Our Leadership

So, you want to get to know our hand-picked UPRAISE leadership team? Together, we have more than 50 years of experience in marketing and public relations. From press releases and press conferences to website redesigns and social media campaigns, we’ve done it all. We’ve celebrated successes. We’ve learned from our mistakes. And most importantly, we’re constantly evolving and adjusting our approach when it comes to marketing and public relations – and we have fun while doing it.

When you work with UPRAISE, your team has direct access to our experienced, nimble, and forward-thinking strategists. Let’s meet them:

Our Leadership 1

Tim Johnson

President

For more than 30 years, Tim has helped companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 500 in industries as diverse as agriculture, consumer electronics, financial services, many shades of tech and more.  

Prior to starting UPRAISE, Tim was the managing director of Golin, Inc.’s San Francisco office and director of its worldwide tech practice.  Clients of the practice included giants such as Amazon, Cisco, HP, Oracle, Texas Instruments and many more.  The team included more than 200 professionals worldwide.

Before Golin, Tim was a senior vice president at Ruder Finn’s Chicago office, where he helped expand the office from pure public relations to integrated communications, and for many organizations, wrote and designed their first websites.

Prior, he was an account executive at Rubenstein, Wolfson & Co., in New York, serving financial services clients such as Barclay’s Bank, GE Financial, and Unum.

Here, Tim shares a few highlights and lowlights.

Who was your favorite CEO to work with?

It was probably Lou Gerstner when he led IBM. The company had fallen behind competitors and become very slow moving and bureaucratic. He was brought it to revive it. And revive it he did! As far as communications were concerned, he was very clear in what messages he wanted to be disseminated and also made it clear if he was unhappy with your progress. To his credit, he also was very complimentary when he was happy with our work. I got to sit on his stool once when presenting at the IBM auditorium in Armonk. He was short and his stool had taller legs than the others.

What was it like working with Steve Jobs at Pixar?

When we pitched Pixar, their process was to vet all our ideas with their marketing group prior to pitching Steve. The Golin team came up with some great creative and we were ready. After pitching our hearts out, Steve looked up from his omnipresent yellow pad and said, “these are the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard,” and left. He apparently forgot he said that, because in our six-month review, we’d beaten all metrics agreed upon and even he was happy.

How about Jeff Bezos?

I have never met a person so laser-focused on building a business centered around customer service. Even when the analysts were beating up Amazon stock early on, Jeff stuck to this focus. But Amazon was a tough and demanding client. Their attitude was, “We’re Amazon, of course, we’re supposed to get 150 articles for every release we put out!”

Who served as your mentors?

There were many mentors and role models that helped me. One that stood out was Joyce Hergenhan. Joyce was head of communications at GE when they acquired my client at the time, broker/dealer Kidder, Peabody. She reported to Jack Welch, who was transforming GE into the behemoth it became. He was a feisty character but had a noticeable stutter when he spoke in front of large audiences. We worked out a solution:  we wrote three openings for all of Jack’s speeches that were each about two minutes in length. He memorized these over time and it gave him time to get comfortable with the podium, the room, and the audience. It worked great. I still use this approach, even with CEOs that don’t stutter.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Well, there’s a lot to choose from. High on the list is the new business pitch for HP’s printer business in Boise, about $100,000 per month in revenue. We spent weeks preparing and the team met at Oakland Airport for the flight. We arrived in Boise and realized I’d left the bag with all the hard copies of the presentation in the boarding area. Many snarky looks from my team. Luckily, the HP guys were very gracious and we won anyway.

Startups often have little budget for marketing, why do you like working with them?

Because we make a difference. I love working with big companies like Amazon, Bank of America, GE, HP and others, but with a startup, we often take the role of CMO and if we fail, the startup fails. Crafting the positioning, getting the marketing engine organized, building their media, analyst, and social presence, are all essential to their success. I like being in the thick of it.

Why do you like being a mentor at Plug and Play?

