could have worked through print.