Pikes Peak region attracts, challenges former West Coast entrepreneur

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Wendy Wilkinson moved from southern California to Manitou Springs 11 years ago.
Wendy Wilkinson moved from southern California to Manitou Springs 11 years ago.

When Wendy Wilkinson and her family arrived in Manitou Springs 11 years ago, the professional publicist wasn’t prepared for what she found.

A southern California transplant, Wilkinson was then president of Wilkinson House Much, a Beverly Hills public relations company with celebrity clients such as Billy Crystal, William Devane, Robin Williams and Jane Fonda Health and Fitness.

Today her company and its small staff are flourishing and have attracted a diverse number of regional and national clients. In addition to finding more time to be a hands-on mom, she has co-written three books.

Wilkinson recently took time to tell CSBJ about herself and her business.

Name: Wendy Wilkinson

Company: Wilkinson Brown

Position: CEO

Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Eleven years

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Graduate studies in journalism at Michigan State University.

A few words about your company: Wilkinson Brown is a full-service public relations, marketing and special events company with offices in Manitou Springs and Los Angeles.

The company designs and executes media relations campaigns and special events for a broad range of clients, including authors and publishing professionals, developers and resort properties, equine experts, entertainment and corporate entertainment companies.

Recent accomplishments: “People We Know, Horses They Love” and “Morgan Freeman & Friends,” which I co-wrote, were partial benefit books, and sales helped to build an indoor riding ring for a therapeutic riding organization and provided money for victims of recent hurricanes.

Biggest career break/accomplishment: Being mentored by the vice president of one of the biggest and most influential public relations firms in the country. He took me under his wing and recommended potential clients who could not afford to pay the company’s higher fees.

The toughest part of your job: As head of a small company, there is never any “time off.” I am always thinking about the business, taking my iPhone on vacation with me and canvassing newsstands, television networks and the Internet for potential media placement for our clients.

Someone you admire: I know that it is a cliché, but my mother. She taught me that a woman could have it all Рa successful career and a happy well-adjusted family.

About your family: My husband, daughter and I are very involved with our horses and love an afternoon ride through the Garden of the Gods.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: To simply “steady the course” through these difficult financial times and so far, so good.

How your business will change during the next decade: I am finding that we need to become more Internet and news media savvy. This includes expanding our Internet partnerships, blogs and webcasts.

I also am hoping to work more with small businesses, teaching them the value of marketing their companies.

What book are you currently reading? “Breakfast with Buddha” and Jimmy Buffet’s “A Salty Piece of Land.”

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I love the city, but would like to see Colorado Springs be more open to change and new leadership.