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.
Happy 41st anniversary to JohnstonWells.
JohnstonWells is collecting art supplies for the Heart & Hand Center, a nonprofit (and JW client) in the Denver Five Points area that provides meals, after-school activities and support to at-risk children. Contact Dan Peterson if you have any art materials you aren’t using (paper, markers, etc.) to arrange for pick-up.
JohnstonWells Public Relations donated more than 50 books to low-income children at the Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers. The book drive was part of the agency’s 40th-anniversary celebration.
Denver Resources Partners has selected JohnstonWells to help plan an upcoming conference. DRP is a Colorado-based company that helps foreign companies establish themselves in North America.
JohnstonWells announced that it has delivered 40 pairs of socks to the Delores Project, a homeless shelter for women, as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. As part of the ongoing celebration, “JohnstonWells has pledged to do something every 40 days from its 40th anniversary on Oct. 1.”
Michele Wells, the eponymous Wells in JohnstonWells, has filed suit against her old firm for an undisclosed sum, according to the Denver Business Journal. The DBJ doesn’t provide any details, but I’m guessing it is for the $36,000 she claims JohnstonWells owes her for work performed during her short-lived return to the firm last year (see the comments section of this post).
JohnstonWells is celebrating its 40th anniversary by providing $40,000 worth of pro-bono public relations services to the HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) Foundation. The HALO Foundation serves as a safe haven to more than 40 children each night, fostering educational and emotional growth through a variety of after-school programs focusing on education, art therapy and recreation.
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.
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.
JohnstonWells has been named the local public relations sponsor of Ernst & Young’s 2011 Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in the Mountain Desert region. This is the second year that JW has served as sponsor.
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.
JohnstonWells has added Dan Peterson as a senior associate to its team. Peterson brings expertise in media and community relations, crisis communications, social media, business to business, and business development. Prior to joining JohnstonWells, Dan served as the Director of Communications for The Alexander Company, a Madison, Wisc.-based real estate developer.
To mark JohnstonWells’ 39th year in business, Gwin Johnston has put together a list of the agency’s best 39 clients and programs.
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.
Friends and family of Denver public relations executive Don Cannalte – including his wife Gwin Johnston – “gathered Wednesday on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora to fete him for ’50 years of leadership and dedication to the public-relations profession.'” Penny Parker at the Denver Post has the details.
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 has been named the public relations partner for the Rocky Mountain region of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year program. Public relations support for E&Y’s awards program was formerly handled by LeGrand Hart.
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.
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:
- The practice of public relations is evolving and smart professionals must stay on top of all points in the broad continuum of communication options.
- The job market is tight, so successful career movement depends on having an expanded network that can lead to meaningful introductions, referrals, and references.
- 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.
JohnstonWells has promoted its resident social media expert Elizabeth Jumel to senior counselor.
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.”
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.”
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.
Congratulations to JohnstonWells CEO GG Johnston, who was named a Denver Business Journal 2009-2010 Top Business Newsmaker in the Media & Communications category.
Congratulations to GG Johnston and the crew at JohnstonWells, who are celebrating the agency’s 38th birthday today.
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.
Congratulations to JohnstonWells’ owner and chairman Gwin Johnston for being named a SAGE Counselor by the PRSA’s Counselors Academy.
- 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.
JohnstonWells has selected the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation as its 2009 pro bono recipient.
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
JohnstonWells added consulting firm Boatz Knutsen and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado to its client roster.
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.
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:
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
The folks at JohnstonWells – and many of the community leaders and members of non-profit organizations they work with – are feeling optimistic this Valentines Day.
Christina Bowen, senior counselor at JohnstonWells, has been named to the board of directors of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.
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!
How many times have you tried to tell clients that no reporters care that they moved offices? JohnstonWells just made that a tougher argument.
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.
ProConect Public Relations hired Elisa Herzog as an account associate. Herzog formerly was with JohnstonWells.
Gwin Johnston (circa ~1984), Art Buchwald and Match Game stalwart Brett Somers.
Let’s face it — moving sucks. And moving offices is even worse, because client work doesn’t stop while you try to unpack boxes. But at least the team at JohnstonWells got some fancy new offices (and some less fancy new cubes) out of it. Pictures are here.
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.
The Holmes Report named JohnstonWells the fourth best agency to work for in the small agency category. The agency ranked seventh last year.
In an article about escalating rents that are driving out tenants at Writer Square, the Denver Post notes that JohnstonWells will relocate to the Rocky Mountain Seed Building on 15th between Larimer and Market streets.
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.
JohnstonWells announced it has named Rodney D. Bell senior counselor and director of business development. Bell’s previous experience includes First Data Corp.
Looks like Gwin Johnston‘s competition for the Wyoming PR market just got a bit tougher.
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:
- GBSM, $2.62 million (2005 gross income)
- Schenkein, $2.61 million
- JohnstonWells, $2.40 million
- Linhart, $2.18 million
- Pure Brand, $2.14 million
- GroundFloor , $2.10 million
- LeGrand Hart, $2.09 million
- PRACO, $2.07 million
- MGA, $2.06 million
- CTA, $1.50 million
- Peter Webb, $1.33 million
- Wall+Aiello, $1.14 million
- Alyn-Weiss, $1.10 million
- Turner, $1.10 million
- CLS, $1.08 million
- Metzger, $1.05 million
- VisiTech, $1.05 million
- InterMountain, $1.01 million
- Corporate Advocates, $0.88 million
- Catapult, $0.80 million