I rub elbows with some of the most creative, innovative people in the world. People most of us have never heard of, but who are doing amazing things with hundreds of different technologies.  Many of these startups are from overseas, so not only are they risking it all starting a new company, they are doing it in the U.S. where they are often unfamiliar with the language, IP law, accounting standards and more. I admire these people a ton!

What is the craziest startup you’ve heard pitch?

It was two Korean women who had invented a phone skin that was also a taser!! Push a button on one end and out the other end came two prongs and 10,000 volts! I don’t think it made it to market. Luckily, they did not bring a demo to the pitch.

What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make in your career?

During the dot-com bust, we’d had to lay off many people as startup after startup folded. Keeping the remaining clients was critical. The marketing director at one client, who accounted for about 20 percent of our revenues, started to make verbal advances to one of our female SAEs. Luckily, they were located in Denver so we didn’t see them in person often. But the advances got stronger and more inappropriate over time.  Talking to the marketing director and CEO did nothing. Finally, he crossed a line and I resigned the business. It made a bad year worse, but it was the right thing to do.

Our Leadership 2

Victoria Guimarin

Vice President

With nearly a decade of experience, Victoria has a track record of success in consumer and business press execution, thought leadership, account management, social media and business relationship development.

In her role as Account Director, Victoria oversees B2B and B2C client accounts in industries ranging from big data and telecommunications to banking and nonprofits. Some of Victoria’s current and former clients include Information Resources Inc, The Color Run, Mesofilter, Coupa, Humane Society Silicon Valley, Rented.com, and FoldiMate.

Prior to joining UPRAISE, Victoria was the Public Relations Specialist at Ustream. In her role, Victoria executed public relations strategies surrounding Ustream’s expansion from a content and media focused website, to a SaaS and cloud-based enterprise solution. Victoria worked directly with Ustream customers to promote their content, including Discovery Channel, NASA JPL, PBS Newshour, Sony and many more.

Victoria received her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a focus in public relations from California State University, Chico.

Here, Victoria shares a few highlights and lowlights.

What was the most out of the box product launch you worked on?

While at Ustream, the engineers decided to develop a new app called Broadcast for Friends (BFF).  The product was similar to Facebook Live, including filters and streaming live to your friends on Facebook, but came out 4 years before FB Live launched. 

For the launch, we decided to play off the camera filters, which had been named after Hollywood landmarks, by throwing a Hollywood themed party at Ustream’s San Francisco office. Around 200 clients, partners and media attended. We hired celebrity impersonators including Marilyn Monroe, had a red carpet filled with paparazzi, and capped off the evening with a live demo of the app. The launch was a raging success and resulting in articles in TechCrunch, Mashable, AdWeek, plus many more.

What was the most successful product you’ve worked on?

I’ve been involved in a number of highly successful product launches, but one that sticks out the most was a launch we did with FoldiMate, a laundry folding robot with the goal of hitting 100,000 registrations in two months. When they contacted UPRAISE they had 58 registrations.

After securing a story in the Wall Street Journal, The Next Web picked up the story and shared it on Facebook, wherein less than 24 hours it got 1.6 million views, over 3,800 comments, and almost 30,000 shares.

Thanks to all the media coverage, UPRAISE surpassed FoldiMate’s initial goal of reaching 100,000 registrations. Within one month the company’s registrations had already hit the 100,000 mark and by the end of the engagement, they were at 125,000.

What is one of the highlights of your career?

One of my favorite clients at Ustream was NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). One of NASA JPL’s most intense and exciting streams was that of the Curiosity Rover landing or crashing on Mars. The event featured a live stream of the NASA JPL team in mission control (this lead to Bobak Ferdowski gaining internet fame as ‘Mohawk Guy’) as they anxiously waited to learn if the car-sized rover had successfully landed after a heart-pounding 14-minute feed delay.

Needless to say, the multi-billion dollar Curiosity Rover stuck its landing and NASA JPL as well as the 3.2 million people watching (including myself) via live stream exploded in jubilation.

From a PR side, NASA JPL gained massive exposure as a being in touch with modern communications tools and Ustream landed some impressive media coverage from TechCrunch, National Geographic, CNET and many more.

