PR Agency Grasslands Purchases $1.2 Million Denver HQ, Expands Staff to 13 Full-Timers, Accelerates Client Growth

Full-service communications firm Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency is continuing its rapid growth with the recent purchase of a historic $1.2 million property in central Denver to serve as the agency’s headquarters, the addition of multiple new team members to fill newly created positions, and an expanded in-house expertise that will fuel client efforts in a wider variety of industries. 

Specializing in strategic communications for brands and businesses in highly regulated industries, Grasslands is cementing a permanent foundation in Colorado with its first real estate purchase, a 5,071-square-foot building at 100 N. Santa Fe Drive, kitty-corner to commercial redevelopment The Yard in Denver’s historic Baker neighborhood. Built on a quarter-acre lot with more than 20 parking spaces, the former neighborhood bar will soon be transformed into a design-focused office for Grasslands’ growing staff, including an oversized art-centered lobby that combines the agency’s DIY aesthetics with multicultural inspirations drawn from the office’s location in the Art District on Santa Fe, a certified Creative District of Colorado.

Grasslands Agency new headquarters building
Grasslands Founder and CEO Ricardo Baca and his wife, Melana Baca, outside the new agency headquarters at 100 N. Santa Fe Drive in central Denver.

Grasslands has also onboarded four new colleagues in the last month, focusing on client-facing public relations talent as well as operations staff dedicated to elevating client experience and quality control. 

“As we continue to expand and diversify our client roster, it’s important to bring in tactical comms professionals as well as behind-the-scenes operations pros to fully build out a well-rounded team, and our new building—a nontraditional, wildly out-of-the-box agency office that will soon communicate to the world our aesthetics and quality of work the minute they walk through the door—is the cherry on top,” said journalist and TEDx veteran Ricardo Baca, Founder and CEO of Grasslands. “Each of our teammates brings a unique perspective and toolkit to the agency, and their differing backgrounds and experience levels will only enhance the meaningful outcomes we’re able to produce for our clients.”

The Grasslands staff has recently expanded to include Alex Gnibus as Publicist, Sean Billisitz and Madison Ware as Account Coordinators and operations professional Kit Markgraf as Account Manager. Account Coordinator Trevor Maniscalo was also recently promoted to Junior Publicist, and Public Relations Manager Amanda Lowell—who oversees PR initiatives, pitch development and client campaigns—came aboard in June after 10 years at PR agencies in New York City and Los Angeles.

“In the past six months, we’ve worked tirelessly to recruit the best talent possible and amplify the PR program here at Grasslands’ Denver offices—with three of our last four PR hires coming from out of state,” said Sarah Thorson, the agency’s Director of Public Relations. “Our new teammates are extremely bright and strategic thinkers, and already they’re boosting the results we’re securing for our clients.”

Founded in 2016, Grasslands—which pioneered the concept of a “journalism-minded agency”—has quickly positioned itself as an on-the-rise national communications firm offering public relations, thought leadership and content marketing services for businesses operating in highly regulated industries including cannabis and hemp, biotech, sustainability, government and healthcare. 

And with this fresh infusion of colleagues who have vast experience in countless other fields, Grasslands will soon be targeting other corporate categories including real estate, hospitality, B2B technology, consumer lifestyle and others.

The agency’s journalistic rigor comes from Mr. Baca, a 25-year newspaper veteran and the Founder / original Editor-in-Chief of groundbreaking news site The Cannabist, an award-winning vertical of Colorado’s largest news organization, The Denver Post.

And with the historic 1954 property already zoned to go five stories up (via its I-MX-5 zoning), Grasslands has positioned itself for future growth—and the team looks forward to moving into their new home in early 2020. 

Grasslands’ new headquarters is owned by Biome LLC, co-founded by Mr. Baca and Grasslands Co-Art Director Melana Baca, his wife and a veteran Denver area hairstylist.


The Bacas are both proud Colorado natives, graduates of Colorado universities and longtime residents of the neighborhood surrounding the new agency headquarters and the Art District on Santa Fe.
“Finding a forever home for the agency has been a priority for us since Ricardo left The Post and started Grasslands back in 2016,” said Melana Baca, who is working closely with a team of architects, contractors, artists and designers to create memorable indoor and outdoor spaces that are aligned with the Grasslands brand. “And we felt an oddly remarkable connection to this beautiful, strange, special space the minute we first stepped foot inside.”

10 Tenets of Thought Leadership, Part 1: Audit Your Public Persona

When Grasslands first starts working with a brand or executive on thought leadership, we begin by conducting an audit of your online persona, including your social media profiles. Yes, being audited might sound like an ordeal, but it’s really just a frank assessment of the client’s online presence….

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So You Want to be a Thought Leader: Introducing Grasslands’ 10 Tenets of Thought Leadership

Ricardo Baca, CEO of Grasslands speaking on the Ted Talk Boulder stage

Everybody wants to be a thought leader these days.

Can you guess how many professionals describe themselves as thought leaders on LinkedIn? (Hint: It’s nearly a million.) When Bill Murphy Jr. at Inc. quizzed prominent executives and entrepreneurs about which corporate clichés they loathed the most, thought leader came in at No. 1.

So why are so many styling themselves as thought leaders if that term makes the rest of us roll our eyes?

The reality is, true thought leaders are not cliché, and real thought leadership isn’t irrelevant—far from it. I’d argue that, in this era of actual fake news and widespread misinformation, we need thought leaders now more than ever. In today’s crowded field of advertisers, infotainment, carnival barkers and dwindling attention spans, bona fide thought leaders stand out and command respect.

In a recent survey of 1,200 business decision-makers by global communications firm Edelman, 58 percent of respondents reported that thought leadership directly led them to award business to particular organizations.

Thought leaders like corruption and fraud prosecutor Preet Bharara, professor and social science guru Jonah Berger, cannabis visionary Steve DeAngelo, racial justice advocate DeRay Mckesson and Silicon Valley muckraker Kara Swisher have gained public trust by sharing their hard-won experience, asking tough questions, making compelling arguments and shining their spotlights on pressing issues in their industries and communities.

Once it’s earned, the title “thought leader” conveys an authority, gravitas, visibility and credibility that money can’t buy.

But earning it is the key here.

How to Attain Legitimate Thought Leadership

The eye-rolling starts when individuals who haven’t done the hard work simply dub themselves thought leaders.

That’s not how this works.

If you really want to develop your thought leadership and avoid getting written off as just another big-talking corporate drone, you must observe some essential principles—which is why I’m introducing Grasslands’ 10 Tenets of Thought Leadership, a how-to blog series (and soon, a book) for entrepreneurs, influencers and executives looking to elevate their public presence, amplify their industry-specific expertise and offer meaningful insights to their peers and the wider community.

I’m crafting this series / book to discuss the bedrock principles of true thought leadership, as my colleagues and I have developed them in-house at Grasslands, our journalism-minded communications agency. From effectively gathering and sharing your thoughts to pitching the proper outlets, curating your social media presence to practicing the art of subtlety and staying authentic and true to yourself—I’ll discuss the ways you can do this work yourself, or partner with an agency like Grasslands to help you get there.

I founded my own full-service agency after more than two decades in Pulitzer-winning newsrooms—and when it comes to modern thought leadership, I’ve assembled a wealth of experience about what hits, what misses and what absolutely crushes.

So if you’re ready for some real talk about how to separate yourself from those hundreds of thousands of “thought leaders” on LinkedIn and actually start influencing and leading in your industry, keep an eye on the Grasslands blog—where we’ll start releasing this series, tenet by tenet.

We’re always happy to talk shop at Grasslands. Drop us a line.