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Linhart PR

Holmes Report

Management at leading Denver independent Linhart focuses the majority of its attention on two key drivers of business success for any professional service firm: employee satisfaction and client satisfaction. Nothing particularly distinctive about that, you might think, but the diligence with which the firm measures and acts to improve upon both dimensions is impressive. For example, after Linhart’s 2007 employee satisfaction survey uncovered the desire for more information about health benefits, the firm assembled a task force of employees to meet with its insurer and evaluate various options. The firm also allowed staff to set a growth target for 2009 as part of its new strategic plan. On the client front, the firm’s annual satisfaction survey examines 41 different measures of performance and uses the Net Promoter Score methodology developed by Bain & Company, with the biggest increases in the firm’s score coming on creativity and strategic thinking—two dimensions targeted for improvement after last year’s survey.

 

That level of commitment is just one example of the way Linhart thinks like a much bigger agency than it is, a reflection of the experience of its senior management team, which brings together veterans of some of the world’s leading public relations firms, including Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman Hillard, GolinHarris, Ketchum and Ogilvy, 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, such as Paul Raab, who 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. Kelly Janhunen was named as the fourth partner in Linhart PR in 2008, after five years with the firm working with key clients including Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Niman Ranch.

 

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, Crocs, and—the biggest win of 2008—Southwest Airlines. 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 17 percent, to slightly more than $4 million, with much of the increase generated by marketing communications work conducted for Johns Manville after the company’s longtime advertising agency closed its doors and Linhart absorbed its account team to provide expanded service. Other new business came from Colorado Technical University, Niman Ranch, Allonhill, Ganeden Biotech, Solix Biofuels, SolaRover, College for Financial Planning, and Scribbles.

 

Another growth driver in 2008 was the firm’s expanded xapabilities in two important vertical segments, renewable energy and natural and organic foods. Linhart also continued to build on its capabilities in corporate responsibility and issues management, counseling a key client on development of its first-ever corporate responsibility plan; assisting another with the launch of a major corporate citizenship initiative; and advising a restaurant industry client on animal welfare and supply chain issues. Linhart also continued its partnership with Forrest Anderson, an industry veteran who serves as the agency’s virtual research director, and forged a new alliance with an oilfield disaster response and recovery consultant to provide crisis simulation training.

 

Highlights included working with Crocs to launch Soles United, a corporate citizenship initiative that encourages consumers across the

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