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Alumni Bolt to the Top

From tailgating on Trinity Road to running an award-winning public relations and social media management agency, President and Founder of Bolt Public Relations Caroline Callaway and Vice President Jo-Anne Chase both started their impressive journeys at NC State just 16 years ago.

The ‘04 graduates joined the Wolfpack with different aspirations but ended up in the Department of Communication after their sophomore year, where they became good friends. Callaway started as a math major with an Air Force ROTC scholarship to pursue her dream of being a fighter pilot; however, when she realized military life was not for her, she switched to Communication and fell in love with public relations.

Callaway (left) and Chase are planning to open new offices
Callaway (left) and Chase are planning to open new offices

Following graduation, the two alumnae went their separate ways, earning valuable experience, before ultimately ending up at Bolt. In 2007, Callaway gave up her steady paycheck, took the high risk/high reward plunge and founded Bolt PR.

“The diversity of my experience leading up to establishing Bolt helped me to realize how I really wanted to differentiate Bolt PR,” Callaway explained. Bolt, like any other independently owned startup company, began small but has grown into an award-winning organization with offices in three cities: Irvine, Calif., Dallas, Texas., and home of the Red and White: Raleigh, N.C.

Its success story stems from the incredible team Callaway has built that together encompasses, “enthusiasm, a dedication to being the best, initiative, work ethic, and loyalty,” Callaway and Chase agreed. They put emphasis on empowering employees to reach their full potential while recognizing individual and team achievements on a daily basis.

“When teams reach their goals, they’re celebrated with an agency-sponsored prize of their choosing, whether it’s a spa day, a wine tour, or a day at Disney. All of these little things really add up to create a very united team and we are so proud of that.”

Chase joined her college friend at the California-based firm to start its North Carolina office in February 2011. Five years later, the office continues to thrive, growing in both staff size and revenue while representing client partners all over the East Coast.

“Something changed in me when I joined Bolt PR, a happiness people would literally ask me about. It’s all because of this amazing group of people who come together to do really, really exceptional work.” In addition to sewing, cooking and attempting her long-life mission to love running when she has free time, Chase finds so much joy in her work that she considers it one of her proudest hobbies.

“Every day is not red carpets and glitter, but if you’re willing to work hard and learn the ropes, you will find yourself enjoying the wins so much more, such as when your client is talking live on the TODAY Show or has a four-page spread in a glossy magazine.”

Reminiscing on their years at NC State, Callaway and Chase value their time spent at football games, strolling through the Free Expression tunnel and meeting longtime friends (and current coworkers). They encourage students to take advantage
of every opportunity that comes his or her way and highly suggest doing as many internships as possible.

Former classmates and now coworkers at the Bolt office
Former classmates and now coworkers at the Bolt office

“Now, as an employer, I specifically seek candidates who have relevant internship experience,” Callaway said. “I interned at a small Raleigh PR agency in college, and I had the time of my life. It was that internship that solidified my future career path.”

Callaway and Chase continue to enjoy going to work everyday and plan to open four more offices over the next 10 years! “Our model is to have a local footprint in multiple markets with national reach for maximum impact.”