LANSING, MI: Truscott Rossman’s three months of PR work for Michigan State University has ended after the college did not renew the firm's contract.
John Truscott, agency president and principal, will continue to counsel university president John Engler on an as-needed basis, according to the Lansing State Journal. Truscott was communications director and press secretary for Engler while he was governor of Michigan.
Engler was named MSU’s president after his predecessor, Lou Anna Simon, resigned as a result of the Larry Nassar scandal. Nassar, a doctor formerly affiliated with the school, was convicted of assaulting hundreds of his former patients.
"Part of what we wanted to do, there was a lot of turnover, a lot of changes, we wanted to get a good permanent team in place," Truscott said.
He noted that, Emily Gerkin Guerrant, who joined MSU in March 2018 as VP and university spokesperson, is leading that charge now.
"I’ve known [Guerrant] for years, she’s doing a great job under difficult circumstances," said Truscott. "But things are starting to calm down and get to a more reasonable level. We handed off a thorough communications plan and they’re moving forward and implementing."
Michigan State’s external communications support has changed several times since the scandal began. It first worked with San Francisco-based Blue Moon Consulting, then retained Weber Shandwick through its external counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Weber notified the university in February that it was resigning the account, but its $500,000 fee drew media attention. Truscott Rossman was paid $84,358 through the end of April, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The school also shuffled in-house comms staffers. It switched out Jason Cody, senior media communications manager, for Kent Cassella, associate VP of comms and senior PR strategist. Cassella later resigned. MSU then hired Kathleen Wilbur as EVP for government and external relations and Emily Gerkin Guerrant as VP and university spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Truscott Rossman hired the former editor and publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, Ron Fournier, as president. He is filling in for outgoing CEO Kelly Rossman-McKinney as she makes a state senate run.