False advertising

The office of marketing and communications at YSU is working to “clean up” the institution’s digital reputation.

“Recently, I searched YSU, and I saw a headline that said, ‘Woman ODs in bathroom at Taco Bell by YSU.’ I don’t see why YSU was in the headline since the university had nothing to do with it,” said Mark Van Tilburg, executive director of marketing and communications. “If you’re just reading headlines, how is that going to look for someone searching the university?”

Whether the public relations people like it or not, the proximity and subject matter of YSU’s unnerving moments unavoidably blemish the pristine portrait the marketing campaign is trying to paint.

“You can’t market the university without the city,” Van Tilburg said.

But they tell only half of the story.

Youngstown carries with it plenty of negative and unappealing traits, which aren’t adequately mentioned to prospective students.

Instead, potential Penguins are sold a skewed image of a concrete heaven smack-dab in the middle of a vibrant, reemerging metropolitan area.

Pay no mind to the allegations of hazing or frat party shooting; those weren’t on YSU’s campus anyway.

Marketing efforts are, understandably, intended to highlight the best aspects of the good being sold. In YSU’s case, there’s plenty.

Yet, at the same time, actively trying to boost public perception through distortion and false advertising is one step short of propaganda.

Students shouldn’t be fed an illusion, then suffer a major letdown when arriving to a rusty old steel town with one of the nation’s highest poverty levels and the constant threat of violent crime.

Praise is in order for the effort, but the methods are dubious. 

Share this: