18 for ’18

Posted by janelle on January 7, 2018 in Leadership, Personal |
Selfie-Janelle & Jim@Thornewood

Enjoying our annual trip to Thornewood Castle

With 2018 firmly underway, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on what I loved about 2017–and share some goals for 2018.

Looking back over the past year, I’m grateful for:

  • The Employment Security Department’s work with Monster.com to develop a ground-breaking new job match site (WorkSourceWA.com)that allows Washington employers to post jobs and search for talent for free! I enjoyed travelling to Monster.com headquarters in January to hear some of the innovative new ways they are helping people hear about new jobs without really knowing they’re looking.
  • Our work to improve our online services for unemployment insurance claimants. We are continuously improving the system based on feedback from our customers but they now can do so much more online!
  • Our efforts to inspire more businesses to hire our nation’s veterans through our YesVets program.
  • Going to concerts with my friends and family: Tim & Faith, Blondie and Garbage, Primus and Foreigner with Cheap Trick–all different friends, all different venues, all good times.
  • Taking time out with my family at our cabin at Lake Quinault, playing in the sun, touring the lake by boat and hiking to the waterfalls.
  • Travelling for work and fun: Costa Mesa, Austin, Washington DC, Nashville, Boston and Coeur D’Alene.
  • Celebrating professional accomplishments by joining the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) College of Fellows and winning the PRSA Lloyd B. Dennis Award for Distinguished Service at the national level.
  • Enjoying a holiday getaway at the Thornewood Castle with my husband.
  • And last but not least, the continued health and happiness of my friends, family and Mr. Tigger, our two-year-old cat!

Looking to future, because it’s 2018 and because I can never resist trying to do too many things, I’m going to focus on these 18 things. Let’s see how it goes!

  1. Health: It wouldn’t be a resolution post if we didn’t start with this: Continue to work on improving my health, eating better and exercising more.
  2. Peace: Find time to enjoy the blessings in my life.
  3. Love: Spend more time with my wonderful husband in our relaxing home.
  4. Nature: Get outside more–both at home and around our state.
  5. Family: Visit grandma more often, road trips to the cabin with mom, play with my nieces and nephews.
  6. Friendships: More spontaneous lunch, coffee and happy hours.
  7. Finances: Save more, spend more mindfully.
  8. The Power of Jobs: Helping good people find great jobs has always been a passion of mine. Lucky for me, my job feeds that passion as our WorkSource system connects employers with jobseekers every day. My dream for 2018 is that more people experience the benefits of WorkSource to find great talent or new jobs. #powerofajob
  9. Nurturing talent and recognizing success: I’m blessed with an amazing team at work and this year, I want to take more time to help them achieve their goals–and to make sure they’re recognized for their successes.  Then taking it a step beyond, I’d love to recognize more people across our agency for the great work they do.
  10. Inspiration:  In February, I’m honored to speak at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) regional conference–#InsPiRe: Rise Above. I’m looking forward to inspiring them and encouraging them as they enter our industry.
  11. Mentorship: As a new PRSA Fellow and member of the induction ceremony committee, I hope to encourage more of my successful peers to join the ranks of the PRSA College of Fellows–and I’d also love to see more professionals pursue their Accreditation in Public Relations.
  12. Engagement and encouragement: Returning to my local PRSA board after a bit, I want to be a fully engaged board member and encourage more professionals to join our ranks for the strong professional development and lifelong friendships they will enjoy.
  13. Inspiring ethical behavior and civility: In my last year as the chapter outreach coordinator for our Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, I want to schedule more regular calls with PRSA Ethics Officers to provide ongoing and informational support for our collective work to raise the ethical bar for public relations professionals.
  14. Empowerment: Continuing work with the amazing women of the Thurston County United Way’s Women United and the Junior League of Olympia, I want to help lift the women and girls in Thurston County up to financial self-sufficiency through philanthropy and volunteerism. I look forward to sharing our stories, welcoming new members and raising more money than ever to help promote hope!
  15. Fighting cancer: I’ll proudly continue to work with my friends and family to fight cancer through the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life with a goal of bringing in $2,500 again this year and supporting the great work of Cancer Pathways.
  16. Reconnecting: I’m blessed with long-time friends who regularly stay in touch. I look forward to seeing them whenever I can.
  17. Professional development: As a life-long learner, I hope to learn a few new tricks this year to help me continue to improve and grow.
  18. Gratitude: It always ends with gratitude. In 2018 and always, I’ll strive to express gratitude for the gifts in my life.

