Rick Rodriguez Piña, the veteran governmental consultant, says he’s planning to dive into the media space by launching the first digital media platform of its kind for news and information through a series of podcasts and a newsletter focused around issues affecting Florida’s K-12 school districts.
Dubbed the “Pineapple Report,” the publication aims to pull on Rodriguez Piña’s more than three decades of experience in the education realm. The first edition is scheduled to drop in the coming weeks.
Rodriguez Piña has been around the world of politics since 1986 when he did lobbying work while attending Florida State University. After graduation, he worked with the Chamber of Commerce in Hialeah, The Beacon Council, and then the Florida Department of Commerce.
In 1995 Rodriguez Piña went on to start Rodriguez Piña & Associates, where he lobbied out of Tallahassee for organizations such as AT&T, University of Miami, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools for nearly 20 years.
After pulling out of the full-time capitol lobbying game, Rodriguez Piña began doing his consulting work based out of South Florida with a focus on Florida K-12 school districts.
Early on, he pushed Miami-Dade Schools to adopt SAP Public Services to provide the district’s software and human resource system. He also helped orchestrate the behind-the-scenes efforts for Alberto Carvalho to become Superintendent, someone he had met many years before while representing the school district in Tallahassee.
Those efforts led Rodriguez Piña to refocus the firm’s direction exclusively on the K‑12 and local school boards market. “Our client base, made up of companies wanting to do business with school districts throughout Florida, began to grow exponentially.”
But Rodriguez Piña says his involvement in the K-12 space led him to realize that there is a fragmentation of knowledge and significant information and communication gaps between the different public and private entities within the school board ecosystem.
“There’s a void. There are these silos that are identifiable by associations. What does that mean? You have a superintendent association. You have a Florida School Board and a Florida Administrators Association. You have unions,” Rodriguez Piña said.
“I see where these different silos are, and they don’t necessarily communicate with one another and share what they are doing and their best practices and policies.”
That’s the gap Rodriguez Piña seeks to fill with his digital news media platform oriented to combining news and information and delivering it through a podcast and a digital newsletter as Florida’s only source for all K-12 news.
“The Pineapple Report is really a way to aggregate information from these individual sources of news and data,” he said.
“I want to bring technology to this space and make it easier for people in the public and private K-12 space to access information using one digital platform. Access to the Pineapple report’s podcast and newsletter will accomplish this.”
The Pineapple Report publication will continue a trend in media of targeted newsletters aimed at informing readers of all the goings-on in a particular sphere.
In the world of national politics, Axios has its morning newsletter. Here at Florida Politics, readers can sign up for Sunburn for a full recap of Sunshine State Politics or more targeted publications such as Delegation, 60 Days, and Takeaways from Tallahassee. In the sports and pop culture world, ESPN and The Ringer also offer their own newsletters rounding up their most popular posts for readers.
The first edition of the Pineapple Report is slated to be released early or mid-March. Rodriguez Piña will start by bundling about five to seven articles every other week, but he isn’t limiting himself to that release schedule.
“If we get great response, maybe we’ll go to every week,” Rodriguez Piña said.
But he says he’s not looking to recap every update on education. Rather, the Pineapple Report will focus on topics affecting school boards and the policies they develop, which have the greatest impact on children.
“The uniqueness of it comes from my filtering of education, politics, and a bunch of other factors acquired over 30 years that I would use to determine what is relevant and has value,” Rodriguez Piña stated.
On top of the roundup of relevant news stories, Rodriguez Piña also aims to feature a podcast with interviews with people relevant in the industry across the political spectrum. Anticipated interviews may include the commissioner of education, superintendents, school board members, and union leadership, among others. The podcast will give people access to hearing and learning current information in your car, your phone, and on the go.
Because of the ever-evolving educational landscape in the state, Rodriguez Piña sees a need for a go-to source to bring together and highlight information that affect school districts.
But whatever one’s opinions might be on those and other issues, he says he’s not looking to take sides in the at-times heated political battles.
“I want to be just a source of credible and reliable news and information,” Rodriguez Piña added.
“Whether you think it’s Republican or Democrat or Independent, that’s your interpretation. I’m not putting my political spin on it. I just want to bring technology into this space through a digital platform so people can easily access news and information from the devices and on the go.”