Mission North EVP Jamey Boike on the New Roles that Trust and Risk Play in B2B Communications

I’m excited to welcome Jamey Boike to Mission North, a great example of how the power of your network can fuel trust and growth and create lasting partnerships. Jamey joins us as an Executive Vice President leading strategy across enterprise and sustainability accounts, and is serving on our functional leadership team. 

I met Jamey at the start of my career 25 years ago at an agency called A&R Partners that prided itself on exceptional client service and award-winning culture. Daniel J. Edelman (DJE) Holdings Inc. eventually acquired it, and Jamey went on to spend a decade-plus under DJE companies, including co-founding the Revere Agency.

Jamey is a great addition to our momentum this year as we welcomed a new year of esteemed brands like Zoom, Brex, Mozilla, and Portland General Electric and combined several of our practice groups into one large Enterprise Practice

I sat down with Jamey to reminisce and wanted people to learn more about him through his own words. 

Tell us about your career journey and what drew you to Mission North out of all of the places you could be? 

It sounds like a proof point in a client’s social strategy, but the truth is, the first thing to draw me into Mission North was a LinkedIn post from you! Mission North has such remarkable momentum, and the category-defining clients across sectors from enterprise SaaS to climate tech really struck me. I instantly wanted to learn more. I couldn’t believe it had been 20 years since we worked together! 

When I reached out to you, I learned more about Mission North’s vibrant portfolios across Enterprise, Sustainability, Life Sciences and Fintech, with amazing new client partnerships with leaders like Canva, Mozilla and Zoom. When I met with the leadership team, I got a chance to see the people and culture of Mission North up close. That’s what hooked me. The Mission North team is super sharp, and super fast, but what stood out to me is how you live your values in your work, and how those values influence your relationships with each other. Everything from client services and communications strategies, to systems and processes that run the business, are very thoughtful and intentional, and rooted in the agency’s values. I believe our values are a force multiplier on our work.

Is there a leadership lesson that you've carried through the last quarter decade? 

So much of my career, my move to Mission North, and the work that we do here, ultimately hinges on this enduring concept of trust. I worked at Edelman for about 15 years and built my career there. When I set off after that time at Edelman to build my own agency, Revere, Edelman came to me and said they wanted to be involved. We partnered and they became my parent company, and this unique relationship was built on a longstanding relationship of trust. I felt very fortunate. Eight years later, when I was ready to look at other roles across different agencies, my interest in Mission North was predicated on a longstanding relationship of trust that I had with you. And after joining Mission North, the first executives to approach me about a partnership in my new role are those people who I’ve known and worked with for years. 

It feels like business moves faster by the day, with unexpected changes throughout, but trust is the constant underpinning it all. The deepest trust is earned with hard work together over long periods of time. And I believe the bonds among us that are built from this trust are what bring meaning to our work.

Trust is the key factor relevant across our business, and certainly in our client work. How do you earn the trust of your teams and clients? 

Beyond delivering the quality work and great results that we commit to, my approach has been to lead from the front. At some agencies, as people become more senior, I’ve seen them gradually move away from the clients. Senior leaders often deal with managing teams and the business. But I think it's super important to roll up our sleeves as leaders and stay close to our clients, stay close to journalists, and stay close to trends in media and technology. I have loved seeing every leader at Mission North roll up their sleeves to work at a deep level with our clients and teammates. The most impactful way that we can model the qualities, values, best practices and expertise among our teams is by practicing them ourselves in our daily work. 

<split-lines>"But I think it's super important to roll up our sleeves as leaders and stay close to our clients, stay close to journalists, and stay close to trends in media and technology."<split-lines>

What areas of the tech industry are really exciting to you right now? 

I've built my career in B2B communications, and much of my work has been focused on enterprise software and hardware. I love those businesses that run business. Now, though, the areas that excite me most are the adjacencies around enterprise technologies. When you start to understand how workflows run companies and the AI and software that underpins those workflows, then you can understand automation, and in turn, robotics. And that, in turn, helps you understand future trends in logistics and transportation. These adjacencies are enormous industries of their own. Robotics is still nascent, but will be a huge addressable market as it increasingly takes on today's limitations in the labor market.

Same for climate tech and sustainability. There are businesses being built from the ground up to remake our world in a fundamentally more sustainable way, and we’re just getting started with new categories in energy like fusion, storage and battery recycling, grid technologies, the list goes on…

There’s an element of risk taking when it comes to communications. How have you seen communicators grow in relevance to protecting risk and broadening support of other stakeholders across the client’s business?

In 25 years in B2B communications, I’ve seen my clients become more important to a wider variety of stakeholders. I’m not just talking about more stakeholders influencing the buying cycle for enterprise technologies, which have multiplied. I’m talking about stakeholders in and around the company, as audiences and active participants shaping its reputation. Shareholders are no longer the be-all and end-all. Employees have new voices. Ecosystems of partners prove out open business models. Boards and activist investors bring instant momentum to their agendas. 

Communication is not just about promoting the latest feeds and speeds to customers. We must anticipate and protect against risks, and we must think across channels to meet stakeholders where they are. We increasingly have to develop and deploy protective strategies that serve as a scaffolding around a company. To illustrate - there are many amazing things in store in robotics, but humanoid robots strike fear in some people. Fear of losing jobs. Fear of automation. Fear of AI. In that case, communications “scaffolding” can mean publishing a series of longform articles on a company blog, or in bylines, that have clear messaging about critical issues, recognizing risks and fears, and alleviating them in real, measured terms. Then we may run a social program that amplifies that content with key stakeholders, and draws attention to its core message. It's really tough to do that if you’re only focused on a traditional, purely earned media program. 

<split-lines>"We increasingly have to develop and deploy protective strategies that serve as a scaffolding around a company."<split-lines>

How would you answer the age-old question —how do you measure PR? 

I certainly haven't found the one answer for this, but as communicators we are facing difficult issues that are of critical importance to businesses and society. We're facing them along with a deluge of misinformation and disinformation and content coming from everywhere. So how do you tackle a difficult, complicated issue in that environment, and how do you measure the value of that communication strategy? People often look to measures of volume and engagement when gauging the impact of PR. But I think the better measure of our impact as communicators comes down to credibility and authority.

<split-lines>"People often look to measures of volume and engagement when gauging the impact of PR. But I think the better measure of our impact as communicators comes down to credibility and authority."<split-lines>

I’d like to wrap up with a fun question for you. If you could change careers, what would you do?

I come from a science background and I always love to be closer to the science, the development, the “how things work,” the empirical truth. I could be a science writer and cover all the advancements we’re talking about. But the truth is I love the job I have. It takes me to these robotics and fusion power companies that I mentioned earlier, and that makes me feel like I'm working in the future every day.

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