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Holmes Report
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Holmes Report

There aren’t a lot of big national agencies in Denver, but that doesn’t mean clients can’t find plenty of big agency experience there. They need look no further than Linhart, which has brought together veterans of some of the world’s leading public relations firms, including Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman Hillard, GolinHarris, Ketchum and Ogilvy, and some of the nation’s largest PR markets, to offer clients top-notch strategic thinking, creativity, and counsel without the overhead and bureaucracy that would normally accompany such capabilities. President and founder Sharon Linhart is a former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist and longtime community activist, and has been incredibly successful (the Rocky Mountain lifestyle doesn’t hurt) in attracting top talent: vice president Dawn Doty joined LMF in 2003 after serving as PR director for Vail Resorts and previously worked at Orbitz, Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum, and Paul Raab joined as senior vice president in April after seven years as communications director for management consulting firm A.T. Kearney and 11 years at GolinHarris. Raab’s promotion to partner, along with chief financial officer Carri Clemens, led to the firm’s name change in 2007, from Linhart McClain Finlon Public Relations to Linhart Public Relations.


Since Raab’s arrival, the firm has competed successfully with some of the largest national PR firms for new clients including Frontier Airlines, Wild Oats Markets, the GTC Nutrition unit of Corn Products International, and last year Crocs (Burson-Marsteller was the other finalist for the global footwear company). But even more impressive is the firm’s record of retaining and growing key accounts: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has been a client since 1998; Johns Manville, since 2001; Chipotle Mexican Grill, since 2002; and Panera Bakery & Café, since 2003. Revenues were up by 33 percent in 2007, after the firm was named our Boutique Agency of the Year for 2006, to slightly more than $3 million.


One growth driver is the firm’s focus on the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) sector, which reflects the passion of employees and the sensibility of the Rocky Mountain region. Clients in this area include Whole Foods Market, Aurora Organic Dairy and Rudi’s Organic Bakery, all new additions within the past 12 months, building on the firm’s earlier success with Wild Oats Markets and functional food-ingredient manufacturer GTC Nutrition. Another emerging specialty is the renewable energy sector, where clients include Renewable Choice Energy, a leading provider of renewable energy credits for wind power; Suncor Energy, an integrated North American producer of energy from various sources (both new relationships in 2007); Johns Manville and global environmental engineering firm MWH.


“When we conducted our agency search for a national PR firm for Wild Oats Markets, we initially thought we would hire one of the ‘big brand’ national agencies,” says Sonja Tuitele, senior director of corporate communications and investor relations for Wild Oats Markets. “What we learned in our search process was that Linhart could provide the same expertise and creativity as the larger global agencies, but they were also able to bring a greater level of passion and commitment to help us with our strategic communications initiatives.” Adds

Kathy Beeck, director of the Boulder International Film Festival: “With Linhart PR’s support, attendance increased by 65 percent and our ticket sales more than doubled. The public relations program Linhart implemented was an important part of our ability to generate phenomenal business success for our young film festival this year.”


The firm also continued to build its distinct culture, which is marked by a high degree of transparency concerning business performance and a bonus pool, proceeds from which are paid out to employees on a quarterly basis and has contributed to almost non-existent client turnover (and therefore, not coincidentally) high client satisfaction scores. One of the things that attracts high-caliber employees is that “we are a small firm and don’t get caught up in politics, but we have big time clients,” says a respondent to our Best Agencies to Work For survey. Another employee likes the fact that management “takes concerns, recommendations and praise seriously and strives to ensure every employee, regardless of seniority, finds work both enjoyable and rewarding.”


Linhart is a member of Worldcom Public Relations group, with access to partner firms in 112 major business centers in the

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