Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Yingling.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I earned my Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from UC San Diego. My dissertation was focused on using a mouse model to dissect a human neuro-developmental disorder, called lissencephaly. Along the way, I also learned about stem cells in the brain. I enjoyed working at the bench but found that I liked learning and talking about the science more than doing it. (When I miss bench work, I cook!) I also found that I really enjoy figuring out how to translate and explain science.
In my last year of graduate school, I did a lot of exploration and networking. I taught biology at a local community college, but I found it did not keep me engaged. What I loved about doing research was being on the front edge of new innovation. So I did a number of informational interviews and networked to find a job that interested me.
I talked with a fellow graduate student who completed her doctorate the year before me. She had taken a position at a PR/IR agency that only did public and investor relations for biotech and life science companies. As I was finishing up my doctorate, she reached out because she was going on maternity leave, and the agency was looking for someone to fill in for her.
So I started working as an account executive at Porter Novelli Life Sciences. My Ph.D. gave me the necessary background and education, and the agency provided the training necessary to actually apply all that knowledge towards helping companies translate their science to their different audiences.
I went on to work in the development office at The Scripps Research Institute, and eventually took a position as director of corporate communications at Fate Therapeutics. The company’s core science revolved around adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Here, I put all my education and training together and, as an early employee in Fate, helped build the brand and communications platform for the company.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Seven years ago, as part of a company layoff, I was rather unexpectedly without a job, but not without options. That is when I started Little Dog Communications. I had the experience both from the agency and working in-house to understand what small biotechs needed from a PR and communications perspective. I also knew that not all companies had the resources to either hire an agency or an internal person. But that didn’t mean that they didn’t need PR help.
I also knew I wanted to work with the “little dogs” in the fight. Little doesn’t necessarily mean small. It is more a frame of mind. To me, Little Dogs are companies, both big and small, that are at the front edge of innovation developing tomorrow’s medicines and technologies to improve healthcare.
Please tell us about Little Dog Communications.
What we do for our clients is to help communicate their story to all their different audiences, whether that be externally to investors, reporters, partners, patients, advocacy groups or, internally to employees, board members, collaborators – it all depends on what are the goals and needs of the company at that time.
Then we determine what is the vehicle for those communications – is it a press release, newsletter, social media, video, presentation, interview or meeting – and then we help them strategize, prepare, and execute on those tactics. We also listen to the client’s audiences and communities. The overall goal is to find the best way to tell a client’s stories either themselves or through a third party or champion.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Worried less! It’s true that some of the things that we worry about never happen, and some things are more difficult in our imagination than in reality. The most important part I learned was that I have or can obtain the resources to deal with any problem, and San Diego is strong in resources and people who want to help – I am definitely grateful to be part of such an awesome community!