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“The death of traditional media is opening up limitless possibilities for companies with a story to tell.
Every organization has the potential of becoming a media company. We need to stop begging the media and become the media instead.”
– Mark Ragan, co-founder, RCG
Everyone wants more effective communications, but how do you get started when there’s so much to do and no time to do it?
First, take a breath. We begin every project with a simple conversation. Need a strategy? Start with a full assessment and planning session. Staff skills need a tune-up? Bring our trainers in-house for hands-on, customized workshops.
Heavy on words but light on visuals? Create an editorial strategy for images, infographics and video. Too much analog in a digital world? Sort out your social media and mobile strategies.
We can help. Let’s talk.
The Story of Us
Every time Mark Ragan or Jim Ylisela gave a workshop or spoke at a Ragan conference, someone in the audience (often several someones) would ask: “Can you come to my organization and help us with that?” Uh, yeah. That’s why Mark and Jim created Ragan Consulting Group, and then invited their friends (who happen to be top consultants in their fields) to join them.
Mark Ragan is the CEO of Lawrence Ragan Communications and publisher of four daily news sites, including PR Daily and Ragan.com.
Mark began his career as a newspaper reporter and writer long before the term “content producer” had been invented.
During his 15-year career he covered business and politics for The San Diego Tribune, Copley News Service and New York Newsday.
In addition to his CEO responsibilities at Ragan, Mark is the co-founder of Ragan Consulting Group, along with long time business partner Jim Ylisela.
Together, Ylisela and Ragan have helped companies build their own news and brand journalism sites, beginning with the premise that businesses should “stop begging the media and become the media instead.”
Jim is an award-winning veteran Chicago journalist and former publisher of Ragan.com. He brings more than 30 years of experience in writing, editing, communications research and consulting.
Jim designed and organized newsrooms for many organizations, including Northwestern University’s Medill graduate School of Journalism, where he served as faculty member and co-director of the Medill News Service from 1988 to 2001.
Jim is a longtime communications trainer and well-known expert in launching corporate newsrooms—both internally and externally—around the concept of brand journalism. He has launched newsrooms and trained staff at such diverse organizations as Advocate Health Care, in Chicago; Baptist Health, in Jacksonville, Florida; Denver Water; Jones Lang LaSalle, in Chicago; Omaha Public Power District; Metropolitan State University of Denver; and the University of Alberta, in Edmonton.
He has worked with communicators and news teams around the world, including Aflac, Allstate, BlackRock, GE Health, PepsiCo, Siemens and USAA, in the U.S.; Standard Chartered Bank (London), the European Investment Bank (Luxembourg), adidas (Germany), Nokia (Finland) and Saudi Aramco (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).
Jim is the author of “Who Killed the Candy Lady?’ an investigation of the disappearance and presumed murder of candy heiress Helen Brach, Chicago’s longest unsolved murder mystery. He is a lifelong and long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan—until 2016, that is, when his Cubbies won it all.
Rebecca is responsible for the implementation of the group’s marketing and business development strategies. She also serves as project manager on much of our client work, ensuring that projects are tracking on schedule and the client’s needs are being met.
Previously, Rebecca was a senior internal communications analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, where she managed special projects, Town Halls and leadership meetings, employee award programs and contributed news stories to the Bank’s intranet site.
Prior to joining the Fed, Rebecca spent seven years as a conference producer at Ragan Communications, creating tailored content for corporate communication professionals. In this role she worked with corporations such as Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Mayo Clinic, Chesapeake Energy and Southwest Airlines.
Justin Allen is Head of Production and Video Strategy for Ragan Consulting Group. He is a Chicago-based content strategist, writer, filmmaker, producer and entrepreneur. Most recently, he was VP of Creative & Production of ZMG / Ruckus Factory, a New York + Chicago digital video production studio, of which he is also a founder, where his team produced more than 1,500 short form custom news and entertainment videos per month, netting more than 100 million views per month.
Previously, Justin was head of content at TouchVision, an executive producer and showrunner at Tribune Media, as well as a regular speaker and consultant with Ragan Communications. He has created news, feature, documentary and comedy digital content and TV shows that were (and still are) syndicated nationally on CBS, FOX, NBC, the CW, the Huffington Post, Yahoo!, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Associated Press and many others.
Nick Lanyi has spent his career telling stories — and helping clients tell theirs.
He started as a beat reporter on a suburban newspaper, then moved to financial journalism – including several years as executive editor of Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street, one of the highest-circulation investment letters in history.
