Jarman Johnson Delivers Message

February 11, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Lynne Jarman-Johnson went to college with the intention of becoming the next Barbara Walters.

But these days she's not interviewing world leaders and celebrities; she's helping organizations define and shape themselves by keeping their messages consistent and clear.

The company she founded 14 years ago, Jarman-Johnson Communication Inc., provides public relations, branding, advertising, and marketing services to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations locally, regionally and nationally.

Her clients range from a national corporation based in Wisconsin to the regional West Michigan Women's Expo and Heart of West Michigan United Way.

As a freshman at Michigan State University, she set out to major in telecommunications, but a professor convinced her a more well-rounded liberal arts education as a communications major would be a better fit.

She was later glad she had the broader background in communications vs. just journalism or telecommunications, she said.

Jarman-Johnson started her career as a secretary at WOOD TV8, and worked "every single job imaginable" to climb to the position of news producer.

After a few years, her interests changed direction.

"I knew I wanted to get into a different line in media, in the sense of being able to tell human interest stories and help change lives," she recalls. "There are so many things we can do for the betterment of everything that we touch."

So she jumped at the chance to become public affairs director at TV8 and got involved producing programs such as For Kids Sake and Time To Care.

A lot of nonprofit organizations began seeking her help in publicizing their events or raising awareness of issues, she said.

"I knew that was a calling. I knew that was what I was intended to do," Jarman-Johnson said. "Something told me there had to be a way to help nonprofit organizations have consistent marketing plans like the large corporations do."

After 10 years with the station, she struck out on her own and started applying her skills to marketing nonprofit organizations, with the goal of helping them "grab the attention they so well deserved."

She started her own business in 1989, with Kent Regional 4C as her first client. The organization remains her client today.

About the same time she began raising a family that eventually grew to include six children.

All of her clients know and accept that her family is first, she said, and over time she has built very personal relationships with them.

She sees all of her client relationships as "personal" because they're partnerships in communications that span long periods of time.

"If you're going to do marketing for somebody, you have to get to know them. It has to be personal. You need to know their products; you need to know what they like and what makes them tick. You have to get to know where they are, just like they need to get to know you.

"We value the fact that there's consistent, long-term marketing efforts in place and that the consistency is based on organization and one-on-one communication."

All the technology in the world is great, she said, but a company has to have its core messages right or the technology accomplishes nothing.

"It's our goal to find out what the core messages are for companies, and to build upon that over a long period of time. We make sure the crux of what they do is right at the beginning.

"One of the things I think we do best, and that I am so proud of, is the fact that we can get people to sit at the table long term and build better and bigger messages."

Whether it's a tiny organization with one employee or a global Fortune 500 company, the fact of the matter is that good, solid communication is what makes it work, she believes.

A graphic artist has recently come on board, and the company has introduced a new branding effort for clients called Branding Works Wonders.`

Brandingworkswonders.com launched Saturday.

"It's a whole concept of being able to build for them their brand image in a very simple and easy way," Jarman-Johnson said. "It utilizes the components of phenomenally solid communication, internal and external, and that's what builds brands."

Branding services is what her company gets the most calls for today.

"We look at the big picture and provide a whole package; we help organizations form their core messages and then brand them over and over again," she said. "When it works, your organization sings.

"You don't have to have a lot of money. It's so exciting to me to showcase to people how they can do things that fit their budget."

Down the road, she'd like to continue to have a solid core client base; clients who are partners in visioning and partners in understanding the need for consistent messaging.

Her clients are who her company is, she said.

"We wouldn't be here today if not for the fact that they all have the same vision that communication is important, that consistency is important and that the thought process of partnership is what wins."           

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