Partner With Us!
Writer/historian: Eric Marchese
Anyone who knows Judy Goffin knows she’s not stretching the truth when she says her life and career have included work as a marketing and public relations expert, promoter, published author, poet, lecturer, photographer, rosarian and more – enough careers to fill not just one but several lifetimes.
Goffin’s expertise has encompassed the medical profession and the entertainment industry, two of the areas where she has found dozens if not hundreds of clients for the public relations and marketing firm she launched in Orange County in 1980. By her own estimate, she has served between 500 and 1,000 clients in her lifetime.
It was through her drive, enthusiasm and attention to detail that she came to be known throughout Orange County as “the woman who makes things happen.”
Judy Goffin was born Judith Ann Glick on March 7, 1937, in Chicago, Ill., where her mom was a debutante and her father ran a hardware store. She and her brother were raised in Illinois until the family came west to Southern California in December, 1944 following her father’s death.
“We got off the train in downtown L.A.,” she recalls. “They opened the door of the train station and the first thing we saw were blue skies, clouds, and roses blooming. That made such an impression on my little, seven-year-old brain — because don’t forget, I had just come from a blizzard.”
Still only in second grade, young Judy attended school in Culver City: First Washington grammar school and, later, Culver junior high and Culver high school. After a year at Culver High, she transferred to Alexander Hamilton high school in Los Angeles.
While students, both Goffin and her older brother Myron, known as Mike, were involved in acting and singing. After graduating Hamilton High in 1948, Mike joined the U.S. Air Force. He eventually returned to school — first, California State University, Los Angeles and, later, USC, where he earned a Master’s degree.
Goffin first studied at Los Angeles City College before taking time out for marriage and to start a family. She soon attended Valley College, but only for a short time as she began raising her children. Once her youngest child had started kindergarten, she returned to school again — this time at Fullerton College. By now, though, she was in her early 30s, so getting back into school was a challenge — but she studied in Fullerton for two years, until 1972.
Not only was the college a convenient location to her home in Yorba Linda; Goffin was already familiar with the campus because one of her three children had taken classes there. In fact, as she points out, all three of her children attended Fullerton College “at one time or another.”
While living in Yorba Linda and bringing up her kids, Goffin said she became president of “nearly every organization in Yorba Linda — you name it and I was president of it.” She says she “got (my) feet wet” in two key areas: Public relations and marketing. She also developed her leadership skills by working as producer, rehearsal pianist and costume designer on three stage musicals at her childrens’ high school.
Goffin said these experiences epitomize the method by which she most effectively learns: “I learned everything by doing.” To this day, she continues to learn from her many friends. “I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with talented people in the business,” she notes, adding that the world of entertainment continues to be “one of my great loves.”
Goffin’s days at Fullerton College began with a summer course on “Man and His Environment.” The class, she said, “changed my life, because the instructor, Professor Mark Parratt, talked about green before anyone knew what green was.” The course, she said, “really impacted” her life in that she continues to this day to consider how her lifestyle, consumer decisions and hundreds of prosaic choices affect the environment at large.
Parratt, she notes, is now a retired professor emeritus of environmental biology who “is still writing about the environment,” including the recently published book “Fate is a Mountain,” which recounts his and his family’s adventures in Montana’s Glacier National Park during the 1950s and ’60s.
As a young mother, Goffin would bring her textbooks outside and would sit, read and study at poolside while her children were busy swimming.
Another course Goffin took that made a deep impression on her was library science. The emphasis was on children’s literature. “We were assigned to read 100 books, write a critique of each, and create a catalog card for each,” she said. For Goffin, the class was a gold mine of information – basically a crash course in literature for young people.
She recalls that during the early ’70s, the Fullerton College campus “felt sweet and gentle. I felt safe there. The school had a small-town feeling which I really liked.” The campus, she recalls, was “mostly a Caucasian community” in which cultural diversity was essentially nil. “You rarely saw African-Americans and there were only a very few Latinos. They weren’t in any of my classes.”