Happy New Year!


2015 in the rearview mirror

Posted by janelle on December 27, 2015 in Personal |

Every year around New Year’s, Facebook creates a “Year in Review” for people. This year, as I reviewed mine, I saw a year of great fun and deep sadness.

Our family faced some huge changes that still bring tears to my eyes–losing Grandpa, saying goodbye to Pozo after 19 years and Grandma moving farther away.

I also enjoyed some really fun times with family and friends–and welcomed Mr. Tigger to the family.

Since Facebook only allowed 10 photos, I’m expanding on 2015 here.

Grandma's 90

Celebrating Grandma’s 90 with Grandpa


Uncle Con

Happy 75th Birthday, Uncle Con!


Disneyland with Jeff, Tracey and the kids!



RIP Grandpa! We love you and miss you…


Chamber's Bay US Open

US Open at Chambers Bay with Jim!


Girls Trip

Annual trip to Moclips with the girls!



Relay for Life

American Cancer Society Relay for Life: We raised more than $10,000!!







Motley Crue

Motley Crue Concert with friends!









Celebrating Nan’s 75th at Uncorked Canvas!



Happy 19th Birthday, Pozo… We miss you!


Fast Jack

Wesley and Andrew got to help Fast Jack Beckman pack his chute before Beckman’s record-breaking run!


Golf view

Longtime friends, Jim and Dave Fischer, take in the view at Chambers Bay!

Great team

Team outing at Lattin’s Cider Mill!


Happy 17th Anniversary Getaway to Thornewood Castle!


Masquerade Ball with Jim and friends!


PRSA Conference in Atlanta


Welcome to the family, Mr. Tigger!


Christmas Forest with Mom!


Visiting Holly, Jack, Ryan and Addison in Dallas!

Violet Christmas

Decorating gingerbread houses with Violet and Andrew!

Andrew Christmas

Decorating gingerbread houses with Violet and Andrew!

Guthrie Christmas

Guthrie family Christmas!




























































































Here’s to a happy and bright 2016!


It’s a new day

Posted by janelle on February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Life in a state capitol after a major election is a little like living in a snow globe–especially for those who serve at the pleasure of elected officials.

Everybody is all shaken up, wondering if the incoming elected officials will retain them when things settle down.

There are certainly no guarantees–even if the new elected official is of the same political party as the outgoing elected official.

In Olympia, state employees are welcoming a brand new governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor.

Changes at the top have a domino effect across all of state government. New agency heads mean new leadership teams and new support staff — and these changes ripple across an agency and across the state.

Following a long-standing tradition in the Attorney General’s Office, Attorney General Bob Ferguson chose to retain a number of senior leaders while bringing in fresh leadership familiar with his personal vision and priorities.

