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Justin Brands announced May 10 the promotion of its veteran communications chief, Lisa Lankes, to a new officer position, that of vice president of communications, licensing and social media.

A 16-year veteran of the company, Lankes will continue to oversee marketing communications and licensing, but she will also focus on expanding the company's already active use of social networking tools.

"Lisa is someone who truly knows how to lead Justin Brands with all its rich heritage into a new, technology-driven culture," said Randy Watson, CEO of Justin Brands. "Not only has she proven herself time and time again in the communications and licensing arms of our business, but she has also embraced the potential of social media to build communities around our brands, and in turn, drive sales."

A graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, Lankes began her career at Justin in 1994 as an advertising coordinator. She steadily rose through the ranks to become public relations manager in 1997, then director of Corporate Communications in 2001. She assumed responsibilities for the company's licensing program a year and a half ago and has since generated double-digit annual revenue growth in the program in spite of the tough economy.

"This promotion is a true honor – I love working for this company and am so proud of all it stands for in our industry," Lankes said today after receiving the promotion. "To be given the support and encouragement by Randy and the other officers for my department’s efforts is extremely gratifying.  I’m very excited about the direction we are going and what it means to the future of our business." 

Lankes has secured placement for Justin boots and other products in some of the hottest films in past years, including Oceans 13, No Country for Old Men, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and American Gangster. She also has forged close ties with the country music industry, winning celebrity endorsements from both established and up-and-coming artists, including George Strait, Tracy Byrd, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean.

A relatively new direction for the company is an active, strategic use of social media tools to engage with potential customers. Last year the company launched a new product line, Justin Bent Rail, almost entirely through social networking channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Additionally, a widget, the Justin Bent Rail Player, allowed music fans to watch exclusive live videos of up-and-coming country artists, talk with the musicians, and put the widget on their own Web sites or Facebook pages. When sales of Bent Rail boots exceeded the company's goal by 30 percent, the company's top executives took notice.

 Lankes is now the first female officer for the 131-year-old, venerable boot company whose history spans three centuries. The Fort Worth Business Press honored her as one of the Great Women of Texas in 2009. She is a member of the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Country Music Association, and the Academy of Country Music, and is an active volunteer with her church, Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.
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