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Alex Rogers featured at Oregon Business Magazine

The High Road

(reposted from Oregon Business Magazine – November/December 2015)


As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry. But more than a pot entrepreneur, Rogers, 44, is firstly a marijuana activist. Since his incarceration in Berlin in 2009 for possession of marijuana, Rogers has dedicated his life to tuning in, turning on and changing the system from within. He has created two clinics, Ashland Alternative Health in Ashland and Northwest Alternative Health in Eugene, which issue medical-marijuana cards to over 6,000 patients a year. He also started the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, the International Cannabis Business Conference and the website with a goal toward education and decriminalization. Rogers discusses growth, trends and Southern Oregon’s ganja gangster reputation.

photo credit: Oregon Business Magazine

photo credit: Oregon Business Magazine

You keep a lean empire

I only have 10 employees and a handful of independent contractors for the whole business. Most of them have worked for me for years. I pay them really well because it’s quality, not quantity. I’d rather have one star and pay that person well, because it’s good for the business.

Your two clinics help people obtain medical-marijuana cards but don’t dispense.

I would love to be a purveyor of cannabis, but I’m threatened because it’s still illegal federally. I went to prison in Germany and know the horrors of what can happen if you fall on the wrong side of the war on drugs. So just like the Gold Rush in California, there were the people who mined for gold and the people who sold the picks and axes. I’m selling the picks and axes.

How will recreational sales affect your card-issuing business?

My card business is booming! There are so many restrictions on recreational marijuana that it is pushing more people to get their cards. Cards will still be attractive because cannabis will not be taxed for medical use, and a card holder is allowed to grow and possess a lot more.

You also put on marijuana events. Why did you get into that line?

I have been doing events for 20 years. After the medical dispensary laws passed a few years ago, I saw a need for the community to receive good, clear information about the changes in the law. Each event changes according to the new laws. They’re attended by growers, investors, processors, retail folks and folks who have not traditionally been in the cannabis space, who want to be part of a burgeoning industry. About half of my $2 million yearly revenue comes from these events.

What differentiates your pot conferences and expos from all the others?

People are jumping on the bandwagon, but there’s no conference like mine. If I’m going to make people sit at the edge of their seat for two days, I have to be great at keeping their attention. I get fun, dynamic, engaging speakers like Andrew Sullivan; Dr. Carl Hart, known for his research in drug addiction and abuse; and Rick Steves. I’ll also throw in a free event like a concert.

Where are the growth sectors in this industry?

Value-added products are trending so fast, it’s insane. A strain is a strain is a strain, and it will be as good as the grower, but when you take that marijuana and turn it into something — a tincture, a pizza sauce, a lotion, syrup or pill — then you can brand that product and build loyalty. The challenge is everything has to be vertically integrated. So if you create a successful brand in Oregon and you want to bring it to another state, you have to vertically integrate in the state. You can’t make the product in Oregon, warehouse it in Colorado and sell it in Washington. That’s prohibited. I’m not boohoo-ing here; I don’t see these things as barriers. I see them as bumps. Still, I think the rules should change because that would be good and safe for society.

Are any other industries benefiting?

Sure. The people who make the glass cases for dispensaries are busy. And the CO2 machines that extract cannabis oil are impossible to buy right now. Even my website,, sees 250,000 people a month, so I’m trying to come up with different ways to monetize it. I’m selling ad space, but I’m also doing other nontraditional things that I don’t want to talk about yet.

President Obama made it clear that the government wouldn’t interfere with state-sanctioned marijuana. But what about the next president?

Regime change is always going to be a factor. But look at all of the money that’s being generated. Even if there’s a change at the top and the new person in charge is against the cannabis business, it would be hard to deny Colorado or Washington all of that new tax money. If you tried to take away $100 million in tax revenue, you would be looking at a civil uprising.

You feel strongly about decriminalizing marijuana.

I think we should decriminalize all drugs. The philosophy of prohibition just doesn’t work. Criminalizing just adds to its allure and creates more crime. I’m an activist at heart. I wouldn’t push a policy that doesn’t benefit the whole community. That’s what separates our business from others in the industry. We’re astute business folks for sure, but we’re also freedom fighters, fighting for liberty and the American Dream. We see legal cannabis as fueling a new age.

That’s a big goal…

I’ve been an activist for 20 years. We thought the whole world was going to be different, like Star Trek. But it’s been usurped by the “American business model,” and you’re a [wimp] if you think about treating people in an egalitarian way. Unfortunately, that’s the American business narrative. For the piece we control, we’re into human rights and respect, and the money is secondary.

