John Fries

Innovative marketing, PR & media leader with three decades of experience and results
Creative director • Copy & content writer • graphic designer • media producer

I help companies of all sizes and types build their brands, engage their audiences, communicate their important messages, tell their stories, sell their products and services, and grow business through innovative strategy and powerful copywriting, graphic design and digital media production.

I have a passion for helping companies build their brands, tell their stories and engage customers, and I bring my A-game to every engagement—providing the expertise and solutions you need to communicate effectively with your customers, prospective customers, the media, and the public.

My professional background includes leading marketing and communications teams and initiatives at prominent organizations (UPMC Passavant, UPMC Shadyside and the Port Authority of Allegheny County among them) and achieving an extensive track record of results. At Fries Communications, I work with companies of all sizes and types, from major corporations to mid-sized companies, small businesses, nonprofits and others. Some of my initiatives appear below.

Let's talk about how I can help you. Contact me.

Career Highlights / Success Stories

John Fries Communications

Provide strategic marketing communications, public relations and digital counsel, along with writing, design and digital media solutions for companies of all sizes and types.

  • Plan and execute all marketing and public relations activities for Prime Stage Theatre. Results include: organizational rebranding; establishment of branded video channel and video content production; increased social media presence; placement of numerous media features; introduction of new, engaging marketing collateral.
  • Have developed brand and identity graphics for a number of organizations.
  • Write and/or design printed and digital initiatives for a wide and diverse variety of clients ranging from major corporations (PNC Bank, UPMC, Giant Eagle, Heinz, and Schering-Plough, and others) to mid-sized and small businesses and nonprofits.
  • Handled marketing, PR and digital marketing to support the 2017 opening of Macalicious, recently named one of the Top 25 Restaurants in Santa Fe, NM.
  • Provide writing, design and digital support to help the Vasculitis Foundation engage its global audience. Results include new website branding; production of 20+ branded videos; writing and design of successful 2017 year-end annual fund materials; and more.

John Fries Productions

Established and manage a production company for writing, producing and directing films, videos, television, and branded audio and video content.

  • Collaborated on a branded video for Birthright Pittsburgh.
  • Wrote and produced video that launched a successful $18 million campaign for Little Sisters of the Poor.
  • Established Prime Stage Television, a branded content channel for Prime Stage Theatre, and have produced numerous videos, film-style trailers and other projects.
  • Have produced dozens of videos for the Vasculitis Foundation, including the international organization's official 2018 video.
  • Executive produced The Narrative Arc, a limited-run interview podcast.
  • Produced a series of informational online videos to launch a new book by human resources expert, columnist and author Christine Posti.
  • Wrote and directed the original urban legend film, Blue Myst Road.

Frick Art & Historical Center

For nearly nine years I oversaw publications and led a diverse range of digital communications initiatives targeted to a variety of audiences, including more than 100,000 visitors each year.

  • Co-developed and implemented an integrated communications strategy to inform a variety of stakeholders about the Frick’s $15 million site expansion project, the largest in its history.
  • Introduced magazine and monthly enewsletter and served as editor and lead writer.
  • Led development of five websites, dozens of eblasts and online branded video channel.
  • Established social media platforms and grew audience to 10,000+ followers.
  • Wrote and designed point-of-sale flatscreen graphic messages and promos.
  • Introduced podcasting.
  • Saved an estimated $80,000+ by providing writing, design and digital production in-house.

UPMC Passavant

As director of public relations my work included development and implementation of marketing, public relations, digital, and educational outreach initiatives for 400-bed hospital and affiliated medical practices. Supervised department staff and external freelancers. I also wrote and designed a wide variety of materials.

  • Led team that developed hospital's website, which was honored with an IABC First Place Award of Excellence and brought referrals to the hospital from across the U.S.
  • Developed marketing communications and PR strategy and materials for the Holiday Festival of Lights, an annual North Hills community event attended by 10,000+ people on one night each year.
  • Established partnerships with a number of businesses and community organizations.
  • Developed and communicated messages related to hospital’s merger with UPMC Health System.
  • Established and launched innovative educational series in nontraditional locations that drove referrals to medical practices.
  • Introduced and supervised production of internal and external publications and branded weekly and monthly sections in community publications.
  • Placed more than 100 features in print, broadcast and digital media and served as media spokesman.

UPMC Shadyside

As head of marketing and communications, planned and executed marketing, PR, advertising, and online initiatives for hospital, related facilities and affiliated medical practices. Managed staff and external freelancers.

