Our series High Profiles looks at PLUS partners and the insights they are using to build client campaigns.
Jamie Wren’s Early Signs of Success
Jamie Wren’s success as a grassroots organizer started early – in a Danville, Virginia fourth grade classroom.
“I organized a surprise birthday party for my teacher, Miss Walker,” Jamie says. “It was my first ‘campaign’ so to speak.”
Jamie marshalled her classmates to bring in party decorations and food. She printed out a birthday banner designed in Microsoft Paint.
“Our principal even played a role in my surprise,” Jamie says. “And we nailed it, Miss Walker never expected a thing, and I’d like to think my classmates’ parents were impressed by my ingenuity.”
Jamie’s passion for the ins and outs of campaigns had only just begun.
PLUS: How do you explain your job to outsiders?
JAMIE: It’s about framing a persuasive story – told by relevant voices – to affect change in a policy debate, to public perceptions, or for local communities. We help our clients determine what to say, along with who, how, where, and when to say it.
PLUS: Is there a current cultural trend that helps inform where our industry is going?
JAMIE: As passionate political differences threaten to derail so many conversations, purpose-driven public relations is important as we help our clients navigate ever-shifting conversations. It’s really about the value of grassroots advocacy – giving local voices an opportunity to tell their own stories and elevate the causes that matter to them. Through grassroots engagement, industries and corporations are able to ultimately bring together an unlikely mix of allies to champion issues and shape policy decisions.
PLUS: What have the last few years taught us about our business?
JAMIE: As we have been physically disconnected, clear, concise, and credible communication has been so critical. Poor communication can have a tremendous impact on an outcome.
PLUS: How do you stay current with news headlines?
JAMIE: The New York Times and Apple News app are both good with “breaking news” alerts. During the day, I also keep an eye on cable news muted on my office television to catch headlines and understand what’s shaping the press landscape. And I still subscribe to hard copies of news magazines – New York Mag, Fortune, Washingtonian, Inc. (Yes, I still buy hardcover books, too.)
PLUS: You oversee the firm’s public affairs staff. How does PLUS grow good people?
JAMIE: By looking for the areas where folks have an innate talent, then helping boost those talents by adding new skillsets that are necessary to master in our industry. It is so critical to be honest about strengths AND areas for growth. And at the end of the day, we need to help define long-term career paths – and be champions for their continued growth, both personally and professionally.
PLUS: What work-related book do you recommend? Why?
JAMIE: “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention” by Reed Hastings and his “coach” Erin Meyer. It’s the book version of their well-known presentation on culture, with real-life examples of how their philosophy played out at Netflix. It is a quick read – and one to earmark pages or highlight passages for future reference. In full disclosure, some of their approaches are controversial and I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but it gets you thinking about different perspectives.
PLUS: What non-work-related book do you recommend? Why?
JAMIE: “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr. It’s one of my favorite books of the year. He weaves together five stories – some told centuries apart – and they’re all aligned around a Greek fable. It is brilliantly written and one of those books that’s a bummer to finish.
PLUS: What’s the job that got away?
JAMIE: Maybe I could have been a TikTok star – maybe there’s still time.