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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."

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Visduh Sept. 18, 2012 @ 10:18 a.m.

Yes, they have to "position SDSU as a top urban research university." Never let the reality that it isn't top and it isn't much of a research campus get in the way of a good story. While it may be the most research oriented campus of all the many CSU campuses, that doesn't put it in the upper ranks. And for those seeking an education, it can be a detriment because faculty attention and energy are channeled toward research grants and the actual field or laboratory work. This report regards just one of many efforts being undertaken by those dependent upon state revenue to pass the misguided and sure-to-be unproductive tax boost.

Matt points out the fact that it is state money that will pay for this mouthpiece to churn out "happy face" reports and plant them with the local media.


Burwell Sept. 18, 2012 @ 9:58 p.m.

The state budget crisis is a little long in the tooth to find PR staff still on the state payroll. All PR positions should have been cut three years ago when the bottom dropped out of state finances. It appears that there's still a lot of fat to be trimmed from the SDSU budget. The PR staff should be fired and the money diverted to educational purposes. After all SDSU is a university. Spending limited tax dollars on bloat like this is insane.


dwbat Dec. 18, 2012 @ 3:06 p.m.

Elliott Hirshman should pay the salary of the PR person out of HIS paycheck. After all, he will benefit most from the flackery. And he won't miss the 50 grand that much.


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