What part does Southern Oregon play in this narrative?

Everyone thinks that Southern Oregon is filled with ganja gangsters. That’s the rap we get, whether it’s true or not. But when medical marijuana was legalized, I saw “outlaw” growers come out of the closet. The minute they had the chance, hardworking family farmers became part of the legal system. They’re paying taxes and it’s heartening to see.

This is about empowering the small family farmer; it’s about liberty. There are lobbying forces from Portland and beyond that want to take the small business owner out, and monopolize everything. When Measure 91 came out, it was $1,000 for a license; now they want it to be more than $10,000. That’s too much for a small farmer. That’s evil greed.

Some Oregon cities and counties are opting out of recreational marijuana. What does that mean for them?

Places that opt out are missing the chance to create public policy in their community that’s congruent with what’s going on in their community. People use pot. Medical marijuana is thriving. They are missing the chance for a safer, more productive community. And they will miss the tax revenue for sure.

Where do you see the marijuana business in Oregon’s economy?

We have a great opportunity in Oregon to capitalize on this new legal industry before other states follow (which they will). We can capitalize on tourism and out-of-state folks coming here to indulge in something they could only dream about being legal in their respective states.

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Finding Bosnia Screening, Clinton Street Theater

Independently Produced Film Is Four Years in the Making

Finding Bosnia Official Trailer from LLAMAMAMA on Vimeo.

My friend Ivana Horvat was four-years-old when she escaped the besieged capitol of Sarajevo with her mother during the Bosnian War, at one point crawling under a two-foot wall to escape a barrage of sniper gunfire from the Chetnik-aggressors. While Ivana and her mother escaped, her father and many of her other relatives stayed behind to endure a war that would ruthlessly take over 100,000 lives during the course of nearly four years.

To make her film, Finding Bosnia, Ivana teamed up with my other friend, Adrian Hopffgarten, the co-owner of her production company, LLAMAMAMA Productions, and returned to Bosnia 20 years later to re-discover the family, city and culture that Ivana unknowingly left behind as a toddler.

Ivana and Adrian will host a special fundraiser and their first Portland screening of Finding Bosnia at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton) this Sunday, October 11 at 3:00 p.m. The screening will raise money to fund festival submissions and distribution. Admission is a suggested $10 donation. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.


Ivana grew up in Portland, but has said she always felt a disconnect between her American identity and Bosnian identity. Her grandparents and many other relatives remained in Bosnia during the war. Her parents would speak Bosnian at home. She knew she was Bosnian, but didn’t really know what it meant to be Bosnian. This film is a fun, educational and entertaining trip along with Ivana and Adrian as they embark on a journey to discover Ivana’s Bosnian roots for the first time.

In August I happened to be in Sarajevo, Bosnia as they screened “Finding Bosnia” for the first time at the Sarajevo Film Festival. As readers of this blog have noted, I’ve had an interest in Bosnia for the past decade that began after reading a remarkable memoir titled “Fools Rush In” by Bill Carter, which I consider to be the most influential event of my personal life in the past decade.

Finding Bosnia is fantastic, and captures a special moment in Ivana’s life. It’s especially interesting given the discussion the world has been having about refugees in light of the Syrian conflict. Ivana is just one of the Bosnian War refugees that I’ve befriended during the past couple of years, and it’s my opinion that Portland is a much richer community for all of them.

After the screening in Bosnia, their film received a standing ovation from the predominantly Bosnian audience. Hopffgarten says the response was wonderful validation for the countless hours of effort she spent ensuring every political detail from the immensely complicated conflict was properly vetted. I was impressed with their stop-motion skills, and the production and storytelling too. The Bosnian friends I attended the screening with had nothing but positive comments about the screening.

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Ivana and Adrian at the sold-out screening of Finding Bosnia, Sarajevo Film Festival

Ivana says she hopes Finding Bosnia demonstrates that Bosnia is much more than a sad war-torn country and she’s excited to reach other people who have grown up living between two cultures as refugees. She hopes her personal story will shed light on what it means to be a refugee with a lost identity.

After the screening there will be a short Q&A with the directors, with a reception to follow at The Lucky Horseshoe Lounge next door. For more information visit or post questions to this blog.

Finding Bosnia presents an intimate and personal journey of a Bosnian war refugee raised in Portland, Oregon who seeks to reclaim her Bosnian culture and identity. Ivana Horvat makes it her goal to create her own “Bosnia” by returning to her hometown, and interviewing other Bosnian refugees from around the world. Home video footage and stories of various generations of Bosnians, within and outside of the country, create a bridge into her Bosnia; a place where she finally feels like she belongs. FINDING BOSNIA’s world premiere was at the Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2015.


