Jeff Barnes is a marketing and public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience. He is the president/CEO of Barnes Agency, which has been serving clients since 2003. To date, Barnes and his team have been awarded more than 300 regional and national awards for advertising excellence.
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Barnes is a University of Charleston Athletics Hall of Fame member, played professional baseball in the Texas Rangers organization and was vice president of marketing and public relations for three large regional hospital systems.
Barnes, 56, is married to Susan Barnes and has a son, Trevor.
The State Journal: What is your biggest day-to-day challenge?
Jeff Barnes: Knowing that client service is paramount to our ongoing success as an agency, I would have to say making sure all of our clients are happy with our services. Client service is ongoing and the key is regular communication while maintaining value for the services that we promised to provide them on the front end of the agreement.
TSJ: What has been your proudest professional success?
JB: I could say all of the regional and national awards our agency has won — but, it’s not that. Of course, helping our clients become successful is critical, but that is expected. I would have to say my most proud achievement has been our work to help reduce the number of suicides in West Virginia; our work to help feed the hungry in West Virginia; our work to help provide coats to kids in West Virginia; our work to support the Ronald McDonald House in Huntington; our work to help match our youth in need with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in West Virginia; and our work to help raise money for a desperately needed animal shelter in Putnam County. It’s what we do to give back to those in need that feeds my soul.
TSJ: What trends do you see on the horizon for your field?
JB: I think social media, digital media and retargeting is becoming a more results-driven and cost effective form of marketing moving forward. Just 10 years ago, these marketing initiatives were non-existent. Today, businesses and even presidential candidates launch their campaigns using social media. And while traditional advertising and public relations is still very important, the fact is we now live in an increasingly digital world and everyone is now on board attempting to grab consumer and public attention.
TSJ: What advice do you have for someone starting out in your field?
JB: Surround yourself with people who believe in you and share your passion about being successful. In my case, it’s many friends. But most of all, it’s my wife. She is the chief operating officer of our agency. And while I am the face of our agency, she is the engine. They say that beside every good man is an even better wife. That is never so true than with me.
TSJ: Who is your mentor?
JB: Most people mention they have one mentor. I have several that have made me who I am today. My parents taught me honesty and integrity. My college baseball coach Tom Nozica helped me become a man. Finally, I have three former bosses that paved the way for me professionally: Greg Conner was the first person to believe in me professionally. LaMar Wyse believed in me, too. But it was J. Thomas Jones, the former CEO of both St. Mary’s Hospital and WV United Health System who provided me with critical guidance, critique in private when needed, unexpected praise in public and the freedom to spread my wings and fly.