Couple moves travel and tech businesses to Sonoma
RUSS JOHNSON AND PAT MEIER
(Editor's note: Pat Meier and Russ Johnson, recently moved their home and business to Sonoma. They're both longtime media pros, and we invited them to introduce themselves to the community.)
“We weren’t thinking of moving. We were looking for a weekend place that we might retire to in ten years or so.” But then they rounded a corner on the west side of Sonoma and said in unison, “This is where we want to live…now.., in a real neighborhood within walking distance from the Plaza and six markets, if you count the farmer's markets, not to mention a sunny place for our own garden."
It was quite a contrast from their old digs up a one-lane road on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin. They made an offer the next day and within three months they had moved themselves and their businesses, in travel and technology communications, to Sonoma.
Pat Meier Associates, founded in the mid-80s, was one of the first woman owned high tech public relations agencies, representing many high-tech and consumer electronics companies, multimedia publishers, app developers and, for the past 11 years, a Taiwan-based computer chip giant. She grew up in Mill Valley and was a frequent visitor to Sonoma. Her first career was in broadcasting at KQED-TV and ABC-Radio, after which she moved into public relations serving clients such as the Napa Valley Wine Auction, and Memorex where she delighted in explaining how Ella Fitzgerald really did break a wine glass with her voice.
For more than 25 years, Meier-Johnson has produced media events at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Most recently Pat and Russ together produced The Connected Traveler Technology Showcase, where tech companies demonstrated their gadgets and apps directly to travelers at the New York Times Travel Show. They will repeat next year in New York and Los Angeles. In 1994, Russ created The Connected Traveler (connectedtraveler.com) one of the first magazines on the web covering technology and travel. Lonely Planet has called it “Armchair travel at its best.”
Russ Johnson fell in love with Sonoma when he produced the video for Sonoma County and the State of California that is often used in TV stories internationally. His first career was also in broadcasting, in Minneapolis, Sacramento and San Francisco at KRON-TV and KABL-Radio, as well as teaching broadcast journalism at San Francisco State. His voice can still be heard on documentaries and commercials.
In the mid 80s, he founded Travelmedia (travelmedia.com) to produce media for cruise lines, tourist offices and international organizations. To date he has worked in 58 countries as a producer, writer and photographer. His oddest assignment was an hour special for NPR on a coup e'etat on the Islands of Fiji. The Pacific Asia Travel Association, sort of a United Nations of travel and tourism in the Pacific Rim, has been a client for more than 25 years. He is on PATA’s Board of Directors, emcees their conferences, sometimes introducing heads of state and has worked with the UN Development Programme and the Asian Development Bank on sustainable tourism projects in Nepal, and in the six countries that border the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.
They both now use Skype and other digital tools for daily routine communication with clients around the world, saving the long flights for face-to-face business, media assignments or fun. “Now that we have moved our business to Sonoma,” says Pat,“ not surprisingly, our clients and business contacts are coming to us. We have added ‘tour guide’ to our resumes.”
For more information go to: Pat Meier Associates, www.patmeier.com; Travelmedia www.travelmedia.com and The Connected Traveler www.connectedtraveler.com.