Posted: December 13, 2022

Blue Water Communications announces new president

IMAGE CREDIT: Lynnette Werning and Stephanie Elton. Photo by Doug Hinebaugh.

President and founder Lynnette Werning names Stephanie Elton as future leader of agency

Bradenton, Fla. – Cultural public relations firm Blue Water Communications announces a change of leadership in the new year. On Jan. 1, 2023, Stephanie Elton will assume the role of president of Blue Water after previously serving as the organization’s vice president and director of client services. She will lead the agency’s dedicated team that specializes in strategic communications for museums, architecture and destinations. Lynnette Werning, APR, SPP, Blue Water’s current president, will continue in her pivotal role as founder, spearheading key projects focused on client service, strategy and new business development.

“Stephanie is an exceptionally talented public relations expert. From the moment we met 10 years ago, I knew I wanted her to be part of Blue Water’s future,” said Werning. “I wouldn’t make this transition without being 100% certain of the team’s readiness, and with Stephanie at the helm I have full confidence that our clients will be in excellent hands. I can’t wait to see how she reimagines this next chapter for Blue Water.”

When Werning founded Blue Water Communications in 2006, she began with clients in one state and envisioned a public relations firm focused on creative thinking, strategic campaigns and outstanding client service. Blue Water has since grown to represent clients across 18 states. Blue Water is recognized for their expertise in museum communications as a member of PR Boutiques International (PRBI), a global network of more than 40 specialized public relations firms. Blue Water merged with the David James Company in 2017, an integrated marketing communications agency based in Illinois.

A leader within the museum field and public relations industry, Elton is an expert storyteller, content strategist and communicator with nearly 20 years of experience in the arts and culture sector. Before joining Blue Water, she served in several roles during eight years at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), developing strategic ways to amplify TMA’s mission and connect the Museum with audiences in meaningful ways. In addition to TMA, Elton has held various marketing communications positions at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Touch and Go Records and Lumberjack Mordam Music Group. She serves on the boards of the Press Club of Toledo and Courageous Community Services, the only organization in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan to provide comprehensive outdoor recreation experiences for people with disabilities. Elton previously served on the Toledo board of governors for the American Advertising Federation.

Now in its 16th year, Blue Water Communications represents clients across the country, helping them navigate media relations, long-range communications planning, spokesperson media training, major events and exhibition promotion, crisis communications and more. Blue Water has worked on projects that range from handling national and international media relations for the 2011 opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. to managing communications for the current national tour of the most important U.S. exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal Australian art in over 30 years, Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala. Current clients include the American University Museum, the Chazen Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, The Dalí Museum, DesignGroup, Fralin Museum of Art, Honolulu Museum of Art, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State, the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art at Notre Dame, Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College, Toledo Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

“Blue Water has an incredible roster of museum and architecture clients stretching from Hawai‘i to Virginia with inspiring stories to tell,” said Elton. “We’re grateful for the trust they place in us as their communications partner, and I look forward to carrying on the legacy of Blue Water that Lynnette has built with such care.”

Through her tenure at Blue Water, Werning has accumulated an extensive list of achievements. She has been selected to host media training workshops for more than 500 professionals in the museum, architecture and destination fields. She also holds a rare dual professional certification, with accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), an achievement earned by only 5% of public relations practitioners, and a Strategic Planning Professional designation from the International Association for Strategy Professionals. She is the past president of PR Boutiques International and served on the board of trustees for the University of Toledo Alumni Association. She has served as president of the Northwest Ohio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and is also a member of PRSA’s Counselor’s Academy. She was named Outstanding Alumna by the University of Toledo Department of Communications.

Since founding Blue Water, Werning has been committed to growing great ideas and rewarding relationships through open dialogue. “It’s a philosophy that’s helped Blue Water grow and has been foundational to our clients’ success,” she said.

Elton looks forward to building on Werning’s approach as she leads Blue Water Communications into its next stage. “This is an exciting time for the entire Blue Water team,” she added. “While we plan for the future, it is important for us to remember what has allowed us to arrive at this point. It is about relationships.”

About Blue Water Communications

Founded in 2006, Blue Water Communications is a public relations firm focused on museums, architecture and destinations. With clients spanning more than a third of the United States, Blue Water is comprised of PR and communications experts with decades of experience in the museum and creative fields. The agency specializes in national and international media relations, communications planning, major exhibition/event promotion, media training and more. In 2017, Blue Water Communications merged with the David James Company.

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