As one of the owners of Jaffe, Vivian balances her responsibilities between managing the agency’s relationships with clients and staff, and providing clients with high-level and strategic PR account leadership, directing teams that execute and implement successful media relations programs.
Why did you choose your profession?
I really think my profession chose me. When I was in high school, my speech teacher told me once that I would do great in PR. I didn’t even know what that was! I was determined to be a pediatrician, so engaging in ‘public relations’ with people was the last thing I planned.
After a year of struggling with university science courses, I recognized how much I enjoyed communications and writing – so public relations was a natural fit after all! After I graduated, I worked at a global PR agency and it coincidentally happened to be the same agency my dad worked at 20 years prior when he was in PR before he became a journalist. Life can be funny that way!
Of all the types of PR, media relations became my favorite. Then a former co-worker shared an opportunity in 1996 for me to help lawyers who wanted to get in the news. I joined Jaffe and the rest is history.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’ve been doing legal PR for almost 25 years, and I never get bored. That’s my secret – to enjoy what I am doing so I don’t get bored. I love to learn every single day. I get to work with lawyers who practice across dozens of types of industries and law practices, so I am learning about developments and changes in all areas of the law from U.S. Supreme Court decisions to district court rulings to appellate proceedings. I learn about trends important to their practice – and these change all the time.
I’m inspired by how women in the legal industry have become stronger and louder, and are making bigger impacts in the courtroom and in the boardroom.
The satisfaction I get from having a client quoted in a news article, or their article gets published, or they speak in a podcast interview I arranged, or they listen to my advice about a crisis, or any number of other PR activities I do for them makes me want to do it again and again. I love sharing their stories and finding ways to amplify them to new audiences.
My role has changed over the years along with the level of responsibilities for my clients and for the company. Becoming an owner at Jaffe and helping manage a team of amazing colleagues who are among the best in the country, is deeply rewarding.
Plus, I get to do this all while working from home for the past 25 years – so my home and professional life is balanced and I can not imagine working any other way. Over the past year, many others now completely understand just how great it is to be able to work from home!
How do you achieve work/life balance?
Work/life balance is critical to my wellbeing. I have Crohn’s Disease and related issues that can be made worse with stress. Early in my career, I was out of balance in these areas, and my health greatly suffered.
Having a work environment that would allow me to work from home while maintaining and growing my career was essential, and I was fortunate to have that opportunity. Then, as my family grew and my children had school activities and doctor appointments I could attend, I appreciated the work-from-home environment even more.
My husband is another way my life is balanced. We are high school sweethearts who grew up together, and I am blessed to have him as an incredibly supportive partner to share life with.
We also live in a beach city – Jacksonville, FL. I love living here, having grown up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. When we lived there in the mid-90s before I joined Jaffe, I admired a TV ad that showed a mom working on her (clunky) laptop on the beach, with her young children playing in the sand at her feet. I wanted that life! We had the chance to move to Florida in 1997 and created the means to make it happen. The seaside lifestyle gives me peace and joy.
Learn more about Women Who Wow and read the profiles of all of the women featured in the series.