Former deputy chief of staff to Senate Leader Berger forms public relations company

Pat Ryan created Ryan Public Relations following his departure from the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden). File photo

RALEIGH — In mid-March, Senate Leader Phil Berger’s (R-Eden) Deputy Chief of Staff Pat Ryan departed the legislature to strike out on his own by forming his own company, Ryan Public Relations. 

“What I do is pretty varied,” Ryan told North State Journal in an interview, “But I help them [clients] craft a public-facing message that’s clear, that’s understandable, and that people can grasp. And, you know, certainly, in terms of advocacy-related clients, to help them craft arguments that accomplish their goals.” 

Ryan says the wide range of concepts covered in public relations and communications keep the work exciting and rewarding. He added that he helps clients create arguments that are “grounded in fact, and to the extent possible grounded in data,” as well as just to try to explain whatever it is a client wishes to explain in a way that that is “accessible and effective.” 

Berger has since replaced Ryan with Lauren Horsch, who previously served as deputy communications director.  

Ryan spoke highly of his former boss, calling Berger a “rare political figure.” 

“Senator Berger is, I think, an extremely rare political figure in that he has a philosophy and a vision that’s consistent, that’s grounded in logic and in reality,” said Ryan. “And it’s, in my opinion, a vision that works.” 

“If you look at the trajectory of the state from 2010 to now, our economy is booming. People are moving here in droves,” Ryan said. “Our tax structure has been completely reconfigured so that we are among the most attractive states in the country for employers and for families. Our regulatory environment is such that the state has a role in protecting things like clean water, making sure that the different Industries are operating fairly and how they’re supposed to.” 

Ryan went on to praise Berger as someone “grounded in his principles and convictions,” but who also knows when to compromise.  

In Ryan’s view, the political divide in North Carolina and the competing visions of each side make his work so critical.  

“When you talk about the communications landscape out there, you know, we’re a politically divided state,” said Ryan. “There are strikingly different visions for our future when you compare the legislature or Senator Berger to say, Gov. Cooper. And so being able to understand that and to be able to explain and argue for different concepts or different paths forward I think is critically important.” 

Ryan added that with so many different competing interests, one has to be able to argue clearly and effectively for one’s position. If you can’t do that “you’re going to lose and the other side’s vision or goal is going to have a leg up.” 

Making the move from Berger’s office to his own firm was a matter of both personal timing, having just welcomed a new son to the family, and needing to expand his earning ability. It was also about seeing what he could do on his own. 

“I really loved my time there,” Ryan said. “But at some point, you know, it’s either work for government my whole life, which is okay, or try to go out on my own and see what I can create myself.” 

The 32-year-old Ryan grew up in the Lake George region of the southern Adirondacks in New York state. He attended UNC Chapel Hill as an undergraduate and had worked for Berger since moving back in 2018.  

At the time of Ryan’s hiring for Berger’s office, Jim Blaine was Berger’s chief of staff. Ryan told North State Journal it was Blaine who reached out to him to hire him. Blaine left the legislature in 2019 to form his own company, a political strategy group called “The Differentiators.” 

Prior to returning to North Carolina, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for a few years before landing in New York City to work on the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Program for the mayor’s office.  

Ryan currently lives in the Raleigh area with his wife, Katie, whom he met in college, and his two young children: a daughter who is 4 and a five-week-old son. 

About A.P. Dillon 651 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_