PR crises can arise from the most obscure details — so sweat the little stuff…even the bathrooms!

A little-known feature of our School’s fabulous new home, Franklin Hall, is the view from the restrooms. For example, when nature calls you to the 3rd-floor men’s room, you’re treated to an expansive view of the oak grove on front campus while you do your stand up routine. It’s awesome.

franklinjohn.jpgAt first, I thought it the work of architectural genius. I mean, how many people have a whizzer with a view? Then I learned that the mirror-finish windows only appear to be mirrored — an illusion created by the morning sun. In fact, on overcast mornings and dark nights, the folks outside can sometimes see inside.

As a blogger, I’m already a bit of an exhibitionist. It’s part of the job description. But I gotta draw the line when it comes to putting one’s bladder functions on public display.

So the veteran PR man in me decided to do some research. As I snooped around, I learned that all the johns on floors 1, 2 and 3 — men’s and women’s — are “exposed” to some degree to the scrutiny of outsiders. I also learned this exposure resulted from a missed detail — someone in the architect’s office forgetting to order the blinds. Hey, it’s a $21-million project with thousands of details. You’re gonna miss a few, right?

While I expect someone will fix this problem by next week, I can’t resist extracting a PR lesson from the case — along with a little bathroom humor. So let’s play “worst case scenario.” What if a peeping Tom with a telephoto lens decides to capture some potty action, then post it online? What if still photos wind up in student email correspondence, or worse, on someone’s MySpace page?

It’s important that all students of PR understand the danger of the missed detail. Before you know it, a simple oversight becomes a headline-generating snafu. That’s how it works in today’s Web 2.0 world. Today you’re a little-known instructor in Kent, Ohio. Tomorrow you’re the Peeing Professor of YouTube.

Go ahead. Laugh. But crazier stuff has grabbed headlines in this world, and lawyers have filed 7-figure lawsuits over less. PR professionals, as guardians of organizational reputation, must keep a sharp eye peeled for such risks. And we must pound our fists if necessary to bring about remedies.

doorsign.jpgA simple solution for Franklin Hall is to tape butcher paper to the lower windows until the blinds arrive. But instead, all we’ve done so far is affix these signs to the restroom doors, warning us that we’re on display.

So until we find a way to block your view, kindly divert your gaze when you stroll by Franklin, OK? There’s a lot of stuff going on in there you really don’t want to see.

But seriously folks…

Franklin Hall is the best JMC facility in the region, and it’s sure to become a magnet for students interested in journalism, PR, advertising and electronic media. It has student-friendly classrooms and technology that will make the geekiest of geeks salivate. And need I tell you that our new home is also staffed by the most competent and passionate faculty you’ll find anywhere? Plus one smart-ass blogger.

We’ll fix the restroom visibility problem in a few days. So come on by and check out the view. It’s awesome.

6 Responses to PR crises can arise from the most obscure details — so sweat the little stuff…even the bathrooms!

  1. Stacy Wessels says:

    Interesting to see there’s already a peeping tom taking pictures in the bathroom. I’m not sure I even want to know who took your picture. Who the heck takes a camera into the bathroom? 😉

  2. Bill Sledzik says:

    We go where we must in pursuit of truth — even to the bathroom.

  3. Tim Roberts says:

    I noticed it on the tour, Bill, and thought it was some kind of new-fangled convergence thing. I mean, it is a Mass Communications building after all! I’m sure the architect simply was making a statement about freedom of expression.

    P,.S. I bet you’ll see worse coming from the frat house on the other side of the building!

  4. You wanted transparency? Well, you got it!!!

    Thank you, thank you. Try the veal…

  5. Colin Morris says:

    I too have been amused by the Franklin windows, especially from the bathrooms. The men’s room next to our class on the 4th floor has windows that are level with part of the roof. I’ve often wondered what would happen if workers were patching a leak there while I was taking one…

    I also noticed while trying to escape class that those windows open almost far enough for a scrawny guy like myself to wiggle on out. No screens, at least not on the 4th floor where there’s no where to fall.

  6. Danielle DeHart says:

    This blog just made my day. I love the picture. I can’t stop laughing!

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