Jasmine Teer | The Innovator 25 North America 2021

Jasmine Teer

Vice President Strategy

Small Girls PR

West Hollywood, CA

Hometown: Lafayette, Louisiana

“It’s also imperative to give opportunities, recognition, and just compensation to people ensuring not to add to any marginalized wage gaps."

As part of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, many non-Black Americans who had — intentionally or not — brushed aside the reality of Black America, were forced to open their eyes. Part of this was deeply understanding the rich contributions Black Americans have made to this country and also the brutality they faced. Case in point: Tulsa. Over the past year, Jasmine Teer has ensured this history — and its impact that resonates today — isn’t forgotten. She tapped into her 10+ years of PR experience as the creator and executive director of the Tulsa Juneteenth Block Party. The event is a celebrity-driven virtual web show celebrating the rich history of Tulsa, while showcasing the Black community. The Tulsa Juneteenth Block Party garnered 40,000 viewers across 65+ different countries.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 
To date, my proudest accomplishment is being the creator and executive producer of the virtual Tulsa Juneteenth Block Party. This event coincided with our former president’s highly controversial Juneteenth 2020 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre. While this planned speech was widely recognized as an affront to the Black community in our country, our Block Party sought to take the power from his speech, promote voices of color in its stead, and reclaim the airwaves for freedom.
With less than a week of planning, and a host of community and network support, we secured appearances from Vice President Kamala Harris, Alfre Woodard, NBA-star Russell Westbrook, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Governor Deval Patrick, among so many generous others. We ultimately drew viewers from 65+ countries, and achieved coverage from over 20 media outlets, including USA Today and Business Insider. But, we also created space for celebration and community in the face of division and pain.

We're at a pivotal moment on the future of the office and how we work. How would like to see 'office/work culture' evolve?
Now that the workforce has successfully navigated remote work at scale, my perceptions of what a strong office/culture can look like have expanded. The internal values any organization establishes for itself—which should be written and communicated as clearly as possible—can be celebrated and sustained through digital connections, in concert with a physical presence together, or perhaps wholly on its own. While some jobs essential to our economy cannot be performed remotely, I’d like to see workers capable of keeping up productivity while working from home maintain the right to do so, opening up opportunities for happier workforces to live in affordable cities, work on decentralized schedules, and still experience upward mobility and effective impact in their careers.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity?
Understand that groups who are underrepresented are not monolithic in their backgrounds, beliefs, or reactions. This means that a company can’t take just one action to improve DEI, but must ask individuals what they need and want, and then be prepared to offer unique forms of support, resources, or access on a consistent basis.

In the wake of the George Floyd’s murder last year, I started a mental health employee resource group at SGPR for our Black team members to voice challenges they may be feeling with stress, sadness, grief, anger, or coping. The goal of this was to proactively ask individuals what they needed and give them a space to speak candidly, especially if any employees of color felt intimidated to ask their managers (who may not be people of color) for additional support or time off to process yet another atrocity in our community. It’s imperative to create demonstrably safe spaces for individuals to be heard.

More broadly, it’s also imperative to give opportunities, recognition, and just compensation to people ensuring not to add to any marginalized wage gaps.

What makes you most excited or proud to be part of the PR industry? 
The power of stories has always been critical. What makes me proud of this industry is that the right story told to the right group of people at the right moment can usher in understanding, instigate hope, or bridge the gap between cultures and generations. And now, we get to play those stories through endless new mediums to elevate worthiness and foster connection. While we’re exploring AI, AR, NFTs and metaverses today, who knows what imagination and innovation will evolve PR into tomorrow. I am proud of the worthy stories I have been able to elevate throughout my career, from working with Malala Yousafzai to helping GE share the power of technology and science. I’m excited to bring more mission-driven work into the fold of businesses I support like fighting for reproductive justice with The Brigid Alliance and others.

What are your fears/concerns for our industry? 
For more than just our industry, I hope we don’t lose the essence of good communication, especially on platforms that can be more often polarizing than uniting. I hope that distinguishing fact from opinion and respectful disagreement don’t become lost arts.

What inspires you? This could be a person, place, activity, etc.
Adventure and creativity. Forming new connections to ideas and discovering perspectives that elicit a response. Finding spaces for self-expression and self-designed living.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Growth and expansion.

What is your idea of happiness?
Being able to do what I want. With a lavender latte. In a hot tub.