St. Paul’s Goff Public Gets New CEO


Goff Public, a communications and public affairs company in St. Paul’s, dates back to the days of the “Mad Men”, but the business is quite different now.

And the lessons learned during the pandemic are now accelerating its expansion into the digital space, said Jennifer Hellman, who succeeds Jan. 1 as president and CEO.

Hellman will replace Chris Georgacas, who will continue to chair the board, focusing full-time on public affairs and leading the practice of the firm serving tribal organizations and governments.

When the pandemic suspended in-person gatherings on public projects, Goff, like other companies, switched to online meetings, incorporating digital tools, including interactive maps to display plans and receive community feedback. Hellman said.

“We had more audience engagement with this virtual experience than ever before,” Hellman said.

Goff is now recruiting for the new role of Chief Digital Officer, “because it’s all about online metrics and ways to reach people digitally,” Hellman said. “This is something that we are improving our game in over the coming year.”

Hellman has worked at Goff for over two decades and currently serves as COO. CFO Heidi Larson will add COO functions in 2022.

Question: How is the communication sector evolving?

A:We are dealing with an audience that is more divided than ever. We’re sort of dealing with two separate Americas right now and figuring out how do you communicate through that? People tweet instantly, and a business can find itself inundated with thousands of angry social media posts, and it can all happen in minutes. People used to get their news from a set of basic information sources. There are so many options, and now businesses and organizations need to figure out how to access them.

Question: How does Goff respond to these challenges?

A: Goff Public has been doing business in this industry for 55 years and has never stopped innovating. The firm was founded during the Mad Men era by Bob Goff and Nick Coleman, the father of former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. It was formed as an advertising agency, and they quickly determined that clients were looking for ways to get published for less than placing ads, so they became a PR firm. Our whole culture is based on creativity, evolution, evolution with the needs of our customers and with the demands of the industry.

Question: How does Goff approach diversity, equity and inclusion?

A: Goff gives in the form of sponsorship donations, volunteer work and direct community involvement, over 5% of our income each year to causes. Last summer, we appealed to organizations working to advance racial equity and providing pro bono assistance. We selected a number of organizations and worked with them throughout the year to support their efforts. The team loved being part of this and we were proud of the work we did. So we’re doing the same thing this year and just going through the nominations.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His email is [email protected]

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