David Dodd 10:27 a.m., June 19
With Prop 30 tax hike battle looming, SDSU wants PR person to plant upbeat stories
While Governor Jerry Brown battles to convince California voters to raise their taxes by approving Proposition 30, state higher education officials keep coming up with new ways to spend the money.
That appears to the take-home message of an online job posting by San Diego State University, which is looking to hire a "Media Relations Manager" to plant upbeat stories among the declining ranks of local journalists, as well as to spread the university’s good news to reporters around the country.
"The Media Relations Manager will lead a team of media relations staff to secure positive news coverage of SDSU and tell the university's story in new and compelling ways," says the notice.
A prime objective will be increasing "the quality and number of positive news stories about SDSU in the local and national media."
The post goes on to say that "The Media Relations Manager is responsible for, but not limited to: making proactive media relations efforts to place positive stories about SDSU in the local and national media."
And the "ideal candidate" for the job will have "demonstrated experience securing positive news coverage for a large, multi-facetted [sic] organization."
The new hire will also be charged with "writing and editing a variety of communications materials including news releases, talking points, op-eds, pitch letters, feature stories and fact sheets, that position SDSU as a top urban research university."
The repeated emphasis on puff-pieces may have something to do with last year's rocky PR start of SDSU president Elliott Hirshman, whose $400,000 salary triggered an avalanche of negative publicity across the state and, fairly or unfairly, has made him California's poster boy for overpaid state executives.
Brown himself wrote a letter attacking the salary, which was approved by the California State University board, 12-3.
While Hirshman may be getting paid the big bucks, his public relations aide can expect a bit less, between $50,000 and $53,000 a year, the notice says.
That's not the whole package, of course.
"This position is in the Management Personnel Plan (Administrator I) and earns management benefits.
"The benefits include medical, dental, vision, $100,000 life insurance plan, and the CalPERS pension plan."