Who Went Where

  • Jason Michael has joined Elasticity as SVP to help open the firm’s Denver office. He previously was a partner at Barokas in Denver, which announced its sale to Finn Partners in July.
  • Novitas Communications named Jaime Gardner as the firm’s business development and communications director. She formerly was the principal at High Plains Communications in Yuma, Colo.
  • Liesl Leary-Perez has been named VP of corporate marketing at Hubilo. She previously was head of global marketing at TTEC.
  • Dinosaur Ridge named Kristen Kidd director of Marketing & Communications. She previously spent time at Levels Beyond and M&C Communications.
  • Alexandra Hilker has been promoted to director of Brand Strategy, Insights & Innovation at Egg Strategy.
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association named Jennifer Nealson SVP of Global Marketing & Research.
  • Linhart PR added Claire Sisun as an account executive.
  • Barefoot PR added Hannah Morris as senior associate.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson, who has spent much of the past two years organizing protests, found himself the subject of a 1,000 student-strong walkout this week following a formal censure by his fellow board members. A Denver Post editorial strongly supported the censure and the Aurora Sentinel called for his recall. Anderson, for his part, announced on Tuesday that he was taking “some time off of social media,” a self-imposed exile that literally lasted less than 18 hours.
  • The late, great Gwen Ifill created the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome” to describe the media frenzy that accompanies news that a usually-young, usually-attractive, usually-blonde woman has gone missing. This week’s overwhelming news media coverage of the Gabby Petito disappearance was a stark reminder that, sadly, things haven’t changed much.
  • The Colorado Rockies were officially eliminated from the playoffs this week. In their 28-year history, they have never won their division, which includes only four other teams.
  • Nielsen has long been the gold standard for measurement of television audiences, but competitors smell blood in the water and networks are evaluating other options after Nielsen lost its accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC), the independent body that enforces fair and transparent measurement standards in media. 
  • Inconsistent travel volumes, trouble recruiting TSA agents and long-term construction projects have created the perfect storm for extraordinarily long security lines at DIA, a situation The Denver Post described solemnly as “bananas.” Meanwhile, The Post reported that DIA has removed its real-time security wait indicator from its website “as a cost-cutting measure.”
  • Founded in 1929, Fortune – 92 years later – finally named its first female editor, Alyson Shontell.

So, who won the week?

  • A recent survey found that Denver has the seventh-highest salary nationally. If you are wondering where it all goes, the answer is rent/mortgage.
  • I hope former Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler had a sense of how beloved and respected he was when he was alive. His death this week brought a tidal wave of praise for who he was and what he did. He was most known for his story titled “Final Salute,” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Alyson Shontell was named editor of Fortune, the magazine’s first female editor in its 92-year history.

PRSA Colorado Announces Gold Pick Special Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Special Award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Wendy Aiello, Aiello Public Relations
  • Public Relations Person of the Year: Winna MacLaren, City and County of Denver
  • Business Person of the Year: Tory Bruno, President & CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Media Person of the Year: Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
  • Rookie of the Year: Anna Ritz, CIG Public Relations
  • Mentor of the Year Award: Liz Kamper, CBRE
  • Chapter Service Award: Michelle Lyng, Novitas Communications
  • Public Relations Team of the Year: Sage Restaurant Concepts

The winners will be recognized at this year’s Gold Pick awards on Oct. 6.

Great Moments in Disembarkments

The University of Southern California football team can’t be happy with the conclusion of its flight to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State University. And United Airlines and Boeing can’t be happy for the world to see what happens when you unload the people and heavy equipment from the front half of the plan without utilizing a tail stand.

