Polo is one of the very few sports that invites spectators to interrupt – and enjoy – its match at halftime. The tradition is known as “Stomping of the Divots.” Made a bit more famous by Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman, our annual celebration of the sport in Scottsdale is perhaps the best way to kick off our assessment of the first half of 2014, albeit a couple of weeks late. Thank you to all who played a part and invested their confidence in us to make a difference on their behalf whether it was for public relations, crisis communication, elections or public affairs. Last year was our company’s second best since starting it in 1996. We are on pace to match or exceed that so far this year. We don’t share that to feed our ego. We do so because we get stuff done. And appreciate you allowing us to help.
- Polo: Bentley & Beyond. Initially launched in 2011 with the help of Barrett-Jackson, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Neiman Marcus and many others, the Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower has become quite a spectacle and the most attended polo event in the United States. This year the event welcomes Bentley Scottsdale as the title sponsor, joining Heineken as the presenting sponsor. This year’s event October 25th & 26th at WestWorld of Scottsdale offers the #1 polo player in the United States, the best women’s team in the world consisting of players from Argentina, England, France and the United States, the Gay Polo League, the defending champions from Wales as well as the best college polo player in America. Besides the event’s superior polo, fashion and party, this year offers elements well beyond the sport too. The Canine Couture makes its debut thanks to Applewood Pet Resort. It will be a dog fashion show like no other with the national renowned trainer of this year’s “Best In Show” winner at Westminster. Dogs and owners may enter with a ticket purchase. The World Food Championships will also be incorporating into the event as the Arizona Porsche Concours d’Elegance did last year (and will again in 2014). A premier Scottsdale art house – The Larsen Art Gallery – will be launching a significant live art auction on-site too. Consigners should contact Larsen directly at (480) 941-0900. Bidders may register with an event ticket purchase. Fascinated by what’s taking place with polo in the desert the governing body of polo, the United States Polo Association, will be having its annual meeting in conjunction with the event too. For more information on all of the event elements as well as tickets, reserved tables, vendor and sponsorship opportunities go to www.thepoloparty.com.
- From Grass To Grass: Following a 7-0 drubbing in front of the Pinal County Planning Commission, Rose+Allyn Public & Online Relations was hired to redirect strategy and communications efforts for a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Oracle, Arizona – the same place of organized protests against illegal child immigrants this past week. The result after two months of work with key staff and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors? A 3-2 vote in favor of the dispensary that should well-serve one of the few areas left in Arizona without a regulated facility.
- Car Star: There may be no more remarkable new Valley building to open during the first half of 2014 than Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale, across from Scottsdale Fashion Square. It was a real pleasure to provide public relations assistance to Grand Opening activities for one of Scottsdale’s best new projects.
- Speaking of Cars: For the first time in our 18-year history we were retained by the Arizona Automobile Dealer’s Association to provide strategic counsel and public relations assistance to the organization regarding key state legislative matters. Working closely with Association leadership and others the efforts were successful.
- Speaking of Steaks: Redeveloped in the old Cork & Cleaver space near 44th & Camelback the Mastro-family-backed Steak 44 was perhaps the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year. And for good reason. Firm partner Jennifer Moser led Grand Opening and public relations efforts, in addition to her ongoing work for another Mastro-owned eatery at the Scottsdale Quarter, Dominick’s Steakhouse. These successful efforts led to the new owners of the Montelucia Resort & Spa – now known as Omni Scottsdale – hiring us to assist the reintroduction of their impressive Prado Restaurant this fall.
- From One Steakhouse To Another: Scottsdale’s venerable Pinnacle Peak Patio, a north Scottsdale fixture for decades. But it is nearing the end of its run. Retained by the property’s new owner who will likely be downzoning and redeveloping the property next year, we have forged a creative plan to see the restaurant potentially reincarnated at Scottsdale’s WestWorld equestrian and special events complex. It could be a perfect fit and a good resolution, in part avoiding the hand wringing when Rawhide closed and fully departed the “West’s Most Western Town.”
- From One Institution To Another: Turf Paradise has been around in the Valley about as long as Pinnacle Peak Patio. And this year Arizona horse racing there defied national trends around the country with gate and handle increases. Someday the track will hopefully get slots and other gaming privileges as is occurring around the country. Until then we look forward to providing more creative, energetic marketing efforts for them.
- For The Past 18 Years: It has been a privilege to represent renowned Valley attorney Patrick J. McGroder. He’s among the best in the country having represented Jason Schechterle against Ford Motor Company and numerous other cases that have turned cases into causes. Like his recent representation of the family of a fallen Prescott Hot Shot. McGroder successfully argued greater benefits for the family before a public safety board in Prescott, and tasked us with a press conference involving himself and the widow the following day to discuss the case in greater detail with Arizona media.
- His Honor: Sometimes the best political campaigns are the ones that don’t have to be run at all. Like Paradise Valley Vice-Mayor Michael Collins’. The capable Collins hired firm political strategist Jason Rose to lead campaign efforts in the tony town. The result with the House of Cards loving Collins and other members of his team? Momentum sufficient to discourage any other candidate from contesting him. Collins will take over the retiring Mayor Scott Lemarr, who will leave on top in January.
- Russ Lyon Sotheby’s: Our resident publicist extraordinaire Jennifer Parks has led efforts for Arizona’s top realty company and the extraordinary homes they represent. Achieving unprecedented market shares with extraordinary agents, Parks and others help tell their story to the public, and assist the company’s engagement in signature new civic events to extend the brand.
- Tough Sport. Cool Event. As our company did with polo in 2011, we launched a major new event around another niche sport during Spring, 2014. The Rugby Bowl: Spikes & Spokes. Coordinated in partnership with Arizona State University Rugby, the nationally-ranked Sun Devils weren’t afraid to take on the three-time defending champions from Brigham Young University. Over 3,500 people attended the inaugural event at WestWorld. For more information go to www.therugbybowl.com.
- David vs. Goliath: As utility monopoly Arizona Public Service goes to extraordinary, ethically-challenged efforts to squash rooftop solar in Arizona, our company is proud to stand with energy choice and the salience of solar. Providing political strategy, public relations and anything required – both here in Arizona and around the country – to help discourage the typewriter from defeating the computer.
- The Attic: My Sister’s Attic, and Closet, is a great client, but so was The Attic just a couple of months ago. A cool haunt in Arcadia, the restaurant was hurt on social media – and subsequently traditional media – by poor conduct from one of its employees. Doing what we do best we worked to mitigate the damage for a restaurant that has a lot more to offer – especially tasty beer and burgers – than one bad day from someone on staff.
- Perhaps The Best For Last: When we were contacted last year by a nascent group of alumni from the Thunderbird School of Global Management you could call us skeptical. Asked to assist their strategy and communications in opposition to a proposed merger with a for-profit education behemoth called Laureate, the other side was represented by former U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley and even President Clinton himself. But through a gritty, sustained opposition effort directed at the Higher Learning Commission that captured media attention around the world, the transaction was upended in March. We have been involved in a lot of tough, longer-shot endeavors – and pride ourselves on winning them. But this was undoubtedly a case for our Top 5 in the public affairs arena.
As always we are grateful for all of our clients – those who have been with us for more than a decade and those who just came on board. Together they are one motley crew but also the best group of clients in the state. Thank you. Or apologies. As without them we wouldn’t be able to write some 1,500 words about them every six months. Until auld langsyne.