Taking Stock

May 3, 2016

In 1996 I started a PR firm with two clients in Wyoming.  It was a leap of faith—I was divorced with a 2-year-old and I wanted to create a life with flexibility, unlike the 60-hour work weeks I’d experienced in publishing houses and big PR agencies. What I learned is that you still work the 60 hours, but you get to decide when to work those hours so that you don’t miss out on life’s important moments. You sandwich work between dinner and bedtime and between weekend soccer games and shopping for groceries.

Starting a business allowed me to curate a list of clients who are fascinating, to work with people who have become lifelong friends, and to learn something new each day. Being a small business owner isn’t for everyone—it can come at the price of sleepless nights worrying about one thing or another—but for me, it has been the right choice. Cheers to all the people who have helped WordenGroup Public Relations grow—here’s to a bright future!


In support of exclamation points (!)

March 31, 2016

A recent “PR Daily” post offered examples of “exclamation-point abuse,” cautioning that exclamation points should be used “only to express strong emotion or to indicate that you should yell when you read the sentence out loud.”

While I understand the writer’s concern, the use of exclamatory punctuation is actually something I’ve been thinking about since a client lunch where the client asked if we’d noticed that people were using a lot more exclamation points lately. Short answer: they are (they are!). But here’s where I have to stand up for the users of exclamation points. In the old days, in a world of land line rotary phones, we used to actually talk to each other and could hear each other’s voices. Now we communicate in typeface via email and text – printed missives that can get us in trouble because:

  1. Siri changes our words (this makes me really mad); and
  2. The reader misunderstands what we are trying to communicate with flat words on a screen.

Then God invented the emoji, allowing us to express our emotions through little smiley faces. But sometimes to show enthusiasm in email and text, we use exclamation points. Without them the receiver may not understand the positive charge behind our words. Once I responded via text to my college-age daughter with an “okay” instead of “okay!” – and she wrote back asking if I was mad at her. J

And if an exclamation point is only for strong emotion – really the same as yelling – is that always such a bad thing? I think there’s room for getting a little excited sometimes. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

What I have learned from Rob LeVine so far

October 28, 2015

Fifteen years ago, when we were both starting out in our careers (not), I met Antlers at Vail hotel GM Rob LeVine during a talk I was giving in Vail about PR tips for businesses. There was Rob, a speaker’s dream come true—a friendly face. He’s been my firm’s client and friend ever since. Although he hired WordenGroup PR to help him, I should have been paying him all these years for what he has taught me about business:

  1. Use every chance to send a handwritten note. If you’re sending a package, always include a note. It’s a personal touch that goes a long way.
  2. Eliminate extra exclamation marks, let the words convey the emotion. Emails with typos and excessive exclamations are one of his pet peeves. I’m not sure how he feels about emojis 🙂 .
  3. “The answer is yes, what’s the question?” That sentence is a Rob mantra; he truly runs his business by it.
  4. Give away more for free. In the “Free Economy,” Rob is a master at complimentary amenities. Snowshoes, bikes, GoPro cameras, yoga, an electric car charger–as well as WiFi and parking. He thrives on making guests happy.
  5. Plug into the power of Seth. Rob enjoys reading Seth Godin, who recently wrote: “Average stuff for average people is getting ever more difficult to sell. If that’s all you’ve got, get something else.” The post reminded me of Rob; not only does he make the Antlers stand out, he understands that his guests aren’t average either. And treats them that way.

Rob could teach a class on how to be your best self in business: not by hiding behind titles or jargon or policies, but by putting yourself out there as a human being. In our office – and I’m not making this up – we often ask, What would Rob do?

Darla Worden

WordenGroup PR

Western Design Conference “Best of Show” Awarded to Bekes Wooden Bicycles

September 11, 2014


Powell, Wyo., artisan Attila Bekes wows Jackson Hole crowd with handmade bicycle

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – September 10, 2014 – The 2014 Western Design Conference (WDC) celebration held in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at the Snow King Center was a huge success, packed with decorative arts, fashion and fun for attendees and juried participants alike. This year’s “Best of Show” award went to artisan Attila Bekes of Bekes Wooden Bicycles located in Powell, Wyo. The handcrafted wooden bicycle earned Bekes, a Hungarian-born finish woodworker and former road bike racer, a $5,000 check sponsored by the WDC Winner’s Circle Art Auction.

Bekes crafts his bikes from ¼-inch laminated plywood in a freeform design he creates without the aid of computers. Smoothing the layers of jigsaw-cut wood – comprised of dozens of plywood sheets in the widest areas – into the resulting flowing curves takes hundreds of hours of sanding, starting with a belt sander and going through various refining techniques to end with careful hand sanding. “I wish I had an odometer for my jigsaw, because I’m putting a lot of miles on it,” said Bekes in a 2012 interview with roadbikereview.com when he’d completed his first wooden bike, a cruiser custom-designed for his 5-foot-3-inch wife.

This year 115 juried exhibitors showcased their one-of-a-kind creations in furniture, fashion, jewelry and home decor accessories. Other 2014 Western Design Conference award-winners include Timothy Jennings who was awarded Best Artist for Accents and won $1,000 sponsored by Dick and Maggie Scarlett, and Twin M was awarded Best Artist for Art to Wear Fashion, taking home $1,000 sponsored by First Interstate Bank. For a complete listing of this year’s winners go to: http://www.westerndesignconference.com/awards/.

