JW Adds Social Media Team Member

JohnstonWells Public Relations has added Serr Her to manage social media strategies for the firm and its clients. Serr’s experience includes managing social media for Denver Hmong Alliance Church and for the SALT young adults conference at Wheaton College. He graduated from the University of Colorado Denver in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in marketing. He also received a public relations certificate from the Communication school at UCD.

Johnston, Goldberg Inducted into DPC Hall of Fame

Congratulations to JohnstonWells’ Gwin Johnston and the Denver Business Journal’s Bruce Goldberg for being two of six inductees tonight into the Denver Press Club’s 2011 Hall of Fame class. Gwin founded JohnstonWells as a single mother 40 years ago and built it into one of Denver’s most successful and well-recognized PR firms. And Bruce may be Denver’s favorite curmudgeon, recognized for his work as associate editor of the DBJ and his tireless support of the Denver Press Club.

JohnstonWells Teams with LUNGevity Foundation

National lung cancer charity LUNGevity Foundation is teaming up with JohnstonWells for a 5K walk/run at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 5. The event, Breathe Deep Denver, is being produced by a steering committee led by Gwinavere Johnston that includes U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, Don Kirchoffner and Associates’ Don Kirchoffner, former Rocky Mountain News Business Editor Rob Reuteman and City and County of Denver marketer Steve Sander. Those interested in sponsoring or volunteering for the event should visit its website.

Evatran Selects JohnstonWells for Product Launch

JohnstonWells has been hired by Evatran to manage media relations as the company unveils its Plugless Power charging system in 2011. Plugless Power is the world’s first charging system that allows electric vehicles to refuel without a cord and plug or any driver interaction. The technology is based on inductive power transfer that has been used in electrical transformers for more than a century.

Fact or Fiction?

That a former JohnstonWells CEO banned her employees (including Ef Rodriguez) from a Writer Square crepe restaurant because she didn’t like the way the employees smelled when they returned to the office. I’ll leave it up to JW employees to confirm or refute.

More Changes at JohnstonWells

The evolution of JohnstonWells continues. Over the past few months, the agency has seen the return of Gwin Johnston as CEO and Michele Wells as a senior consultant, and now word comes that Gina Seamans and Lee Bley are leaving.

Seamans, who joined the firm in 2007 when it acquired her smaller agency Accent PR, says she is heading into semi-retirement, although she will still be involved in PRSA Colorado and may do some consulting. Bley, meanwhile, is headed to Washington, D.C., to work for WeddingWire.

JohnstonWells Promotes Two

JohnstonWells has promoted Breanna Deidel to counselor and Lee Bley to senior associate. Deidel is on the board of directors for Denver Urban Gardens, co-chairs the marketing committee for the Women’s Vision Foundation 2010 Walk, is a “Big Sister” and volunteers for the Little Sisters of the Poor at Mullen Home, while Bley is the 2010 co-chair of LoDo District’s Events Committee, the 2010 co-chair of the Denver Debutante Junior Patrons Committee and is an active member of LoDo Young Professionals.

2010 Denver PR Predictions – Gina Seamans

By Gina Seamans
Senior Counselor, JohnstonWells

My predictions for 2010 are drawn from my experience of leading the PRSA Colorado Chapter during 2009. They are geared toward the people, rather than the business. I predict that even more PR professionals will seek membership and involvement in strong professional organizations like PRSA, where they can receive professional development and connect with people who will help shape their careers. Our chapter will be invigorated by  another year of membership growth, record levels of member involvement and demand for the strongest professional development schedule ever. All this invigorated activity is driven by three realities:

  1. The practice of public relations is evolving and smart professionals must stay on top of all points in the broad continuum of communication options.
  2. The job market is tight, so successful career movement depends on having an expanded network that can lead to meaningful introductions, referrals, and references.
  3. A successful professional must be willing to invest in themselves. This is the new normal, so professionals must grow and change, and be ready to move forward rather than look back.

Michele Wells to Return to JohnstonWells

The changes continue at JohnstonWells. Michele Wells will return as a senior consultant to the firm that carries her name starting in January. The combined JohnstonWells was formed in 1993 when Gwin Johnston’s firm acquired Wells Communications, and Wells then worked at the firm until 1996.

