Say it ain’t so Sac State!

Oh no! It’s contagious, looks like Sacramento State has fallen victim to the ‘let’s announce a PR blitz’ virus that affected the Maloofs last month.

The money quote in the article, “With Elmets’ help, the president says he hopes now to turn public attention away from the controversy and toward the university’s plans for growth and positive change.”

Well, you’ve gotten the attention off of dead animals, the story is $275 an hour. Dude….I’ve got to raise my rates. Also, if you read the article, the contract isn’t even done yet.

Bonus points for the article including the term, “bushbabies.”

CSUS girds up for PR offensive

A $275-an-hour media consultant is hired to help refurbish the school’s image.

By Dorothy Korber – Bee Staff Writer

Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bruised by a public relations disaster last month, Sacramento State administrators have brought in media consultant Doug Elmets, a well-known local publicist who has handled such hot issues as Indian gaming and the Kings’ proposed downtown arena — and who routinely charges $275 an hour.

Elmets will be paid by University Enterprises Inc., a nonprofit auxiliary of Sacramento State that gets its revenue from campus-related businesses. The details of the contract have not been worked out, but Elmets said campus officials are aware of his $275-an-hour fee.

Elmets was called in after a front-page Bee story on Sept. 18 documented the help university President Alexander Gonzalez gave a local couple in their quest to hunt wild game in Tanzania.

Gonzalez wrote two letters on their behalf, asking that Tanzanian officials allow Paul and Renee Snider to hunt animals that one day would become specimens in a proposed natural history museum on campus. The couple had discussed donating $2.4 million toward the museum effort, as well as their menagerie of mounted specimens collected in hunts around the world.

The letters listed dozens of animals the Sniders proposed to hunt, ranging from hyenas to egrets to lesser bushbabies. Five species are on an international endangered list maintained by the World Conservation Union.

Plans for the museum were scrapped last summer amid faculty dissent.

And in response to The Bee’s stories about the episode, Gonzalez publicly stated he regrets signing the letters.

With Elmets’ help, the president says he hopes now to turn public attention away from the controversy and toward the university’s plans for growth and positive change.

“We don’t do a good job of telling our own story,” Gonzalez said in an interview Tuesday. “I think there’s a tendency to focus on things that are negative rather than positive — that’s part of the whole sociology of media. Now I hope (Elmets) will help the university tell its story. That’s what I’d like to see.”

Elmets said he was approached on Sept. 18 — the day the hunting story broke — by Carole Hayashino, vice president for university advancement. Elmets spoke to Gonzalez later.

“There are bumps in the road, and this situation is one of those bumps,” Elmets said Tuesday. “President Gonzalez and the university will get through this and learn from it. I’m there to help them do that.”

Elmets said his initial advice to Gonzalez — to be upfront and take responsibility — was given for free. Since then, the consultant’s relationship with the university has expanded.

“It’s still being worked out, but my mission is much broader than President Gonzalez and this one issue,” Elmets said. “I do think this situation created the opportunity for the president and his team to realize that some additional, objective, professional help would be useful.”

Elmets said he would be an independent voice speaking directly to Gonzalez but would coordinate with other people on the president’s team.

Hayashino said she also approached Elmets because of the imminent departure of Frank Whitlatch, the university’s head of public affairs.

“Doug was brought on during this period of transition to help with a number of projects,” she said.

Elmets will not be paid from taxpayer-supported state funds, stressed Matthew Altier, executive director of University Enterprises, the campus’s nonprofit auxiliary.

The group’s revenues come from campus-related enterprises such as retail stores, restaurants, and research grants and contracts.

“I hired him last week,” Altier said. “We want him to help with the big-picture perspective. We are doing so many big, history-making things — we need to get the word out about them.”


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