When Jean Runyon launched her public relations career, she didn’t know she was breaking any glass ceilings. An actress and entertainer with a generous heart, Jean opened her first public relations firm in 1960 after spending several years planning theater parties for Sacramento’s Music Circus.
In 1972, her company won the advertising/public relations contract for the California State Fair, and shortly after, she hired Estelle Saltzman, a journalist. In 1976, Jean and Estelle formed The Runyon Agency, Inc., and it took them four years to hire a man to join the 15 women then employed there. “It was only women for a while because our receptionists were frequently promoted and men never applied for that job in those days,” explained Jean. In true PR fashion, the arrival of this guy, a writer, was celebrated with significant media coverage, including a Sacramento Bee story and two television interviews.
In 1982, the firm was named Runyon Saltzman, Inc. and in late 1979, Jean and Estelle were joined by Jane Einhorn, a writer/publicist, who became an owner about four years later. During this time, the agency added social marketing to its menu of communication services, still a specialty today.
Jane left what had along the way been renamed Runyon Saltzman Einhorn, Inc. in mid-2016. Current owners are: Estelle, chair of the agency’s board of directors; Christopher Holben, a public relations/public affairs specialist who became an owner in 2005 and agency president in 2012; Scott Rose, a former legislative aide, who joined the firm in 1991, became an owner in 1999 and its public affairs director in 2012; and Paul McClure, a Sacramento advertising executive, who became an owner and agency advertising director in 2010.
Jean Runyon passed away in October 2009 after nearly 54 years as a Sacramento communications professional and community icon. Today, her vision and vibrant personality continue to play a big role in RSE’s culture, values and mission. Jean, always the entertainer, was especially known for her Halloween shenanigans, including standing on her roof to throw candy at children and adults and amusing trick-or-treaters with her signature cackle. She was also widely known for her tireless dedication to Sacramento and her appreciation for the arts, carried on still by RSE’s pervasive community involvement and its art-studded office in midtown Sacramento.