Yesterday, Penn State University announced that it had hired two firms — Edelman and La Torre Communications, a Harrisburg, PA-based firm — to aid in continuing transparency efforts. According to La Torre founder David La Torre, a primary goal of the work will be “improving relations with local and state media.”
Since news broke in November of child sex abuse allegations against one of the University’s former assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, it has been in the media spotlight.
“We’ve been given an overarching directive from the University,” La Torre told us in a phone call this morning. “We’ll be dealing with any information from the University related to substantive issues the University is facing.” Those issues, La Torre continued, “need to be relayed to the community in a timely manner.”
The community includes everyone from parents and faculty, to students and other members of the public.
Sara Ganim and members of the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, PA were recently awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the scandal. When questioned how relations with the local media will differ in light of this win, La Torre declined to “dive into all the specifics of the past” but praised the school for taking steps to do what has to be done.
“To the University’s credit, it knows that it has to do a better job of communicating with the community. That’s why it’s all the more important that we get to work,” he said.
With that in mind, we asked about the story we highlighted yesterday, in which a University spokesperson declined to comment on the dismissal of another school official related to the scandal. La Torre said that personnel issues are “off limits” for legal reasons.
La Torre Communications is a PR and public affairs firm that was founded in 2005. La Torre says the firm has worked with organizations including nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies over the years. Specialties include crisis communications, media strategy, and issues management. The firm provides a list of clients here.
The school is paying both firms $208,000 per month on a 12-month contract, or $2.5 million. According to The Morning Call, Penn State has already paid $7.6 million to “at least 12 other firms” for comms and legal work.