Sharon Haley Linhart is one of the most successful public relations professionals in the Denver area.
But, not so long ago, Linhart was writing for The Branding Iron and hosting an early-morning show on the University of Wyoming’s campus radio station. It’s here, at UW, where Linhart learned the skills that have driven her success in the workplace.
“My years at UW were a time for me to learn to get along with many types of people, to explore and expand my talents, and begin to define my professional aspirations,” says Linhart, who majored in journalism, with an emphasis on public relations. “Perhaps what I am most grateful for is the lifelong friendships that I made.”
After graduating with honors in 1973, Linhart returned to her native Colorado and began taking public relations jobs that gave her both professional experience and workplace savvy. Soon, though, Linhart says she began to get “an entrepreneurial itch.”
“I wanted to be on my own, and I knew I had the background, capability and energy to do that,” says Linhart, who, in 1996, opened Linhart Public Relations in Denver, which she now co-owns with partners. The company’s remarkable list of clients includes Southwest Airlines, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, UnitedHealthcare, Devon Energy and Horizon Organic.
“I have no regrets,” she says. “We have the best cadre of people with talent, passion, dedication, fabulous clientele, and interesting challenges every day.”
Some of Linhart Public Relations’ recognition includes 2012 PR Week Boutique Agency of the Year, 2012 Inc. magazine Winning Workplaces Top Small Company Winner, 2011 PR News Small PR Firm of the Year, 2011 Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, 2011 ColoradoBiz Top Company of the Year (Media/Advertising/PR), and 2011 PR News Top Places to Work.
Those are just the recent accolades. The list of achievements is just as robust as one looks at the company’s history.
“Studying journalism is great preparation for a public relations career, because we need to be able to think like journalists and anticipate how journalists will react so we can advise our clients how to interact with news media,” says Linhart. “While so much has changed in the media today, the basics of good communications have not changed.”
Linhart continues to be involved with Wyoming’s university, particularly in the Communication and Journalism Department. She and Kendall Hartman, a friend she made during her days at UW, created and continue to support a photojournalism fellowship named in honor of the late Larsh Bristol, a close friend who attended UW and later worked at various newspapers in Wyoming.
Linhart visits UW regularly, whether to review the Bristol Fellows photography displays, speak to MBA candidates about entrepreneurship, attend a football or basketball game, or simply to visit her niece who is attending the school.
She advises current UW students to get a variety of experiences related to their planned careers. “Internships are fabulous,” she says. “In addition, for PR students, experiences like volunteering for political campaign or a nonprofit, to learn to craft and communicate messages, can all be very valuable.” As she looks back on her career, Linhart says she believes UW was the perfect school for her.
“I was afforded lots of personal attention from great professors whom I still admire. UW is a school that instills a can-do attitude, and living in Laramie can require endurance,” Linhart says.
“The students are sturdy and resilient, mostly there to learn and get an education. It is not a place for whiners and social climbers, but, in a sense, it is a place to find out what you are made of.”