Director of Communications
Director of Books Publishing
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2007
Washington, D.C.—When Indiana University fired legendary basketball coach Bob Knight, the institution faced one of its toughest challenges: how to manage the explosive publicity and minimize any negative impact the firing might have on the university.
Christopher Simpson, author of the newly released “Weathering the Storm: Protecting Your Brand in the Worst of Times” by CASE Books, was Indiana University’s public relations chief at the time. He remembers working quickly to move the conversation from “Why did you fire Knight?” to “Who will replace Knight?” as a way to push the public’s attention away from the firing and toward the future of IU.
Simpson details the success of this strategy as well as other effective solutions to real-life crises in his book which provides step-by-step guidance on how institutions can build a solid crisis communications plan that will protect them and their brand during tough times.
In “Weathering the Storm,” Simpson includes first-hand accounts of the 1999 Texas A&M bonfire tragedy, the rise and fall of former University of South Carolina President James B. Holderman, and the 2002 athletic scandal and fallout at the University of Colorado system. He also walks the reader through lessons learned from other crises—from the terrorist attack on Sept. 11 to the Exxon Valdez and Martha Stewart debacles—detailing what worked and what didn’t.
“On any given day, you are ripe targets for a full-blown crisis,” Simpson writes in his new book. “And when crises happen, you scramble, play catch up, and too often, don’t get a seat at the senior staff table when lawyers blossom like kudzu and PR decisions are made well outside the court of public opinion.”
About the author
Christopher Simpson is CEO and partner of SimpsonScarborough, a marketing and crisis consulting firm. He is a nationally recognized leader in crisis communications, media relations and integrated marketing for higher education institutions and nonprofits. A former newspaper reporter, Simpson served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond and has worked as the senior administrator for media and marketing at the University of South Carolina, the University of Oregon and Indiana University.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.
CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE América Latina, 2011).
Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,670 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in more than 80 countries around the globe. This makes CASE one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational associations in terms of institutional membership. CASE serves nearly 81,000 advancement practitioners on the staffs of its member institutions and has more than 17,000 professional members on its roster.
To fulfill their missions and to meet both individual and societal needs, colleges, universities and independent schools rely on—and therefore must foster—the good will, active involvement, informed advocacy and enduring support of alumni, donors, prospective students, parents, government officials, community leaders, corporate executives, foundation officers and other external constituencies.
CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with all of these constituencies by providing relevant research, supporting growth in the profession and fostering support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.