30 years graphic

Email did not yet exist. The internet was nascent. Newspapers were the only real bastion of local news.

Thirty years ago, nothing even slightly resembled the digital communication age we live in today – and it was into that analog world that Stan Whisenhunt landed in early 1990, after he quit his job as managing editor of the Ventura Star-Free Press (now the Ventura County Star) and his long journalism career to found his Ventura-based Whisenhunt Communications marketing and public relations company.

With a local focus, Whisenhunt had a clear business plan: to provide reasonably priced PR services to cities, school districts, utilities, nonprofits and other vital community groups in and around Ventura County that might not otherwise afford it.

“As a journalist, I knew that we were missing a lot of important news,” Whisenhunt said. “As a PR guy, I knew I could fill in that gap, by helping these agencies to tell their own stories. It was a simple concept that instantly worked.” Business boomed, with clients including most of the cities in Ventura County, more than a dozen local school districts, many utilities and special districts and countless nonprofit agencies, as well as hospitals, law firms and other for-profit corporations.

From the start, simplicity was the hallmark of WC. Ahead of the telecommuting curve, Whisenhunt eliminated overhead costs by hiring his staff to work from home, writing, editing, designing and distributing everything from press releases to newsletters, from op-ed pieces to flyers.

“We did run a very simple operation, but it wasn’t always easy back then, to work apart, because we couldn’t just shoot each other emails, so we were on the phone a lot, and we met at my home office a lot,” Whisenhunt said. “Of course, we didn’t know how much easier it could be – and would become – so talking a lot and meeting often, that was our normal. We were a close-knit group because of it.”

Many of his staff members have been journalists and former journalists, mostly from his former paper, which meant his product has been co-created by people with a built-in bond and a common understanding of what would interest the media. WC’s current staff includes Whisenhunt, graphic artist Cindy Daly, writer/editor Julie Price, writer Amy Bentley and photographer Brendan Daly.

By carefully selecting the right employees, Whisenhunt has created more than a public relations and marketing firm; he’s created a family. Virtually everyone who’s ever worked for him has stayed for decades and pretty much all remain close friends – getting together several times a year, including every Christmas – and all remain close to Whisenhunt.

A lot has changed in 30 years, and a lot for the better, and we at Whisenhunt Communications are thrilled to still be here – and eager to keep growing with the times. Today, we’re more focused than ever on the future – and on how the new tools of our trade can best serve our clients now and going forward.

For all that has changed and will change, there remains a constant: We at WC are just as committed today as in 1990 to our timeless mission of giving our clients a strong local voice.

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