As we reach the end of our first month working together as a new team, here are a few tips that have helped ease the transition:

  • Plan ahead:  The Attorney General’s Office started planning for the transition for nearly a year in advance, developing clear and concise materials to help the new Attorney General and his team start their term.  Our goal was to fit everything into one 3-inch binder for easy reference moving forward. AG Ferguson and his team received these materials shortly after the election so they could familiarize themselves with the inner workings of the office before inauguration day.
  • Prepare to serve: After the election, I had the opportunity to meet with AG Ferguson and his new chief of staff to share how my team was prepared to help him launch his communications efforts.  My team and I had identified all of the tools and communications strategies we had used to successfully support Attorney General McKenna–and we provided AG Ferguson a plan detailing how we could help him be successful. That plan guided us as we neared inauguration day so we were prepared to “flip the switch” on the Web site, social media and other tools as soon AG Ferguson was sworn in.
  • Establish trust:   In any new relationship, trust is key.  Both the established staff and the new staff have done a great job of sharing information to help each other better serve our new Attorney General. For example, existing staff share lessons learned over our years with the office and new staff help us understand AG Ferguson’s style so we can better serve his communications needs.
  • Work hard but be patient: Launching a new administration takes a lot of work.  Aside from his day-to-day work reviewing legal decisions as the state’s top legal officer, AG Ferguson is manager, a policy maker and a leader. He and his team must meet with AGO leaders and staff, our state agency clients, legislators and other elected officials, the federal government, media and a variety of organizations. We have hundreds of decisions to make. We’re working hard but we also must be patient, prioritizing and recognizing we can’t do everything in the first month.

It’s a new day at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office–and we’re all working together to continue to serve the state of Washington with the highest level of professionalism and pride.



Media training for Media Relations Professionals

Posted by janelle on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized |

It’s day two of the PRSA International Conference and my colleagues and I have been overwhelmed with great information.

We’ve had three fantastic key note presentations, plenty of time between sessions and after hours for networking, and nearly a dozen different workshops to choose from every workshop session.

Today, one highlight was Debbie Wetherhead’s workshop, Media Training: How to deliver compelling messages. If you missed it– and you’re a PRSA member– you can catch a similar free Web cast— Key Message Development: Building a foundation for effective communication– as part of your membership!

Debbie’s 25+ years in public relations serving clients such as Coca-Cola and NASA has provided her with a wealth of interesting stories which add color to her already interesting presentation.

As someone who conducts Rob McKenna at press conferencemedia training for my organization, I attended this segment hoping to learn some fresh tips and tricks to share with those I counsel– like Attorney General Rob McKenna, pictured here at the 2008 election night news conference.

I wasn’t disappointed. Debbie provided us with several pages of helpful tips I plan to return to before preparing for major interview.

I particularly liked her simple five-step process for interview preparation:

  1. Set an agenda
  2. Craft key messages
  3. Prove your points
  4. Prep for Q&A
  5. Make a lasting impression with your closing statement.

For more detail on this process, check our her blog post on PRSA’s ComPRehension blog.


Conference Countdown

Posted by janelle on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized |


Have you ever had one of those projects that dragged out over months and months? With multiple little fire drills?
And lots of politics?
And many complicated issues?
And highly emotional and passionate voices sharing viewpoints without all the facts? And so many moving pieces you’re not sure if it’s ever going to work?

Remember how you felt when ultimately, it all DID come together?

That’s how I felt on the afternoon of February 9, 2012. As I drove home from Seattle after Attorney General Rob McKenna finished the Seattle announcement of the groundbreaking $25 billion settlement between 49 state Attorneys General, the federal government and the nation’s five largest loan servicers, I wanted to share what we learned with the world!

From October 2010 when Attorney General McKenna joined Attorney General Tom Miller from Iowa and five others in announcing an investigation into questionable loan servicing and foreclosure practices until roughly 11 p.m. on February 8, state attorneys general and others worked to stave off public criticism, shore up internal support and craft a settlement that would provide swift and sure benefits to eligible borrowers as soon as possible while holding banks accountable.

Throughout the process, communicators for Attorneys General across the nation worked to inform borrowers of assistance already available to them while assuring them a better deal was on the horizon. As the states, federal government and the banks grew closer to a settlement, critics started leaking misinformation and a group of core communicators came together to develop a plan to deflect criticism and prepare to announce the largest consumer protection settlement in history.

