Jennifer Bett Meyer, Founder & Melissa Conner, Partner

Combine two marcomms industry powerhouses and you’ll have JBC, the agency run by founder Jennifer Bett Meyer and partner Melissa Conner. From their personal journeys into PR to the dynamic roles they play at JBC, we spoke with Jennifer and Melissa to discover how they’re redefining public relations with innovative strategies, impactful storytelling and an all-star team. 

What drew you each to the PR industry, and how did you get your start? 

JBM: I started my career on the editorial side, working at Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire under the legendary Glenda Bailey. After a few years, I realized that my passion for storytelling and experience in the media industry would be an impactful skill-set in public relations, so I jumped the editorial ship and became a publicist. After spending time in-house and at various PR agencies, I grew increasingly disillusioned with the traditional agency-partner model; it felt impersonal and formulaic and lacked creativity and often, results. In 2013, I found myself in-house interviewing countless agencies and realized that the agency I needed simply didn’t exist. So in 2014, I quit my job and created Jennifer Bett Communications (JBC). 

From its inception, JBC has offered visionary brands a creative, forward-thinking, and holistic approach to consumer awareness. Today, JBC is a leading media relations agency known for elevating fast-growing start-ups and redefining the PR landscape through innovative strategies and impactful storytelling.

MDC: I am a publicist through and through. I got an internship in PR during my junior year in college and never looked back. My career began in earnest at the now-defunct HL Group, which I joined right out of college, followed by Starworks Group, where I first met Jen. I spent the next few years leading PR services in-house at various fashion brands, later consulting with some genuinely innovative startups. At that point in my career, nearly a decade in, I found myself seeking out brands that were challenging the status quo, inspiring change, and creating lasting value in their given market. With that in mind, it was clear that no agency approached PR as I believed it should. And frankly, there needed to be a reinvention of PR for what these brands required to grow and scale. One of those aspects was the idea of the power of storytelling that can create true thought leaders of the founders behind the brands at the forefront of their industries. 

Timing played a crucial role in our journey. When Jen and I reconnected, we recognized that we were aligned in our vision for how PR could truly benefit brands, and how the tired agency model should change to do so. The types of brands we were passionate about were perfectly in sync with our goals. When Jen approached me to join her in building JBC, I was beyond excited to come on board as her partner.

Together, we set out to upend the status quo of what traditional PR agencies were offering and boost up-and-coming consumer brands we were excited about. Today, JBC is known for securing meaningful press on an ongoing basis in a diverse set of outlets that actually move the needle for our brands. 

What do your current roles entail overall? What does your day-to-day look like? 

JBM: Our mission at JBC is not about growing the fastest, hiring the most people, or signing the most brands. Instead, our mission is and always has been deeply rooted in growing slowly and strategically, finding the best talent in the industry, and curating a roster of brands that inspire us both professionally and personally. Every day may be different, but the energy behind each minute we spend working to amplify JBC remains the same: We just want to make a difference. So far, a decade in, we have. 

That means we're always looking for new, innovative ways to better service each brand we work with. As senior consultants, we're right there in the trenches, chatting with founders and CEOs to make sure everyone's happy with our work and on the same page about goals and how we measure those benchmarks for success. That way, we can ensure our communication strategies always hit the mark for each client. We’ve since doubled down on implementing this strategy by instating Ilana Rubin Dvir as our company’s first Head of Strategy, focusing on new-business development and overseeing strategic ideation for the agency’s full roster. This role taps into Ilana’s deep understanding of the changing media landscape and how today’s cultural environment affects the ways in which we storytell. 

MDC: Jen and I have a deep understanding of each other’s superpowers, so we pretty naturally split the work, but also overlap in ways that benefit the agency and our clients immensely. I spend much of my time working with our senior leaders on overall strategy, identifying areas of opportunity, and also working with our partners as a senior advisor alongside Jen. 

We are also hyper-focused on building a competitive, compelling communications agency, so make sure to carve out adequate time to meet with our executive team and VPs on a regular basis. In these conversations, we work as a unit to inherently understand the areas, topics, and sectors our team is most passionate about. We also speak candidly about what motivates them professionally so we can invest in the resources and benefits that have led to one of the highest retention rates amongst our competitive set. I am often asked about the most rewarding part of my job, and my answer is easy: It’s seeing our brand partners’ amazing stories out in the world, sure, but even more meaningfully, it’s the talented humans who helped tell those stories in the first place and have made JBC their home. This truly keeps me motivated and excited. 