Who Had the Worse Week

  • Rapper/singer Nicki Minaj became a social media meme when she tweeted that people should carefully consider whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because her cousin’s friend got it and “became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Popular opinion is that he actually cheated, got an STD and is now trying to blame the vaccine.
  • Walmart had to play defense when a fake press release was distributed via GlobeNewswire claiming that the retailer would begin accepting cryptocurrency at its stores. The release was almost certainly part of a pump-and-dump stock scheme.
  • A New York woman, Morgan Hellquist, discovered that her gynecologist of nine years, Dr. Morris Wortman, was actually her biological father. And her lawsuit alleges that he was aware of the relationship.
  • U.S. Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, among others, testified at a Congressional hearing that the FBI failed to properly investigate their claims that disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused them. As the hearing concluded, reports surfaced that the FBI had fired Michael Langeman, one of the lead agents in the investigation.
  • Legendary Philadelphia cheese steak restaurant Pat’s became the backdrop to a quintessential Philly crime when a “violent group of soccer hooligans beat a man to death with a garbage can lid.”
  • The hits keep coming to the Aurora Police Department, and this week it was Attorney General Phil Weiser who delivered the blow. Weiser is requiring the department to make to make “sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law,” according to The Denver Post.
  • Traveling right now is stressful enough, but imagine coming back from a trip to find that your car had been stolen from DIA. According to Denver Police, that is an increasingly common situation.
  • Kim Kardashian did what she does best – make headlines for inconsequential things – at the annual Met Gala. The unusual dress she wore was compared to Star Wars’ Darth Vader, dementors from Harry Potter and the alien from the movie, Alien.

So, who won the week?

  • Always acerbic, wry and deadpan, Norm Macdonald was a comedian’s comedian, more respected among his peers than the general public. But his death this week at age 61 resulted in a flood of public tributes from both.
  • Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is on the hot seat, but things got better on Sunday when, for the first time in his three years with the team, they won a game in September.
  • Immersive art company Meow Wolf made tons of headlines when it officially opened its Denver facility this week. It even nabbed U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to attend its ribbon-cutting event. That’s even more impressive when you consider that President Joe Biden’s visit earlier in the week to NREL only attracted two of those four.
  • The Drone Racing League secured a $100 million sponsorship deal with blockchain platform Algorand. Never heard of the DRL? Me either, but they have $100 million now.
  • Americans love their pick-up trucks, so it was news this week when electric truck manufacturer Rivian was credited with beating Ford, GM and Tesla to deliver the first consumer-ready electric pick-up truck.

Documenting The Denver Post Beat Changes

Several weeks ago, Corey Hutchins broke the news that The Denver Post was scrambling its beats, and today he offered an update on the moves:

  • Elizabeth Hernandez moves from higher education to the new millennial/younger readers beat
  • Conrad Swanson moves from the Denver City Hall beat to the environment beat
  • Joe Rubino moves from real estate/tech/consumer news to the Denver City Hall beat
  • Jessica Seaman moves from the healthcare beat to K-12 education
  • Bruce Finley moves from the environment beat to higher education
  • Meg Wingerter moves from K-12 education to healthcare

Not everyone was thrilled with the changes that were reportedly a surprise to many of those affected. For example, Justin Wingerter, who was moved off of federal politics and assigned to the business desk, instead has chosen to leave the Post.

It seems curious to lose the relationships and institutional knowledge that accompany changes like these, but as SE2’s Eric Anderson, a journalism veteran himself, noted, sometimes beat changes can allow reporters to see things with fresh eyes. And, cynically, it saved the Post at least one future buyout.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Human Rights Campaign fired its president Alphonso David following an investigation into his efforts to help former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fight sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo is the third rail of politics – Roberta Kaplan, the co-founder and board member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund also recently resigned under pressure after helping Cuomo.
  • Ex-Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges this week. Portis, who earned more than $42 million during his career, submitted fraudulent medical claims totaling $99,264 to a healthcare program for retired NFL players.
  • After failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the US Men’s National Soccer Team has little margin for error if it hopes to make it to the 2022 World Cup. The team hasn’t impressed much so far – it started with two draws – and it lost one of its best players, Weston McKennie, when he broke team COVID rules and spent the night with an “unauthorized guest.” He was suspended and sent back to Italy, where he plays for Juventus, a team that suspended him in April for … wait for it …breaking COVID protocols. The good news is the team beat Honduras 4-1 in a must-win game this week. Take that, Honduras.
  • Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1970s, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated the gender imbalance as men have dropped out at three times the rate of women. In fact, the latest data show that colleges now skew more than 57-43 female. One of the consequences: colleges are now lowering their admissions standards for men in an effort to keep parity. The patriarchy, amiright?
  • It’s been a tough couple for weeks for philosophical CEOs. Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of the salad maker Sweetgreen, attempted to “start a conversation” by blaming fat people for the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now-former Tripwire CEO John Gibson proved again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he decided that as the CEO of a video game maker he should weigh in on Texas’ new controversial abortion law. How did it end? You read the “now-former” part, right?
  • And, finally, an oldie but goodie. Underperforming Confederate General Robert E. Lee continues to be a modern-day punching bag. This week, it was Richmond, Va., that chose to remove a statue of Lee. The event was celebratory, with workers counting down the moment that Lee was removed via crane as onlookers cheered.

