PJ Johnston CFEE'S communications advisor and one of San Francisco’s most prominent media relations consultants. He is a crisis communications specialist and political strategist, with decades of experience and extensive relationships. He emphasizes strategic thinking and a straightforward approach. For almost two decades, Johnston has led PJ Johnston Communications, a strategic communications firm with clients ranging from public agencies and state, county and local officials to private companies, law firms and sports teams, and from real estate developers to nonprofit organizations, hospitals and academic institutions, to trade associations and political campaigns.
A former journalist and mayoral press secretary, Johnston is a regular fixture in Northern California media coverage, serving as spokesman for high-profile clients and projects. Johnston also serves as campaign chair for San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and has served as an advisor and speechwriter for a variety of elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Johnston served as the chief communications strategist for a number of successful political campaigns, including those of Mayors Breed, Lee and Willie Brown.Johnston managed such crises as a large corporation’s criminal corruption indictment, the disbanding of a Southern California city’s police department, and the nation’s second largest municipal bankruptcy. He has successfully led the public relations campaigns on several hotly contested development projects, including the largest privately owned residential development in Northern California, and the construction of the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center, San Francisco’s newest sports, entertainment, cultural and retail destination.
Johnston is also very active in the Bay Area arts scene. He is the former executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission and was president of the San Francisco Arts Commission for nine years. He has served on the boards of a variety of nonprofit organizations, focused mostly on the arts and advocacy for women and African Americans. He is a board member of the African American Arts & Culture complex (AAACC.org).