Utah: Even the Denver Post Likes Our Skiing Better

There is a fine line between being balanced and poking your advertisers in the eye. Given that Intrawest and Vail Resorts have both announced significant revenue declines and employee layoffs, I’m guessing they think this is the latter. Money quote:

“I started coming to Deer Valley in 1998,” says David Adamson. “I used to go to Colorado every year, but the snow in Utah is the best in the world, and the travel to and from L.A. is so easy.”

Annual ‘State of PR’ Report Reflects Economy

The Council of PR Firms released its annual “State of Public Relations Survey,” and the data is what you might expect:

  • Average 2008 agency growth was 4 percent, compared to 10 percent in 2007
  • 67 percent of agencies expect 2009 revenues to be down or flat
  • Social media and digital content creation are the areas agencies expect to grow the most

But, as PR Newswer points out, there is some surprising news as well:

  • 30 percent of agencies report they are currently hiring
  • 69 percent think the Obama administration will be good for the PR industry

The Denver Egotist Wants You to Get Back to Work

Apparently The Denver Egotist’s recent recruitment drive has netted it a bunch of softies, because the advertising-focused site that helps Denver suck less, daily, is going all public servicey by trying to find jobs for PR/advertising/marketing/creative types who have found themselves unemployed. The details are here. And if you know someone who has lost their job, pass the word.

RIP, Rocky Mountain News

A profoundly sad day for Colorado – Friday will be the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News. Here’s the coverage:

•  Rocky Mountain News to close, publish final edition Friday
•  The Rocky tick-tock of the internal announcement
•  Scripps press release announcing the news
•  Video of the Scripps CEO announcing the news to staffers
•  Recession forced closure, Boehne says

•  Friday last day for the Rocky Mountain News 
•  Through the years: A gallery of the Rocky 
•  Q&A on the closure of the Rocky Mountain News 
•  Ritter: Newspaper’s closure ‘sad’
•  MediaNews statement on Rocky Mountain News

•  Rocky Mountain News to shut down Friday
•  Reaction to the Rocky shutdown 
•  Post to stand pat on ad rates despite Rocky closure
•  Denver Newspaper Agency renegotiating $150M loan 
•  Singleton, MediaNews seen as potential buyer for San Francisco daily

•  Friday’s Rocky Mountain News will be the last 

•  Rocky Mountain News to close after Friday edition

•  Rocky Mountain News newsroom Twitter account

•  Rocky will publish last paper Friday

DNA, Unions Reach Tentative Agreement

David Milstead at the Rocky Mountain News reports that unions representing employees at the Denver Newspaper Agency have reached a tentative agreement on wage and benefit cuts that average 11.7 percent.  According to Milstead, “Today’s tentative agreement includes salary reductions averaging 7 percent, 10 unpaid days off for most workers, the suspension of the 401(k) match, cuts in sick days and mileage reimbursements, and increases in health and dental premiums.” Layoffs are still a possibility if the agreement doesn’t yield the $18 million in concessions the DNA was seeking.

The End of An Era

After 37 years of building JohnstonWells into one of Denver’s largest and most successful public relations agencies, Gwin Johnson is stepping down from her role as CEO. Her successor will be her daughter, GG Johnston, who has been serving as the agency’s president and COO. Although Gwin will no longer be involved in the the day-to-day details of the agency, she “will continue to be active in the company as owner and Chairman of the Board.” The official JohnstonWells announcement is here.

Hodas Joins Vladimir Jones

It looks like Vladimir Jones (formerly PRACO) is back on the public relations offensive. The agency scored some credibility points by naming former Frontier and Consumer Capital Partners spokesman Joe Hodas as senior vice president of public relations. Hodas is leading the agency’s integrated communications efforts and is based in its Denver office.

Sterling-Rice Group Hires Two

The Sterling-Rice Group is using the recent Crispin Porter + Bogusky layoffs as a chance to pick up some talent. The brand strategy and marketing communications firm announced that it has hired Ken Slater as senior art director and Kate McQuail as senior copy writer. Both Slater and McQuail formerly were at CP+B.

CORRECTION: From SRG Executive Creative Director Steve Witt:

“While we certainly appreciate the mention, it needs to be noted that Ken and Kate came to SRG directly from CP+B, not as a result of any layoff. They were valued members of CP+B and are valued members of our team at SRG. They are two of the most dedicated, smart and creative talents out there and Sterling-Rice is thrilled to have them on board.