So, who won the week?

  • The Colorado Sun turned three this week. It took a lot of courage for the group of former Denver Postians to launch their own newspaper, and it is gratifying to see it succeed.
  • Original Blues Clues host Steve Burns this week comforted a generation of millennials who apparently suffered abandonment issues when he unexpectedly and suddenly left the show two decades ago. Appearing via a video dressed as Blues Clues Steve, he apologized to viewers and then dropped a little positive reinforcement about how terrific they are all doing.

Former Denver Bronco Clinton Portis Pleads Guilty in Federal Fraud Probe

ESPN: “(Former Denver Broncos running back) Clinton Portis was among three former NFL players who have pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care program for retired NFL players, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday. The 40-year-old Portis … faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6. … According to court documents, Portis caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the plan on his behalf over a two-month period, obtaining $99,264 in benefits for medical equipment that was not actually provided.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The city of New Orleans barely has time to recover these days from the devastating winds and floods brought by the most recent hurricane before it is hit with another. This week, it was Hurricane Ida that brought death and destruction to one of America’s most interesting cities. Not content to just ravage the Gulf Coast, the remnants of Ida continued north and hit New York City, causing surprise floods that killed 43.
  • Billionaires don’t become billionaires by leaving money on the table, a point proven by Colorado’s own Phil Anschutz. Despite a fortune estimated at $10.3 billion by Forbes, Anschutz is appealing the recent dismissal of a lawsuit against the state seeking an $8 million tax refund he says he is owed due to a loophole in the CARES Act, the pandemic response bill Congress passed in 2020.
  • A Colorado Springs high school swimmer with diabetes is suing CHSAA, the organization that oversees high school athletics in Colorado, for disqualifying him from the state championship meet because he wore tape over his glucose monitor to keep it in place.
  • Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer made headlines this week for for a viral video that showed him getting physical with one of the players he now coaches at a high school in Nashville.
  • The Denver Department of Excise and Licensing has ordered the owner of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub to explain why it should retain its liquor license following a series of high-profile shootings outside the club and a police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.
  • Tulane University had its own Rocky moment (actually, a Rocky II moment, but you get the idea) when it beat out a host of usual suspects to capture this year’s #1 ranking of Top Party Schools. The University of Colorado Boulder, one of those usual suspects that routinely nabs top 10 spots on these lists, fell to #24. Unfortunately, Tulane’s victory was overshadowed by the fact that its administrators don’t watch the weather on the local news and they failed to evacuate students from its New Orleans campus until after Hurricane Ida. Administrators said they thought the storm would be a Category 1 hurricane, not the Category 4 that it was.
  • Americans have a deep love of football, and ESPN has a deep love of ratings, so it was only a mild surprise that the sports broadcaster would eventually start airing high school football games to fill programming time. Unfortunately, though, high school teams don’t belong to recognizable conferences that let you know they are legit. This week, ESPN aired a game featuring Bishop Sycamore, which later was revealed to have questions about whether it is an actual school. It definitely is a football team – it played another game two days before its ESPN appearance, something no legitimate school would ever allow to happen. The Washington Post called the entire matter “embarrassing” and authorities are still investigating.

So, who won the week?

  • Fans of everything from the Mary Tyler Moore Show to the Pixar movie Up know actor Ad Asner, and there was an outpouring of love for him following his death this past week. It was his lovably gruff performances as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Lou Grant that endeared him to a generation or two of journalists.
  • Former Colorado Rockies star Larry Walker will enter the Hall of Fame next week, no easy feat given the lack of respect Coors Field has among the baseball purists who vote.

Fox31 Names Erika Gonzalez Permanent Evening Anchor

Fox31/KWGN anchor Erika Gonzalez has been filling former anchor Aristea Brady’s seat on the 5, 9 and 10 pm newscasts for the past month, and her bosses apparently like the job she was doing because this week they named her to the role permanently.

And in a world full of PR people who come from journalism, Erika is a unicorn. Her first job was in PR in Miami before starting her career in journalism as an assignment editor with WFOR in Miami.