During her 25 years as a public relations practitioner, Ramonna Robinson ’93 has seen the best and worst the world has to offer.
Within a year after graduation, she was traveling handling communications for the Pan Am Games, Goodwill Games, and the Olympics.
Six years later, she’d been the Lakewood (Colorado) Police Department’s spokesperson for just six weeks when the Columbine High School shootings occurred. “It was trial by fire,” Robinson said, “and that is where I learned ‘on the job’ and honed my crisis communication skills.”
At those jobs and others, Robinson has used what she learned at Butler—and in the field—to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative for a slew of clients.
“I rave about Butler all the time,” said Robinson, whose first name is her mom’s middle name, Ann, and her dad’s first name, Omar, spelled backwards. “I got a great education, a great mixture of professors and adjuncts who came in from the real world—especially in some of my advertising classes, where we looked at campaigns and how things are applied—and values that were instilled in me that stick with me to this day.”
Robinson grew up in Greenwood, Indiana, and chose Butler for radio/TV. But as a member of the WAJC staff, she kept losing her voice. An examination discovered nodules on her vocal cords, so she switched her major to Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations.
She remembers Gay Wakefield, who ran the department, and her advisor, Journalism Professor Art Levin, as being particularly influential and helpful. Levin helped arrange her schedule so she could study at Murdoch University in Australia for a full year and still graduate from Butler on time.
One of Wakefield’s classes helped propel Robinson into the sports industry upon graduation—first leading communications for a national gymnastics organization and then to Indiana Sports Corp., where she handled communications for events in Indianapolis like the Olympic trials for swimming and diving.
In 1998, Robinson visited Colorado “and realized that the sun comes out in the winter and people get outside year-round to enjoy the mountains and everything Colorado has to offer.’” Though the closest she’d been to law enforcement was getting a speeding ticket, she got the job with the Lakewood Police Department. In her first year there, she worked on Columbine, two officer-involved shootings, and a record number of homicides.
After that, she had the opportunity to take over the marketing and public relations for Swedish Medical Center outside of Denver. She spent five years there in a role that expanded to include physician relations and new business development. While there, Robinson helped the hospital celebrate its 100th anniversary by putting together a commemorative book, arranging publicity for a community immunization project, and planning a gala celebration.
During that time, she mentioned to a friend that she was open to new opportunities. That friend connected Robinson with Laura Love, the owner of GroundFloor Media, and “I left a 100-year-old hospital for a 4-year-old PR agency.”
That was in 2005. Robinson has since become part owner of the agency, which is located around the corner from Coors Field. She’s helped the firm evolve into digital marketing and social media strategies, guiding clients through successes and crises, and is building a culture that has landed the agency in the top five on Outside magazine’s best places to work list for the past five years. (One of her clients is Sun King, the hugely successful Indianapolis-based brewery founded by her dad and her brother Clay.)
Though Robinson’s plan had been to be in the media, she said everything has worked out well. She credits Butler with kick-starting her career.
“The education I got there and the class size and the attention to detail that I learned at Butler,” she said, “has stuck with me and served me well.”