For the past 30 years, the Upstate firm JDPR has provided public relations and marketing services to an array of big-name clients. Case studies and testimonials on the JDPR website showcase clients from Verizon, Bridgestone Golf, Lima One Capital and many more that break down the firm’s skills at brand building, cause-related marketing, social media strategies and rebranding.
Jeff Dezen, the “JD” in JDPR, has been at the helm since founding the firm in 1991. Dezen decided to start his own brand after serving as marketing director for the Greenville United Way and building up the PR department of another agency.
“I started to think that I could maybe replicate that model on my own,” Jeff Dezen says, “so I called my Dad, who had worked as the owner of a tire store in Maryland for his entire life. And I said to Dad, ‘I’m interested in starting my own business, but I’m pretty comfortable where I am.’ He said, ‘Well you’re too young to be comfortable, so get busy!’ And that was the nudge that it took to cement my decision. I resigned my post and started the company on January 1, 1991.”
Perhaps it’s fitting that Jeff sought advice from his Dad before starting JDPR, because it’s very much a family company; in 2013, Jeff’s son, Drew, came on board after working for Major League Baseball’s International Marketing division in Australia.
“Well, I jokingly say that I had the world’s longest internship,” Drew Dezen says. “Because growing up, JDPR had been an instrumental component in our family dynamic. And in addition to Dad’s career success, my Mom was a successful professional in the advertising industry with another agency. So dinner table talk often revolved around marketing concepts or strategic business insights, and I really grew up in the business in that regard.”
Jeff Dezen says that in creating JDPR, he was able to forge his own corporate culture, one that values every team member’s input.
“We are very much a hands-on group,” he says. “So you don’t have some sense of a management structure that is separate from the worker bees. We are ALL worker bees across the board and that sense of egalitarianism marries up with a sense of empowerment, where people have the opportunity to weigh-in and improve the lives of all of us, improve the company and in turn, improve the deliverables for our clients.”
To stay in business for 30 years, JDPR has had to learn to evolve.
“In 1991, the communications business in general was very limited by today’s standards,” Jeff Dezen says. “The numbers of channels conveying thought in printed words and images was a fraction of what it is today. And the new tools and the new channels are less familiar to me, because of my demographic, my age, than Drew.”
In order to stay current and efficient, JDPR has made some changes. After spending most of their existence on East Coffee Street, they’re prepping for a move to Greenville’s West End and Drew Dezen is stepping into more of a leadership role with the company.
“The impetus for that move is a reflection of changes in our business and changes in Greenville as a community,” Drew Dezen says. “When we moved into this space in 1997, the downtown area of Greenville was considerably different than it is today. And the nature of our business is such that we don’t really need this retail square footage in this type of a bustling downtown district. And as such, we’re going to move to a new emerging area of Greenville and have an impact in that community.”
Drew Dezen is quick to point out that “Jeff isn’t going anywhere,” so he’ll still be a big part of JDPR. “It’s a credit to Jeff, and all the people that have made JDPR successful over 30 years, that I am in a position to build on that legacy,” he says. “The definition of marketing — certainly the definition of PR — is changing and evolving every day, but we have this core culture and core skillset and really the foundation of our business that allows us to be successful in disciplines where we’ve been practicing.”
That core culture is based on a simple, direct message.
“The one phrase that has guided us since the inception of our company is ‘exceed expectations,’” Jeff Dezen says. “There are the collective expectations of the organization, and there are the clients’ expectations, the brands that we serve. And we have succeeded over 30 plus years by getting up each day and presuming that regardless of where you set the bar by way of expectation-setting, we are going to out-distance that set of expectations. It’s a quest.”
Through the years:
- 1991 – Jeff Dezen starts JDPR, working out of his home.
- 1997 – JDPR moves to its E. Coffee St. location.
- 2013- Drew Dezen joins JDPR
- 2022 – JDPR moves to it’s new location in the West End.