Have any of your clients gone viral?

The Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) came to UPRAISE with a challenge: create significant media buzz that would lead to finding a forever home for an “unadoptable” Chihuahua named Teddy.

The campaign began by rebranding Teddy to “Eddie the Terrible” – a dog who isn’t afraid to hide his terribleness. HSSV created satirical content to be shared across public channels such as their blog, social media profiles, and website. UPRAISE then inundated S.F. Bay Area and national media outlets with hilarious stories about Eddie’s terrible behavior.

Within two days of Eddie being featured on the Huffington Post Good News homepage, his article received more than 32,000 likes, 6,300 shares, and 200 comments. Eddie’s story reached more than 5 million viewers when he was featured on Good Morning America and Inside Edition. He was also featured in People Magazine, USA Today, Daily Mail, and numerous television newscasts throughout the country.

Our Leadership 3

Ari Brosowsky

Account Director

For more than 10 years, Ari has been committed to helping companies tell compelling stories. He thrives on planning and executing creative media relations, thought leadership, and social media campaigns and has a proven track record of successfully building strong brand awareness and driving business objectives. Ari has worked with countless startups as well as established leading technology companies including First Data, Unity Technologies, Autodesk, and Oracle.

A passion for strategic communications and innovative new technologies brought Ari to UPRAISE in 2014. Tech PR is all he has ever known in his professional career. Prior to joining UPRAISE, Ari worked with PR agencies Point-Blank Communications and The Outcast Agency, driving results for a variety of technology companies.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from the University of California, Davis. Go AGS!

Here, Ari shares a few highlights and viewpoints.

What has been your biggest win for a client?

It is hard to choose, but I would say my biggest success to date was the organizing and executing of a media dinner with the CEO of Unity Technologies. In the room, we had reporters from The New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, Re/code, and others. These reporters spent the evening in deep conversation, positioning Unity’s CEO as a true thought leader in the world of game development. While the dinner resulted in several great articles, the true value lies in the strong relationships forged with reporters, leading to many big wins in the future.

Another notable win was my work for Attivo Networks, a cybersecurity company, where we had to get results at Black Hat barely a month after taking over the business from another agency. We were able to double the number of meetings the previous agency had booked the year before, including tapings with FOX News and BBC. I also like to point out my work with Redrock Biometrics, where in a month, we had to create new messaging, build a new website and re-launch the company before they attended Money20/20.  At that show, we secured double the number of media meetings than our target goal. 

What is one piece of advice you give all of your clients?

When it comes to creating messaging for a product or company don’t focus on the “what,” emphasize the “so what?” I have given this feedback to more companies, big and small than I can count. When you are close to the product it is easy to get excited over what it does. But for everyone else, the true value lies in what problem it solves and therefore why the product exists. Don’t lead with the product feature set and a bunch of buzzwords like “disruptive,” “scalable,” and “cloud-based.” Instead, lead with why your target market can’t operate without it.

As a media strategist, what advice do you have for larger enterprises? How about startups?

When I catch up with reporters, I often hear the same feedback. There has been a large consolidation in the media landscape and reporters are being asked to write more stories on a wider range of subjects.

Large enterprises need to continue to adjust and adapt their strategy. What worked 10, or even five years ago, isn’t going to cut it now. Just the fact that the company is well established is not newsworthy. Reporters are interested in how you are continuing to innovate and push the envelope to stay relevant.

For startups, there is more competition than ever. Reporters have very limited time available so you need to answer that “so what” question in three sentences or less to grab their attention. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements, but be sure you can back them up with proof. Numbers are still king, the more quantitative evidence and analyst validation you can support your claims with, the more interesting the story becomes to a reporter.

What do successful PR teams understand?

It is important to work with a PR team that places an emphasis on measurement and understands how to build integrated campaigns to achieve specific business objectives. Earning a bunch of media coverage is great, but if the goal of a PR campaign is to drive lead generation, then your PR firm should measure success based on lead generation, not simply a number of articles. When done right, PR and marketing are programs designed to accelerate the growth of the company and should be measured accordingly.