Ivana Horvat fled Sarajevo as a young child leaving her father, family, and city behind. After living in Germany and Malaysia, she was reunited with her father a few years later and has lived in Portland, Oregon since. Her mother and her father, Tanja and Nino Horvat, took turns capturing home videos of their new life together in Portland and twenty years later, their footage has become a lens with which Ivana can watch her transition from being a young Bosnian child to an American woman. In 2012, she returned to live in Bosnia for seven months to explore a life that could have been.

Ivana Horvat: ivana14horvat (at) gmail (dot) com
LlamaMama Productions Website:

gamescom cover

gamescom 2015 – Observations on the Business of Gaming & Worldwide Fandom


My re-intro to video games after 12 years –

The computer and video gaming industry explosion on display for 345,000


Beanbag chilling gamers from around the world at games con 2015


The last time I got really excited about a video game was in college when I zoned out on HALO, only to emerge from my apartment three weeks later like a frail ghostly prisoner freed from a medieval dungeon. It was then that I realized my personality type was not a good fit for gaming and I haven’t been more than an occasional ‘user’ ever since.

That said, in early August I attended an event in Cologne (Köhn) Germany called gamescom. gamescom is a video game tradeshow and it’s the largest tradeshow I’ve ever attended. It also seemed to have the largest average booth budgets.

To help you picture the size of the event and numbers it attracted – 345,000 is more than the population of St. Louis, Missouri. At times, it felt like that whole population was crammed into one hall.


What was I doing there?



I was invited to assist at a booth run by my stepfather for his organization One Redmond, and their sub-organization called the Washington Interactive Network. The booth was shared with an economic development organization from neighboring Bellevue, and the booth hosted six indie gaming companies from the Bellevue/Redmond, Washington area that opened up their consoles to the hordes of kids (and adults) that passed by each day. One Redmond’s overarching goal was to attract European gaming companies to the city of Redmond by demonstrating its extensive local indie gaming industry, local talent and quality of life. Hosting businesses like Microsoft, Nintendo and SpaceX doesn’t hurt their cause either. I’ll vouch for the area.



Gaming revenue greater than Hollywood


games con fans cheer entertainers

Entertainers create excitement for a farming simulator and free t-shirts


gamescom opened my eyes to the size and extent of the industry – one that had somehow remained on the periphery of my day to day thought despite its commanding presence in the media. One insider casually mentioned to me that the gaming industry raked in more money in the first 8 months of this year than the film industry in all of last year. A quick internet search shows experts predict gaming to be a $100 billion dollar industry within three years.

I saw mammoth companies I’d never heard of – including, Bethesda Softworks, Ubisoft, crytek, Blizzard. My childhood self would have loved to happen upon a Sierra Entertainment booth. They were the makers of a mainstay of my adolescence – Kings Quest. Alas, I was unable to find them in the ten halls of the show and through the hordes of gamers.

Booths at gamescom were enormous and many featured stages occupied by their own tee shirt tossing MC’s. You may expect a popular and wildly interactive company like Rockstar Games to garner a cheering crowd, but I was surprised when even a farming simulator had throngs of kids cheering and screaming for projectiles tossed by a dirndl-clad German gal. also had a large stage flanked by screaming throngs of kids (and adults) as serious-looking synchronized dancers dressed in military garb moved their hips or twisted LED lit swords to inspired movements.

Many of the more violent games had completely enclosed booths with marketing-plastered walls stretching towards the ceiling and preventing younger kids from catching a glimpse of the more graphic content inside (or maybe just keeping the crowd moving along in an orderly fashion?).

Kids waited in line for hours to simply watch trailers for upcoming video game releases. Unfortunately, I did not partake in said activity, so I do not have a detailed report for you.



YouTube is the SportsCenter of gaming


Kids flocking to the YouTube gamescom booth

Kids flocking to the YouTube gamescom booth


A huge player in the gaming industry, YouTube’s booth at gamescom had taken on the vibe of a SportsCenter broadcasting booth.

Don’t believe me? Feast your eyes upon this link:

I got my first look at YouTube’s influence on gaming last summer when I noticed my 11-year-old cousin was spending much of his vacation time at Yellowstone National Park watching YouTube videos… of other kids… playing video games.

I had a surreal moment while standing at the YouTube booth when I realized I was watching an entire horde of kids (sprinkled with those wearing “free hug” signs – what is up with that trend???) whose eyes were transfixed on giant screens where they watched other kids playing video games.

I’ve since learned there are professional video game players who pull in over a million dollars per year. For a good cry, check out this list of top earners.