Ever since JBC first got off the ground, it's been all about women—built by them, for them. And that's not just a slogan; it's woven into everything we do. Jen and I are always brainstorming ways to go above and beyond because we know just meeting the industry standard isn't good enough. To ensure JBC is operating at its fullest potential, we decided it would be beneficial for us to create a new role, Head of Growth, as JBC itself continues to grow. We appointed long-time JBC employee and Executive Vice President Libbey Baumgarten to this position to oversee the expansion of JBC’s services, including affiliate marketing, executive speaking, crisis communications, partnerships, and media training, as well as content, the division for which is led by veteran fashion and retail journalist Maura Brannigan. As we know, the media landscape is always shifting (it's a good thing!), and agencies must be at the forefront of that change. We have made strategic decisions to not only guide our clients to the best of our ability, but to ultimately grow our agency into a one-stop-shop for brands that offers everything they need to be successful—today, tomorrow, and going forward. 

JBM: One big area where we're leading the charge is in supporting parents. Whether you're a mom or not, we're all about creating a workplace where everyone feels safe and supported, no matter what their journey to parenthood looks like. That means flexible scheduling that fits your needs, pumping rooms in the office, and even a weekly parent/child activity hour. 

And speaking from personal experience—I've been through fertility challenges myself, starting my IVF journey back in 2020. I wanted to make sure JBC's benefits really had our team's back. That's why in 2022, we introduced the Advanced Reproductive Care (ARC) Fertility Benefit. It covers everything from egg freezing to IVF to mental health support and more. Plus, we're putting $5,000 toward fertility care for each employee every 12 months, with up to two uses. It's all about making sure everyone here can build the family they've been dreaming of, without stressing about the cost.

MDC: Besides working closely with our senior team and clients, I make it my personal mission to make sure women and BIPOC-founded brands get the love and support they deserve, both in the industry and in my own life. As a team, we're all about putting our money where our mouth is, investing in resources and talents to focus on DEI, inside and out. It's how we keep our agency ticking as a place where everyone feels seen and heard and where we bring in all kinds of perspectives to better serve our clients. We're not just talking about it; we're walking the walk. At JBC, we're hustling hard to change the PR world status quo by bringing in more diverse voices and perspectives. 

JBM: Another area we’re passionate about is giving back. In 2020, JBC launched our "Office Hours" program, where startup founders can pick our brains about PR, marketing, and comms for free. It's our way of opening our doors—in-person or virtually—to help newer brands. Whether crafting meaningful narratives or devising dynamic, results-driven media plans, we meet founders where they are to find their unique identity and help kickstart each brand journey. 

How have you curated your client roster? Is there a common thread throughout the brands that sign on?  

JBM: Over time, we've carefully built our roster, choosing brands that match our values and are shaking things up with their stories and marketing. These brands aren't just close to our hearts—they're part of a bigger movement for inclusivity and empowerment. And by working with these trailblazers, we've naturally brought more amazing brands into our circle, showing we ourselves are trailblazers when it comes to supporting passionate entrepreneurs.

MDC: Our selection process isn't just about numbers or sales figures. We're all about teaming up with brands that are making real change happen, whether they're tackling climate issues or revolutionizing women's healthcare. That's why we've worked with some really cool, industry-defining brands like Parachute, Studs, The Folklore, Fashionphile, and Wondermind.

Melissa, tell us about your focus on DEI efforts, and how they impact both JBC and clients’ businesses? 

MDC: Our DEI efforts are a collective focus at JBC, and it’s a two-fold effort. First, we are incredibly aware that it is rare to see people of color in leadership roles in the PR industry. We do a lot of work to show up where young talent may be to talk about PR and comms as a career opportunity. We’ve amended our internship program to ensure we can pull the widest pool of candidates; we speak on panels and at conferences with diverse attendees; we write op-eds with a large, inclusive reader base. My mission is to create a more diverse pool of PR professionals, and we at JBC all pitch in to do what we can to make that happen.

It is also important that we prioritize training and continuing education related to DEI, so we can be the best communications partner possible. Our partners rely on us to assess and analyze activity and serve as their touchpoint to create the best version of their brand and how it interacts with the world, both internally and externally. Jen and I have invested in trainings, workshops and speakers to give our team access—and ultimately, the widest lens—to operate as humans and as communications professionals.We do regular DEI training for the team, like a session on unconscious bias led by exec coach Brooks E. Scott, and a workshop on using inclusive language in media and marketing, especially around gender identity. We want to make sure both JBC and our clients are speaking the right language in all our communications.

