July 23, 2014
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Visits to newspaper Editorial Boards are fruitful News hits, PR musings

One of the most influential organizations in any city is a newspaper’s editorial board. An editorial board typically includes the newspaper’s publisher, editor, other top level editors and veteran reporters. It’s fair to say that editorial boards carry a ton of clout in a community. Newspaper editorials, opinion essays really, often stir community conversations and debate. And during election season, ask any politician who seeks an endorsement from the newspaper just how important it is to impress an editorial board.

I had the pleasure of escorting Bill Destler, RIT’s new president, to both the Democrat and Chronicle and the Rochester Business Journal during the first week of September. It was a chance to introduce the president to the boards and allow him to present his vision for RIT. Both visits, more than an hour long each, seemed to go well as we covered a range of topics at each newspaper. President Destler mostly stuck to his theme on innovation and creativity. But there were also tough questions on how RIT would work with the City School District and work to prevent talented young people from leaving the Rochester community after graduation.

You never know what, if anything, an editorial board is going to publish until you grab your paper from the street box at 6 in the morning. I am pleased to report that we scored big points with both the Democrat and Chronicle and the Rochester Business Journal.

See for yourself:

In an editorial titled RIT’s Promise, the D&C said: “Destler spoke of embracing innovation and fresh ideas. It’s a winning direction for his school and this community.”

RBJ’s editorial was titled “A Strong Start” in its Sept. 7 edition (print only). The editorial noted Destler’s points on a student innovation center and corporate research and development at RIT. RBJ then followed up with two lengthy articles by Reporter Janice Pieterse that captured the hour-long interview (print editions of Sept. 7 and 14).

The editorial visits also ignited additional coverage, including:

• A D&C essay by Bill Destler and Mary Alice Price, Pittsford School Superintendent, aimed at the Class of 2020 (this year’s kindergarteners)

• An editorial trumpeting the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability: The Future is Now

• And maybe most importantly, a D&C essay that allowed President Destler to present his overall RIT vision to the Rochester community.

So President Destler is off to a great start with the editorial boards of both local newspapers. It is important to keep these connections and relationships strong.

But now the real work begins. On our next visits, typically every year or so, the editorial boards will ask for a progress report. They will ask tougher questions. The honeymoon will be over … So it will be imperative that RIT keeps the momentum going. The year ahead will indeed be busy and exciting as we continue move the university forward.

 
  1. Paul Stella
    Sep 19

    It's really impressive to see the results laid out like that, Bob. As you say, the real challenge to us will be presented in the years ahead.

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