For another good cry, check out this story from KING 5 News in Seattle about a guy named Bacon Donut (@bacondonutTV), working for a company called n3rdfusion who plays a game called Minecraft all day – FOR A LIVING!

And, here I thought Joey Chestnut had the best job in the world.

For a good laugh, check out this segment of Jimmy Kimmel being educated by kids on gaming.



Gaming trade delegations


Of the many halls at the event (I believe there were 10 total) one of the more interesting halls (due to interesting conversation) had trade delegations representing gaming regions, including: China, Britain, France, Iran, Croatia, Germany, Austria, Canada, South Korea, Italy, etc. I met people from Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Switzerland and Japan. Oregon was not represented…



Interesting marketing campaigns


fallout marketing campaign

fallout marketing campaign


The organization representing Belgium were perhaps the most savvy marketers of their region. They combined information about their gaming industry while bribing people to linger using their other most popular export – beer (well, most popular after waffles, of course). It was hard to compete with free beer, and it might be a good idea to file away for future businesses representing the Pacific NW at trade shows, as Northwest IPA’s seem to have captured the imagination of the Euro pals I’d met.

One of my favorite marketing campaigns was for a game I’ve never played, nor ever even heard of – Fallout 4. The game is a violent post-apocalyptic romp around a world after a nuclear holocaust, but their logo is a smiling winking blonde-haired kid flashing a thumbs up hand sign. His little face was displayed on billboards all over the city of Cologne throughout the week I was there. At one Fallout booth fans could get their hair dyed yellow to mimic the cartoon kid. I saw many full-grown adult men have their head, beards and mustaches colored yellow – and they didn’t even seem to be embarrassed to walk around the town as such.



New avenues for revenue


While it was fun to see kids dressed in favorite costumes, it was equally fun exploring booths in the business hall. Supplemental supporting companies exist for every facet of production. For example, I met one man from China whose studio designed artwork for gaming companies.

An interesting challenge I learned of – the transfer of money isn’t as fluid in Europe as it is in the United States (as evidenced in the numerous businesses in Germany including restaurants and grocery stores that did not accept my Visa credit or debit cards).

Several European companies offer services to North American indie gaming companies who need help navigating European rules and regulations for commerce. These companies also find clients new revenue streams in different mediums (apps, websites, ads, etc) in each of the different European countries and on different online platforms.

As the week at gamescom wrapped up, I marveled at how fun it was getting a sneak peek into an industry with so much creative talent working together to create new and unique forms of entertainment – from the games on down to the booths that promote them.



I hope you enjoy the photos and videos!



Jerry Casey at AM:PM PR

Jerry Casey on The Oregonian and the State of the Newspaper Industry [PODCAST]


The Oregonian’s Breaking News Manager on the Evolving Newsroom

The Oregonian’s manager of breaking news, Jerry Casey (@jjeremiahcasey), was our latest featured guest at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy. Jerry provided some interesting insights from inside today’s newsroom and The Oregonian’s historic transformation. He correlated the evolution of news consumption with the shift in staff needs and pace of story production. Jerry recognized the impacts on the public relations industry and offered tips for pitching journalists with the new newsroom in mind. Hear Jerry’s observations from inside the The Oregonian newsroom and his take on the state of news media today on our first-ever Speakeasy with AM:PM PR podcast

The Oregonian Today

Changes at the Oregonian have been a hot topic among journalists, ex-journalists and PR professionals over the past several years. Most recently, the paper announced the closure of  its printing plant and plan to outsource. Over the last five years hundreds of Oregonian staff have been laid off leading people to wonder, what’s going on around there?

Without much context the layoffs can seem quite callous, but are these changes simply the result of new technologies and how today’s reader consumes news? Understanding how readers consume the news is another way that technology has altered the newspaper business – and new technologies give greater insight than ever before.

Clickbait, Quotas and Millennials

News site analytics show an increasing number of readers attracted by clickbait over hard-hitting reporting. This data effects the types of stories news organizations invest in.

How is The Oregonian adapting? Last year Willamette Week published a leaked email about new guidelines for Oregonian reporters that included rules for social media usage; how frequently they should be posting and how compensation will be related to readers.

That story fascinated us so we asked Jerry how it reflected changes in the newspaper business what the resulting cultural impact has had on older reporters in the newsroom. We also wondered how much the new guidelines were influenced by millennials joining the workforce.

Jerry differentiated between producing narratives and, simply, relaying information. In fact, he explained many stories “don’t need a narrative.” This is a useful point for those hoping to pitch stories to the media.