I know firsthand: It's rare to see Black or Brown folks leading the way in PR, so I make it my mission to make sure women- and BIPOC-founded brands get the spotlight they deserve. Our clients rely on us to connect with diverse audiences, so we're all about it; advocating for marginalized communities is a big part of our game plan. We wear our DEI goggles for everything we do, and we've beefed up our team with hires who share that commitment.

What keeps you inspired and engaged professionally? 

MDC: Our true source of inspiration and motivation lies within our team. We are continually humbled and grateful to collaborate with an exceptional group of individuals who bring their intelligence, talent, and passion to our shared mission. While we deeply value our client partnerships, it's the unwavering dedication and enthusiasm of our team members that truly drive us forward.

JBM: The media landscape is constantly shifting, and we are always inspired to find new, seamless ways to reach the consumer through emerging platforms. Take Substack: Editors are gravitating toward Substack because they want a place to explore their creative interests and give space to their own voices without being tethered to a standalone publication, and the numbers don’t lie. Fashionista reported in October that in Substack's Fashion & Beauty category, annual recurring revenue and paid subscriptions are up 375% and 213%, respectively, year-over-over. It’s our job to meet readers and consumers where they are, not just where they’ve been—especially when where they are is updating each and every day. That fuels us to be better readers and consumers ourselves.

How do you stay aligned, especially when running the business on different coasts? 

JBM: When I first moved out to LA, we struggled to get into a solid communications cadence. We were used to seeing each other in person daily, and the time difference did not help. We quickly learned we would have to establish a more structured way to work with each other. This includes daily morning check-ins to set the pace and priorities for the day, respecting each other’s boundaries (especially when it comes to personal time with our families), and ensuring we travel to each office every other month so we have face-time with the coastal teams and each other. We are also fortunate to share an unbelievably helpful executive assistant who has her eye on both of our calendars at all times and helps us manage our meetings and time.

MDC: It has actually been easier than I first thought it would be, but when you put systems in place and also stay nimble to change as needed, it leaves little room for error. We've set up some clear rules to keep communication on track—and everyone sane. We've sorted out how often we'll use things like Slack and email, making sure nobody's bombarded with messages outside of their work hours, especially since we've got team members in different time zones. Sure, emergencies pop up in our line of work, but we're all about looking out for each other. We've built a supportive vibe where personal time is respected and valued.

Where might we run into you in LA and NYC?

JBM: Profeta for coffee, Hamasku for sushi, Hiking Westridge, or car-pooling.

MDC: The Wonder and Compo Beach in Westport or LaChat Town Farm in Weston. I love hosting in Connecticut, so please visit! When I’m in the city: Ralph’s for coffee, Zaytinya for lunch, or Madison Square Park for people watching. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you predict for the industry in the next few years, and how can marcomms pros stay ahead? 

MDC: In today's fast-moving digital world, being flexible is key to staying on top of all the changes happening around us. As marketing and communications professionals, we've got to keep learning, always staying up-to-date with the latest PR trends and tech developments to stay ahead of the game. Using data and digital tools smartly can help boost our communication strategies.

I would also say that the industry is facing a bit of a talent challenge. The image of PR needs a makeover to keep drawing in young talent. Continuing to evolve will be pivotal in retaining that talent and ultimately creating the next generation of pros who will be the leaders of their own agencies one day. 

JBM: Like Melissa said, we know that we need to be nimble as the industry is constantly evolving. The dominance of digital platforms and social media will continue to require active adjustments in PR strategies to engage with audiences both online and IRL. With that in mind, we also know that crisis management is going to be critical. The nature of social media leads itself to crises escalating swiftly, requiring PR to be prepared to jump in with a moment's notice and mitigate any damage that could come to the brand. In turn, brands also need to put an emphasis on transparency. Today's consumers prioritize honesty and authenticity, requiring PR efforts to align closely with the values of their target audience.

We can't stress enough how crucial it is to build and nurture relationships with the media. These are the folks we work with day in and day out. When we foster those relationships, it boosts the spread of our brand messages and broadens our reach. Strong bonds with the media help us stay on top of changes in the landscape, and that means we can deliver solid results for our clients.



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