I’d like to support the movement to inspire others to be concerned about global warming

With John Goodman

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I think climate change is the issue of our time. While I’m unsure whether the Earth is warming because of us or simply the natural evolution of our planet I’d love to have the time to get more involved in inspiring others to be concerned about global warming. We are seeing global warming at our front doorstep: historic hurricanes, major cities flooding, record setting high and low temperatures, etc. It would be a huge step forward for mankind and our planet if more people got concerned and active.

I had the pleasure to interview John Goodman of John Goodman PR. John worked for many years at ABC and CBS News before eventually starting is own PR firm.

Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I spent many years working in the media, most of that time at ABC and CBS News. During those final years at CBS, I was courted by a major public relations firm. Being over 50 and watching others my age being laid off by the networks, I finally cut my ties, left on my own terms and got into the world of corporate PR. It was a disaster, but a blessing in disguise. I was not a fit for corporate PR, but I proved to myself I could succeed in PR and I could go out on my own and be successful. I never looked back and over the past 20+ years I’ve built a terrific business working with a great niche: startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

My most interesting story was transitioning from working in an office to learning how to work from home. My introduction to a home office started in 1993 working for a virtual PR firm, where all the freelancers worked from their homes all over the country. This was groundbreaking back then. When I started working from a home office 25 years ago, e-mail was just becoming an office staple, the Internet was just catching on, and working from a home office was pioneering stuff. Seriously. Nobody worked from home because only a few were aware of, or using, the Internet. I had to buy a computer, establish an e-mail account and literally start from the ground-up. I had to learn how to work from a home office. While that period was stressful, it taught me everything I needed to know about how to establish a home office and how to work successfully away from the traditional office.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest story was really pretty sad. My first home office was a card table and a computer.
 While it did the job, it was stone age and, in hindsight, embarrassing. I once had a prospective client come to my home. We met in my “office.” And I never heard from him again. I guess he figured if THAT was my office he wanted no part of me!

How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.

Since I was working from home and had low office expenses, and since I had no staff and the company was me, I had no usual startup expenses. So, I started being profitable immediately. My only regret in hindsight was that I didn’t have the guts to leave the corporate PR firm I had been working for prior and startup by business earlier.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

One of my long-standing clients, Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, creates, redevelops, and operates parks, neighborhood streetscapes, and public spaces in mixed-use developments in 29 states and six countries. It’s been a remarkable and fun experience. The founder of the firm, Dan Biederman, gained national prominence when he privatized and transformed New York City’s Bryant Park from a neglected, crime-ridden, drug-filled, dangerous midtown Manhattan space, into one of America’s grandest urban parks. Working with a company that creates Green Space is very rewarding.

I’m also working with a fabulous startup, VuVatech, a company that makes a medical device that helps women who suffer from pelvic pain regain their sexual lives. Even more interesting, the founder of the company, Tara Langdale-Schmidt, suffered from Vulvodynia and Endometriosis. So, she invented the device to initially help herself and today she is marketing it to women all over the world.

And I’m also working with another startup, The Navio Group, a business consulting firm that works with retailers to improve their internal management and productivity challenges, helping them perform better and succeed in today’s competitive business environment. They are a great story and we’re having a lot of success creating awareness for them.

Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?

I had the benefit of working at ABC and CBS News and so I had the benefit of learning what was a great PR pitch and what was not. So, my initial advice would be to become a member of the media before working in PR. See how reporters and producers work first-hand.

For those who do not have the opportunity to pursue that career route, I’d say work with clients who have a real newsworthy story. Too many businesses hire PR firms but do not have newsworthy stories. They are really seeking promotion. Reporters have no interest in promoting your story. They want newsworthy, topical stories. So, choose clients that have great stories to tell. You’ll have fun pitching and you’ll be successful. I only pitch clients that have great stories.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

I think the key to networking is reach out to both people in your industry and also those in the media. Over 25 years, I’ve made great contacts and friends by seeking out those who work in PR and in the media. And it’s made all the easier by connecting with people on social media. I’ve established hundreds of contacts via my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Social media is a fabulous way to network and meet influencers in all industries.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I can’t say any book or podcast has helped by career. The greatest aide in helping me become successful is my interest in the news. I watch the news on TV, I read over a dozen papers online daily so when I’m not working, I’m plugged-in to current events and learning. This helps me immensely when trying to position my clients into newsworthy stories.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think climate change is the issue of our time. While I’m unsure whether the Earth is warming because of us or simply the natural evolution of our planet I’d love to have the time to get more involved in inspiring others to be concerned about global warming. We are seeing global warming at our front doorstep: historic hurricanes, major cities flooding, record setting high and low temperatures, etc. It would be a huge step forward for mankind and our planet if more people got concerned and active.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. I wish when I left the news business that someone had forewarned me about the downside of corporate PR. I spent two miserable years working for a major worldwide PR firm and it was a misfit. Coming from network news, I hated the corporate BS. But I loved working with reporters and producers. It put me on the path I now take.

2. How isolating working from home can be. After spending much of my earlier life in newsrooms and interacting with colleagues, the isolation of working from home can be a major hurdle. I counter that isolation my making visits daily to my local village and my talking a 3-mile walk every day.

3. Be selective about taking on clients. In the beginning, I worked with almost anyone who had interest working with me. But over time, I re-learned that a good story will sell a client. So soon after starting-up, I became much more selective about working with clients. If they simply wanted promotion, I was not their guy. But if the client had a great story, I was all-in.

4. Strive for work/life balance. While most people think working from home is a cakewalk, it can be a real challenge. You can work in your pajama’s and goof off, but that’s not in my DNA. I’m a workaholic. In the office by 6 am and usually not shutting down until dinnertime.
 Often beyond. So, work/life balance is a challenge even for those who work from home. I take breaks during the day, I go on my 3-mile walk (when I get my best ideas!) around 1 pm and on most days try to take a 20-minute nap late in the afternoon.

5. PR is hard. Most people think it’s arranging and going to parties and setting up press conference, but that’s not what I do daily. I spend my entire day contacting the media and pitching them smart, sensible stories. They might not always do them, but over 25 years, those in the media know and respect my work and always consider my story ideas.

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