The Reality of Communication with Steve Bodnar
by Juan Lachapelle | published Feb. 24th, 2014
Recent RIT alumnus Steve Bodnar presented in the Xerox auditorium on February 12. He received his undergraduate degree in English/Journalism from the University of New Hampshire and came to RIT after working for a few years in his field to gain a master’s degree in Communication & Media Technologies in 2012. The purpose of his presentation was to talk about his experience doing public relations for non-profit or low-profit. He also talked about the change in expectations communications jobs have undergone since his time as an undergraduate and how the current generation of communications students can adapt.
Currently, Bodnar is the communications coordinator at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He oversees anything related to communication. This includes press releases, articles for the alumni magazine, managing student writers for the magazine and overseeing all social media accounts for the school. He described himself as being in the center of the action since he has some direction over things like photography, web design and graphic design. For this kind of job, he said that students need to be adept at recognizing opportunities to tell your company’s story and knowing colleagues that can tell that story better.
While at RIT, one of his major projects was working on the Frans Wildenhain exhibit, which showcases Wildenhain’s collection of over 150 pieces of midcentury ceramics. He was in charge of promoting the exhibit to not only the RIT community but outside parties. Considering the very niche type of art, he had some difficulties with getting its name out there. “We have a ceramics art exhibit, how do you get a business publication to be interested in that?” said Bodnar. Knowing how to angle something so that it can fit multiple audiences is what helped him find a way to get people interested in a topic they may not have known about.
After he graduated from the University of New Hampshire, Bodnar found himself learning new sets of skills beyond writing and reporing due to the changing landscape of print media. He saw there was a larger skillset demanded than he had anticipated. “I started in positions that I thought would be reporting and writing,” said Bodnar. “I soon found myself doing copyediting, page designing and photography.” Communications professionals are now expected to have a varied set of talents beyond their core skills.
As an undergraduate, Bodnar said his classes focused on core journalism, English and basic math and sciences. Today, the Communications program at RIT has the average student taking classes involved in design, coding, social media and photography in addition to their core classes. Regardless, Bodnard recommended that students be curious and learn about these skills on their own or with help from someone in the field. “Using the research and communication skills that you are developing here, use those kinds of skills to find in-rows into things you are interested in,” said Bodnar.
Editors Note: Some of the language in this article has been changed post-publication to better reflect what Bodnar had stated about his experience working in public relations.