As director of communications from 2010–2018, Steffens oversaw the conversations with and among the various constituents and audiences of RJI. This included RJI’s resource rich website, rjionline.org; content and conversations within and around events that served industry professionals and the citizens they serve; the sharing of robust industry research and insights on how best to utilize the information; and connecting people, ideas and opportunities through his years of serial networking.
Brian Steffens is a veteran communicator with executive-level experience in newspapers, magazines, digital media, public relations and news association management. For more than four decades, he’s led change and innovation in photojournalism, color, typography, design, packaging and editing, information graphics, new media/digital initiatives, new product development and new business models.
Steffens was previously executive director of the National Newspaper Association (NNA), an industry organization of 2,000 newspapers that he led for eight years. Earlier at the Missouri School of Journalism, Steffens was associate director of the New Directions for News (NDN), a leading industry think tank.
At NNA Steffens kick-started digital offerings including two overhauls of its website, creation of an online-accessible best practices database, members-helping-members forums, industry blogs, and a weekly e-mail e-newsletter targeted for community newspaper management.
Earlier Steffens was senior vice president and editor of the Editor & Publisher Company, where he repositioned the magazine and its website. He had previously served as editor of Quill magazine, published by the Society of Professional Journalists. Steffens worked for more than two decades in the newspaper industry, including as manager of strategic partnerships for the San Francisco Examiner and held leadership positions at the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union, Orange County (Calif.) Register, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Miami Herald and Detroit News.
Steffens served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Giles Communications of Westchester, N.Y., a leading public relations firm serving the music and technology industries. Clients included Yamaha and Fujitsu Networking, and he helped develop business strategies and marketing initiatives for the online launches of CustomDisc and Platinum Jack. Over the years, he has worked with several tech start-ups, including serving as senior vice president and editor-in-chief of NetClearly; and as an advisor for Zinio, Newsstand, FindtheDot/Intellidot and Chasing Savings.
Steffens has been keynote speaker, conducted workshops or training, or consulted with journalists and publishers in Ethiopia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Antigua, Dominica, Barbados, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland and France.
He has been a guest lecturer at San Francisco State University; Universidad Astral in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ohio University in Athens, Ohio; Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; University of Dayton; Miami University at Oxford, Ohio; California State University at Long Beach; California State University at Fullerton; and Colorado State University at Ft. Collins.
Steffens has worked with the American Press Institute, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Society of Professional Journalists, Society for News Design, National Press Photographers Association, Freedom Forum and its First Amendment Center, Field Newspaper Syndicate and the Kettering Foundation.
He has judged the international Society for News Design competition and the national Sigma Delta Chi Awards as well as numerous specialty media contests.