All Articles

Joseph Elstner ’66

Author: perkinsk

Joseph Elstner '66
Joseph Elstner ’66

Class: 1966; Technical Journalism

Then: TKE (member); *Iowa State Daily* (sports editor); *Ethos magazine* (staff writer)

Now: Retired from Economic Education and Media Relations, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

In his own words: I went on to the University of Iowa, getting an MA in journalism in 1968.

After a stint as a Navy officer, I started a 38-year PR career at Northwestern Bell in Des Moines in 1970. Doing media and community relations and employee communications, I took part in several groundbreaking developments — a series of rate cases (there had been none for many years), affirmative action/EEO, new services through computerized call-handling, and the breakup of the former Bell System into the seven “Baby Bells.” Throughout much of this time I also acted as company spokesman.

A year after the Bell breakup, my family and I moved to St. Louis, MO, in 1985, where I represented Southwestern Bell in community and media relations, again acting as spokesman to the news media.  Taking early retirement there, I started a new career at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. I had charge of economic education and media relations, again acting as spokesperson. A big part of the job was acting directly as the Bank president’s PR representative. Fed bank presidents are key influencers of the nation’s economy and vote on interest rates, so my job featured risk and reward. I set up numerous press conferences after speeches as well as many one-on-one interviews. All told throughout my career, I took part in upwards of 5,000 media interviews and press conferences. I left “the Fed” in 2008 and have been retired since then.

I credit ISU professors Rod Fox, Bill Kunerth, Jim Schwartz and others for emphasizing clear, accurate, credible communication. They set me up solidly for a satisfying career.