SBD/November 8, 2013/Colleges

Univ. Of Maryland Admits Paying $3,000 To PR Firm During Debate Over Big Ten Move

The Univ. of Maryland on Thursday said that it "paid $3,000 to a social media firm last year and directed it to correct any 'inaccuracies' appearing on websites during the initially stormy debate over the school's decision to join the Big Ten Conference," according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. The school "wanted to monitor the tone and provide any needed 'corrections or clarifications as quickly as possible.'" The media and PR campaign was launched "after anticipating an unfavorable reaction to the Big Ten move among fans." UM Assistant VP/Marketing & Communications Brian Ullmann as the debate on the issue was beginning in '12 sent an e-mail to Deputy AD Nathan Pine "saying that comments on message boards were skewing 'heavily negative' against the Big Ten move." Ullmann wrote in the e-mail, "Several of us placed comments on boards and media sites last night to help balance it out." Ullmann yesterday when asked about the e-mail said that he "remembers a few Maryland staff members posting 'corrections' last year in online comments sections." The school at the time "sent out daily posts to athletic administrators and others summarizing media and fan leanings." Ullmann said that he "does not recall what screen names were used by staff members in posts." But he added that whatever names were used, "'there was no attempt to mislead' and no widespread posting as part of Maryland's campaign" (Baltimore SUN, 11/8).
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