Next Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. at the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in San Francisco, I’ll join the settlement’s lead public information officer (PIO), Geoff Greenwood from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, to share how we brought together PIOs representing the state and federal negotiators and leveraged every tool we had to make sure borrowers knew how to take advantage of the relief our leaders fought to provide.


Happy renewal

Posted by janelle on September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Happy renewal to janelleguthrie.com! Thank goodness I married a domainer…



Posted by janelle on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Thank you to the PRSA Puget Sound Chapter for two great events yesterday.

We started off the day with a top-notch professional development seminar, featuring a breadth of interesting topics ranging from the challenges of managing global communications initiatives to innovations in outreach technology to telling digital stories through brand journalism. The seminar concluded with a glimpse into the life of Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman, Ed Troyer, who has managed communications through some of our state’s most horrendous crimes.

Kudos to all the speakers and panelists– and especially to the organizers! Melissa Tizon from Swedish Medical deserves tons of credit for pulling together such a valuable event.

Last night, our Masters Program featured a one-on-one discussion with the seminar’s keynote speaker and one of the top 50 PR pros to follow on Twitter, Arik Hanson, APR– who shared some of his work to engage customers and communities through social media. Congratulations to Masters chair, Chris Bridenbaugh, for a great event and thank you  to Holland American’s Erik Elvejord for moderating the discussion.

It’s always hard to try to find time away from the office to participate in professional development and networking but I always come away feeling refreshed and renewed when I return to work the next day. Thanks, everyone!



Posted by janelle on March 22, 2012 in Tips |

Have you committed any of these  “5 Presentation Sins?”

Do you:

  • Cling to the podium?
  • Use PowerPoint as your teleprompter?
  • Exhaust your audience with information overload?
  • Forget the stories? or
  • Wing it?

There’s still time to repent and reinvent!

Thanks, Cvent, for the great tips for speakers and event planners alike.


Lessons from a snowstorm

Posted by janelle on January 22, 2012 in Leadership, Tips |

Last week brought a series of lessons in emergency preparedness for many across Washington as our state was walloped with as much as24 inches of snow in some areas followed by a debilitating ice storm that resulted in massive power outages impacting more than 325,000 households.

Times like these shine a huge spotlight on your emergency preparedness plan.

In past snowstorms, my role at the Attorney General’s Office consisted of rolling over in bed around 6 a.m., dialing the inclement weather line, texting my team to find out whether people could make it in due to the weather, checking the weather outside to see if there was any chance I could drive in it then eventually padding downstairs to make some coffee, log on and work from home since it’s next to impossible to get out of our cul de sac and up the hill to get to work.

This year, in my new role as Deputy Chief of Staff, I joined the ranks of the inclement weather team, responsible for deciding how the Attorney General’s Office would respond to the weather.

While Monday was a holiday, many of us were working regardless. The Legislature takes no holidays when it is in session– so neither do those of us whose work involves the Legislature. With the snow already several inches  deep, we held a short conference call Monday afternoon then decided to check in at 5:30 am the following morning to determine whether or not to allow late arrival. At that point, I sent a short message to staff, reminding them of the inclement weather policy, including the number to call the next morning.

My back deck at 6 a.m. on January 18-- after one round of snow shovelling and six more hours of snow.

At 5:15 a.m. Tuesday, I trudged downstairs, fired up the space heater, turned on the computer, logged on to our AGO e-mail system and loaded multiple Web sites:

With offices in 13 cities across the state, our inclement weather team consists of representatives from Seattle, Tacoma, Tumwater, Olympia, Spokane and our regional services division chief who is responsible for reporting out for the rest of the state.

Some members reported school closures, others shared information from the various weather and news reports, others called the courts or checked their Web sites, others shared information from their staff– and our Chief Deputy even went out and drove around his neighborhood to gauge how difficult the driving conditions were. In anticipation of the week ahead, I signed up for KING 5’s school closure alerts and KIRO 7’s severe weather and personalized daily weather emails.

