Welcome to Public Relations 101

Posted: Aug 22, 2014 12:01 AM

It takes a lot to make me angry. But one thing that will do it every time is the occasional college administrator who hides behind a university spokesperson or public relations firm. Last week, Bryan College made the serious mistake of attempting to contact me through a hired public relations firm. They made the additional error of having their public relations specialist ask me questions about the “substance” (that means accuracy) of my reporting about Bryan. To be as clear as possible, I am the reporter in this situation. That means I am the one asking the questions.

After Bryan’s public relations people contacted me, I immediately turned the tables on President Livesay and responded with a series of pointed questions. Everyone following the controversy needs to read this exchange, or lack thereof. My questions to the PR firm as well as the responses are printed below:

  • 1.How much money is Bryan paying your PR firm?

No answer.

  • 2.During the academic year 2014-2015, how much combined money will Bryan College pay President Livesay and the PR firm hired to save his presidency following the 30-2 faculty vote of no confidence?

No answer.

  • 3.Does Bryan College agree with the mission statement of Fort Bluff Camp, which reads: “Our mission is to provide an atmosphere at our camp that honors God and is conducive to making good decisions for the Lord.”

No answer.

  • 4.When Bryan College assumed administrative oversight of Fort Bluff Camp in 2010, what kinds of financial terms, if any, were negotiated between President Livesay and Naomi Crain? Were there any negotiations that involved past or future real estate transactions?

No answer.

  • 5.Did Bryan College ever pay the Crains - former owners of the Fort Bluff Camp - a $4,000 monthly consulting fee? If this were only a consulting fee why would any of these payments be listed in the budget under a line reading “interest and fees?” What is the interest?

No answer.

  • 6.Is Bryan College still paying Michael Crain and his wife $48,000 per year following Crain’s conviction for felony sexual battery? Is this “conducive to making good decisions for the Lord?” Was committing felony sexual battery against teenage attendees of Fort Bluff Camp a morally neutral decision? Is this conduct Bryan wishes to reward?

Bryan’s PR firm finally responded. In perhaps the least professional move in public relations history, their representative sent me a friend request on Facebook and started following my public posts. However, none of my questions about Bryan have been answered. Accordingly, I have given up sending questions to Bryan’s PR representatives. My remaining questions are enumerated below.

  • 7.Did Bryan pay only $30,000 salary to camp co-director Ken Turner (who has never been accused or convicted of a crime) while it was paying $48,000 to a convicted felon who was no longer running the camp? Do consultants earn more than directors? Are they given bonuses for committing felony sexual battery against teenage camp attendees?

Shortly after I composed that question, the Bryan case became eve more bizarre – as if that is possible. Their PR representative wrote saying “I am disappointed I haven¹t heard back from you. If you have time in the week ahead, I’d still welcome the opportunity to speak with you.”

In other words, Bryan’s hired PR people are now pretending that they did not receive questions #1 through #6. This is conduct to be expected of angry ex-girlfriends but not seasoned PR professionals. It doesn’t look like the Bryan PR folks Googled me before employing these childish tactics. At risk of sounding like someone’s angry ex-girlfriend, I’m disappointed.

  • 8.Was Ken Turner denied his previously accrued vacation pay when he resigned as co-director of Fort Bluff Camp?
  • 9.Is an arrest or an actual criminal conviction as a sex offender needed for an amicable break from Bryan College?
  • 10.Will Bryan College release the Fort Bluff Camp budget for the years 2010-2014 inclusive?

To be continued …