NAME: Vince Sollitto
Vice president of media relations and external affairs for the California
Chamber of Commerce
Capitol Weekly: We understand that in March you became the chamber’s chief
liaison to the media. What does your new job entail?
Vince Sollitto: My job at the chamber is to serve as a spokesman, which
means representing employer interests throughout California as well as
helping the media cover the issues of the day–making sure they have the
California business point of view. The chamber has two main goals: one is to
provide service to our members–helping them comply with the regulatory
structure within California. The other side is advocacy, which helps to
modify or improve the regulatory structure within California. I kind of joke
that my job is to try to provide them with the air cover for that, to try
and help shape the public opinion and public perception of the issues that
California business faces by generating publicity or partaking in general
CW: What is the most challenging aspect of working with the press?
VS: Reporters are constrained by the number of words or seconds in their
story. They are confined by the number of minutes they have with which to
produce it and by the amount of space they have to write it in–these are
some impediments to good public policy journalism. Because unlike like
sports, where the score is 90 percent of what matters, or like the weather
where it’s either 90 degrees or 100 degrees, public-policy journalism
requires not only explaining both sides, but showing why the issue is
important or why people should care. My job is making sure the press knows
how business views the issue and why the workers they employ and consumers
who buy their products should care as well. Getting these points across is
CW: You have a long history working in the communications field, from your
beginnings in Washington, D.C., to your work for the company PayPal and most
recently to your involvement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign.
What has attracted you to politics and public relations?
VS: As a kid, the two things that always fascinated me were politics and the
media. I’m interested in politics because government has the power to change
your life for good or ill; it can provide services or it can take away
property. So government is a very powerful organism and the fact that is has
the potential to do harm or good with that power has always interested me.
And the media in a democracy serves as the medium through which government
derives its power. In a democracy, the people control the government and
they get their information about how to control the government from the
media. So if you’re interested in politics, I think you have to be
inherently interested in the media. And that’s where those two meshed for
me. So I’ve found that I’ve always been involved with the media,
communications and public relations.
CW: What are some of your hobbies?
VS: My wife and I really like Sacramento. We have a home in Land Park that
we love. As anybody who knows us would attest, we are complete and utter
wine nuts, particularly California wine. My wife and I honeymooned in
California and we drove Highway 1 from Malibu to the wine country. I think
it’s my wife’s favorite place on earth. We like to joke that our hobbies are
eating and drinking–surveying the restaurant scene in Sacramento and
visiting the wine country. I would say food, wine, golf, skiing and the San
Francisco Giants and the Oakland Raiders are probably our hobbies.
CW: Do you have any favorite varietals?
VS: I think the problem is that we don’t. We love all sorts of varietals.
It’s a fascinating industry and one I hope to be involved in someday. Our
dream has been to get rich, go buy a winery and spend the rest of our lives
slowly losing money on it.