A D.C. native, Nick next combined his political savvy and journalism chops as managing director at boutique public affairs firm LMG and as head of public affairs in the D.C. office of global PR agency Porter Novelli. As a freelance speechwriter, Nick has written for CEOs, political campaigns and an Oscar-winning actress. His opinion pieces have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and dozens of other outlets. As a coach and consultant, he’s led media training, crisis communications and writing workshops across the country.
Other than watching the Nats with his wife and two sons, Nick’s favorite thing to do is helping people tell stories more effectively. As he says, everyone’s got some good ones.
Katrina Gill is the owner of Gill Research LLC. She has provided customized services, counsel and support to many organizations, including Ace Hardware, American Century, Baxter, Delta Air Lines, Eureka, Harrah’s Entertainment, Harvard University, Household, JPMorgan Chase, Merck & Co., Moody’s Investor Services, National PTA, Pergo, Quaker Oats, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, State Farm Insurance, St. Vincent Hospital System, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Group, Wells Fargo Home & Consumer Finance Group and the YMCA of the USA.
Katrina has more than a decade of diverse research experience, from the planning and development of projects through the presentation of results and recommendations for action. She is an experienced manager of both qualitative and quantitative research projects in many fields, ranging from employee to consumer research. She is a formally trained focus group moderator and in-depth interviewer.
Prior to forming Gill Research, Katrina was Director of Research at L.C. Williams & Associates, a PR and research counseling firm in Chicago, IL. Before that, she led the strategic communication research and measurement function as Practice Leader for the Ragan Consulting Group, a division of Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc. in Chicago, IL. Before joining Ragan, she specialized in market research for e-commerce clients with the Thomson Corporation.
Katrina is formally educated in research methodology and has completed post-graduate study on a doctoral track in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri. She graduated with a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology from the University of Illinois.
A frequent speaker, workshop leader and author on strategic research and measurement, Katrina also has taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and the International Association of Business Communicators.
Rob Friedman loves how words and ideas can touch hearts and affect change.
He got his start in the late ’80s at Ragan Communications, editing Speechwriter’s Newsletter and teaching workshops on various forms of business writing. While there, he worked with Larry Ragan to put together the first national speechwriters conference.
Rob went on to become a speechwriter for Ameritech and the AMA, then spent more than 20 years at Eli Lilly and Company, his last nine as senior director of Executive Communications. At Lilly, Rob wrote for three CEOs and other senior executives – speeches, op-eds, annual reports, video-scripts and the occasional bar mitzvah toast.
Over 30 years, Rob has instructed thousands of professional communicators from around the world in speechwriting, storytelling, TED Talks, and more.
Equally accomplished as a writer and designer, Bob Zeni is an expert on the editorial process for developing high-impact, highly effective visuals.
The imprint of his design talent and editorial sensibility can be found on numerous commercial publications – The Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business and Advertising Age among them. Since founding Bob Zeni & Associates in 1988, he’s produced websites, visual identity systems, employee communications programs and cultural change initiatives. Clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations, including AT&T, Baxter, Exelon, Harris/BMO, LaSalle Bank, McDonalds, Morton Salt, Northern Trust and Walgreens.
He’s an instructor in the school of journalism at DePaul University and the department of visual communications at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Brian Malone is the CEO of Chicago-based Malone Media, a video production and webcast service provider serving customers worldwide. Brian has always had a passion for filmmaking, storytelling and mastering modern technology.
His career has spanned all aspects of video production and live streaming. Prior to Malone Media, he served as vice president of virtual events at Ragan Communications from 2011-2017, where he launched and ran live event webcasts, webinars and the company’s video training websites, PR University and Ragan Training.
Brian has worked with companies to produce videos and live webcast events, including: Facebook, Albemarle, Dow Chemical, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, Salesforce, GoDaddy, Chesapeake Energy, Expedia, Discovery, conEdison, Land O’Lakes, Inc., McDonalds, LinkedIn and many more.
Shel Holtz helps organizations communicate better – with employees and other publics – by using digital and social tools well in conjunction with more traditional methods.
Shel’s career began in newspaper newsrooms but he pivoted to corporate communications early and never looked back. His first job was in ARCO’s internal communications department. He directed the communication efforts for Mattel and Allergan; he also did two stints as senior communication consultant at global Human Resources consulting firms.
He started his own consultancy in 1996 when he found his employer adopting online communication fast enough. He has worked with hundreds of clients – many with names you’d recognize – and has been in demand on the international speaking circuit. Shel has written six books on communication. He is a prolific blogger and a pioneer podcaster. He has achieved Fellow status in three organizations, including IABC.