Pitching The Oregonian

Staff reductions, evolving reader interests and managements expectations of reporters have made pitching more difficult for public relations professionals. Jerry offered suggestions for pitching Oregonian staff, including starting with reporters you know, how to think about the story your pitching and what tactics to avoid.

About Jerry Casey

Jerry has worked as an editor in Portland since 1999. His diverse newspaper career includes stints in Virginia and Florida, in addition to Oregon. He’s been a copyeditor, business editor, city editor, bureau chief and The Oregonian‘s first online editor.


We hope you enjoy our inaugural Speakeasy with AM:PM PR podcast. In the future we hope to tap into our team of experts to discuss crisis communication, media relations, strategic communication and share more from our Speakeasy guests.


AMPMPR Speakeasy


To join our Speakeasy group, click on the following Facebook hyperlink.

KGW's Pat Dooris at AM:PM PR's Speakeasy

KGW’s Pat Dooris at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy

Thanks for listening!


Mike Phillips - World Traveler

Mike’s Euro Travel Adventures


I spent the past month traveling around Europe on an extended vacation. In my blog series I’ll share some of the more interesting adventures and discoveries I had along the way. The discoveries relate to public relations, industries we work in, communication, and history, too. Scroll to the bottom now to check out some of my wild photos!

Stop 1: Frankfurt, Germany. 

I spent the first two days of my trip in Frankfurt, Germany –  though jet lag made it feel like a week. Still, I managed to cram tons of activities into those days.

I admit I didn’t have high expectations for Frankfurt, mostly because I didn’t know anything about the place. But I’m happy to have discovered that it’s a wonderful multi-cultural melting pot with people from all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa calling the city home. I don’t speak a lick of German but it didn’t seem to matter much as everyone spoke enough English to get me fed and to help me navigate the city.

Bizarrely, the layout and “feel” of the city is reminiscent of Portland in a way that was both similar and completely foreign at the same time. They don’t have the perfect north/south/east/west layout – but there are several streets crammed with places to imbibe and enjoy culinary adventures – much like our neighborhoods including Division, Alberta or Mississippi. The Main River flows through the center of town, dividing the city like the Willamette in Portland. Frankfurt is incredibly bike friendly too – and on my second day I explored a food cart festival and met a craft beer enthusiast named Max who was obsessed with IPA’s. Nearby a bike race and some kind of running competition meandered through the main platz. In the afternoon I caught an American Football game between the Munich Rangers and Frankfurt Galaxy.

The fans were wild and took their soccer-style noise-making antics to the football stands. They’d surely love a Timbers game. When I got back to my hotel in the evening, I had a conversation with the hotel bartender Stefan about infused liquors and he shared some of the šljivovica that his boss is making in small batches.

Does it get any more Portland?

I’ll admit that I spent some time later that evening Googling to see if Frankfurt has a sister city relationship in America. I discovered that in July 2015 they cemented this relationship with Philadelphia, the city of “brotherly” love. This could be unbridled enthusiasm speaking, but I am thinking our friends in Philly need to alter their pact to a “brother city” relationship and let PDX step in to create a much needed partnership between two cities that love bikes, beer, booze and the convenience of a direct international flight thanks to Condor Airlines.

Unfortunately, the low point of my day came when I went out of my way to try to do something work related after I stumbled across a sign that translated to “The Communication Museum.” I naively thought it would be an homage to the craft of public relations, strategic communication and crisis communication in Germany, but it was a large room devoid of visitors with a bunch of displays showing the evolution of phonographs, telephones, computers and other bits of technology.

communication museum

Click the image for an exclusive look at the communication museum!!!

Anyway – that concludes my first dispatch. Here’s what to expect from upcoming posts:

Stop 2: Gamescom. Cologne, Germany

Having a stepdad working in one of the Northwest’s hottest tech towns has its advantages. In July I was invited to join him for the Gamescom gaming conference in Cologne, Germany.

Gamescom is Germany’s biggest convention on digital games and also serves as an interface between the world of gaming and other cultural and creative industries, as well as the digital economy.

I’d hoped to pass my AM:PM PR business cards to communication-challenged gaming companies across Europe, thus legitimizing future travel adventures and hopefully clearing a path to bring my AM:PM PR colleagues with me next time – but I discovered a different reality altogether. To be continued!

Stop 3: Sarajevo International Film Festival. Sarajevo, Bosnia. 

Just 20 years ago the first Sarajevo Film Festival was held during the middle of the longest siege of a European city since WWII. Attendance projections were low as a result, but 15,000 risked sniper bullets and mortar attacks to see 37 films from 15 different countries.

