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…


Are you more stressed than a fire fighter?

Posted by janelle on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized |

CareerCast released its Top 10 most stressful jobs in America today on Thursday, ranking public relations professional at No. 7 behind law enforcement, enlisted soldier and firefighter to name a few.

As a PR professional for a high-profile and very active Attorney General’s Office, I can understand why we ranked so high but I was also pleased to see our ranking drop from 2nd to 7th–which is a much more reasonable ranking for our job.

At first glance, I worried this ranking was based on some sort of survey of working professionals and I was concerned that PR professionals might be perceived as taking ourselves a bit too seriously.

However, in reviewing the methodology and the stress factors considered in developing the ranking, I can understand why our jobs are considered so stressful– and I feel a little better about my own stress level!

While certainly, PR professionals are not responsible for the life and death of other human beings like our military, law enforcement and firefighting personnel, we do face fairly high demands in the areas of travel, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, and meeting the public.

Here’s what Careercast had to say about our ranking:

Public Relations Officers are responsible for creating and maintaining a positive image with the public for companies, non-profits and government agencies. They typically are responsible for giving presentations and making speeches, often in front of large crowds. This very competitive field, which often includes highly visible, tight deadlines, keeps stress at high-levels for specialists. Some PR executives are required to interact with potentially hostile members of the media, especially after a disaster.

Perhaps because I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I can still think of many jobs I would say are more stressful than ours –even on the most stressful day.

What do you think?

In the meantime, if you’re tired of your stressful job, check out CareerCast’s list of the Top 10 LEAST Stressful Jobs.

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