Beyond the brand | Jared Meade | Reputation management and crisis communications speak to human behavior

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Jared Meade, MPS, APR, MPRCA, brings more than 20 years of public relations experience – emphasizing the healthcare and education sectors – to his current roles as associate vice president of Meehan Business Advisers (MBA) and founder and principal of Rayne Strategy Group (RSG). In this ‘beyond the brand’ feature, he shares his industry, leadership and personal insights.

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The industry 

Why did you pursue a career in public relations and communications?

I was finishing my senior year of high school and had plans to attend university to study sports medicine. I had taken multiple sports medicine classes and was a student trainer for my high school athletic program. My dream was to become an athletic trainer for a major sports team. One day, while in my high school career resource center, I stumbled upon a book and began reading about various professions. I came across an entry on public relations and something just clicked. I immediately changed my path and have never looked back.

What areas within the industry are you most interested in (currently)?

Reputation management and crisis communications interest me the most. Both areas speak to the part of our industry that I believe is the most crucial: human behavior. Managing people’s perceptions of a brand or an individual fascinates me. It requires a deep understanding of human behavior and the ability to navigate complex situations.

How has public relations and communications changed since you first started working in the industry?   

When I first began working in the industry, social media was in its early stages. At that time, it was crucial to establish connections with journalists as they tended to remain with their publication or broadcast station for a lengthy period. However, today, it’s more crucial to be proficient in forming new relationships with members of the media due to their frequent job changes. Overall, I would say that how we communicate has changed, but the why has stayed the same.

What trends are you seeing that pose the biggest opportunity or threat to the industry?

The two trends that present the biggest opportunities and threats are artificial intelligence and ethics. AI offers numerous opportunities as it can automate and optimize tasks and provide better data analysis and insights. However, it can also be a threat if it becomes too relied upon, which can take away the personal touch and hinder creativity. Meanwhile, ethics is considered a threat because most ethical codes in the industry need to be improved significantly, and there is often no enforcement mechanism in place. Nonetheless, this presents an opportunity for various PR associations to reassess their ethical codes and make the necessary changes.

Leadership and management

What do you believe makes a company a great place to work in? 

The culture of an organization sets the tone and is the most important aspect of a great work environment. A workplace with a culture of creativity, purpose and empathy fosters collaboration, encourages new ideas and promotes a sense of belonging among employees. Such a culture creates a positive work environment where employees feel valued, respected and motivated to do their best work. 

Do you work in an office, remotely or have a hybrid model? What is your preference, and why?   

I work remotely, and my colleagues are located across the United States. Although this setup comes with its challenges, we have found ways to address them. For instance, we have had to find alternative methods to work collaboratively. Additionally, we make sure to arrange in-person meetings a few times a year. Despite these challenges, I prefer working remotely. It allows me the flexibility to work from anywhere and provides me with a better work-life balance.

What is your leadership or management style?

My leadership style falls mostly under the charismatic management style because I think building relationships with those you work with and rallying them around a common goal is very important. However, I think it is important to acknowledge the strengths of different leadership styles and try to incorporate them where necessary since each style has its own unique advantages. Also, not every employee is the same and may need something a little different from those who lead them.

What key skill or characteristic do you look for when hiring new people?

As a leader and a public relations professional, I believe that the most crucial aspect of our profession is developing relationships and understanding human behavior. This ability is the number one quality that I prioritize when hiring. Although skills such as writing are essential, I think that one can always polish an employee’s writing abilities. However, understanding human behavior is a skill that cannot be taught.


What is your favourite book or movie?

I have too many favorites to list all of them, but I am particularly interested in history, especially European history and the history of European royalty. Therefore, a lot of what I read and watch falls into that genre. There is so much to learn from history, particularly from the lives of great figures who have left a lasting mark on the world.

Would you welcome a digital detox for a week or approach it with caution? 

Although I would love to take a week-long break from technology to rejuvenate myself, being a PR professional, I’m worried that it wouldn’t be easy for me to disconnect. I have become so accustomed to being available 24/7 that I doubt if I will be able to handle the disconnection. It’s not a good thing to admit and for the sake of my mental well-being, I need to work on finding ways to switch off and give myself time to recover.

Do you prefer sun holidays or city breaks?

This question causes me a bit of a dilemma. My wife and I both love visiting the beautiful beaches of Mexico. It holds a special place in our hearts as it’s where we spent our honeymoon. However, spending time in and around London is still one of my favorite places to be. 

If you won the lotto what would you do?

The first thing I would do is take my wife and two sons on a month-long European vacation. After that, I’m not sure. One side of me would want to be practical and invest the money for the future, and the other part would want to splurge and spend it on the family. In the end, I’d probably do a bit of both.