Wells’ return follows this month’s announcement that JohnstonWells CEO GG Johnston has decided to leave the firm to pursue other opportunities and that founder and chairman Gwin Johnston will return to her role as CEO. Said Gwin, “Michele and I have sustained a friendship and maintained a working relationship these past several years. We’ve talked about working together again and now is the perfect time. It will be great to have her energy and experience.”

GG Johnston to Leave JohnstonWells; Gwin Johnston Returns as CEO

JohnstonWells founder and chairman Gwin Johnston will return full-time to the agency following her daughter GG Johnston’s decision to step down as president and CEO. GG joined JohnstonWells 15 years ago and was promoted to president and CEO in February when Gwin decided to step back from the day-to-day operations of the business.

The split is being described as amicable, and a statement from GG on the JohnstonWells Web site says:

“My decision to leave JohnstonWells and venture into the world outside family business is both exciting and sad for me. For 15 years, I have worked alongside Gwin and the talented team at JW. I am grateful for every minute of time I’ve spent here. I am well-prepared for whatever adventures are coming my way. I’m excited about what’s next for all of us.”

UCD School of Medicine: Don’t Bother Responding to Our RFP

You would probably think there are dozens of public relations firms in Denver capable of “building external and internal awareness of the [University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine’s] Palliative Care Program and undertaking a successful fundraising campaign to raise philanthropic contributions for its educational and research program.” But not everyone sees it that way, and that has PRSA Colorado President Gina Seamans seeing red.

In a post today on JohnstonWells’ blog, Seamans takes the UCD School of Medicine to task for trying to sneak through a sham RFP Notice of Proposed Sole Source (NPSS) when the school has already decided to give the business to the only firm they think it qualified to handle the assignment. And while Seamans is too polite to name that firm, I’m not. It’s Davis Branding & Marketing.

Ef Rodriguez Moves from JW to Turner

Denver social media guru Ef “Pug of War” Rodriguez has made the move from JohnstonWells back to Turner Public Relations, where he got his PR start and where he will lead the travel/tourism/outdoor agency’s social media efforts.

JohnstonWells President and CEO GG Johnston said her firm is tapping Elizabeth Jumel to lead its social media practice. “After careful consideration, we decided that Elizabeth’s 11 years of experience and her insight into the right mix of social media and traditional media are exactly what our clients need right now,” Johnston said.

Denver Agency Wins

  • JohnstonWells landed law firm Faegre & Benson as a client.
  • Pushkin Public Relations added the Medical Group Management Association as a client.
  • Weise Communications announced the Eating Disorder Center of Denver (EDC-D), Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC), St. Louis University Hospital and SALT Electric as clients.

Denver Metro Chamber Event Examines Media’s ‘Changing Face’

GBSM’s Steve Silvers, JohnstonWells’ GG Johnston and Denver Post Business Editor Steve McMillan are panelists at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s “Gold Program” event titled “Old Media. New Media. The Extraordinarily Changing Face of the Information Age” (I’m betting that neither Steve nor GG were responsible for naming the event). Anyway, the details are:

Thursday, May 28
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Denver Metro Chamber
1445 Market Street, 5th Floor
www.denverchamber.org/goldprogram

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.

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

2009 PR Predictions

By GG Johnston
President & COO, JohnstonWells
 

The moment of great equalization

More firms will be looking to their younger staffers to help lead the way. This signals a break with the historic leadership trend among firms. 
Their ease and comfort with technology will enable young professionals to contribute to the growth (and in some cases “survival”) of their companies. While the relationships cultivated between long-time PR pros and their media contacts are still of great value, there will be a greater importance placed on authentic online communication – something that young professionals tend to exhibit naturally.

This is unprecedented and some long-time professionals may bristle at the implication that they have anything to learn from new grads and twenty-somethings. The more open-minded will learn all they can, while the closed-minded will contribute less and less.  

