Before he was the president of a successful PR agency celebrating 30 years in San Francisco, David Landis was a classical pianist. It seems only right then that some of Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)’s first clients were in the entertainment industry.
While the agency now specializes in tech, healthcare, and the environment, it wasn’t always that way. In the early 2000s, the almost 10-year-old company mainly represented clients in the consumer tech, retail, and real estate industries—which, David recalls with a laugh, were “the worst industries you could probably be in at the time,” because that was when the dot-com bubble popped. In the space of a year, LCI went from being a $3.2 million business to an $800,000 business.
This devastating time led David and Brianne Miller (now Business Development Manager at LCI) to take what all the how-to business books say… and reject it.
“We decided to buck the trend and diversify,” says David. It was exactly what the agency needed, and their new niche in healthcare and the environment saw them through the 2008 recession and the COVID pandemic.
LCI had previously worked with some non-profits in the healthcare industry, but never service providers or biotech. Now among their clients are Sutter Health and the Centre for Neuro Skills. Healthcare was a special interest, while environment, like music and entertainment, was a little more personal. “We are very passionate about making the planet a better place for ourselves, for our children and for our future,” says David.
Serving such a broad clientele feeds into David’s favorite thing about the PR industry: You learn something new every day. And with clients ranging from a non-profit that helps the homeless to Save the Redwoods League, David is constantly learning—a necessary trait in any PR professional. David advises rookies to read, read, read—newspapers, magazines, online news, but also fiction and non-fiction. He recommends finding a writer that you like and then following them and devouring their words. And of course, write. “The more you write, the better you’ll become. Writing is the foundation of a successful PR career,” says David.
To those already with a successful career, David says don’t get complacent in your relationships. “If all you’re doing is banking your PR skills based on the people you know at that point in time, you’re not doing a good job for your client,” says David. “You have to make new relationships. You have to discover new ways of making sure you can communicate your client’s story. You can’t just rely on what you know, what’s easy and what’s in your back pocket.”