Inside PPAI: PPAI Welcomes New Team Member Jessica Smith, Public Relations Specialist

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In July, PPAI welcomed Jessica Smith as public relations specialist with the Marketing team. In her role, Smith will be responsible for all of PPAI’s public relations initiatives including Promotional Products Work! Day, the GET IN TOUCH! campaign, media monitoring and all other buyer outreach efforts. She will also take over news release writing responsibilities for the organization. She can be reached by email at JessicaS@ppai.org or by phone at 972-258-3063.

Smith joined PPAI after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, where she held various communications and public relations positions and received several honors. In 2010, she was selected as Employee of the Year and later named Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Year for the Northwest Region of the U.S. 

PPB recently spoke with Smith to learn more about this new staff member.

PPB: Can you tell us more about the professional background you bring to the Association? 

Jessica Smith: I served in the Marine Corps for 20 years as a strategic communications and operations chief, which is a military designation similar to a public relations manager. However, I worked my way up in the communications field by starting as a military journalist and photographer, then a layout designer, press chief, etc. I actually started in this field in 1999 as an intern at the Baltimore Sun while I was in college. Similar to many 20-year-olds, I was impatient for my career to begin. My goal was to be the next Christiane Amanpour. I wanted to make a difference and tell the stories that mattered. I wasn’t satisfied with filling coffee orders and doing research for the staff writers. So, I decided to join the military as a journalist and chase the “real” stories. I never expected to serve for 20 years, but I loved the challenge. So, here I am. 

PPB: What attracted you to your new position at PPAI?

Smith: When I retired from the Marines in May of this year, I had a handful of interviews and opportunities offered to me. However, what made PPAI stand out was the strong and supportive culture, the welcoming environment and their team mentality. Coming from the military, that was a high priority for me. Plus, I am very excited to learn the ins and outs of a new industry.

PPB: What are your initial objectives for the position?

Smith: I am still in the learning phase here at PPAI. However, my objectives are always going to align with supporting our members and their needs. So, our first PR initiative was to transition from Promotional Products Work! Week to Promotional Products Work! Day on October 20. Promotional Products Work! Day allows our members to really focus their efforts on specific actions and/or events intended to thank customers and spread awareness of the industry. I am also teaming up with our talented marketing team to refresh our GET IN TOUCH! Toolkit, which will be available to our members on our website they read this article.

PPB: Outside of PPAI, what are your interests?

Smith: My favorite pastime is to go on adventures with my family. Since we moved every three to four years, we made it a priority to go on road trips with our children and see what each new location had to offer. Even though we have settled in Fort Worth, we still love to hit the road with our kids and find the unique places in the Southwest and beyond. Additionally, I am a bookworm. Often, I will have at least three to four books on my nightstand. Plus, I listen to audio books during my commute to and from work. I read both fiction and nonfiction, but my absolute favorite is science fiction. In fact, one of my favorite authors (at the moment) is Andy Weir. He is well-known for his novel The Martian, but don’t discount Artemis. It will surprise you.  

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James Khattak is news editor of PPB.

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