former reporter who attended plenty of
press conferences during her stint at a
local newspaper is now finding herself
on the other side of the podium.
a staff writer at the East Valley
Tribune, Nikki Ripley is Tempe's new
communication and media relations
director, responsible for helping local
reporters ferret out the same kind of
news that she used to pursue so
“It is odd to think that I’m now at the
other side,” Ripley said. “I definitely
have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m very
Communicating almost daily with Tempe
“beat” writers for local newspapers, and
sporadically with local television/radio
stations and national media, Ripley is
responsible for answering reporters’
questions and guiding them to a singular
goal: informed coverage of the city.
Since starting in the new position about
a month ago, Ripley has found the
coverage to be generally fair and
accurate, she said. In that time, she’s
fielded many calls about Fiesta Bowl,
held for the last time in Tempe on Jan.
2, in addition to the normal daily media
“All of you beat people (local
newspapers) do a good job approaching
the city from a well-rounded
perspective, and it’s pretty fair
usually,” she said.
“When it’s not, we sit down and discuss
Ripley also said she feels reporters are
content with the level of support they
find from Tempe, calling the city “a
pretty open place to do business with.”
“Mayor (Hugh) Hallman is extraordinarily
accessible and knowledgeable, and
willing to share that with whoever
asks,” she said.
“That makes my job really easy. And the
whole council is well-spoken and open.”
City staff also has proven itself to be
willing and able to step up and use its
expertise to accommodate media requests
and questions, Ripley said—a
considerable asset to her, both as a
reporter and media relations director.
In addition to providing media
assistance, Ripley works with staffs of
the city’s graphic design and Tempe 11
(public access television) departments
to “get word to the community” through
various non-news media channels.
Ripley’s transition from journalism and
into the world of public relations was
anything but accidental, however.
“I had always known that public
relations was where I ultimately wanted
to be, even though at heart I still feel
like a journalist a lot of the time,”
she said, noting that her Arizona State
University journalism degree carries an
emphasis in PR.
“I gave journalism a try. I’m so glad
that I did.”
Ripley began her employment with Tempe
as an aide in Hallman’s office, where
she worked on constituent relations and
wrote various communications pieces,
including speeches, newspaper
editorials, letters and proclamations.
Her time at Tempe was preceded by a
stint doing PR at Banner Medical
Centers, first at Banner Mesa Medical
Center, and later at the corporate
office. Before that, Ripley worked on
high-tech PR at a Scottsdale public
relations agency after leaving the
“I dabbled in a lot of different
worlds,” she said.
In her new role, Ripley said she looks
forward to seeing where new technology
takes the city and the field of public
“The way we reach out to
residents is constantly changing,” she
said. “Five to 10 years ago the Internet
wasn’t there. What’s going to be here in
10 years that isn’t here now, in terms
of methods of communicating?”