The Western Design Conference, including the annual Exhibit + Sale plus Fashion + Jewelry Show is a four-day, multimillion-dollar event that brings together craftspeople, scholars, collectors, interior designers, architects and fashion designers with an interest in the West. The Western Design Conference was founded 22 years ago in Cody, Wyo., as a way to promote contemporary artists working in historical American craft methods. The show moved to Jackson in 2007 when it was purchased by Powder Mountain Press, LLC and the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Allison Merritt, who purchased the Western Design Conference in 2014 after seven years acting as WDC Events Manager, continues the strong commitment to Western arts in Wyoming while expanding the reach of the show.

The 2014 Western Design Conference is one of the signature events of the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival. Additional information on the conference is available at www.westerndesignconference.com, and on Facebook and Twitter (@WesternDesign).

Media Contacts: Allison Merritt, allison@westerndesignconference.com, 307.690.9719; Darla Worden, WordenGroup Public Relations, darla@wordenpr.com, 307.734.5335

Denver PR Firm WordenGroup Adds Urban Design Client

April 14, 2014


An “Epic” Race of My Own

November 21, 2013
Darla, second from left, skiing with friends at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Darla, second from left, skiing with friends at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Have you heard about Vail Resorts’ Epic Race?

The first 10 people to ski at every Vail resort (there are 29) will receive a lifetime Epic Pass. Personally, I’m cheering for Lake Tahoe newlyweds Dave and Jessica Schnoll, who are undertaking the challenge as an extended honeymoon.  Before deciding to support Team Schnoll, I actually spent some time reviewing frequent flier miles and contemplating how I could participate, checking out flight info into the obscure little ski resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin (who had heard of Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton before this?) plus resorts in Austria, Switzerland and France.  I quickly realized I can’t really take off 29 days plus travel time to ski in November and December when our company  is busy directing PR efforts for the launch of The Landing Resort & Spa, Lake Tahoe’s new five-star luxury property on Lake Tahoe.

So I have boldly created my own version – let’s call it the Sort-of-Epic Race.  I plan to ski at every WordenGroup client location:

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Vail Resort

Eldora (Boulder)


Heavenly (Lake Tahoe)

The prize? Great skiing at my favorite resorts PLUS a celebratory cocktail after each ski day. Watch WordenGroup’s Facebook page for photo proof of my adventures – and let me know if you want to join me!


The PR Intern Papers: Time flies when you’re having fun

May 13, 2013

The phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun” could not apply better to the time that I have spent at WordenGroup Public Relations.  At the beginning of the internship in early January with the Denver and Jackson Hole-based boutique public relations firm, I lacked any previous experience or knowledge of public relations. As time went on, I began working on media lists, client lists, news releases and media releases. With more experience, I became more comfortable with the projects I was assigned and was able to take on more responsibility. Since my time left in Denver is limited, here is a recap of some of my most embarrassing moments during my PR internship moments – plus the most important things I’ve learned while working at WordenGroup Public Relations:

While I could come up with several embarrassing moments to choose from, probably the most embarrassing occurred early in my internship, when I was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., helping with WordenGroup client the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled dog race. One of my jobs on the race was to ask where people were from and whether they had attended the race before. Numerous times I would give someone my (rather long) spiel before I realized that I had already talked to them! (I chalk it up to a combination of nerves and the fact that people are harder to identify when bundled in layers of down and fleece).  Other times I would ask people questions and they would give me a confused look until I apprehended that they were one of the many international guests who visit Jackson Hole and attend the race, and they had no idea what I was saying.

Antler arch

Antler arch in Jackson, WY

One of the funnier things that happened during my internship took place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, when Anne and I worked together at the Denver office. Anne and I liked to compare lunches and see who held out longest before digging into our lunch sacks (starting at around 10 a.m.). But we both had trouble remembering to bring utensils, resulting in some odd situations for eating soup, say, or leftover Chinese food. Finally, by the end of April we filled an entire desk drawer with various lunchtime necessities.

The most important thing I have learned about working in public relations – which I guarantee will be true no matter what PR firm you work with – is to RECORD YOUR HOURS! I have to admit, I was terrible at first about recording my hours of time spent on each individual project. I didn’t think it was that important. Boy, was I wrong. Not only does recording your hours determine how much someone gets paid, but it also lets the company know how much time they are devoting to each client.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from interning is, if you don’t put yourself out there and take a chance, you will never find what you are looking for. While looking for internships, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to apply out of state. I found WordenGroup PR after googling, “PR firms in Colorado.”  Darla’s contact information came up and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to send her an email to see if she was interested in taking on an intern. Surprisingly, I heard from Darla the next day and it wasn’t long after that that I arranged to work with WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations.

Although public relations might not be for everyone, I have come to fall in love with this profession and specifically WordenGroup. Hopefully, I will continue to work in PR throughout and after my college years and stay in touch with all of the amazing people that make WordenGroup the successful and dependable PR firm that it is today.

Sydney Smoot

Intern Sydney Smoot