Q&A with Tamra Strentz

Current Employer: Edelman in Seattle, Washington

Major: Public Relations

Graduated: 1993

By Cassie Myers 

Tamra StrentzTamra Strentz spent her time at Drake University working toward a degree in Public Relations and preparing for a life in the communications field. Shortly after graduation, she worked at Edelman for almost 2 years. In 2006, she returned to the company, where she’s now senior vice president. In between, she expanded her knowledge — and her courage — by sailing across the Atlantic and starting her own business.

You’re currently working for Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. How did you end up there?

My first job out of school was with an ad agency in Des Moines called Thomas C. Porter and Associates, which doesn’t exist anymore. I did that for almost a year, and my sister had a friend who was at Edelman in Chicago, so I stayed in touch with her. She passed my resume on to folks, and I got a call from Edelman and went in for an interview.

What is your current position at Edelman, and what is your favorite part about the position?

I oversee all of our global business for Starbucks in more than 20 countries. I’m called a Global Client Relationship Manager and Senior Vice President at Edelman. I was in Europe before, overseeing our work for Starbucks in Europe and the Middle East. I think my favorite thing would be being able to experience and work on a brand globally and see the relationship and the differences in how the brand and the company is perceived, loved and/or engaged with. It’s really interesting to see the differences in the brand and how it comes to life and how it’s relevant to different customers and markets

What were you doing before you got your job at Edelman?

I had an opportunity to sail across the Atlantic on a 57-foot boat. We ended up circumnavigating the Mediterranean. We hit many countries including Italy, Greece and Turkey. We sailed throughout the Middle East and ended up going to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Tunisia. I did some freelance writing and had my own website. That was back in the days before there were really blogs, so I got Dreamweaver software and built my own little website from scratch.

How did a trip like that come about?

I got to a point where I really needed a break — before the dotcom bomb hit — so the opportunity was there. This kind of travel was once in a lifetime. I didn’t necessarily think I would come back into PR, which is what I ended up doing. Right after sailing, though, I lived in North Carolina and ran a Cookies by Design franchise. I’d always been interested in owning my own retail business, and it was a great experience. But I realized after three years that I was ready to get back into a bigger market. I ended up in Seattle because my sister was living there at the time, and then Edelman had an office and an opening. I applied, and then it all kicked off again.

What would you tell journalism students at Drake today?

What it ultimately comes down to is we need to be storytellers. We still have to know what makes a good authentic story because there are a lot more opportunities and channels to tell it. We don’t have to rely just on traditional media such as a newspaper or magazine anymore because a company may have their own newsroom and be online and social media is so prevalent. A lot of brands are out there really sharing their own stories and news through those channels.

During your time at Drake what had the biggest impact on your career?

Our internship program was extremely valuable. That first opportunity at the Des Moines Community Playhouse then helped me get the next one at the Norwest Bank marketing department, which is now Wells Fargo. I gained such great experiences with those internships that when I was ready for my job at Edelman, I was very well versed in everything that I needed to do as an account executive.

Keep up with Tamra on LinkedIn.