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Mount Timpanogos near Orem by Ken Lund Flickr

Interview: John Pilmer, CEO of PilmerPR

Good PR is integral to any business. Just ask John Pilmer, CEO of PilmerPR, which has been in operating out of Orem, Utah for nearly 13 years.

Indeed, Pilmer is a public relations veteran, and discussed his experience in an interview with New West. “Public Relations and marketing have been a component of every job I’ve held since college. However, since 1998 when Novell recruited me out of Texas, I’ve been laser focused on Public Relations and Online Marketing.”

And while PilmerPR is Utah-based, Pilmer wasn’t always. A self-described “Navy brat” who spent most of his childhood in Mississippi, along with some time in Virginia and Rhode Island, Pilmer nonetheless came to love the Beehive State. In fact, he earned his bachelor in Business Management and Marketing from Brigham Young University, and his MBA from the University of Utah.

“The mountains, the people, it’s home,” he said.

More than home, however, Utah is the site of a successful business. According to Pilmer, PilmerPR’s portfolio mostly consists of clients specializing in “highly technical products and services—from molecular diagnostics to radar to software-as-a-service.”

He attributes his success not only to his company’s abilities to translate the technical aspects of their clientele into “people-speak,” but also the advent of the Internet as necessity.

“We used to fly under the radar of larger agencies that didn’t want to mess with clients under $10k/month in billings. In 2009 that changed and we sometimes compete against larger agencies across the country. However, since we are a virtual firm (all staff work from home offices), we have low overhead and provide world-class service vs. agencies that have to cover expensive office space before their fees go to PR tactical execution for clients.”

He also attributes much of his business’ flourishing to the state itself, especially with the rise of the “Silicon Slopes.”

“By almost any measure, Utah’s economy is at the top of the heap. Low unemployment, great tax environment for business, exceptional higher education, lots of entrepreneurial startups, and controlled government … The biggest challenge is growing and attracting top tech talent to fill the huge demand for qualified workers. It’s a nice problem to have.”

Further, Pilmer says Utah’s business successes also impact neighboring states, although he admits there are a few problems.

“Utah’s economic strength and momentum radiates to its closest neighbors. All of these states depend on cooperation, as well as “co-opetition.” While we do battle over water rights, skilled workforce, and other issues, we are wise to build on each other’s strengths to benefit the region. I can easily think of unique strengths for each of these states.”

Pilmer is rather optimistic about the future of PilmerPR, citing rapid changes in the industry: “For more than a decade we’ve thrived based on the commitment to learn, adapt, and apply best practices, which represent a moving target. Measurement is a good example. Whereas it is still challenging to draw a solid line from great “earned media coverage” to sales, it’s vital to measure the web traffic such efforts generate. That hasn’t always been possible, especially for small companies. That’s changed.”

Pilmer is also optimistic that Utah will grow—and not just from a tech standpoint.

“Forecasted population growth alone suggests we must get better at education for worker development, environment and community issues like clean air, mass transit, education, and crime control,” he said. “The good news is we have some very talented, committed leaders who, if brave enough, can help guide us to that prosperous future while maintaining quality of life for this magnificent state.”

Finally, Pilmer made clear that he believes as Utah grows, the West will too—with the Beehive State at the front of the pack, of course.

“As Utah goes, so goes the American West. We have smart people, natural resources, a growing worker base, and quality infrastructure.”

Photo credit: Ken Lund, Flickr.com.

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