Edelman, the world’s largest Public Relations firm billed The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a total of $1,695,656 for crisis PR work done in 2014 for work surrounding a major academic scandal.
The scandal involved lawsuits, and a continuing NCAA investigation as a result of fake classes, and nearly 20 years of students – including many athletes – receiving what has been referred to by the Associated Press as “artificially high grades.”
In response to a public records request by The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill released all of their various bills related to the scandal, revealing that they spent over $10 million on outside legal and public relations help related to this scandal.
Edelman PR to Help with UNC Chapel Hill with Crisis Public Relations Services
Claiming transparency, the school posted detailed information on the Carolina Commitment website which detailed the assignment surrounding Edelman as being for “..strategic public relations advice and services provided over seven months, between June 2014 and December 2014, that included, but were not limited to, academic irregularities and related issues.”
The document continued “The agency helped staff the University’s communications office – which historically had been severely under-resourced compared with peer campuses – and supported the management of media relations, content creation (digital, social media and websites), strategic services (such as video production), internal communications, and other related areas.
The school’s website explains that Edelman “…currently provides limited services at a greatly reduced level.” They noted that hiring firms is more cost effective than hiring permanent staff.
Additional work which was performed by a PR firm mentioned Capstrat Inc. for work performed for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, Kenan-Flagler Business School, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, as well as the UNC Health Care System.
At Everything-PR News we commend the University for setting up the website. Transparency should be commended.
As they note, “The University is publishing cost figures and context for outside legal representation and public relations support provided by four firms over more than two years to help address the past academic irregularities.The University is posting information on the Carolina Commitment website in conjunction with responding to a public records request from The News & Observer seeking “legal/public relations bills for the UNC scandal.”