Jennifer Holder: Pirate Girl sets sights on 2021

Sandra ClarkInside 640, Our Town Leaders

The best way to beat the blahs of 2020 is to set your sights on 2021. Jennifer Holder, owner of Pirate Girl PR in Knoxville, is looking to expand her business with a return to networking and community involvement.


“2020 has just been a weird year,” Holder said. “Most of my clients have pulled back. Some have kept their powder dry, while others have seen it as a great time to retool, to fuel up.”

UT athletics over the years: Jennifer Holder with Phillip Fulmer and Pat Summitt

Holder represents an array of clients from major corporations to nonprofits to professionals. She likes variety, and although she started with a goal of six category-exclusive clients, the business soon grew to a dozen and she expanded from strictly public relations to a full-service business that now offers marketing strategy, advertising production, graphic design and media placement.

The woman is smart. While she can’t put it on her business card, Jennifer graduated from the University of Tennessee with a 3.9 GPA and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She then got an MBA with a marketing concentration. She loves the university and remains active as a past Chancellor’s Associate, past board member for the College of Business’s MBA program, past chair of the UT Alumni Association’s Women’s Council and a member of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists.

She launched Pirate Girl PR in 2011 following a 15-year career as vice president of marketing and corporate communications for First Tennessee Bank. While at First Tennessee, Jennifer’s responsibilities included regional marketing and sponsorships, charitable giving, community relations, internal and external communication, public relations, special events and an employee community volunteer program.

She also managed all aspects of First Tennessee’s corporate sponsorship of University of Tennessee Athletics, including contract negotiation and deliverables such as signage and branding elements and creative production of television, radio and print commercials featuring football and men’s and women’s basketball head coaches (including endorsement relationships).

Holder is a visionary. She bought a condo downtown in 1993. “It had good bones,” she now says of the home she has almost completely rebuilt. At age 25, she was undeterred when her mom charitably called it “ugly.”

She recalls a night when she and her sister were the only diners at The Tomato Head on Market Square. “Now they’re lined up out the door.”

She’s got a boatload of awards and honors from her roles with nonprofits. She’s a past president of Nucleus Knoxville and the Knoxville American Marketing Association. Pirate Girl PR is located at 415 W. Vine Ave., Suite 1. The number is 865-621-5800.

Leadership tips from Jennifer Holder: You motivate paid staff or volunteers the same way. Give each person a job and let them do it. Don’t hover. Let them do what they know how to do. And always plan before you plunder.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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