Throughout the week, we faced a variety of challenges, worse-than-expected weather, widespread power outages and constantly changing information. Despite it all, I feel like the office handled this latest disaster fairly well. But it never hurts to do a little reflection.

What we did well:

  • Publicized the inclement weather policy ahead of time and advertised the phone number.
  • Identified and notified essential personnel ahead of time.
  • Established a conference line and pass code that doesn’t change to use for inclement weather team calls.
  • Updated the inclement weather line as close to 6 a.m. as possible–and updated again as needed.
  • Followed-up with an e-mail.
  • Allowed for flexibility.
  • Reminded people to check in with their supervisors.

What I’d personally do differently in the future:

  • Assign members of the inclement weather team to check specific sites for cancellations to prevent all of us from looking up the same things and to streamline the decision-making process.
  • Provide more information to staff earlier as to the decision-making process so they know what goes into our decisions.
  • Update my hard-copy phone list to include members of the inclement weather team, their personal and home cell numbers as well as personal e-mail addresses in case we lose access to the AGO servers or suffer a power outage.
  • Develop more redundancy when it comes to who can update the weather line in case the first two people assigned to update the line lose phone access or power.
  • Make sure I have multiple cell phone chargers so I have access to my Blackberry if my power goes out!

While things certainly were not perfect, all in all, we had an opportunity to rise to the occasion– and an opportunity to find areas to improve. Let’s hope we don’t have to do it again any time soon!


Weekly Roundup

Posted by janelle on January 14, 2012 in Media relations, Politics, Tips |

The first week of the 2012 session of the Washington State Legislature was as crazy-busy as I expected, including:

  • An editorial board with The Olympian;

    Credit: The Body Shop

  • A fascinating forum with Secretary of State Sam Reed, three of my favorite current and former journalists and former Sen. Slade Gorton;
  • An inspiring anti-trafficking event with Washington Engage; and
  • A fantastic news conference with The Body Shop, ECPAT and the Somaly Mam foundation to raise awareness and encourage action in the fight against human trafficking. (As a reminder, if you are a victim or you suspect you know a victim, be sure to call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-3737-888.)

As I’m catching up on e-mail tonight, I came across a few interesting stories I thought I’d share:

The Council of PR Firms offers expert advice to Mitt Romney and other political front-runners in When It’s Not So Lonely At the Top: Selling the Weak Front-Runner.  Here are the highlights:

  • Be consistent: People want consistency in their commander-in-chief, so even a flawed but consistent strategy is better than one that shifts and tries to adapt to a changing environment.–Mark McKinnon, Global Vice Chairman at Hill+Knowlton Strategies
  • Be focused: While it may be tempting for Romney to segment the market and pick off certain segments, Olson urges careful timing.–Blois Olson, Principal and Executive Vice President at Tunheim.
  • Be real:  Too many campaigns try and oversell and then their candidate can’t deliver and they come up short.– McKinnon
  • Be nice less mean:  There’s an old saying in boxing: Never punch down to an opponent.  Attaching weaker opponents only diminishes the front-runner. —Nick Ragone, political author and Partner/Director of Ketchum’s Washington office.

Having been in the business for a while, I hope I’m no longer guilty of the sins described in “11 reasons your PR pitches suck” posted earlier this week on Ragan.com. While we still rely on blast e-mails to share news from our office, we at least try to make sure the reporters on our email list actually want to know what the AG’s Office is doing (and if you’re a reporter on our list who doesn’t want to know, please let me know!)

Finally, I liked the tongue-in-cheek tone of  “How to date a PR professional” — though I’ll tell you my husband is not the least bit willing to accept this bit of advice:   You could also find dinner interrupted by the red flash of the BlackBerry, alerting us to an essential social media checking appointment. Please just allow us to ensure each of our social networks is up to speed; it won’t take a minute. The world could end if you prevent us from doing this. Unfortunately, he doesn’t believe the world will end– and worse, he really doesn’t care…

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