The year 2000 was a trying one for Stoorza Communications. Only months after the departure of chief executive Alan Ziegaus, California’s largest independent public firm found itself embroiled in controversy, as work it had conducted on behalf of former state insurance commissioner Charles Quackenbush came under fire from the commissioner’s political opponents. It was a distraction, and while most observers agree that Stoorza handled the media onslaught with integrity and grace, senior management may have found itself devoting more time to the scandal than to the business of the firm. The good news is that Stoorza didn’t lose a single account because of its political difficulties; the bad news is that growth was limited, and the agency ended 2000 with revenues of close to $10 million, up a little over 10 percent on 1999 revenues.
Stoorza (formerly Stoorza Ziegaus & Metzger) has always been best known for its work in the public affairs arena and its connections on the California political scene, but with the departure of Ziegaus and Sacramento office leader Bobbie Metzger, founder Gail Stoorza has been broadening the firm’s focus, adding strategic counseling depth and a range of new service. David DePinto, who joined the firm from Ketchum 18 months ago, has been responsible for developing the firm’s practice areas in technology, energy, and healthcare, and other key additions include Paul Sanchez, general manager of the flagship San Diego office and head of the change management and employee communications practice, and Michael Bustamente, former press secretary to Governor Gray Davis.
The biggest new business success of the year was clearly the firm’s selection by Gateway Computer, which tapped Stoorza to handle a national grassroots public relations program, managing a network of independent PR firms around the country. The agency also picked up ideaEdge, a multi-billion dollar incubator, and a host of smaller assignments from Technology OBX, an international B2B IT exchange company; Waste Management, I/O Software, iMammogram.com, and the University of Phoenix. The agency continues to handle interesting programs for the Landmark Development Corporation and the San Diego Padres.