While she didn’t join any student organizations or get involved in extracurricular activities, Goffin made it a point to attend student plays and musical performances, something she continues to do to this day.
Goffin said her family background left uncertain the question of whether she would even be able to attend college.
“I came from a single-parent home, so there wasn’t a lot of money,” she noted. “I didn’t know I was going to college until the summer of the year I enrolled, and when I was accepted, I had to get a part-time job.”
She neglected “to look for things that I would now recommend for anyone starting college” — including “scholarships, the right school, and the best counselor possible.” Goffin offers the benefit of her life’s experience to those teens who intend to go to college, urging them to “start doing your planning when you’re 15. Start looking around to see what you’re going to do and which school you’ll be going to.”
She also reminds prospective students that “not everyone needs a four-year degree” and that Fullerton College “offers a good opportunity for technical careers — some 125 to 150 technical programs – where you can earn a certificate and get good jobs.”
“When I went to college, it was a challenge for me,” Goffin recalls. “I had a husband and three children, and a lot of people counting on me for a lot of things. So when I went back to school, I wasn’t escaping, not running away — in fact, I was running toward something, fulfilling a lot of life dreams that I had that I hadn’t been able to before. I think that gave me a platform.”
Being enrolled at Fullerton College, Goffin said she “knew I was going to get a degree. I took all the classes that I knew would help me when I got into a university. Fullerton College was a good place for me to be, and a couple of the counselors I had made a big difference in my life.”
Goffin’s experiences at Fullerton College armed her for obtaining a degree, from Cal State University, Fullerton, in Communications, with an emphasis in Radio and Television journalism, while giving her a broad enough education to allow her to exert the strengths of her personality through a variety of seemingly unrelated fields.
The complete list of Goffin’s clients includes work for “at least 100 to 200 non-profits”; over the course of several decades, she has worked on more than 500 show business and entertainment events and projects for numerous entities.
Before launching her own public relations firm, Goffin was the chief information person for several major companies in the medical industry, including mental health-related businesses and SCAN (Senior Care Action Network).
At that time, she said, SCAN offered “one-stop shopping for the senior population.” Goffin notes that SCAN was “the first program of its kind” and, as such, was the prototype which others visited, studied and modeled their companies after. It was up to her to get vital information about SCAN out to “the public, legislators, the media and the state of California.” In 1978, the company sent Goffin to Washington DC to learn about the American Association on Aging and how statewide and national programs were operated.
On October 1, 1980, Goffin announced the formation of Goffin Public Relations. She says she will never forget the reaction of her peers in the field of public relations to her decision to strike out on her own: “Don’t do it,” said some. “You’ll never make it,” said others. Among the most common reactions were “You’re going to be miserable” and “There’s no business out there.” And over the next three decades, the formidable Goffin proved them dead wrong.
Goffin notes that the same five or six women of that group were always in competition, bidding against each other for the same projects. “A couple of us are still working,” she says. “The others are all retired.” In fact, it was well-known photographer Peggy O’Donnell who dubbed Goffin “a pioneer in Orange County public relations,” someone who sets the standard for everyone else.
The first client of her new agency was the National Council on Alcoholism, which placed her in a position to work with O.C.’s many hospitals and any non-profit organizations that dealt with recovery programs.
The experience Goffin gained gave her invaluable knowledge which she later put to use working with many of Southern California’s major medical facilities, cancer centers, stroke centers, emergency clinics and more. One notable venture involved the introduction of the first-ever machines to measure bone density in women, for use in Ob.-Gyn. departments and clinics. Goffin sums up the technology involved, and the experience, in one word: “Amazing.” She was also “one of the first p.r. people” to work with echocardiogram devices, interfacing with doctors “from all over the U.S.”
