30 Years of Deadlines, Deals and Damn Good Creative

Thirty years is a long time to hang around, especially in the fast-paced, deadline-pressure world of marketing, communications and community engagement. There are days we remember fondly…and days we try to forget. Depends if you’re talking to the 8-months’ pregnant art director who stayed up all night to launch a new brand, or the writer who spent Christmas Eve writing a report that just couldn’t wait. Or to the team that produced the safety recommendations the Governor held up – and fully endorsed — to a packed room of reporters.

We’ve had some stressful days and nights (and weekends) but we’ve loved this 30-year journey working for the greater good!

Trash Talk. MADD Moms. OH Baby!

As MurphyEpson takes a look back at its 30 years of producing award- winning work we’re struck by how many cool issues we’ve been a part of and the interesting things we’ve learned. This is all thanks to great clients committed to making our world a better, safer place.

Here’s just a small snapshot.


We learned that throw rugs are the #1 cause of falls in the home while creating the Columbus Healthy Homes campaign.

We cried when we met the families and recipients of DonateLifeOhio teen organ donors while we created the campaign to encourage first time drivers to become organ donors. 

We shepherded 33,000 one-on-one statewide conversations about the need for prenatal care to keep Ohio babies from being born too soon, because Our Babies Count!

We empowered women to re-take control of their lives and call the domestic abuse helpline staffed by what is now the Center for Women and Families.

We got busy fast, launching a media and online campaign — Lead Safe Columbus — when we became alarmed about the number of children in Columbus still living in homes full of dangerous lead paint.

Development/Real Estate

Our communications strategy to build confidence in the future of downtown Columbus led to a massive rehaul that turned our city center into a dynamic 24/7 place to live, work and play, by attracting more than a billion dollars in investment.

We even named the Scioto Mile as we worked with former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman to bring swagger to our city.

Our work for the JW Galbreath Company – a blast from Columbus’s past – started the same year we were founded, 1989, with a focus on commercial real estate, then progressed to shaping the brand that became Real Living and attracting the eye of Warren Buffet.


Speaking of Warren Buffet, we handled media relations for NetJets, another Buffet-owned company, during an important moment in their history.

Who knows more about hyperloops, highways, airports, scooters, bike trails and transit corridors? It’s hard to find anyone as engaged in transportation issues as #teamME and its many transportation clients. Whether it’s the reconstruction of I-71/670 or the future of The Ohio State University Airport and Rickenbacker International Airports (LCK Master Plan link), we agree with our clients who recognize, as Mayor Ginther says, “Mobility is the great equalizer.”

Then there’s the Long Street Cultural Wall, which gave us the chance to work with artists Kujo Kamau and Larry Winston Collins, curator Bettye Stull and the King Arts Complex – and a bevy of community leaders determined to reconnect two neighborhoods separated by I-70 in the sixties. Thank you Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)!

We planned great events for COTA, won an award for launching one of their first web sites – getting national attention and further assignments from numerous transit systems around the country.

And if you think it’s easy to write an original hip hop song for teens and recruit a youth choir to sing and dance to it, that’s because we make it look that way on our award winning, first of its kind Safe Routes to School video, filmed at East High School with more than 100 volunteers and two film crews.

And here’s something we’re super proud of: Thousands more kids are walking and biking to school in Ohio thanks to the School Travel Plans we’ve co-developed with ODOT and 40+ Ohio school districts. Also check out Your Move Ohio and be sure to sign up for GroundWorks for tips on how to walk, bike and bus safely.

And how’s this for getting attention: partnering with Nationwide and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to get 400 people to play dead on Nationwide Boulevard Why? To advocate for stronger drunk driving laws after we realized too many people were dying needlessly on Ohio roads.

Not to brag but it was our showcase distracted driving simulator and booth at the Ohio State Fair that first alerted people to the horrible danger of texting and driving. After lawmakers gave it a try, they passed new laws to curb the problem. Yay!!! There’s still a way to go to make our streets and bikeways safer as you can see in this Distracted Driving Task Force Report, but we are helping ODOT and officials all over the state to make it happen.

