Former Schenkein Owner Named SVP at IMA Financial

Former Schenkein principal and co-owner Leanna Clark has joined Denver-based IMA Financial Group as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications & Executive Director of the IMA Foundation. While at IMA Financial Group, Clark will continue her work with the non-profit Project C.U.R.E., helping it take groups of community and business leaders to developing nations where it delivers medical supplies and equipment.

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.

Schenkein to Close its Doors at the End of January

It has been a tough year for venerable marketing firms in Denver. First, advertising agency McClain Finlon shut its doors in August, and now Schenkein principal Christin Crampton Day announced that the long-time PR agency will shut its doors at the end of this month. Crampton Day cited the flagging economy for the move, which will affect 10 employees and follows former principal Leanna Clark’s departure last month. The Denver Business Journal has the early details.

Clark to Leave Schenkein

Following a tough year that saw Schenkein reduce its headcount by nearly one-third, principal and co-owner Leanna Clark announced she will be leaving the firm in January. She plans to devote more time to her philanthropic endeavors, while still remaining an advisor to the firm. The DBJ called Clark one of Denver’s “communications leaders” and noted that Schenkein has “represented many of Denver’s top companies and nonprofit groups as well as national firms.”

More Denver PR Wins (and a Couple of Hires)

  • 104 West Partners has added three new technology clients: HiveLive, Global Technology Resources Inc. and Transverse.
  • Xstatic PR has added two new healthcare clients: Oncure Medical Corp. and Quantix. Xstatic also added Sasha Tinkham to its staff. Tinkham formerly was with Schenkein and Lois Paul & Partners in Boston.
  • Voca Public Relations has added Julie Bielenberg and Riegel “Reggie” Brasseux as senior account executives. Bielenberg formerly was managing editor of Colorado Homes & Lifestyles and Brasseux formerly was at Fletcher Group.

Economy Forces Some Denver Agencies to Slim Down

The general economic malaise that has affected other cities’ PR agencies is beginning to affect some of Denver’s consumer-focused agencies. Several agencies have seen their staffs dwindle by as much as 50 percent, and word today is that Schenkein let six staffers go this week, which represents approximately 30 percent of its employee base.

Said Schenkein’s Leanna Clark, “We had some client losses late last year, and while we’ve brought in several new pieces of business in 08, they’ve not offset those losses. This, combined with the current economic outlook, has led us to reduce staff accordingly in order to realign our expectations and goals for the year.”

We expect that you will see a number of other Denver agencies shrink over the coming months, whether through formal layoffs or simply attrition.  We give credit to Schenkein for being generous with its severance packages, though. Clark noted that “our top priority in this was to ensure we were treating all our staff, both those we’ve had to let go as well those who continue with us, with the utmost honesty, respect and dignity.”

Few Denver PR Agencies Are Walking the Walk

The amount of lip service public relations agencies give to new media, social media, Web 2.0, etc., is stunning. It seems you can’t sit through a pitch these days without listening to agencies explain how “critical it is to connect directly — and unfiltered — with your target audiences.” 

So we thought it might be interesting to examine how many Denver PR agencies practice what they preach even at the most basic levels. What we found surprised us. Of the 32 agencies we checked, only seven had blogs, and even those seven had great disparities in how often posts appeared and how easy it was to find their blogs. So here is the honor roll:

  • Pure Brand — 45 posts to its blog since January 1. We found this blog to be the most varied and interesting, with a lot of quick hits on a number of PR and advertising issues.
  • Schenkein — 25 posts since January 1. The Schenkein blog disappeared for a while, but was resuscitated by Elaine Ellis at the end of January. Since then, it has made a strong showing.
  • Story + Welch — 21 posts since January 1. We found this to be the smartest blog, with a lot of analysis about business issues (not just PR issues). But mixed in with those lengthier pieces are some amusing quick hits.
  • Metzger — 19 posts since January 1. Originally, we missed Metzger’s blog because it isn’t linked from the agency’s Web site (or if it is, we still haven’t found it), but fortunately a reader emailed us the URL. 
  • GBSM — 8 posts since January 1. For GBSM, we counted Steven Silver’s Scatterbox blog, which offers an array of opinions on topics that interest Silvers ranging from elder care to HBO’s Inside the NFL. Our only complaint is how infrequently he posts.
  • JohnstonWells — 6 posts since January 1. A mix of JW and industry news, it is not uncommon for the blog to go almost a month without a new post. 
  • GroundFloor Media — 3 posts since January 1. The GFM blog offers updates (albeit sparingly) on interesting firm and client projects.

Steven Silvers/GBSM had already found his way into our blogroll, but we will be adding the blogs from Pure Brand, Schenkein, Story + Welch and Metzger because of their commitment to blogging frequently on interesting topics.

NOTE: Post updated 3/9/2008 @ 1:04 p.m.