Julie and Grant Wright
Julie and Grant Wright of (W)right On Communications in their La Jolla office

By Rick Griffin

Eight San Diego-based public relations agencies have been named to Forbes’ inaugural ranking of America’s Best PR Agencies of 2021.

The eight agencies and their CEOs, in order of appearance on Forbes’ list, include: Covet PR, Sara Brooks; Havas Formula, Michael Olguin; KCD PR, Kevin Dinino; (W)right On Communications, Julie Wright; BAM Communications, Beck Bamberger; Bay Bird, Peyton Robertson; Chemistry PR, Audrey Doherty; J. Walcher Communications, Jean Walcher.

About 200 PR agencies in the U.S. made the Forbes list, including 20 in California.

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Forbes said it partnered with market research firm Statista to develop the 2021 list. Statista surveyed more than 12,700 experts and 20,500 customers who nominated more than 5,000 firms. Participants were asked to indicate how likely they were to nominate a particular agency on a scale of zero (very unlikely) to 10 (very likely). Statista then narrowed the list to the top 200 and gave those that received at least the median score a four-star rating and those that exceeded the median score a five-star rating.

Several of the San Diego agencies selected for the list commented on their recognition.

“It’s an honor receiving this national recognition, particularly since it’s driven by what client partners say about us,” said Grant Wright, CEO of (W)right On Communications. “PR takes a lot of strategy, experience and creativity to execute well, and credit goes to Julie for never wavering from the high standards she set when founding the agency 23 years ago, the terrific (W)right On team members for their savvy, progressive nature and relentless effort to achieve results, and our wonderful client partners it’s a privilege to support.”

“This recognition serves as a testament to our talented, hardworking staff and amazing clients,” said Jean Walcher, president J. Walcher Communications. “Out of 5,000 PR firms considered, 200 were ranked on this list, putting our firm among the top 4 percent of PR agencies in the country.”

“What an incredible honor to be ranked in the top 4 percent of all PR firms across the United States,” said Kevin Dinino, president, KCD PR. “This recognition serves as a testament to the strength and resilience of KCD PR’s business model and our talented team and valued clients who have been with us through this roller coaster year. We are excited and laser-focused on providing impeccable service and stellar results for our clients and continue to deploy integrated communications strategies that maximize the advancement of digital media.”

Dinino also said his firm was honored earlier this year with a selection as top-ranked firm by O’Dwyer PR Magazine, along with receiving a Hermes Creative Platinum Award and Stevie Award.

U-T Editorial Director Matthew Hall Offers Writing Tips at Press Club Webinar

Matthew T. Hall, editorial and opinion director at the San Diego Union-Tribune, will share his favorite writing tips for the San Diego Press Club’s next “Write Better Right Now,” a one-hour, writing webinar from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The free webinar, held over the Zoom online meeting platform, is open to the public and will include Hall sharing writing tips he’s learned during his 25-year career, followed by a question-and-answer time. Moderator will be Luis Cruz, community and public relations director of the Union-Tribune and its Spanish edition.

To register for the Nov. 17 webinar, visit www.sdpressclub.org. The webinar will be recorded and a web link will appear on the Press Club website for viewing at a later date. The webinar is part of the Press Club’s “Nuts & Bolts” series.

Matthew T. Hall
Matthew T. Hall

Hall has worked since 2001 at the Union-Tribune, where he manages the Ideas and Opinion section, writing and editing editorials, and overseeing editorial cartoons, commentaries, letters to the editor and a podcast called “Name Drop San Diego.” Previously, he managed the newsroom’s social media, was a metro columnist and worked as a reporter covering San Diego politics and east and north San Diego County.

The graduate of the University of New Hampshire is currently serving as 2020-2021 president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a national professional organization with about 6,000 members. He has served on SPJ’s national board since 2014, first as a regional director for Region 11 and then as secretary-treasurer and president-elect. Hall is a past president of the SPJ San Diego Professional Chapter, which was honored as national chapter of the year when he served as president.

National University Student Receives San Diego AMA Scholarship

The American Marketing Association’s San Diego chapter has selected Kaitlyn Siewert, a National University student, as the recipient of the $1,000 Parker Pike Cause Conference scholarship. Siewert is earning her masters degree in business administration.

Scholarship applicants must be involved in service to a nonprofit. Siewert is the program director at the REINS Therapeutic Horsemanship Program, a Fallbrook-based nonprofit that provides rides to about 200 people with disabilities per week with assistance from about 120 volunteers and 15 certified instructors (REINS stands for Riding Emphasizing Individual Needs and Strengths). Siewert, who started volunteering at REINS at age 11 in 1993, became an instructor in 2001, a program assistant in 2013 and program director in 2019.

“I am so honored and blessed with feelings of gratitude for this scholarship gift,” said Siewert, a Fallbrook resident. “I remembered it was a leap of faith a year ago when I decided to go for my MBA, and how uncertain it felt to return to school with a young child, a full-time career and part-time volunteer position. The support and encouragement from the staff and professors at National University has been tremendous.”

The scholarship is named after Cause Conference founder Parker Pike, a partner in the San Diego Social Venture Partners, a consulting firm. Pike also is an adjunct professor of marketing at the University of California San Diego. The most recent Cause Conference, held Nov. 13, featured workshop speakers discussing marketing and funding strategies designed to help nonprofit organizations.

Himchak Promoted to Editor of Poway, Rancho Bernardo Newspapers

Marie Himchak
Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Elizabeth Marie Himchak has been promoted to editor of the Rancho Bernardo News Journal and Poway News Chieftain, two North County weekly community newspapers published by the Union-Tribune Community Press.

Himchak, previously a reporter with the newspapers, succeeds the retired Steve Dreyer, who led the papers for 27 years. In 2005, Himchak began as a freelancer with the papers, also known locally as the Pomerado Newspapers. In October 2006, she was hired as a full-time staff reporter. Previously, she was freelancing for the Union-Tribune and The Southern Cross, a newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

Himchak is a fourth-generation Rancho Bernardo resident and native San Diegan who grew up in Kansas. She has had relatives living in Rancho Bernardo continuously since 1969, and has lived in Rancho Bernardo most of her life. She graduated cum laude from the University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, mass media emphasis. Himchak also earned a master’s degree in history from USD. She is serving as a board member with the Society of Professional Journalists San Diego Professional Chapter.

Rick Griffin
Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.