Goffin was instrumental in the opening of “at least five senior centers” in Southern California, including the one in Fullerton. She also had a radio program, “The Senior Connection,” on KLON, in a broadcast that issued from Long Beach City College. The show featured guests discussing various programs and services they were offering to senior citizens.
On the lighter side, Goffin says she “got 20,000 people to come look at pussycats” at a cat show at Anaheim Convention Center as well as four other similar shows around Southern California. One of the publicity stunts Goffin engineered for the event involved “a clown and a Bengal tiger cat who jumped through a hoop of fire.” The “tiger,” she explained, was “a cat who thought he was a Bengal tiger,” and she took the stunt to shopping malls all over Southern California to drum up interest in the trade show. Similarly, for an open house for HealthCare medical center in Tustin, Goffin brought in an elephant to entertain children.
Her work has also involved working with numerous celebrities — in fact, too many to list — including Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Earl Holliman and many others, many of whom are animal-rights activists. “I have a way to get the media’s interest,” she says. “I’ve always been able to do that — I come up with something crazy.”
Over the course of three decades, Goffin has helped to raise millions of dollars for non-profits. She’s an expert at evaluating new or potential clients and helping them figure out how to reach their audience, then developing a plan — be it a year or three years — to begin to accomplish those goals. She has helped to brand and position hundreds of companies in the marketplace through marketing, public relations, advertising, publicity, promotions and special events — “all the things that they sell or offer and get it to the public that they want to reach.”
Goffin said she applies these same steps and techniques regardless of the product or service, “whether a music-oriented event, chocolate show, cat show, or a hospital that wants to open a cancer center.” She can create a “look” or image in countless ways — with a logo, public service announcement, special event — using various print media, radio, brochures, press kits. “I can’t think of anything in print that I haven’t done,” she notes. Some 15 years ago — around 1995 — Goffin devised the idea of including CDs with every press packet. Prospective clients, she reasoned, could learn everything they needed to by accessing what was on the CD.
Goffin was unable to convince her clients of the idea’s validity, even despite the fact that it was several years ahead of its time and clearly a viable way to disseminate vital information. She ultimately implemented the concept not long afterward with Laguna Beach’s world-renowned annual Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters.
As busy as Judy Goffin found herself from 1980 through 2010, she still found time to indulge two of her favorite activities: photography and the tending and raising of roses. She is the author of “Getting Your Name in Lights,” a book on public relations and marketing, and three volumes of poetry: “Grieving: A Mother’s Point of View,” “The Path of Discovery — Exploring, Growing and Making Life’s Choices,” and “Embracing Love: Love of Self, Life and Relationships.” Slated for publication in 2012, her latest book, “Memories in the Garden,” is a collection of poetry and photos which Goffin refers to as her “Hallmark” book for the resemblance of its words and images to classic greeting cards. Her books are published by Holiday Princess Publishing and available at holidayprincesspublishing.com, and “Getting Your Name in Lights” is also available on Amazon Kindle, Smashword and Pubit.
Age hasn’t slowed Goffin and, indeed, the past decade has been one of her busiest. In 2002 she created the Steven Goffin Memorial Scholarship in honor of her son Steven, who passed away that year at the age of 41. The scholarship, which benefits a horticulture student, is presented by the Fullerton College Foundation. In 2009, she became involved with the Fox Fullerton Foundation, spearheading a public-relations effort that landed a photo of an actor costumed as Superman on the front page of The Hollywood Reporter.
Also in 2009, Goffin started working with the Southern California Army Advisory Council as a Center of Influence. While meeting future soldiers and their families, Goffin has helped to write the charter that is now used across the U.S.
Not even serious injury has halted Goffin’s drive: Hospitalized in 2009 after a heart attack and a broken hip, she continued to work from her bed at St. Jude Medical Center, her only tools being pen and paper and a phone at her bedside.
“People always ask what I do for a living, and I’m always telling them, ‘I make things happen.’ And that’s what I do — I make things happen.”