Stoorza Latest to Fall Victim to Economy
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Stoorza Latest to Fall Victim to Economy

After 28 years in business, Stoorza Communications is closing its doors. According to chairman and chief executive officer, the closure was caused by a combination of factors, including the economic downturn.

Paul Holmes

SAN DIEGO, May 27—After 28 years in business, Stoorza Communications—once the largest public relations firm in California and one of the nation’s largest independents—is closing its doors. According to chairman and chief executive officer, the closure was caused by a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and her own disengagement from the business.
Stoorza is the fourth major California firm to close its doors in the past 12 months, following The Gable Group (also of San Diego), Niehaus Ryan Wong, and Wilson McHenry. It is the first not to have had the lion’s share of its business in the Internet and technology sectors.
Operating as Stoorza Ziegaus & Metzger, the firm reported revenues of more than $9 million in 1994, enough to rank it in the top 20 PR firms in the country, with offices in San Diego, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. But over the next couple of years, principals Alan Ziegaus and Bobbie Metzger left the firm, and a slow decline began.
In recent years, the firm brought in two presidents, former Ketchum L.A. general manager David DePinto and John Spelich from Gateway, both of whom subsequently departed.
“This decision has been in the works since last July,” according to Stoorza-Gill. In July 2001, Stoorza-Gill spun off the firm’s offices in Sacramento and Riverside, shut down the office in Los Angeles and considerably downsized the San Diego office. “I probably should have made this decision earlier than I did, but the people we had left were the best team I had ever worked with.”
Stoorza-Gill said the company undertook a business expansion two years ago, just as the market was about to contract. During that time Stoorza Communications rapidly grew its business in the dot-com and technology sectors. “The dot-com and tech downturn, as well as the ensuing recession and the events of September 11 all took their toll on our business.”
At the same time, she said, she had disengaged from the business. “After so many years in the PR business, I just felt burned out,” she said.
The firm had about eight employees and eight clients at the time of its demise, and Stoorza said she had given those clients the names of a couple of agencies that she would recommend for their business, as well as encouraging those same agencies to hire her remaining employees. Some accounts have already committed to those agencies, she says.
As for herself, “I’ve been wanting to do higher-level consulting, finish a book about public relations and continue service to the community, but I’ve found it impossible to run the firm and do the things I really want to be doing.  This decision allows me to move on to the next phase of my career,” she said. “I’ve been enormously lucky to have worked with hundreds of wonderful clients and have had the privilege of mentoring many, many young people on our staff who have grown and succeeded in this business.  I look forward to continuing to do these things, just not through an agency environment.”
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