For more than forty-three years, Robert Johnson has reported, managed, or campaigned issues on stages of all sizes, working with reporters covering local communities, and national and global issues. Partner and Strategic Communications Officer of Riester Influence, Robert develops strategies to communicate important information to target audiences, and directs successful campaigns for dozens of clients and public organizations.
Among his career highlights, Robert took the reins of the disorganized public affairs office at the newly formed Transportation Security Administration following the terror attacks of 9/11, turning the organization into an effective messaging operation that accurately and strongly delivered security messages that intelligence resources understood were being viewed by Al-Qaeda terrorists. His performance won him a promotion to head of communications for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and promoted again, to the department’s Chief of Staff, with responsibility for daily operations, 60,000 employees, and a $60 billion annual budget.
Robert has extensive crisis and storytelling experience, forged during his time in public sector work, for state departments, for elected and appointed officials, governors, and members of Congress. He also is credited with helping change policies and the make-up of several local elected bodies through his diligent messaging and audience targeting work.
His media experience includes time spent reporting for national radio networks ABC and Mutual; managing television newsrooms in Denver, Phoenix, and Tucson; and writing for United Press International.
Robert is the winner of several regional Emmy Awards while a television news assignment editor; an Associated Press Managing Editor’s Award for coverage of breaking news as a radio journalist; numerous Associated Press statewide awards; an IABC Gold Quill, and named PR Week’s 40 under 40, PR Week’s Top 10 Public Communicators, Washington’s Top 100 Most Influential by National Journal, and won several PRSA awards for public relations campaigns. In 2023, his podcasting work was recognized with a national award from PRSA, PR Daily and PR News.
Robert also is an Adjunct Professor of Communications at American University in Washington, D.C. where he teaches public relations campaign development. He is frequently invited to speak, lecture, and write on public relations topics, theory, and best practices.
He is the also the creator, executive producer and host of the popular daily news show for public health officials, Public Health Review Morning Edition, and its sister deep-dive show, Public Health Review.