When Francis “Scotty” Anderson visited San Jose State in fall 2019, he was amazed by the sheer size of the introduction to public relations class. A retired entrepreneur and political strategist, Anderson, ’72 Public Relations, was visiting his alma mater to tour the newly christened Strategic Media Lab, which he funded. He wasn’t expecting to find 60 aspiring PR professionals eager to learn tricks of the trade.
“When I walked into the classroom, the energy was terrific,” says Anderson. “My main message to the students was, you can be whoever you want to be. You can be in public relations, advertising, marketing—you can own a business. Public relations teaches you different ways to communicate. What you can do is boundless.”
Encouraged by the students’ enthusiasm, Anderson shared how San Jose State prepared him to serve as field director for Congressman Charles Gubser in San Jose while he was still a student. Originally from Pepeekeo, Hawaii, Anderson served in the Air Force before transferring to San Jose State, where he discovered a knack for PR. He went on to work on political campaigns, in marketing and sales, and later founded manufacturing representative agencies before semi-retiring in 2015. Throughout his career, he volunteered his PR skills on neighborhood, statewide and national initiatives—and he’s not done yet.
Anderson chairs Hawaii’s Elections Commission, where he lobbied for three years to make all mail-in voting a reality for all statewide elections. The initiative passed and was signed into law in April 2019. Anderson believes that this will democratize access to voting, especially in rural areas, and save the state upwards of $800,000 per election cycle by not having to staff or equip voting polls.
“A lot of the success I’ve had in life is because of San Jose State and the education I got there.”
“In 2018, we had a huge volcanic eruption on the island of Hawaii,” Anderson says. “It was during the midterm election. The roads were cut off for people driving to their polling stations. How were they going to vote? It became a big problem, and helped solidify our case to the state legislature.”
Anderson believes his education at San Jose State armed him with the communication skills needed to make change. He hopes current and future Spartans will take advantage of the Strategic Media Lab to fine-tune their PR skills and make an impact.
“I think if you have the time, you should always get involved in your community in some way,” says Anderson. “Make the time. It counts.”