Affordable Housing

When home ownership seemed out of reach for many in the early 90s, we helped the Columbus Housing Partnership, now Homeport, launch the Parade of Possibilities, and showed the way for many families to buy homes for fix up.

Stopping NIMBY in its tracks, we listened, respected and changed attitudes about affordable housing, helping to greenlight the Barrett Middle School redevelopment and the Van Buren Community Shelter.

Some ideas are so good we had to be a part of it like Move to Prosper’s housing for single moms, and wrangling senators and seniors to launch the Wallick Companies’ senior housing communities.

Now we’re helping to launch the Central Ohio Community Land Trust so that more working families can afford a new home.

Community Engagement and Public Information

We love engaging “passionate people”. Okay, they can sound a little angry sometimes, but we’ve facilitated balanced conversations around tough, controversial issues. Whether it was to “Keep Powell Moving”, shape statewide transit and aviation plans, navigate airport noise studies, or update businesses and residents about construction on High Street, Uptown Westerville and Portage Lake dams, we specialize in bringing down the heat so communities can get things done coolly with public input and support.


We’ve covered every nook of the K to Career space: Want to launch STEM in Columbus Pubic Schools? We did that. Want to change the dynamics of childcare from babysitters to early care and education professionals, we did that too.

And when learning a foreign language seemed a waste of time, we put the Ohio State University Chinese Flagship program students front and center on the news ticker in Times Square. All this work is precious and foundational to our children and Ohio’s future workforce.

What’s your good idea about Columbus Schools? The largest public outreach effort ever contributed to the innovative ideas that surfaced during the Columbus Education Commission. Our idea? Postage paid post cards distributed all over town so people could send in their ideas quickly for free. WE heard from thousands.

We also branded the K to Career program for Dublin City Schools, a STEM-inspired, Race to the Top program that led to the development of Emerald Campus in Dublin.

High Profile

When Tiger Woods came to town to inspire underprivileged youth to succeed in golf and life, we turned his largesse into a media story to expand the program and motivate more kids to succeed.

When Honda celebrated its 25 years in Ohio, we launched a campaign so that all Ohioans recognized its economic engine not only in manufacturing cars and motorcycles but exploding the auto parts and supply businesses that became part of the Honda logistics chain in this state.

We loved being part of the New Albany Classic media team – spreading the word about this wonderful charity that gives generously to abused women and children.

Sure, we knew it was important but when Governor Mike DeWine endorsed our Distracted Driving Task Force effort, it hit the ball out of the park.
And who hasn’t come under the spell of former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman who served as our spokesperson for the Columbus Department of Public Utilities clean water campaign.

By now you know we are smart, so one more accolade: Smart Columbus, led by Mayor Andrew Ginther. The world’s attention is on our city, the winner of the United State Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. We were instrumental in bringing home the award and are now in the midst of rolling out these state-of-the-art smart mobility initiatives. 

And is it possible to get all the network TV stations to agree on one campaign? Yes, when the effort is focused on making downtown the heartbeat of our city. Through artful persuasion and a genuine sense of vision, MurphyEpson created and ran a campaign that set the tone and inspired the belief that change was possible after years of neglect.

Get Green

Thousands of tons of trash are kept out of the landfill every month because Columbusites took to the blue recycle bins after we launched Columbus’ recycling program. Columbus had one of the highest success rates in the nation.

But we didn’t stop there. Afterward we talked to dog owners about the reason to PUP – pick up poop. Yes, it keeps our drinking water and other things clean. We’re a City of Columbus Green Spot business and love doing our part to keep Central Ohio green.

Who can put complex projects into plain English for regular people? We can! And we’ve done it over and over.

We do well. We work for good. Ask us to do good work for you as we celebrate.

Kathleen Murphy, founder and President Emeritus of MurphyEpson, and Cindy Byington, Senior Project Manager who worked for Murphy Epson for 28 of our 30 years, contributed to this article. Both are retired but remain treasured members of the #TeamMe family.

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