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Many clients seek guidance and support during a time of crisis and stay with PJ for decades to accomplish their long-term, strategic media and public relations goals. Others might prefer to get ahead of potential issues by working with PJ ahead of challenges to anticipate and diffuse them.


Forget about the old adage that all publicity is good publicity — especially in this era of metastasizing social media and shrinking mainstream media. PJ Johnston Communications is your partner for strategic public relations that includes how — and when — to interact with the media at all levels.

When you have a burning issue, a political goal or a Bay Area project, PJ Johnston is the go-to strategy and crisis communications authority to help you achieve your goals.

After a decade leading communications for San Francisco’s city government at the highest levels, Johnston’s firm has served a wide range of clients from candidates for office and ballot measures; to government institutions, nonprofits and corporations; to professional sports teams and academic institutions; to hospitals, trade associations and developers. Johnston has unique insights on how to communicate with the media, connect with the public, and galvanize voters and elected officials alike.


Forget about the old adage that all publicity is good publicity


PJ Johnston is one of San Francisco’s most prominent media relations consultants. He is a crisis communications specialist and political strategist, with decades of experience and extensive relationships. He emphasizes strategic thinking and a straightforward approach. For almost two decades, Johnston has led PJ Johnston Communications, a strategic communications firm with clients ranging from public agencies and state, county and local officials to private companies, law firms and sports teams, and from real estate developers to nonprofit organizations, hospitals and academic institutions, to trade associations and political campaigns.


A former journalist and mayoral press secretary, Johnston is a regular fixture in Northern California media coverage, serving as spokesman for high-profile clients and projects. Johnston also serves as campaign chair for San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and has served as an advisor and speechwriter for a variety of elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Johnston served as the chief communications strategist for a number of successful political campaigns, including those of Mayors Breed, Lee and Willie Brown.


From 1999-2004, Johnston was the press secretary for San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., the legendary former speaker of the California State Assembly and one of the most sought-after personalities in American politics; he remains a close advisor to Brown, who is now a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Johnston managed such crises as a large corporation’s criminal corruption indictment, the disbanding of a Southern California city’s police department, and the nation’s second largest municipal bankruptcy.


He has successfully led the public relations campaigns on several hotly contested development projects, including the largest privately owned residential development in Northern California, and the construction of the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center, San Francisco’s newest sports, entertainment, cultural and retail destination.


Johnston is also very active in the Bay Area arts scene. He is the former executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission and was president of the San Francisco Arts Commission for nine years. He has served on the boards of a variety of nonprofit organizations, focused mostly on the arts and advocacy for women and African Americans. He is a board member of the African American Arts & Culture complex (

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