Meet Avery Jones (B.S. ’12): AblazePR

For Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on Black alumni business owners. Meet the many grads of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences that have tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit.
Avery Jones

Meet Avery Jones, founder of AblazePR, an event, experiential marketing and public relations strategy firm. This VCU alumni boasts a long career working in event and film production, including on such high-level engagements such as the Women’s March on Washington 2017, Kennedy Center Honors and supporting presidential inaugurations. She started Ablaze in 2013. Learn more below.

Can you describe your business and its goal?

AblazePR is a public relations and event management consulting agency. We aim to provide innovative concepts, communication strategies, event marketing and brand awareness services to an elite clientele.

What inspired you to start your company?

I was in my final year of graduate school at George Washington University, where I pursued a major in event and meeting management. At the same time, a friend of mine was launching her first book, and I offered to support the launch with my public relations skills. She accepted, and we worked together on everything from writing press releases and pitching to video production and managing a mini-book tour. During the launch party, I had a realization that I could do this, and I came up with the name of my business, AblazePR.

What would you wish you had known before starting your business?

The importance of setting client expectations. When I first started, I wanted to do everything for my clients, which was OK then. But as things evolved in an ever-changing world, it became more important to have the knowledge to do everything and delegate responsibilities to others. Setting clear expectations upfront is paramount to fostering trust and ensuring a successful partnership. From the outset, I would have prioritized transparent communication about the scope of services, timelines and potential outcomes. Understanding the nuanced needs of each client and aligning them with realistic goals would have been a game-changer. Embracing the dynamic nature of the PR landscape and being prepared to adapt strategies accordingly would have also been invaluable knowledge. Ultimately, learning to balance client demands with strategic planning is key.

How did VCU prepare you for this career?

My time at VCU shaped a lot of my career and opened the door to a lot of my future experiences. During my first semester in 2008, I started getting involved with many of the student programs and activities on campus. I was a member (and later chair) of the homecoming committee on what was called the Activities and Programming Board. I learned how to manage a team, create budgets, and produce major events and campaigns, but most importantly, think about the impact of engagement early on in my career.  I enjoyed planning, networking, and engaging with faculty and students on campus while I was also getting the best education at the university. 

What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur? Best part? 

For me, the hardest part was the unexpected challenges. The ones we aren't always prepared for. The best part is flexibility, networking, collaborations and partnering with mentors who became more like family.

Where would you like to see your business in 5/10 years?

I would often say that no one retires from this line of business because we truly enjoy creating experiences. In 5/10 years, I would hope to be in a position where every aspect of my business runs on its own, especially in the wake of new technology. I am excited to see where we will be.   

Learn more about Jones and Ablaze on the company’s website.