PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: A (PR PERFECT) to Princeton University for its smooth handling of a potentially deadly meningitis outbreak on its New Jersey campus. It emerged this week that seven students have contracted an unusual strain of bacterial meningitis since March. But the frightening fact was paired with the university’s announcement that it was already in discussions with federal authorities to offer a vaccine not yet approved in the US. The facts were clearly communicated (all students but one out of the hospital, vaccine to be available in December, campus awareness campaign underway), FAQ’s posted online and questions referred to government health officials. The university emanated calm, preparedness and control.
PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Ryan Jake Lambourn, whose video game allows players to reenact last year’s school shooting in Connecticut where 20 children and six teachers died. Lambourn, an American expat thought to be living in Australia, said he created the game to spur pro-gun control action in the US. Australia enacted sweeping gun control after a 1996 mass shooting, but in America, “All these massacres don’t seeem to have had any similar effect on regulation,” Lambourn told the press. That hardly soothed families of Sandy Hook victims, one of whom called the game “absolutely disgusting.” The game does in fact emphasize safeguards that could have prevented the massacre. As a result, Lambourn’s first-person shooter won no props from gun lovers, either.
THE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Alex Rodriguez, the embattled baseball player who is facing a major league suspension for allegedly taking performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez has been in hearings this week on the charges brought against him by MLB commissioner Bud Selig. When the 79-year-old Selig sent someone else to the trial in his place, Rodriguez flew into a rage, punching a wall, pounding his fists on a table, cursing and finally leaving. He then went on a radio show to deny taking the drugs. Yep, a grandstanding fury is certainly the way to convince people of that.