Pleasanton Weekly

Column - June 18, 2010

Popular publicist hangs up her keyboard

by Jeb Bing

After more than 30 years as a writer and publicist in Pleasanton, Denise Howe is shutting down her computer this week to spend more time with her husband Bob, who retired four years ago as a physicist for 37 years at the Livermore Lab. Denise is most visible on her daily walks along Crellin Road, but even better known behind the scenes serving the public relations needs of scores of non-profit organizations whose activities and fundraising successes are attributed to her good work. They're widespread, ranging from the Museum On Main in downtown Pleasanton to the Northern California Dance Conservatory in Roseville, to the Livermore Valley Opera, Tri-Valley YMCA, Volunteer Center of Alameda County, the Tri-Valley Youth Food Drive and many more. Her final release, sent this week, ended her long affiliation for the USS Hornet Museum. It promotes a family event on board the aircraft carrier-turned-museum at an Independence Day carnival and party on Sunday, July 4, including the chance to sit on the flight desk high above Pier 3 in Alameda to watch fireworks from San Francisco and Marin County.

Howe started her writing business back in the days of typewriters in 1979, preparing resumes for the jobless in another time of economic travails. Asked to fill out personnel recruitment forms, she actually interviewed individuals first and then wrote up comprehensive resumes. When she showed clients her first drafts, most were astounded to find they had done so much and were better prepared for their potential employers than they realized. Her impressive success record was widely touted and the business took off. As computers and the Internet eased the workload, she also learned the key words employers use to separate out incoming resumes for serious consideration. Key words that gain the attention of recruiters change frequently. Howe recommends those preparing resumes to Google "key words," where long lists of sites designed to help job seekers will pop up. She also recommends using a professional resume preparer, saying that her experience shows that kind of service is well worth the cost.

Her resume writing skills also caught the attention of editors at the Tri-Valley Herald, who hired her as a free-lancer to write a column about Pleasanton, and then later at the Valley Times, where she was a Pleasanton stringer for six years. It was during these years as editors sent her hundreds of press releases from non-profit organizations that Howe saw the opportunity -- and the need -- to open her own public relations shop to serve those organizations. Involved herself in the work of non-profits that served the needy, the elderly and hungry, Howe moved full speed into upgraded and updated computers and media distribution technology. I worked with her as a board member at the Museum On Man when Howe handled publicity about membership drives and fundraisers. Her work added new members and more funding and was the start of a major turn-around for the little-known downtown museum.

Howe's dedication to Pleasanton goes back many years. Her parents, Dodge and Bill Jamieson, both in their early 0s, are well-known benefactors in town who moved to Pleasanton in 1964. They live in the same house they bought then, but Denise isn't telling how much they paid back then. Bill Jamieson is retired from Sandia Labs, where he worked for 37 years, first in New Mexico and then in Livermore, which is why the family moved here. He served on ValleyCare Health System's board of directors and was its president in the 1960s when its one medical facility was Valley Memorial Hospital in Livermore. He also was on the Alameda County Fair board of directors and for eight years as a member of the Pleasanton Planning Commission. Dodge Jamieson also spent much of her life as a volunteer, was a charter member of the ValleyCare Auxiliary for 40 years.

Stepping away from the keyboard to turn her business contacts over to associates, Denise Howe plans to spend more time traveling with her husband Bob and her parents. One of her first trips in retirement will be to San Diego to visit the Howes' daughter and son-in-law, Allesandra and Jeff Tharp (he's an IT specialist) and their two sons, Tyler, 8, and Braden, 6. With more time on her hands, Denise expects more baby sitting requests will be forthcoming, which is fine with her. She's also looking forward to no more deadlines, one of the key words those in the media deal with every day.

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