Editorial: Hiring of PR consultant example of bad press

City College’s recent hiring of a public relations consultant caused controversy.

Challengers for the Board of Trustees and the executive board of the Instructors’ Association have both accused the school of continued misuse of general fund money.

Superintendent-President Andreea Serban defends the move, claiming the hire of local fundraising consultant Mary Rose was to create “a better communication plan.” Rose herself explained the school had hoped to “make the operation more efficient.”

But ironically, Rose’s hiring wound up creating an even worse PR mess for the college.

To her credit, Serban saw a problem and tried to fix it. If those currently working on the school’s public image hadn’t adequately fulfilled their duties, Rose is a sensible hire. Her past work for the school, during Measure V’s time on the ballot, makes her a logical fall-back plan.

However, the only current trace of Rose’s work is a release regarding financial aid for continuing education students.

That task doesn’t isn’t terribly difficult. Any experienced public relations student should be able to take that on.

As the Instructors’ Association pointed out in a campus wide email, the school employs its own public relations staff. Also we have a communication department, with both full and part time staff.

If those who work in these areas were too inept to write a simple release, then the issues for City College run deeper than simply lacking PR savvy.

To make matters worse, the cost seems rather outrageous in itself. City College spent $24,000 of general fund money to support the move.

While only $6,000 has been paid to Rose so far, her $200 per hour rate gives City College another 90 hours of work before the dedicated funds dry up.

Regardless of cuts that have been reinstated, this $24,000 could easily have been spent on a number of things to benefit students, rather than City College’s need for “better alignment.”

While Serban attests Rose hasn’t been involved in the trustee’s campaign, the timing of the hire has raised suspicion among faculty.

During recent trustee forums, the incumbents all read from prepared notes with strikingly similar talking points.

Something as clear as similar answers stands to raise questions, especially when a public relations consultant with a campaign history is on your payroll.

Serban may have had a plan to better the school and assist a weakness, but they certainly disproved the saying “no press is bad press.”

And surely they’re not getting the bang for their $24,000 bucks.