If Jessica Pirkle were one of the brands she loves to create, it might well be: sunny, can-do hometown girl.
To date, Pirkle has successfully sold LED lighting, Angelo State University and entrepreneurship. She makes a persuasive pitch for her birthplace, too.
“I tried the big city and learned a lot,” she said. “San Angelo is small enough that you can make a big difference. For people who have that pull, San Angelo is great ground for that.”
Pirkle is vice president of marketing for Principal LED, a manufacturer of lights for outdoor signs nationwide. The company’s grown 40 percent each year since its 2010 startup and recently expanded into its third facility.
The 30-year-old Pirkle has been a player in that. She and her team have developed three websites, created marketing materials for the 30 trade shows the company attends annually, produced catalogs and other sales items, launched a social media presence and created the P-LED Academy with its series of training videos and webinars.
Pirkle’s marketing career began at Angelo State after she earned an MBA there. She sought to sell ASU by focusing on its intimate campus community and its embrace of students.
“Students can get caught up with the glamour of a big university,” she said. “Having a community that cares about you – plus stellar academics and the financial aid – it’s kind of a no-brainer to me. I love ASU.”
Her marketing approach focuses on branding and community-building, she explained. In that regard, she said, selling a university is no different than selling lighting.
“It’s really taking a human approach to who you’re talking to,” she said. “Instead of students, you’re working with the sign industry and those sign shops and distributors. But it’s still people.”
A former adviser at the Small Business Development Center, Pirkle was also a founding member of the Young Professionals of San Angelo. She sees the group as a place where peers can connect, learn from and encourage one another as they navigate the front ends of their careers. Taking a risk on a young person with no track record can be hard, she conceded.
“But they have the drive,” she added. “They have the passion.
“You have to put in a lot of hard hours and do things that aren’t glamorous in any way, shape or form. But that builds character. You’ll get opportunities when you’re willing to put in that work.”
Pirkle’s drive extends to a desire to be a meaningful member of her community. She is a member of the Junior League, served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and the local advertising federation chapter, and is active in PaulAnn Baptist Church.
“We’re all a part of San Angelo and making it what you want it to be,” she said. “When people complain, I just think, if you’re not doing anything, you really can’t complain. There’s that quote: Be the change you want to see in the world. I take that to heart.”