I’m happy to say my experience was a bit less harrowing, and I had the pleasure of seeing the debut screening of a film from a local Portland duo titled, “Finding Bosnia.” I look forward to sharing more soon.

Stop 4: Exploring Lineage in Ireland. 

Blood lineage to my great-great-great uncle Sean Mac Diarmada is probably shared by thousands of other McMorrow’s, McDermott’s and Mac Diarmada’s across Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United States – but that doesn’t stop my family from laying a firm claim to this Irish hero from 1916.

Mac Diarmada will be getting his time under the spotlight as the Irish nation celebrates 100 years since the Easter Rising of 1916, an event he helped orchestrate with Thomas Clarke and that eventually led to the creation of the Irish Republic (and gulp, a bloody civil war).

I visited his statue in his hometown with my grandfather and father – three generations! I never thought I’d see the day. I spent some time with my grandmother in her ancestral village in County Mayo where I was able to reconnect with distant relations. We also had interesting experiences exploring mystical Celtic wells and catching jam sessions and visiting renowned pubs.

That is a quick overview of the trip – more blogs to come.

badger and boar razors

Badger & Boar: A New Barber Shop in SE Portland

“Everybody has the perfect haircut and it’s my mission to find it.”

I first met Sean Gronich several years ago when he worked at a popular local barber chain and we bonded over a supernatural horror novel by local Portland author Todd Grimson. After losing touch for awhile, I ran into him again several months later at the Alberta Street Pub where he was hanging out with some mutual pals. We realized our friend circle overlapped with a Port Townsend connection, and he’s been my “stylist” ever since (I put that word in quotes because I’m not sure if you can categorize the lack of attention I put to my head as style-anything).

Just a little over 9 months ago Sean started his own business, run from his home, and now he’s finally got a location on one of Portland’s hottest avenues. He said the opening came about randomly, but he leapt at the opportunity.

Named after the animal hairs that make up the finest shaving brushes, and harkening back to his British roots, the Badger & Boar barbershop is now open for business at SE 33rd and Division. Just follow the stairs between St. Honoré and Salt & Straw and take a right when you get to the top. Gronich says Badger & Boar will have a casual, friendly feel and that he’s trying to avoid the trendiness of other local barber shops, if only to suit his own personal style.

I recently interviewed Sean for my Podcast and asked him about his passion for cutting hair. Strangely, his passion began when he was actually working on the set of a popular TV show on the Discovery Channel called Worst Case Scenario. He said sometimes he’d work 85 hours per week, not including LA traffic, and to relax he’d cut hair. 

“[Cutting hair] put me into Zen, I liked the conversation, I got to relax. And when I’d see my work on the street, I just loved it.”

We welcome him to the neighborhood and wish him nothing but success in the future. Congrats, Sean!

To hear more about his philosophy, career and experience cutting hair, please click on the image to enjoy a recent interview:

sean gronich badger and boar

marijuana industry connections

Cannabis – A Primer for Oregon Business

Our work with the International Cannabis Business Conference and Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference gave us a good look into the culture and complexity of the Oregon Cannabis Industry. In the following blog we’re happily sharing some of what we’ve learned with our local business partners, friends and loyal readers.

The 411 on Oregon Legalization

Possession of marijuana is now legal in Oregon. Purchasing marijuana? That’s a different matter. The Oregon legislature has been discussing a plan allowing dispensaries to sell to adults who are 21 and over, beginning October 1st, but the legislature has until next year to create more permanent rules for the retail sale and purchase of cannabis products. So, while it’s currently still illegal to buy and sell the stuff, if a stork delivers a baggie on your doorstep, or a stash appears via immaculate conception on your coffee table – you’re totally in the clear!

Legal possession has its limits, too. Adults are allowed up to 8-ounces of cannabis in their homes and up to one ounce away from home without fear of criminal prosecution. Oregon residents 21 and over may have up to four plants in their home.

It’s also still illegal to consume cannabis substances in public places, but oddly enough, at the  “giveaway and smoke out” event celebrating an end to prohibition – participants were granted the right to LEGALLY trade, test and posses up to seven grams of cannabis.

Confused yet?

The Cannabis Industry 

The cannabis industry culture is unique, but members are as serious as any member of Oregon business community. Conversations with cannabis entrepreneurs are nothing like the ones you may have had with your best friends’ older brother back in high school. For example, any references to “grass” should be saved for conversations about Linn County horticulture.

