Meredith LeJeune: “You Don’t Have to Know All the Answers”

You Don’t Have to Know All the Answers. But you should do your best to find out. A good PR person is resourceful. Early in my career, especially working agency, I would really beat myself up when I didn’t know the answer to something. Looking back, I wish I would have known it’s okay to […]

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You Don’t Have to Know All the Answers. But you should do your best to find out. A good PR person is resourceful. Early in my career, especially working agency, I would really beat myself up when I didn’t know the answer to something. Looking back, I wish I would have known it’s okay to not have all the answers. None of us do. However, it is our job to know things, so if you don’t know at the moment, say so. People will appreciate your honesty. Just make sure you make it your mission to try and find an answer.


As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith LeJeune. Meredith LeJeune is an award-winning public relations professional who has developed and executed high-impact media relations campaigns.

A 15-year industry veteran, LeJeune has served on the board of directors of journalism and public relations organizations including the Hampton Roads and New York chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Black Public Relations Society Atlanta and New York chapters, and the Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals, a local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Recognized as one of PRSA New York’s 2017 Top 15 Professionals Under 35, LeJeune is the founder of Thought Bubble Communications, the New York-based boutique public relations firm. Her firm has been certified by the City of New York as a Minority/Woman Business or Enterprise. In this role, she frequently works with minority startups and partners with other agencies to develop and launch national campaigns for tech, entertainment, and real estate, as well as leading brands such as The National Black MBA Association, Coca-Cola, and Toyota. She can be found on Instagram at @thoughtbubblecomm and online at http://www.thoughtbubblecommunications.com.


Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been a writer. When I was a girl, I used to write books and scripts for my imaginary plays. That evolved to songs as a teenager, that only went as far as my notebook (thank God!). Looking back on some of my content makes me cringe, but the writing spirit was there none the less.

Writing is essential to what public relations professionals do. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in media or entertainment. I initially considered the broadcast journalism route, but when I learned more about the creativity of PR and the strong focus on writing, I new that was the career path for me. That was 2001, when I was a freshman in college. I’ve been on the PR track ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

By partnering with other agencies, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several national campaigns. One campaign brought me to a major convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had never been to Minneapolis, so this was a new experience to me. Since the project I was brought in on was for one of the event sponsors, we received several perks. One of them was a party at Prince’s house…THE Prince!! Prince is actually notorious for hosting these events on his property, however; he doesn’t actually show up. The night I was there, I didn’t anticipate seeing him. They called everyone out of this giant warehouse space, where the party was held, for an intermission. I noticed people started running back in and there on a platform in the middle of the room, with one beautiful woman on each side of him, was Prince. He had these silk, purple pajamas on and a perfectly picked afro. I was in awe! The year was 2015. I cherished that moment and will never forget it. The next year, 2016, we lost Prince. I am so lucky to say that I got to party with Prince.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

So, it was nerve wrecking then, however; I can laugh about it now. Prior to stepping out on my own, I worked for an integrated communications agency. It was PR agency bootcamp for me! Everything was so fast-paced. It was the hardest job I ever had. I was scheduling a meeting for a client in the conference room scheduling software. However; I didn’t look to see, and the software didn’t show, who was booked that day and what time. I ended up booking my client call at the same time the agency owners were having a new business call. My client and I hopped on the line the same time they were pitching! I was so embarrassed. I froze and hung up the phone! I got an earful from my manager at the time, but the mistake was never made again.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Oh, wow. Where do I start! I just signed on a Muslim sorority as a client. They are growing and are doing amazing things to support young women and girls in their pursuit of education, including building a home for girls in Africa. I’m also working with an Atlanta-based finance and entrepreneurship expert who recently release his book Eat What You Kill. His book is so important because it speaks to the entrepreneurial journey that so many of us have been on. It really resonates with many business owners, plus Donald is hilarious!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Be Versatile. It wasn’t until I entered this industry that I learned how well-rounded you have to be as a professional. Tradeshows will bring that out of you, lol! I have done everything from brief celebrities on talking points, to drive a hybrid SUV around for hours, just to get the gas tank below a certain level.

Love to Write. Writing, and most importantly, writing well is essential to PR. Early in my career, I was pitching my employer and I received an email from a reporter. I was excited because I thought they liked my pitch! However, when I opened the email, all I saw was red! Red ink that is! The reporter marked up my pitch for grammatical and style issues. I was so embarrassed. I thought he was going to tell all his reporter friends on me and I’d be blackballed. Dramatic, I know, but needless to say, I did my best to never make those mistakes again.

PR is 90 Percent Research and Writing. Many people see PR and think glitz and glamor. They think red carpet and celebrities. Although there is an industry for that, the majority of PR professionals sit behind a laptop researching stats, reporters, and story ideas. We might also be writing speeches and articles on behalf of our clients; we are also creating pitches and client bios. So much writing!

You Don’t Have to Know All the Answers. But you should do your best to find out. A good PR person is resourceful. Early in my career, especially working agency, I would really beat myself up when I didn’t know the answer to something. Looking back, I wish I would have known it’s okay to not have all the answers. None of us do. However, it is our job to know things, so if you don’t know at the moment, say so. People will appreciate your honesty. Just make sure you make it your mission to try and find an answer.

Know Your Plan B…and C. If you are a PR person who does events (not all of us do), you have got to live by Murphy’s law. If something can go wrong, it probably will. I’ve staffed events where boxes never showed, people were late, or clients were not pleased. You must be flexible and think about worst case scenario, or at least anticipate an alternative ending. We are in the field of overthinking.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

As an introvert, I am a very strategic networker. Pre-COVID, if I went to an event, I reviewed any speakers in advance that I might want to talk to. I had my cards ready and didn’t waste time. My goal was to leave with the speaker seeing my face, shaking my hand and (maybe) an exchange of cards. This approach can actually still work in our new virtual world. When attending an event online, take note of who the speakers will be and reach out to them on LinkedIn prior to the event. Be sure to ask questions during the webinar so you can get some screen time with that person as well. I would then follow up via LinkedIn and thank them for their time. It is then appropriate to include your ask.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads? 
 
I’ve been self-employed for more than eight and a half years and the majority of my business has come by referral/word of mouth or professional organizations and networking. I use my company Instagram and Facebook pages to promote my client successes, however; I’ve seen most success from former clients or people who know me and know what I do.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

The Art of Client Service. This book is like the PR agency Bible. It’s a very short read, however; I learned so much. It really set the foundation for me for working at an agency and eventually running my own firm.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The Golden Rule Movement. We have to do better at being compassionate towards one another and treating each other with respect. We are all human. There is so much more that connects us, than there is that tears us apart.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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