Backbone MEDIA

In 1997, when we started Backbone we debated to call it Backbone Media or Backbone PR. As there were only two of us and it was deadlocked we turned to mediation. For mediation we used two systems, one was the 8 Ball which we used more as a new business prognosticator. For yes/no questions we relied on the tried and true system of justice: rock, scissors, paper.

I threw scissors and won and we became Backbone Media.

Scroll forward to today and it proves that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. The late ’90’s saw the rise of PR and now we all live in a paid/earned/owned impression format that melds social, media planning and buying and new school PR.

As barriers have broken down, connectivity has grown. This is best evidenced by the blurring of traditional media (pure editorial) and the dark side (PR) and the fact that many big brands are media companies on their own right.  Witness, JLD recently writing a piece in Backcountry magazine, Jonathan Georger sitting on a social panel for Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Nate Simmons being on Outside TV, not once but twice recently.

As Backbone’s services continue to expand there is no longer clear delineation between marketing channels. Integration and (for lack of a better word) leverage of all things marketing is the new norm. The mix now requires more quantifiable market research, app development, digital buys/optimization and of course PR.

Which is why if someone thinks you will throw rock you throw scissors.

Fuzzy Background Model

I was just flipping through the January issue of Powder Magazine and came across this full page photo featuring the lovely Kirsten Newhard (Penn’s better half) and her family as part of “The Powder Project: Ski Stories from Around the World.” It’s an awesome shot from the family room that perfectly captures a day in the life of the Newhards. I’m also pretty sure this is the only time I’ve actually seen Kir stand still for more than two seconds.

Penn also makes an appearance in the fuzzy background of the above image, but it seems this is not his first experience as a model in a magazine. He also just recently completed this photoshoot….

Simmons heading to South Beach

The crew at Backbone would like to extend a hearty congratulations to our very own Mr. Nate Simmons, who was just named one of Sporting Good Business magazine’s 40 under 40 award winners. The recipients were selected out of a list of over 300 nominations by a panel of SportsOneSource editors and a team of industry executives. Nate and the other award recipients will be honored at a gala event in South Beach, Fla., May 21 – 23.

This award acknowledges the hard work and long hours Nate has sustained for the past couple of years leading a dual life as both a partner at Backbone Media and the global marketing director at Polartec.

At Polartec, Nate is spearheading a major international campaign to re-brand the company with a new website, marketing creative, and advertising campaign. He has assembled a team of talented marketing professionals and the company is in the strongest position it has ever been in its long history. Nate is highly regarded by both his seniors at Polartec and all of the customers that use Polartec products – TNF, Mtn Hardwear, Marmot, REI, Cabelas, etc.

And here at Backbone, Nate has helped us grow into the largest media and PR agency specializing in the outdoor industry, with 17 employees and over 35 category-leading clients.

To celebrate his award, we thought we would compile a little gallery of photos of Mr. Simmons (who, by the way, turns 39 this summer, thereby just squeaking into the ‘under 40’ award).

SLC’s Big Budha

The ‘Big Budha’ from SLC’s Fox 13 is a staple of the OR Show. His coverage from the floor of the show is great, as long as you don’t mind the 4:45 a.m. wake up call. Kenji gets cut off, but Penn appears to be properly caffeinated for his segment, pimping the new BD Drift ski with typical aplomb, while Chris Hillyer from Teva is fired up for their fall MXT line.


Everyone Deserves a Snow Day

This post is a bit premature as there isn’t a single flake of snow on the ground here in Carbondale, but I thought I’d post it now so that Penn and Nate have time to forget about it by midwinter when I may need to put the following tools to use.

The theme of Copper’s new micro-site is “Everyone Deserves a Snow Day” and they provide everything you need to get the day off from work.

A Ferris-Bueller-style soundboard gives you the essential sounds to call in sick to your boss: (go to and click on “I’m Employed” to hear them.) Unfortunately they are all apparently made by a throaty-sounding man, so the legitimacy if I used them might be questionable.

Picture 1

They also provide a doctor’s note that you can download, fill out, and print to give to your boss.

Picture 2

Unfortunately the stamp reads “Snow Day Medical Group” so again, the legitmacy is likely to be questioned. Even if I won’t be getting any days off courtesy of Copper Mountain, the website is amusing and good example of a very creative web campaign.

Sorry Colorado Office…


Sorry Colorado, Jackson comes out ahead AGAIN in Skiing magazine’s Resort Best of Best Awards, taking Best Backcountry Access, Best Steeps, and Best Guide Service awards. Ajax, Highlands, Snowmass nowhere to be found. I’m surprised Buttermilk didn’t get best steeps, really. And Snowmass could surely round up the “Most Fanny-pack Sightings” Award. Maybe next year.

(On a side-note, Jackson did however receive the Most Condescending Locals award)…but whatever.

This weekend also marks the official beginning of ski movie season in Jackson with the premier of Teton Gravity Research’s Re:Session. Take a look.

Life At Backbone Is About Being #1 (At totally ridiculous things)

Sometimes at Backbone we are working way too hard to get out of the office. And, when we do, we all have different athletic talents so its hard to agree on what to do. I bike uphill like a 90 year old woman, Mavis hates hiking, Ian only likes to Rollerblade, and the list goes on…
So, the only way to really be competitive (because everyone knows a little healthy competition is always good) is to play sports where no one has any skill. So in the fall, we throw a Kickball Championship with Boulder publications… and sometimes we engage in a little something I like to call HYPOTHETICAL OFFICE ATHLETICS. (this means we don’t actually do it, we just make it up.. a little throwback to the old “Lets Not and Say We Did” line from middle school.)

sumo_suitsOur first event- HYPOTHETICAL INFLATABLE SUMO WRESTLING. Don’t be fooled, inflatable sumo is not like regular sumo, its much much sillier and requires different skillz.

Here’s how it broke down match-by-match earlier this year.
1)Penn vs. Greg- Greg said ads were cooler than product coverage, and Penn said “oh yeah, I’ll give you an ROI in the face punk”
2)Jess vs. Jess- Jess Smith accidentally hit Downing in the face with a Kastle ski going down the stairs, so Downing canceled Smiths credit card while she was in Austria. Booooyah!
3)Sue vs. Kara- the two anglin-ladies go head to head to fight over who caught the biggest fish of the summer. And there’s no catch and release in this match!!
4) Mavis and Sarah-Mave is pissed that Sarah left Colorado and left her alone with Ian, and Sarah is pissed cause Mave has much cooler hair
5)Dax and Nate- Nate told Dax he was fired because he was a snowboarder, Dax made fun of Nate’s fancy jeans…and it just got worse from there.
6) Ian and JLD- Men’s Journal came back to shoot another Mountain Men profile and only one guy gets to be on the cover. Winner takes all…
7)Zanni and Lindsay- Zanni told Lance that Lindsay only drinks Zima, and so Downtown Lindsay Brown ordered business cards for Len that said he works for Big A-Hole, not Big Agnes.
8) Mike and Jonathan weren’t at Backbone yet for this contest.. but if they fought each other, it would so obviously be because Georger wanted to change his name to HTMLL Cool J, and Mike pulled a Gerber knife on him.

Weigh in on your picks and let us know what hypothetical sport we should do next.