ARC View Cannabis Industry Numbers

Business Opportunities

With the successful legalization of cannabis in Oregon, Washington Alaska, Colorado and, likely, California  in 2016 – the “Cannabis Country” of the West Coast will be a multi-billion dollar industry. Growth of the cannabis industry will have a broader impact on the economy by increasing demand for innovation, supporting technologies and professional services. Examples include:

  • Commercial Real Estate Brokers – More than 300 dispensaries have already been approved in Oregon. Growers, wholesalers, processors and retailers all need space and brokers have the expertise to find the best options and negotiate the best deals.
  • Lawyers – Any business owner should have an attorney to help set up their entity, but cannabis industry entrepreneurs are blazing trails and all the laws have yet to be settled and defined. Lawyers with cannabis industry knowledge and expertise will be in demand to help business owners ensure compliance, protect their intellectual property, guide the licensing process and negotiate contracts.
  • Investment Brokers – All the big investment groups are offering cannabis portfolios, but now some firms specialize solely on the industry. Smart investors are seeing a cash crop potential and the number of interested parties will continue growing. 
  • Public Relations/Marketing – As stores become established across the state retailers and related product manufacturers will need to differentiate themselves to stand out and compete for customers. Cannabis growers will discover they face education barriers that create communication challenges similar to other agricultural and natural resource industries. Likewise, they’ll need to educate consumers – much in the same way that vineyards discuss terroir, palate, nose and qualities unique to different grape varietals and growing techniques. Entrepreneurs will benefit by thinking about branding, communications planning, social media strategy and media relations early in the game.
  • Security Firms – Dispensaries and growth operations will be wise to protect their premises and hire guards. These properties are at risk for break-ins and theft like liquor stores and distilleries – likely greater risk. Just as with investment brokerages, specialized security firms have already spawned.
  • Insurance Agents – All businesses need insurance and the cannabis industry has its own unique needs and requirements. Specialty insurance agencies have cropped up to serve the industry and this area of the insurance sector will continue to grow.
  • Tourism & Hospitality Stakeholders – 420-friendly hotels have popped up in Colorado (Bud & Breakfast) and there’s no reason to think they won’t in Oregon. While most hotels, B&B’s and new economy rental businesses like VRBO, Vacasa or AirBnB are smoke-free, many may decide to make an exception to attract cannatourists. Additionally, who’s to say that taxis and Uber and Lyft drivers won’t benefit from a surge in ridership with an influx of these tourists, many of whom will look to enjoy the best of Portland’s dining experiences.

Time will tell what the cannabis industry will bring to Oregon’s businesses and economy, but getting in early will offer the most opportunity for those who want to capitalize.

For more on the industry, the current status of laws and potential opportunities, check out these sources:

International Cannabis Business Conference:

Marijuana Politics:

The Northwest Leaf:

Oregon Cannabis Connection:

Dope Magazine:

The Cannabist : for a wonderful glossary for cannabis industry lexicon


jerry casey header

Next Speakeasy: Adapting to a 21st Century Newsroom

What is it like to be a breaking news reporter in today’s fast-paced 24/7 news cycle? What draws their attention? Join us July 15th at 4 p.m. at AM:PM PR to get these questions answered by our next Speakeasy host — Jerry Casey — breaking news manager for The OregonianChanges to The Oregonian’s newsroom have been widely discussed. These major shifts have changed how Jerry reports and he’ll share what that means for those who work with media.

Jerry has worked as an editor in Portland since 1999. His diverse newspaper career includes stints in Virginia and Florida, in addition to Oregon. Jerry says that in his 25 year career as a journalist he’s been unable to hold one job without coveting another. He’s been a copyeditor, business editor, city editor, bureau chief and The Oregonian‘s first online editor — a role that shapes how stories are produced and consumed.

Most importantly, Jerry is the husband of another journalist and the father of two kids: Rosencrantz from the Jesuit High School production of “Hamlet” and the only left-handed pitcher/first baseman playing for the Padres in the Cedar Mill Little League.

We hope to see you for what will be a compelling and enjoyable Speakeasy featuring a remarkable journalist. Please RSVP with Mike if you plan to attend.

jerry casey speakeasy canva


get the interview, get the job

Get the Interview, Get the Job

Student Portfolio Reviews Reveal Successful Tools & Tactics

For several years I’ve volunteered to review hardcopy portfolios from graduating University of Oregon public relations students. As part of the U of O program, each student presents their portfolio to a panel of three PR/marketing/communication professionals who rate their demeanor, presentation skills and mastery of career-related projects and assignments.