  • Co-developed, launched and served as content editor/manager for the hospital’s website.
  • Managed ongoing internal and external communications related to hospital’s merger with UPMC.
  • Wrote for and edited a range of publications, from foundation magazine to several newsletters.
  • Co-developed and introduced new hospital logo, organizational brand hierarchy and graphic standards guidelines.
  • Supervised writing and design of a weekly health and information page in a Pittsburgh community newspaper.
  • Achieved numerous media placements and served as spokesman for several crisis situations.
  • Led marketing and PR efforts for a number of successful hospital programs, events and launches.

The Washington Hospital

As marketing manager, developed and implemented marketing and PR strategies for hospital, facilities and medical staff serving three-county area. Supervised staff and external creatives.

  • Planned, wrote and designed a wide range of printed materials and digital initiatives.
  • Wrote and designed a wide range of advertising.
  • Placed more than 100 media features and served as spokesman for several crisis situations.
  • Established internal e-communications initiative to better engage and inform employees.


Managed communications initiatives, wrote and edited copy, and planned online for client projects at one of the world's largest public relations and advertising agencies.

  • Led creation of innovative digital initiative to help Duquesne Light communicate storm readiness to a variety of constituencies across western Pennsylvania.
  • Served on teams that developed branding, corporate website and crisis initiatives for Highmark, Inc.
  • Supervised development of Pennsylvania Utility Choice website, which received more than 10 million visits.
  • Worked on advertising projects for prominent law firmEckert Seamans.
  • Co-developed logo and branding for Allegheny County Chief Executive's volunteer program.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

As head of customer communications, supervised four department heads and 25 staff members in a wide range of communications initiatives and publications targeted to 75 million annual riders.

  • Created and launched a systemwide identity program, including logo, design elements, and standards guidelines.
  • Led 80-member in-house committee charged with determining systemwide identity.
  • Supervised redesign of transit schedules and other materials for improved readability.
  • Supervised production of entertaining, effective staff instructional videos.

Film: Blue Myst Road

  • Wrote, produced and directed the film.
  • Created logo, identity and graphics.
  • Developed and launched a comprehensive website featuring information about the stories, actors and locations, along with an online newsroom, behind-the -scenes photos, free desktop wallpapers and more.
  • Developed and launched Notes From the Road, a free, opt-in e-newsletter that was sent regularly to a number of audiences. In addition to providing news and updates, the e-newsletter invited readers to submit urban legends for posting on the site.
  • Blue Myst Road was the subject of numerous feature placements in a range of media, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Magazine and Pittsburgh Business Times to morning drive radio and national websites. It was featured as a cover article for one newspaper's weekend magazine section.
  • Response came from across the U.S., and the film's debut screening in Pitttsburgh drew a standing-room audience.

Matt Wohlfarth Comedy

  • Developed branding, marketing and communications strategy, website and printed and online materials, and handled public relations, for the national Midlife Crisis Comedy Tour, produced and headlined by Matt Wohlfarth and featuring three nationally known comedians. Tour was featured in a range of media, from local outlets to national outets like NPR.
  • Handled marketing and PR and provided writing and design to support the Snow Funny Comedy Tour, which played ski resorts.
  • Handled public relations and developed marketing communications materials for Comedy Relief Pittsburgh, a benefit event established and produced to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Events drew large audiences and raised well in excess of $10,000.

Film: Desperate Measures

  • Handled public relations and media relations for the Pittsburgh premiere of the film Desperate Measures, shot in Pittsburgh and starring Michael Keaton and Andy Garcia. The event, which included a downtown party and a screening of the movie, was a benefit for the Pittsburgh Film Office, Parental Stress Center and Leukemia Foundation.
  • Substantial media coverage was achieved.

Pizza Hut

  • Developed and implemented national public relations effort for Pizza Hut's National Pizza Week initiative, resulting in several million media impressions, including ABC-TV, CBS-TV, NBC-TV, CNN, MTV and feature articles in nearly all major newspapers.
  • Worked with an MTV producer to develop a segment on the program This Week in Rock that featured on-the-street interviews with passersby in front of a Pizza Hut restaurant in New York City and ended with a pizza being delivered to the studio. The segment aired three times during the weekend.

Butler Gas Products Co.
  • Developed name and identity and led branding, marketing and communications initiatives for CYLTRAK, a technology-based service pioneered in western Pennsylvania by Butler Gas Products Co. Results: Significant trade media attention and sales growth.
  • Developed and implemented strategy for branding, marketing and launch of Qualitech, an innovative technology company. Results: Successful penetration of new markets, sales growth in excess of $1 million, and preferred status among customers.




Writing Graphic Design Film & Video Web Design Consulting About John Fries Contact John Fries Communications writing graphic design film web consulting about John Fries contact John Fries Writing John Fries Graphic Design John Fries Films Jon Fries Web Design Contact