Monday, October 07, 2013

MH PR leaders before and after the trademark situation of late 2011--Justin Dean took over from Nick Bogardus

For sake of review, Stokes & Lawrence, a law firm, issued a cease and desist letter to a church plant on the subject of trademark and logo infringement.  The controversy that erupted led to a public statement by Mars Hill that was made at the following link:

Mention in news coverage discussed Chris Pledger and Justin Holcomb and other names.  A name that did not come up in discussion at the time was who was handling PR for Mars Hill circa October 2011.  Chris Pledger shall be the matter of a separate post.  It is worth revisiting the subject of PR at Mars Hill all by itself. 

By now we have heard of Justin Dean
Per the February 2012 article in Slate:

Before now, Mars Hill’s only response has been posting an excerpt on church discipline from Driscoll’s 2009 book Vintage Church on its website and an opaque tweet from Driscoll. But Justin Dean, the church’s PR and marketing manager, agreed to answer my questions by email to tell the church’s side of the story.

One key element that was not clear in Andrew’s original account, Dean told me, was that the letter was intended to be read aloud, not posted online, and only to a “handful” of people. Instead, the group leader received unclear instructions and posted the letter online, a move Dean insists was not meant to hurt Andrew.

Furthermore, says Dean, only the approximately 15 members of Andrew’s small group, who met regularly and knew one another well, had access to the letter on the City. (Though Andrew was blocked from accessing the City, he says the letter was available to a slightly wider circle, including his fellow security volunteers.) “His case was not shared with the full church and had, until he posted it publicly online, only been known by a handful of people who were involved in his life and cared deeply about him,” Dean said. (Confusing social-media privacy settings strike again!) He added that Driscoll was not involved in the case at all. Mars Hill currently has 5,417 members and just nine ongoing church discipline cases.

Okay, so how long had Justin Dean been handling the job of PR and marketing director for Mars Hill by the time he'd talked to Slate?  Just a few months.

Justin J. Dean's Experience


Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
November 2011Present (2 years) Seattle, Washington
I currently oversee the communications department, including public relations and social media for Mars Hill Church, The Resurgence and Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the America, with 14 locations in 4 states. Pastor Mark's sermons receive almost 15 million downloads per year, consistently rank #1 on iTunes, and he has over 500,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Pastor Mark and his wife Grace co-authored Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together which was released from Thomas Nelson in 2012 and reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, #3 on Publisher Weekly’s Nonfiction Hardbound list, #8 on the Wall Street Journal Nonfiction Combined List, and #38 on USA Today’s Top 150 Books.

His newest book titled Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ released January 6, 2013.

The Resurgence is the largest Christian leadership blog, publishes a half-dozen books annually, holds conferences around the country, and offers a master's level theological training program for leaders from around the world.
So Justin Dean came along after the logo situation came up and had some kind of public resolution. So who had the role of PR before Justin Dean?

That would be Nick Bogardus, according to Nick Bogardus:


Nick Bogardus' Experience

Lead Pastor

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
June 2011July 2013 (2 years 2 months) Orange County, California Area
• Founded and led a church that grew from four people to more than 500 in two years.
• Led and developed a team of staff and dozens of volunteer leaders.
• Doubled congregational giving and community involvement.
• Launched regional theological training center.
• Developed and implemented a six-month training curriculum for young leaders.

Director PR & Media Relations

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
20092011 (2 years) Seattle, WA
• Represented PR for one of the most visible church leaders and church movements in America.

• Increased both the quality and quantity of media coverage. Effectively garnered coverage in outlets such as CNN, ABC, USA Today, The Washington Post, Loveline, Relevant, and the Seattle Times.

• Conducted interviews as a spokesman on camera and by phone with USA Today, the Seattle Times, and major local TV affiliates in Seattle (market 12).

• Developed and implemented the organization’s strategic communication plan. Identified key messages and produced both external and internal communications.

• Led content management team for the church and its affiliate ministries, the Resurgence and Acts 29. Combined, the sites have an audience of 700,000 visitors per month and more than 600,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

He was already preparing a church plant that would be Mars Hill Orange County as far back as the summer of 2011, though.  At Bogardus' own site there is this link, which in turn goes to this dead link, which in turn can be found thanks to this link.  So Bogardus was potentially already on the way out or planning the transition to Mars Hill Orange County's start-up in 2012 through 2011.  But whatever the details, it was Bogardus who was Director of PR & Media Relations at Mars Hill during 2011 when the trademark/logo situation came up.  Whether or not his employment and direction of PR and media overlapped with Justin Dean's is not clear from just the details provided by their respective LinkedIn profiles as they are. What is clear is that Dean became the PR and marketing manager just after the trademark/logo controversy in October 2011.  Now his job is simply Communications director, apparently. 

So prior to the launch of Mars Hill Orange County, which received an eviction notice not long after it's launch, Nick Bogardus was handling PR and media relations for Mars Hill Church, a role he had for roughly 2 years. 

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