This experience, in addition to reviewing the daily emails and resumes sent to AM:PM PR by new hire hopefuls, has given me a good idea as to what makes a job candidate stand out. I’ve come to appreciate the value of a portfolio – it may be the best and most underused tool by jobseekers. While not always necessary, a portfolio can bolster the information found on a resume by demonstrating an expanded understanding of communication challenges and solutions.

Your portfolio should be easy to follow and easy to share. For the in-person interview, bring a hardcopy, or a tablet to walk through your work with a little digital pizzazz. Either way, make sure you bring extra printed copies of your best work to leave behind with your interviewer, who may want to share it with other decision makers.

Assembling the Standout Portfolio

Great portfolios for PR job candidates include:

  • an up-to-date resume with skills and experience highlighting abilities related the the job you are interviewing for.
  • a compilation of writing samples, i.e. pitch emails, press releases, blog posts and college assignments.
  • before/after analytical data, such as website or social platform analytics from projects that you worked on.
  • graphic, presentation or information design assignments. If you’re using printed pieces within a hardcopy portfolio, make sure you use high quality images. Pixelated images give the impression you don’t really understand the tools or you won’t go the extra mile on the job.
  • materials or case studies from previous work or school experience that demonstrate strategy and results or challenges and solutions.
Leave a lasting impression

If time allows, offer to walk through your portfolio during the interview. Explain each item you’ve included as a case study – the assignment, how you thought through it, how it was executed and what the results were. The students who stood out most in the portfolio reviews I’ve experienced identified PR-related challenges and demonstrated their solutions and results.

Bonus points

Create a professional portfolio website. Think of it as your own personal branding tool. An attractive website demonstrates you value good design. Share links to your successes i.e. social sites, earned media, guest posts. Draft engaging and relevant blog posts. It doesn’t hurt to write fan posts about professionals you admire either. Like this interview with our very own Pat McComick

Think about how you appear everywhere online. Include as much as possible on your LinkedIn profile and any other digital platform you use professionally, including your personal website. At 33-years-old, and only 7 years removed from a fledgling rock’n’roll career, I’m not a curmudgeon, per se – but even I recognize the importance of a clean social media profile. Consider the professional reputation you are building and what potential employers could take away from the messages you type or the information you share. You don’t have to stop having fun, but you do need to demonstrate you understand privacy settings.

Now, go get ‘em.

james joyce portrait

Irish Event Explores 20th Century’s Most Controversial Novel

James Joyce has been dead for nearly 75 years but he still reigns as one of Ireland’s leading literary ambassadors, thanks in part to the annual commemoration of Bloomsday, an event celebrating his masterwork “Ulysses.” Arguably more controversial than “Tropic of Cancer” – and making “50 Shades of Grey” appear tame in comparison – “Ulysses” was the subject of bans and censorship – at one point the postal service even refused to transport a magazine that had printed sections of it. The novel was banned in the United States until 1933.

The local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will celebrate the 111th anniversary of Bloomsday at Kells Irish Pub (112 SW 2nd Ave) on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. The free event is AOH’s 18th annual Bloomsday event and will feature discussions and readings exploring Joyce’s work, Irish culture and Hibernian Unity.

When: Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m.
Where: Kells, 112 SW 2nd Ave.

Interestingly, the AOH is a Catholic-based organization, and Portland’s chapter has been active celebrating Irish culture, including hosting politicians from Sinn Fein and (living) Irish authors too. Here’s a link to learn more about the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.

james joyce

Biography has an excellent piece on Joyce, click for more

“The thing with Bloomsday is that there really aren’t many commemorations or celebrations in America, but in Ireland it’s a big deal,” said Bill Gallagher, a charter member of AOH’s Portland chapter and its current president. “We feel Bloomsday provides a fun opportunity to emphasize the cultural as well as the social and political aspects of our shared Irish heritage.”

Portland’s Bloomsday event has been hosted by the AOH since the 1980s and has ranged from involved productions, to simple gatherings of members and friends sharing their favorite works of James Joyce. This year’s event will fall somewhere between the two.

About the AOH.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians Portland had a chapter in the early part of the last century which was disbanded during the Depression. David O’Longaigh and Chuck Duffy saw to its revitalization in the mid-seventies and now the organization meets about nine times a year on a variety of topics ranging from contemporary Irish politics to classic literature and an annual St. Patrick’s Day banquet.

“I resent violence or intolerance in any shape or form. It never reaches anything or stops anything. A revolution must come on the due installments plans. It’s a patent absurdity on the face of it to hate people because they live round the corner and speak a different vernacular, so to speak.” James Joyce, “Ulysses”

For More About James Joyce.
Biography Feature on Joyce
Feature on Joyce and his Publisher
An analysis on “Ulysses” and Bloomsday