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

The PR Intern Papers: Finding the Right Public Relations Internship

May 9, 2013

Finding the right PR internship can mean either endless days of miserable office hours or having office hours that fly by. Location, area of interest, and firm size all come into play when finding an internship in public relations.


Location shouldn’t play a key role in your decision of accepting an internship, but living somewhere that you could see yourself thriving in is a definite plus. If you are from a small town, venture into a big city. If you are from the East Coast, try going to the West Coast. If you take a chance, it could be extremely rewarding – or maybe you’ll realize that it’s not for you. Either way, you’ll uncover valuable information for future career decisions.


When I was looking for an internship for my fall semester, I was in Boston and applying for mostly East Coast positions. I realized it would be most rewarding to go out of my comfort zone and try to live somewhere that I have always wanted live, which turned out to be Colorado. The move from Boston, away from friends and my current apartment, to Denver was indeed nerve-wracking. Four and a half months later, Denver had become my new home with friends that I will stay in-touch with and my office experience was wonderful and valuable.


Some great advice in relation to short-term internships that can help you push beyond your comfort zone is, “If it’s six months or less, you can do anything.” If your internship is for only a couple months and you hate, it’ll be over soon anyway, if you love it, you’ll have enough time to embrace it and will know it’s something you want to explore more going forward.



View of downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains – site of the office where I spent most of my PR time, though I also got to experience client work in Jackson Hole and Vail


Public relations covers everything from “fun” subject areas like luxury travel to film entertainment to the nitty gritty like politics and car parts (one of my bosses talks about a career low point when she was doing PR for automobile timing belts). Take time to identify and be honest about your interests, so you can narrow your search to companies that are most likely to be a good fit. If you are not sure what your area of interest is, look up an industry that you think you will like. Who knows, it could be your calling.


I personally was most interested in travel PR and while I was searching for potential internships online, numerous job opportunities came up that were not in my area of interest. I finally found specific companies that I was attracted to and decided to contact them asking if they would be interested in a fall semester intern. The worst thing that could happen, I figured, was that they’d say they were not interested, so I gave it a shot. I ended up hearing back from a couple of companies as well as not hearing back from many.  I set up online and phone interviews with the companies that replied to my email. After the interview process I was offered a position at WordenGroup PR. Before I even heard back from the other companies I interviewed with, I’d agreed to spend four and a half months in Denver, Colo., as an intern for WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations, specializing in PR for travel, arts and architecture clients.


Different perks come with interning at large and small companies, but both have their advantages. Working at a smaller company provides more one-on-one instruction and possibly a higher level of responsibility with each person playing more roles. You will be working with a small group of people who can help you excel – often including top people in the company.  I spent my days at the WordenGroup office with writer/editor and PR strategist Anne Parsons. Anne delivered excellent instruction as well as advice when I needed more direction on a project or task.


Larger companies usually have a more corporate structure and are more likely to have an existing internship program, so you’ll be more likely to work with other students and people close to your own age. Personally, I don’t think that you can go wrong with either choice.


-Sydney Smoot

The PR Intern Papers: What do you wear to an internship in a world of business casual, casual casual, sled dog race casual?

April 25, 2013


No, not me – this is from “What to Wear to an Internship Interview” on About.com: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewattire/ss/What-To-Wear-To-An-Internship-Interview-Internship-Attire_7.htm, but still a good business casual choice – and something I’d be comfortable wearing to the office.

A number of people have asked me what I’ve learned in the PR trenches about what to wear – or what NOT to wear – in an internship in a world of business casual, casual casual, and in rare cases, perhaps sled dog race casual. Every work event that I have ever attended has caused me anxiety, stressing over what to wear or what is considered appropriate attire. With the caveat that I’m lucky to be working for a boutique PR firm in the already dressed-down Rocky Mountain West, attending work events and going to the office in Jackson Hole, Vail, and Denver, here’s a list of my what-to-wear suggestions for an internship in a world of business casual (throughout the winter and spring months and strictly for ladies – guys, you’re on your own):

  • Dressing for the office:

In the past two weeks Denver has seen everything from high 70s and sunshine to a record (for this late in April) 19 degrees with snow, wind and ice – sometimes both in a single day. The ups and downs prove the wisdom of layering.  One of the worst things (that can possibly ruin your day) is to be uncomfortably hot or cold at work. Sometimes even on hot days air conditioning makes the office cold. By taking an extra sweater or coat with you, you can put it on or strip it off to keep you comfortable and more relaxed to focus on work. (Or slip it on to cover up a stain if you spill while eating lunch at your desk!)

  • Dressing to meet clients:

Of course, you need to look your best for meeting with clients. You want to give the impression that you take yourself seriously (which you do) as well as the company you are working for. A nice pair of pants with a cozy sweater and a cashmere scarf is a good go-to choice for fall through spring.

  • Dressing for a business formal work dinner:

As an undergraduate student with limited office experience, dressing for a business formal work event usually doesn’t come around too often – luckily. Since you will most likely be around clients and higher ups in your company, you should dress to impress. Make sure you don’t look disheveled by leaving your hair a mess (keep an extra comb in your purse) and if you don’t have it already, keep your eye out for that perfect “little black dress” in a classic cut whenever you’re shopping Nordstrom’s Rack.

  • Dressing to work at a sled dog race:

Working a sled dog race is probably a rare eventuality unless you, too, end up interning for WordenGroup, but it does raise the need for all interns to always be prepared, flexible and game for anything. When it comes specifically to a sled dog race in Wyoming in the middle of winter, the most important thing is to STAY WARM! You will be outside for long periods at a time and if you are cold and miserable, it’ll be hard to stay entirely focused on your task at hand. Stash some hand warmers in your pocket and don’t forget your hat. Even better, find a hat, scarf, or vest that sports the sponsor’s logo; that way you will stay nice and cozy while looking professional and representing your clients.



Hardy types showing how it’s done at the Jackson, Wyo., start of the International Pedigree Stage Shop Sled Dog Race. And yes, that’s my boss, WordenGroup President Darla Worden far right in the white hat (photo: Chris Havener/IPSSSDR)

  • The summer internship:

With summer fast approaching, the best advice I have ever heard regarding attire at the office is, “don’t wear anything that you would be embarrassed to wear in front of your grandma.” But if your grandma’s particularly racy and that might not be safe, refer back to your high school dress code and don’t wear anything shorter than your fingertips with arms extended fully downward or with straps that are less than three fingers in width. And remember a sweater or light jacket in case of chilly air conditioning or an unexpected meeting.


Finally, if that odd work event or situation comes up where you’re really not sure what’s appropriate (like the time we attended a Hawaiian luau in a tent in a snowstorm at the base of a Vail ski run with client and Antlers at Vail GM Rob LeVine. Hint: we brought leis with us from Denver), don’t be afraid to ask your boss or a coworker who always looks pulled together. They’ll be impressed by your desire to look professional. And in a pinch, remember that your energy, positive attitude and confidence are always more important than anything you’re wearing.


Sydney Smoot


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