University of Maryland at College Park - Bachelor of Arts, Sociology of Organizations
Jacqueline Lara is the president and CEO of Mpact PR, which she launched in April of 2008, when she was consulting part-time at an international nonprofit. She went on to work at a specialized PR firm full-time, and maintained two long-term Mpact clients. In August 2010, she left the specialized PR firm to pursue Mpact PR full-time. When Jacqueline isn’t busy pitching stories to media and securing placements for her clients you can find her spending time with her family and traveling. She also enjoys salsa dancing, yoga and D.I.Y. art projects.
Let your results speak for yourself.
How did you discover your current job?
I knew I loved PR when I worked at the nation’s largest public-interest PR firm. The projects that I worked on were life changing, and I was able to see how media relations and strategic communications help organizations advance their causes and inspire target audiences to take action. When I was a one-person marketing department at an international nonprofit, I felt confident that I could start my own independent consulting firm. When I lined up work with three clients, I knew it was time to launch Mpact PR, LLC as a full-time venture.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
Relationship building and education have been very important. I have maintained relationships with former employers and colleagues; and some colleagues have become lifelong friends. By nurturing these relationships, I have received support, friendship, referrals, recommendations and client work from individuals I’ve encountered on my journey. Additionally, I stay abreast on industry practices by reading trade publications and blogs, attending workshops, networking events and professional meetings.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
Every situation has been a learning experience, but I would say it’s always important to treat people with respect and do what you say you’ll do. It was very empowering when I had the discussion with my former employer that I was going to pursue Mpact PR, LLC full-time. It was not only character building, but prepared me for negotiations and the types of interactions one must have with clients and individuals, no matter how uncomfortable.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
There really isn’t a typical day. One day I am sending out client pitches, drafting background materials, prepping a client for an interview and researching media outlets or organizations for potential partnerships. Other days, I am speaking with reporters or producers, coordinating desk-side briefings for clients, working on Mpact PR collateral materials or preparing book kits to be sent to requesting journalists and producers. When I receive new business inquiries or actively prospect clients, I am out meeting for coffee, drafting proposals and assembling project teams (again, I love partnering with former colleagues/contacts who have gone independent). Other days, I might co-work with a client, send out invoices and other accounting tasks, meet another professional or client for coffee/lunch or attend an afternoon or evening event. On days when my son stays home from daycare, it’s all about our time together, and I’ll catch up on my work later!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s so awesome to devise tailored, strategic plans for clients, implement them from start to finish, and achieve amazing results that advance their mission and cause — very empowering! And it’s nice to be my own boss, set up internal systems that work for me and only work with clients I’m 110 percent passionate about! And I find working for myself to be the most family-friendly environment.
What is the most challenging part?
The most challenging part is managing ALL parts of the business -- (my husband jokes that he’s my IT guy) and creating new angles on familiar story lines.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I guess just knowing that in these first few years, my work day is not Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, but it can, at times, be seven days a week and off hours — however, I strive to find work/life balance.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
Listen more than you speak, and treat others with respect -- you never know who knows who or who your next referral will be.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
A misconception exists that all PR people are “Type A,” in your face, extroverts -- totally a myth. Let your results speak for yourself, and don’t get caught up in how the media and society portray the PR profession.
Who are your role models?
My role models are my late maternal grandfather, mother and father. They love me unconditionally, and I inherited my grandfather’s ability to read people, my mother’s entrepreneurial spirit and my father’s unwavering work ethic. Also, I’m truly inspired by individuals who are living their dream, and encouraging to others to do the same!
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
“What’s real, whatever you can fathom, it’s crazy because dreams can be real if you have them.”
“Do what you love and the money will follow.”
“Jack of all trades and master of none.”
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Apply for an internship/volunteer to get a real feel for the industry, and attend panels where communications professionals are discussing the field to help you identify which aspect appeals to you the most. The industry is multifaceted, so shadow different PR professionals to get a feel for a “typical” day to hone in on your interests. When you’ve identified the area you like, find a mentor that can support and encourage you as you explore the field.
Image | Stacey Viera