Juice Consulting’s Heather Wagner Reed talks about the future of PR, the benefits of co-working and her vibrant career.
By Lauren Jones, Photo by Dustin Meyer
Heather Wagner Reed is a public-relations maven and, with her friendly manner, nonstop hustle and impressive client list, it’s no wonder she has become one of Austin’s most respected women in the industry. Her company, Juice Consulting, a full-service PR agency, is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, and Austin Woman got the chance to sit down with the exuberant CEO. From coordinating Beyonce’s global marketing campaigns to invigorating beloved Austin brands, she shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Austin Woman: How did you become interested in PR and marketing?
Heather Wagner Reed: I’ve always been a people person, and in high school, I was involved in theater. When I went to college, I had to decide to either do theater or something more on the business side that still involved people and allowed my zest for life and for creativity. PR seemed like a really good fit. I got involved with college radio and became promotions director of a student-run radio station, WUOG in Athens, Ga., and that really solidified my interest in the entertainment world and music industry. I have been doing PR for a very long time now and I’ve never really veered away.
AW: Tell us about how you began working for Beyoncé.
HWR: I had a very lucky thing that happened in my late 20s. I had been living abroad, working in the Netherlands, and decided to come back to the States to be closer to home. I had a chance meeting with someone at a conference who worked for Beyoncé’s dad, Mathew Knowles. We got talking and he told me that Mathew could really use someone with international marketing experience. I, of course, knew who Destiny’s Child was at the time. Fast-forward, and Mr. Knowles helped me move to Houston and I started working with the family. At first, I was working with Solange and after three months he decided to also give me the Beyoncé project. I worked with her and other artists for five years. She was the main artist I worked with. The role was primarily artist management, and I did day-to-day managerial tasks for her, but also worked on global marketing coordination for her. Whether it was Sony Music or a film she was working on or endorsement with Pepsi, we would get everyone together and plan a cohesive marketing strategy for her.
AW: How does your experience working internationally compare with working in the States?
HWR: My first job in Holland was with an international MBA program. At the time, they wanted an American to spearhead their alumni and external relations. I think Americans are seen as go-getters. I worked hard and long hours in Holland, but it was different from my experience in the U.S. In America, there are a lot more entrepreneurs, while in the Netherlands, people like to work for companies and usually have long-term jobs. There is definitely more job security there. When you sign a contract, it is hard to get fired unless something goes terribly wrong. Here, many people are encouraged to go out on their own and start their own thing.
AW: What are Juice Consulting’s biggest strengths?
HWR: We are very nimble. We are able to take on many projects and be available for our clients. I have six people that work with me, and we’ve been a virtual company for a long time. That is how it’s always been, but more recently, we have been working out of Impact Hub Austin, which we love. If we have a client that needs us to be onsite, working in a flexible space allows us to easily do that. We do a lot of co-working with clients as well, which is fun. As an agency, one of our distinguishing characteristics is we get very deeply involved. I want our clients to feel like they can go outside of the parameters of what a typical marketing and PR agency does. We work with our clients on strategizing, brainstorming and building high-level and long-lasting relationships.
AW: What do you look for when you take on a client?
HWR: Longevity. I like to have long-term relationships with clients, something that isn’t just three months. We like to have relationships that grow deeply. It’s like being at a company: The longer you are there, the more you understand the culture.
AW: Describe your dream client.
HWR: I love clients that are intrinsic to the Austin culture and clients that have something unique to offer the community. That is why I love working with nonprofits. I love the idea that by working with companies like those, it’s like we are giving back, as we put our energy into something positive for the community. We already work with many of our dream clients.
AW: How do you see Juice Consulting evolving in the future?
HWR: We are a boutique agency that picks our clients based on passion, so I want to get the word out there that we are interested in many other sectors as well. In the next two years, I want to triple our clientele. Music, tech, innovation, real estate and the arts are all sectors we love. Now we are busy as ever, but I want to grow. I still think a dynamic and flexible office environment is a good lifestyle choice for us. For everyone that works with me, it’s good because, for me, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are doing your job and doing it well. I want to bring in more people who can exist within that realm. It takes a certain kind of person to be self-managing. It’s a holistic approach. And I think that is the model of the future.