Tacoma Venues & Events
By Rob Knapp
Q & A With A Gen Next Honoree
Emily Jensen laughed after she said it at the end of an interview, but it’s true.
“I’m just trying to make the world a better place through live events,” said Jensen, who leads social and digital media for the Tacoma Dome and the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.
For Jensen, that means working to form a connection with fans who might consider attending an event at the 21,500-capacity arena in Washington state, whether their tastes run toward boy bands, electronic dance music or WWE.
“One thing that I’ve realized is that it’s OK to be a fan,” she said. “In social media we’re interacting with people who are die-hard fans of Twenty One Pilots, of Halsey, of Justin Bieber, and it’s OK to show them, ‘Hey, I am also a fan,’ and to just be a little silly and fun.”
In some cases, she knows the territory. “I make fun of my music tastes a lot,” Jensen said. “Growing up I was really into boy bands, like Backstreet Boys and N’Sync.” She thinks her first concert was a trip to see the Jonas Brothers around 2007, a gift to her sister.
In other cases, it requires a little work. The arena gets a lot of WWE events, Jensen said, and she didn’t arrive knowing much about the world of professional wrestling, but “you can do a little search and at least come across that you’re a fan if you just drop in a couple of hints that the fandom knows about, like if you’ve got Charlotte Flair going ‘Woo!’ because that’s her thing.”
Whatever she’s doing, it’s working. By Jensen’s own numbers, she increased the Instagram following for Tacoma Venues & Events by 51% and the Facebook and Twitter followings by about 20% apiece in the first year after starting her role in September 2018.
Jensen began her venue marketing career at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, her hometown, where she got a summer internship while attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Originally turned down, she got an email when the successful applicant left for an internship with the NFL’s Houston Texans. “They needed someone else ASAP, so I interviewed again and got the job,” she said.
After graduating, she took a part-time marketing coordinator position at the stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, but part time at a venue can look a lot like full time. “It was Monday through Friday, I went in for events, really long hours, but it was a lot of fun,” she said.
Gina Rotolo, the stadium’s marketing, PR and booking director at the time, later introduced Jensen to Rosemary Selle, director of marketing for AEG Facilities at Seattle’s KeyArena, who was looking for a marketing manager. Jensen got the job and headed to the Pacific Northwest in 2016. When KeyArena closed for its transformation into a home for Seattle’s new NHL team, Jensen slid into a similar position in nearby Tacoma.
Aside from her official duties, Jensen is known as a specialist in employee morale. “I’ve just always been a very positive person, and I like to make sure people know that they’re important and that we value them coming into the office,” she said.
She channeled her inner “American Ninja Warrior” when the event was setting up at the Tacoma Dome last year. Jensen, Tacoma Venues & Events Director Kim Bedier and Operations Director Matt Balk all took a shot at maneuvering up five small platforms, then grabbing a rope and swinging across a water obstacle. “None of us made it,” Jensen said. “The water was really cold.” (Bedier made it onto the rope, she said, but couldn’t land the dismount.)
Like many in the venues business, Jensen is temporarily sidelined, on a furlough scheduled to last into late July. When she learned, she said, she told her bosses, “That’s fine. You guys do what you need to do, I totally get it.” For now, she said, “I’m just chillin’.”
For the future, Jensen isn’t as interested in landing a particular title as she is in feeling “productive and that I’m contributing to something.”
“I’m very much a go-with-the-flow kind of gal,” Jensen said. “I like what I do.”