Jaquese “JQ” Smith is busy, and that is exactly the way she likes it. These days she’s still playing a position, but it’s off the court. The former National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball athlete and Liberty University graduate is now the owner of JQ Sports PR LLC.
She founded JQ Sports PR LLC to help athletes (high school, college, and professional) and sports-affiliated companies create a memorable brand.
Traveling to entrepreneurship. JQ decided to put her basketball shoes courtside and enroll at Liberty University where she earned a master’s degree in human services and communication. Initially, her family did not understand why she chose this route, but JQ had a bigger vision for her future. She volunteered in the community during her enrollment at LU which helped to carve the path and motivate her to hone in on working with athletes.
Defining the brand. JQ believes that your personal brand is your authentic self. “It is important that you are true to who you really are; your audience will naturally gravitate to that part of you that clicks with them. Determine how you want to be perceived and know who your target audience will be.”
Branding done right, according to JQ. JQ pauses as she thinks about which athletes have gotten branding correct, and she determines, ultimately, that it is LeBron James. James has a team much like the one JQ constructs for her clients. His fans are aware of his ability to command the court, but when he is not playing a game, he is a family man and remains abreast of politics and events that impact the community. LeBron believes in education and puts his finances toward building schools. This echoes JQ’s point to be true to yourself and your beliefs.
Warming the bench. The year 2021 introduced NIL (name, image, likeness) to NCAA athletes. NIL puts college athletes in a position to be paid for personal appearances, autographs, and endorsements. Here’s where JQ shines—she works with athletes who hope to have opportunities to generate money when they are not actively playing the game. Her natural talent to help a player navigate the tools needed to brand themselves and her vast connections with companies make it much smoother to potentially garner a partnership.
Put me in the game, Coach. JQ launched the podcast “Counted Me Out” in April. Each episode features a special guest. The topic will be suitable for both “Grinders,” those who constantly hear “no” or “not yet,” and “Do Rights," those who have done the right things but haven’t hit their goals. Each episode promises to be interesting, so lock in and subscribe.
Those who are lucky enough to work with JQ soon find that she has all the tools to position them for greatness. Connect with her at jqsportspr.com.