Best Face Forward
John Deveney, a man known for promoting other businesses, takes a rare moment to showcase his own stylish digs.
Inside his corner office on the second floor of his firm’s headquarters on Magazine Street, John Deveney, president of DEVENEY public relations and marketing, takes in the streetscape of the Lower Garden District and the steeples of St. Alphonse and St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic churches. “This is an amazing area that is experiencing a renaissance unmatched in recent history,” he says “We selected it because we wanted to be a part of the revitalization of New Orleans and this is a prime area for expansion.”
Today, the company operates across two floors of a recently remodeled historic building at 1582 Magazine, where it is making its mark for innovative approaches to marketing and public relations.
The space Deveney calls his own is a 16-by-23-foot office flooded with light courtesy of four windows that vary in height from almost 7 to 9 feet tall. “I instantly felt an energy here when I first viewed the building,” he says. “I could envision a dynamic office with space for a conference table that would seat eight and informal seating where our clients and staff would feel comfortable.”
The firm currently services more than two dozen companies.
“We have shaped our company with successful projects such as launching The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk,” Deveney says. “The Howard Hughes Corporation, a Dallas-based commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate development company, came to us looking for something creative and exciting. We delivered an overwhelmingly successful opening and many other services.”
Everywhere you look in Deveney’s office speaks to the innovative nature of the company. Even his 3-by-6-foot desk is fresh and different – made from two reclaimed wood capitals topped with a matching wood base and glass top.
Prominently featured on the desk is an elegantly blown abstract glass column, Deveney’s award for “Communicator of the Year” from the International Association of Business Communicators Southern Region.
“My office has been the setting for many successful projects, such as the seminal meeting of LCMC Health, the nonprofit health system – which includes Children’s Hospital, Touro, Interim LSU Hospital, the soon-to-be-open University Medical Center, and New Orleans East Hospital. In July 2014 Greg Feirn, CEO, and Brian Landry, senior vice president of marketing, public affairs and development for LCMC Health, sat right here as we outlined the proactive marketing strategy to take the health system to the next level.”
On either side of Deveney’s desk are two metal and wood shelving units joined by space for his computer and two special family photographs. As he walks over and picks up the small portrait, he explains, “This is my father’s passport photo that he took before leaving for Europe as a pilot in World War II.” Then he points to the large photo of a woman and two men smiling. “And this one is Mary Rose, my mother, and on the right is her brother Timothy O’Hara, and Charles Miller Sprinkel, his college friend, in my grandfather’s (Vincent O’Hara) bar in Palm Beach, Florida.”
Noting the wall of awards behind his computer, he points out his favorites, “I am the only person to ever be named a Fellow for both the International Association of Business Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America. Both awards were presented for lifetime achievement in the profession.”
“In the Bayou,” an Allison Stewart painting, hangs above the comfortable sofa across from Deveney’s desk. “The painting once hung in the American embassy in Panama as part of a program with the U.S. State Department,” Deveney says. His office also features a sculpture by Joe Barth titled “Hippocampus,” a mythological sea-horse created for the 1984 World’s Fair. “This is the small scale model used to pitch the concept of the signature Wonder Wall that welcomed guests,” he says.
The mythology tribute continues with a winged lion (or griffin) print on the wall facing Magazine Street – a gift from the New Orleans Museum of Art. “It was given after our tremendously successful marketing campaigns for its two most successful blockbuster exhibitions: ‘Femme, Femme, Femme,’ following Hurricane Katrina, and the George Rodrigue exhibition,” he says. “The gift serves as a reminder of our progress overcoming challenges in the years following Katrina.”
The mid-19th-century building that hosts the communications powerhouse was originally a storefront with a residence above in a block of classic two-story row houses. The 5,470-square-foot floor plan that exists today includes two British-looking vintage phone booths that serve as soundproof spaces for quiet phone calls.
“Chris Costello, CFO of DEVENEY, is responsible for the remodeling,” Deveney says with pride. “He did an amazing job of taking all of the suggestions of our staff and melding them with our office workflow and business efficiencies to create a truly inspiring office building. Chris was instrumental in everything from the day-to-day project management to the overall vision of our new facility. His smart approach to design really shines through in every space in the building.” Deveney is also quick to credit interior designer Jodi Mortillaro for assisting Costello.
The building has been added to over the years, yet it still boasts many of the 31 original large windows, which provide an overflow of natural light for the mix of modern and classic décor. “The setting is a purposeful analogy for the savvy yet experienced team that works within, and the building’s high ceilings and open spaces naturally flow from one to another and create spacious, comfortable work environments,” Deveney says. “Chris also delivers on a more open environment, with 30 percent of our campus as functional outdoor space to work and relax. It was one of the many staff requests that he made sure became a reality.”
Deveney says that in the last 19 years his company has been on a steady upward trajectory and the office expansion is not the only thing that has evolved. “In recent years, services have expanded to include advertising, social media and digital marking. The company is made up of 26 dynamic employees offering considerable depth of experience.”
Deveney is pleased with his decision to keep his prior Chartres Street office that has been converted to an Executive Training and Crises Command Center, a dedicated space for presentation and media training and crisis management.
“Our expansion has shown that we need both locations,” Deveney says, quickly adding that his favorite space of both locations is definitely the one made just for him. “It is where you will usually find me.”