Eagle man headed to Hall of Fame | VailDaily.com

Eagle man headed to Hall of Fame

NWS Jay Jaffe DT 11-15-10

EAGLE, Colorado – We have a Hall of Famer living next door. Who knew?

Jay Jaffe is considered the father of legal marketing and was just named to the PR News Hall of Fame. Not the late-night ambulance-chasing legal marketing, but legal marketing for corporate law firms.

PR News is that industry’s leading trade publication and named Jaffe to its 2010 Hall of Fame class. It recognizes PR veterans who have made career-long contributions to the industry.

“I thought it might be like a lifetime achievement award; you get it then you die soon,” Jaffe joked.

Jaffe will receive his award at a luncheon on Nov. 30 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a city he says he doesn’t really like much.

Jaffe founded Jaffe PR more than 30 years ago in Washington, D.C., but migrated west to the Rockies and Eagle in the mid-1990s as technology made it unnecessary for him to live in the land of high humidity, higher rents and highest pretense.

He has become completely virtual, with staffers and consultants based in home offices around the country and no brick-and-mortar office building.

His clients stretch from New York to Los Angeles, and, of course, Washington.

He lives and works out of Eagle Ranch and moved to the valley 13 years ago. Before that, the Chicago native spent three decades in D.C.

“I really disliked it. I didn’t like the commuting, the traffic, the weather,” he says. “When I learned to ski I longed to live in the mountains.”

So, he does.

Jaffe was one of the original Lone Eagles, entrepreneurs who were considered pioneers.

“Technology allowed me to live and work in Colorado,” he said. “I’m not a new story today, but I was a new story 15 years ago.”

When he first started looking west, a dial-up Internet connection was the only link with the outside world. He knew it would get better, he just didn’t know how fast.

“Before the digital revolution took hold, everyone thought you needed a prestigious address,” Jaffe said.

In his case, that was 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., a few blocks up from the White House. The rental rates were brutal, he says. Now, the mail that shows up there is forwarded to Eagle.

“We’re a $4 million business and my rent is $275 a month. How can you beat that?” Jaffe said.

Jaffe PR’s intergalactic headquarters is 0026 Camp Fancy Spur in Eagle Ranch, and it suits Jaffe just fine.

“My law firm clients are a little jealous of the way I live and work,” he said.

His controller lives in Longmont. She married a guy in Nebraska, unplugged her computer and moved. She unmarried the guy, unplugged her computer and moved back – seamlessly.

His COO lives in Edwards part of the year and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., part of the year.

“I have people who wander off to Hawaii and work from there for a month,” Jaffe said. “It doesn’t matter where they are. My account execs get paid for what they bill and what they produce.”

The Eagle County airport is a major attraction. Jaffe says it’s much more accessible and dependable than other mountain airports. Even when weather forces the rare flight cancellation, or he misses a plane, he can still get out.

“If I don’t make the fligh,t it’s a decent drive to Denver,” Jaffe said. “That’s not true in Durango or even Aspen. There’s no other place you can live in a mountain community and be a two- or three-hour drive from Denver.”

Technology is making travel even less necessary. His firm is Mac-based, and that helps. He’s constantly video conferencing, uses iChat and everything else Apple offers.

“We really use the technology. I’m 66, and for a guy my age to get it to this degree, I think is kind of unusual,” Jaffe said.

Mostly it’s professional; sometimes it’s personal. He had throat cancer this past year and part of the treatment caused burns on the outside of his neck.

“The doctor wanted me to drive to Denver for an appointment, but instead we did the examination online because we both have access to that technology,” Jaffe said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Jaffe PR is now the nation’s leading agency specializing in marketing law firms. He founded it 30 years ago following the 1977 Supreme Court decision in “Bates v. State Bar of Arizona,” which allowed law firms to proactively market their services.

The legal industry received the idea “with a giant thud,” Jaffe says now, and it took a decade to build his firm. Now he’s considered the father of legal marketing and his first successful, traditional advertising campaign for a commercial law firm was called industry changing in the 25th anniversary issue of the professional magazine “The American Lawyer.”

Jaffe’s client list now includes some of the world’s largest law firms, along with mid-sized and boutique firms.

These days he’s on the cutting edge of using social media and Web 2.0 for law firms.

“I like being on the cutting edge,” he said.

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