Former city spokesperson opens political strategy firm
When St. Petersburg Communications Director Janelle Irwin Taylor resigned from her role with the city last year, she started dabbling in the public relations subcontracting world – carving out a new career path as an independent consultant.
“A few years ago, before I started working with [Mayor Ken] Welch, I was kind of searching for my pivoting point to go into public relations,” said Taylor, who has a background in political reporting. “As a journalist, I had reached a natural pinnacle in my career without going on a national stage, and I want to continue to embrace the power of local government and politics.”
Taylor was one of Welch’s key hires when he took office. She said she exited the administration due to a “hostile work environment, lack of communication or guidance and overall culture of bullying,” created by her direct supervisor, who at the time was Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens.
Taylor, working as a reporter, recalls when she was keeping her eyes out for a good opportunity that suited her needs and aligned with her political ideology. “I was really excited when I started having conversations with Welch’s administration. I’ve been a Welch fan for most of my career. Unfortunately, things outside our relationship led to my premature and unexpected exit.”
Following her departure, Taylor started filing the paperwork to create her new public relations firm – Summit Communications Strategies – a fitting name for someone who travels to the mountains of Colorado to hike and visit family.
“Through conversations, I’ve found there’s a need for more strong consultants, particularly in Pinellas County,” she said.
Taylor is currently undertaking subcontracting work at local firms, including Tampa-based Omni Public, representing private clients and attorneys, but she plans to have a primary focus on politics through her firm.
“Politics is my niche; I want to focus on political efforts ahead for the 2024 election cycle,” she said, noting she will be a democratic or nonpartisan consultant.
“We are at political crossroads, and not just on a national level that people tend to focus on. Local governments determine the kind of water that flows out of your sinks. It affects your life every day in a way national government does not. By entering the space as a consultant and strategist, it really opens the door for some progress at a time when there’s so much political and cultural rhetoric,” Taylor said.
“We need people in office who can pass policies that serve everyone. We have good consultants in Tampa Bay, but we just don’t have enough of them. When you have limited consultants, they may be overextending, and then you are not getting the quality service needed to help win elections.”
Taylor previously worked as a senior editor at Florida Politics, covering legislation and local administrations. She was also a reporter at the Tampa Bay Business Journal and the WMNF-FM.
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.