In this economic climate, we are certainly saddened to hear of any layoffs in our industry. A healthy advertising climate helps all of us as individuals and as a greater collective of agencies in the area.”

Metzger Relocates

Boulder-based Metzger Associates has officially announced their relocation from the Historic Highland Building to a high-tech, modern office building in Flatiron Park. The move keeps the agency in Boulder and gives it “a lot more space to work with, plus lots of room for conferences and networking events.”

Denver Restaurant Week 2009

Denver Restaurant Week 2009 begins tomorrow and runs through February 27 (or maybe March 6, depending on the Restaurant). Nearly 200 restaurants – ranging from ESPN Zone to Palace Arms – are offering multi-course dinners for the fixed price of $52.80 for two, or $26.40 for one (not including tax or gratuity). Click the link below to see participating restaurants and their menus.

Scripps CEO: Before I Fire You, Let Me Cut Your Salary 3-5%

E.W. Scripps CEO Rich Boehne popped out of his hole this morning and saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of excruciating limbo for Rocky Mountain News employees. If I were Boehne, the first thing I would do, aside from using my bonus money to short Scripps stock, would be to hire David Milstead to calculate how much it would cost to shut down the Rocky, since apparently even 10 weeks after stating his intention to sell or shutter the paper he still has no idea how much it would cost to actually close it down. Ten weeks. Seriously. Oh, and Scripps employees nationwide will see pay cuts of 3-5 percent.

Google: Denver Public Relations

Just a quick “Damn you!” to JohnstonWells, who for six months has been the only site sitting above me in the Google rankings for the term “Denver Public Relations.” It’s hard enough to fend off Absolutely PR’s Maggie Holben and her vast network of self-referring Web sites without JW just sitting there mocking me month after month. I can’t be certain, but I think Efrem is to blame. If you are keeping score, the rankings look like this:

1. JohnstonWells
2. Denver PR Blog
3. Ogilvy PR
4. Absolutely PR
5. Pushkin PR
6. GroundFloor Media
7. Kruzic Communications
8. LeGrand Hart
9. Absolutely PR
10. Denver Business Journal

Bertha Lynn’s Job Safe, GM Says

KMGH/Channel 7 General Manager Byron “I’m not related to Fred” Grandy says the Colorado Association of Black Journalists was a little quick to pull the trigger on its letter to members accusing the station of trying to dump veteran anchor Bertha Lynn. Grandy told the Rocky’s Penny Parker, “A phone call to me would have settled it quickly. (Bertha’s) under contract at KMGH. I’ve never talked about (specific terms of) a contract, and I’m not going to talk about specifics ever.”

Scripps May Disclose its Plan for the Rocky on Q4 Earnings Call

Late February is rapidly approaching, and still no word on the fate of the Rocky Mountain News. Your best next chance to hear any updates will be on Scripps’ Q4 2008 earnings call tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. MST. You can listen in by dialing 1-800-230-1074, but if you want to ask a question you will need to pretend to be someone such as Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times. If you miss the live call, you can listen to a replay starting at 9 a.m. MST at 1-800-475-6701.

CABJ Campaigns to Save Bertha Lynn’s Job

KMGH/Channel 7 anchor Bertha Lynn may be the next high-profile Denver television anchor to get the boot. Colorado Association of Black Journalists President (and 850 KOA executive producer) Amani Ali sent an urgent – and passionate – letter to members yesterday asking members to contact KMGH management because the station “is making a concerted effort to terminate the employment of Bertha Lynn” who “has excelled in spite of being taken off of the prime time anchor desk, moved around, and disrespected while being subjected to intolerable working conditions.” You can read the full letter here.

‘Get Connected’ Event to Focus on Delivering Bad News

GroundFloor Media’s inaugural “Get Connected” panel discussion takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 18, and will focus on communicating difficult news to key audiences during challenging times. Panelists will include Gil Rudawsky, deputy metro business editor of the Rocky Mountain News; Lynn Kimbrough, communications director, Denver District Attorney’s Office; Ken Keymer, former president and CEO of VICORP Restaurants Inc. and former president of Noodles & Company; and Jim D. Leonard of Faegre & Benson. Email GetConnected@groundfloormedia.com to get the details. Space is limited.