Bottom line is the bottom line

Public relations professionals have been challenged through the ages to prove the worth of their work.  Most of us left behind quantifying the value of what we deliver in ad equivalencies a while ago.  That’s a good thing since ad budgets are shrinking as consumers DVR, surf and cherry pick their information from the places they like best—rather than the places they used to be held captive.  The new metrics of relationships will find a place on the balance sheet but only after the balance sheet is part of the PR pros everyday vernacular.  There’s too much at stake in a tough economy for businesses not to demand financial prowess from their public relations counsel.

No faking allowed.  Authenticity rules.

The debate will rage on about whether or not PR firms can participate in online conversations on behalf of their clients.  Would we call and pretend to actually be our clients in one-on-one conversations on the phone?  No, certainly not.  So, why would we pretend to actually be our clients on blogs, micro-blogs and forums?  The answer is, we wouldn’t.  The question is, who would?  I predict there will be a heightened focus on the particulars of this conversation as some try to find loopholes that create revenue-producing opportunities  to “be” a company.  Tsk, tsk.  We’ve worked so hard to get rid of “spin” and “flack.”  Let’s not go there AGAIN!

JohnstonWells Reduces Staff

JohnstonWells has grown to be the largest public relations agency in Denver, but even it hasn’t escaped the effects of the softening Denver market. The agency let three staffers go in the past few weeks “after looking at our projections and evaluating the economic realities many companies are facing,” according to President/COO GG Johnston.

And JohnstonWells isn’t alone. Last June, Schenkein reduced its headcount by nearly one-third, and a number of agencies continue to quietly downsize through attrition.

LoDo? LoDon’t.

JohnstonWells is looking pretty foolish these days. Sure, it it was able to secure a really cool building for less money than it was paying for its Writer Square digs, and, sure, the building is in a great location tucked between Larimer and Market on 15th Street. But did Gwin really perform her due diligence? If she had, she might have realized that LoDo is so over, and that this is the next real-estate hot spot.

Denver Agencies Show Growth in Annual O’Dwyer Rankings

If you see Gwin Johnston around town, make sure she buys you the drink. O’Dwyer released its annual rankings of PR agencies, and the Denver-area agencies disclosing their 2007 numbers were:

102. JohnstonWells — $3.04 M in 2007 revenue (+36%); 24 employees
106. Linhart PR — $2.85 M in 2007 revenue (+35%); 18 employees
118. GroundFloor Media — $2.30 M in 2007 revenue (+37%); 11 employees
137. Turner PR — $1.80 M in 2007 revenue (+20%); 12 employees
164. Catapult — $0.95 M in 2007 revenue (+3%); 6 employees

We’ll have to wait for the next Denver Business Journal list of PR firms to see where the holdouts (we mean you, Schenkein, GBSM, VisiTech, MGA, Metzger, et al.) are. Overall, the O’Dwyer list is encouraging. Most agencies are showing good growth, and JohnstonWells topping $3 million in revenue locally is a milestone.  

Who will be the King of Denver PR?

We are a little more than three weeks away from the release of the Denver Business Journal’s 2007-2008 Book of Lists. As we get ready to see which agencies grew and which contracted, here’s a recap of 2006-2007 DBJ Book of Lists rankings:

  1. GBSM, $2.62 million (2005 gross income)
  2. Schenkein, $2.61 million
  3. JohnstonWells, $2.40 million 
  4. Linhart, $2.18 million
  5. Pure Brand, $2.14 million
  6. GroundFloor , $2.10 million
  7. LeGrand Hart, $2.09 million
  8. PRACO, $2.07 million
  9. MGA, $2.06 million
  10. CTA, $1.50 million
  11. Peter Webb, $1.33 million
  12. Wall+Aiello, $1.14 million
  13. Alyn-Weiss, $1.10 million
  14. Turner, $1.10 million
  15. CLS, $1.08 million
  16. Metzger, $1.05 million
  17. VisiTech, $1.05 million
  18. InterMountain, $1.01 million
  19. Corporate Advocates, $0.88 million
  20. Catapult, $0.80 million 
Note: While these figures appeared in the 2006-2007 DBJ Book of Lists, the data used was from a year earlier.