Jules Wortman Pomeroy, in her own mind, is likely just a gal from East Tennessee who walked through the Music Row doorway, took advantage of opportunities that came her way, worked hard, and saw her efforts pay off.
But for those who routinely conduct country-music business in Music City, she's a go-to PR professional who, in the course of building her career, has become a bona-fide "Celebrity Next Door" among Nashvillians.
These days, she is the founder and president of her own business, Wortman Works Media & Marketing, in addition to serving as VP of public relations for the Nashville-based TNA Impact Wrestling. But she's also toiled in the name of the music industry from behind a variety of shingles, from serving as manager of publicity at CBS Records early in her PR career and then being hired by the late Rick Blackburn to serve as the first in-house publicist for Atlantic Nashville, to working for Warner Bros. Records and MCA Records, among other labels.
The ever-busy Wortman recently took time to field a few questions from Examiner.com about her kismet connection to the Nashville music scene, her career path and the heroes who helped inspire her. What follows is an excerpt from this chat with one of Music City's Music Row movers.
Q: When did you move to Nashville, and when you did so, did you know it would become your permanent home?
Jules: "I moved to Nashville in the summer of 1989 upon graduation from East Tennessee State University. My mother is from the Middle Tennessee area and I had always loved it and hoped to make it my home. I guess that has come to be true, 23 years and counting."
Q: You had some insights into the Music Row culture that others didn’t. Tell us who
your uncle is, and how did he influence your career?
Jules: "My uncle is Joe Sullivan, one of the pioneers of the music scene in Nashville, and ultimately, the world, as he was an award-winning program director; the founder of Sound Seventy, one of the premiere concert-promotion companies in the country; and the former manager of The Charlie Daniels Band and others.
"He was the first manager to secure a rock label deal for an artist out of Nashville. He afforded me the opportunity to intern while attending college, where I was under the direction of Paula Szeigis, one of my mentors, and later I went on to intern at Network Ink, one of Nashville’s elite entertainment PR firms. The owner, Liz Thiels, is my hero."
Q: Any special memories of your Uncle Joe that you can share related to his role in the business and things you go to experience?
Jules: "We have always been very close, ever since I was a young girl. I would spend time with all my relatives in the summer in Tennessee, as we lived in Georgia and Ohio, so my summer memories growing up are very special. I created great bonds with
my family, and especially my Grandmother Sullivan, Uncle Joe and my cousins Kim and
the late Tracy Sullivan.
"I did know at an early age that I was drawn to entertainment and I loved music, so with that said, I would soak up everything I could when I was around him and his working environment."
Q: Technology and the music industry have changed. Has that impacted you in your professional role as a PR person?
Jules: "Yes, most definitely. In the mid-'90s, it all started, and fast forward to 2012 and the way you position your pitches, your approach and everything that goes with it, is both challenging and frustrating at the same time. It seems everyone is a reporter now, and your approach to crafting a story or getting the word out now is 'of the moment,' as opposed to a real set up.
"With the invent of Twitter and other social-media outlets, the news is out there (at) break-neck speed and you have to be ready to address the needs and the story in a immediate fashion. The art of being ahead of the story has never been more important, if you want to be the commander of the message and not trying to catch up. Today is more you to the consumer, and the middle man -- the media-- is increasingly losing its upper hand on the scoop. These are very interesting times."
Q: Has being a woman in a male-dominated industry been a plus or a negative?
Jules: "Well, a strong woman is considered a 'bitch' or often 'tough to deal with,' and that has always been an issue with a lot of successful women in this business. But staying true to your convictions, continuing to work hard, be fair and honest with yourself and your client, is key to success. It might not always feel that way, but you will win in the end and you can go to bed without regrets at night.
"Many successful woman in the entertainment business started out as personal assistants, receptionists and the like, only to figure the system out and then go to town. Take Frances Preston, Donna Hilley, Connie Bradley and other matriarchs in the business; check their early days and then look at the mark they have made on the business. Today, we have been fortunate enough to have those type of smart, successful and accomplished women that forged the path for those of us today to be afforded high-level positions."
Q: What still inspires you about your job?
Jules: "Creativity and the ever-changing landscape in the entertainment mediums. It is an exciting time to be in it."
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Jules: "That I am into rehabbing furniture and am styling a retro-1972 Scotty camper to use as a pop-up store and to go on girl camping trips."
Q: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Jules: "Always put God first and be true to your own convictions, not ... a follower of others."
Q: Who are your heroes?
Jules: "My parents, Liz Thiels, my 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Tribble, and Jackie O."
Q: What makes Nashville home to you? Anything especially endearing to you about the city?
Jules: "The people, the landscape, the vibe. It is a melting pot of creativity and it is just great watching it evolve, grow and continue to be cool."
Q: What's your favorite way to spend your time, and I don't mean working?
Jules: "Hanging with my husband and little rescue dog Sadie, whether we are at home, kayaking, playing tennis, hiking or hanging out at the lake house by ourselves or with family or friends. It is peaceful, for the most part; again, I am married. Ha!"
Q: What's the last book you read or that you are reading?
Jules: "Grateful Dead, Adele, Springsteen, Avritt Bros. and Goyte."
Q: What's your favorite best-kept secret when it comes to Nashville, and why?
Jules: "I love some of the little unique towns along the state routes, like Beth Page, Leipers Fork and others for the friendly people, great picking (shopping) and great country drives. I love the Silly Goose and The Pharmacy, both in East Nashville,
for cool food."
Q: Finally, if you had it to all over again, would you do anything differently, meaning
your career in the industry?
Jules: "I have been fortunate in my career path, but if I had to do something differently, I would not take useless political maneuvering from sub-par people."