Will Scripps Try to Outlast MediaNews Group?

The most interesting predictions often are the ones that have a 2 percent chance of coming true. So in that spirit, let me offer this prediction: Scripps has analyzed the numbers and realized that it can outlast MediaNews Group if it is willing to suffer another tough six months. MediaNews Group will be forced to fold the Denver Post by summer, and the Rocky Mountain News will survive as the only major daily in Denver.

Will that prediction come true? Probably not. But if the economics of being the only newspaper in town work for MediaNews Group, they should also work for Scripps. And Scripps seems much better positioned financially to ride out a tough six months than MediaNews Group. We are just two days away from mid-February, which is a full month after Scripps initially implied a decision would be made about shutting down the Rocky, and there still has been no word on its fate.

DNA Seeks $35 Million in Union Concessions

It is hard to figure out which is in worse financial shape: the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Newspaper Agency. Post publisher MediaNews Group often seems to be teetering on the brink of missing its debt payments, the Rocky is almost certain to be shut down, and now Jeff Smith at the Rocky reports that the DNA needs to cut about $35 million through union concessions, roughly double what had been reported previously.

Level 3 Accidentally Posts a Profit

If, in your office pool, you had 23 straight quarters that Level 3 would post negative earnings, well, you are out of luck. After a mere 22 straight, Level 3 busted out of its slump to post a quarterly profit of $44 million. Telecom analysts think the gain came from spending cuts, but we think the CFO finally said screw it and just invested the entire marketing budget shorting financial stocks. Either way, Wall Street still wasn’t impressed. Level 3 shares dropped 15 percent on the profit news.

Red Hot & Hired

Only Andrew Hudson would attempt a combination career seminar, job fair and salsa dance, and I am sure his “Red Hot & Hired” event is one that you aren’t going to want to miss. Costs are $40 for the career seminar, job fair and networking party ($119.95 if you want to add a one-year subscription to the DBJ) or $25 for just the job fair and networking party ($104.95 if you want to add the DBJ). Details:

Seminar – 4 p.m.
Job Fair, Networking, Salsa Dancing – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 12
La Rumba
99 West Ninth Ave.
Denver, Colorado

PRSA President: Don’t hide during times of economic woes

In her first DBJ bylined article, PRSA Colorado President Gina Seamons makes the argument that investing in public relations during tough economic times can be a powerful competitive advantage:

“Businesses can’t afford to leave customers behind during the recession and then find new ones after the economy rebounds. The cost to acquire a new customer is five to 10 times greater than the cost of retaining an existing one, according to research by Bain & Co.”

Ad Agency Crispin Downsizes

Boulder- and Miami-based ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky announced plans to lay off about 60 employees, or nearly 7 percent of its workforce, due to “the current economic climate (and) advertising budgets (that) are being reduced in virtually every industry.” It is not clear how many of the firm’s 500 Boulder-based employees might be involved.

MediaNews’ Furlough Program Expands to Five More States

As expected, Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group has expanded its employee furlough program, adding media properties in Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The program requires employees to take week-long unpaid leaves in an effort to reduce payroll costs. While the company has not yet required Denver Post employees to take furloughs, it is currently negotiating with the paper’s union representatives in an attempt to cut pay and benefits to the tune of $2 million. And you can expect the furloughs to be part of any deal that is reached.

Dollars and Sense

It was a tough day for Wells Fargo. The banking giant got “caught” planning a luxurious 12-day employee-recognition event in Las Vegas just weeks after accepting a taxpayer-funded $25 billion bailout. Every PR person in town knew immediately how it would end, but it still took five hours (and a nearly infinite number of Internet/blog/twitter news cycles) to play out: 

“Recognition events are still part of our culture. It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.”
     – Wells Fargo spokeswoman Melissa Murray, quoted in an AP article, 1:50 am MST
We are “reconsidering the event.”
     – Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Waetke, quoted in a Reuters article, 5:04 pm MST

“In light of the current environment, we have now decided to cancel this event.”
     – Wells Fargo statement, 6:34 p.m. MST

Farewell, Schenkein

I removed Schenkein from the “Denver Agencies” list and its Tracked Changes blog from the “Blogs Worth Reading” list today. Schenkein was a blue-chip name in Denver, and a lot of great public relations people passed through its doors over the years. Here’s hoping that those who were with it at the end find other positions quickly.