By Robert Grupp

Stepping Into Bravery and the Power of Sharing Stories

By Robert Grupp

At the 2019 National Summit on Strategic Communications, Brad Jenkins, managing director and executive producer of Funny or Die DC left the audience with a final example of creating messages with impact. 

Departing from his examples of effectively using lighthearted comedy to reach tough audiences, Jenkins shared an example of the power of bravery by showcasing the efforts of Amanda Nguyen and her story’s incredible impact on the country.

What started off as a seemingly typical coffee meeting request, quickly diverged into Nguyen’s sobering story of sexual assault during her time at Harvard. Nguyen recounted her experience with gaps in the justice system and the lack of resources available to survivors of sexual assault and knew that she wanted to use her experience to fuel positive change.

Nguyen was driven by the goal of writing a law to protect others from dealing with what she had experienced. At the time of her meeting with Jenkins, the law was languishing in Congress and support was sparse over such a pre-divisive topic during an election year. Together, she and Jenkins brainstormed a campaign for the bill. 

In order to make a difference, they knew that they’d have to do something unexpected. Together, Nguyen and Funny or Die partnered to create a celebrity video that coincided with the bill drop, a first time such strategy had been used in history.

For this campaign to be effective, Nguyen had to be brave enough to tell her story and then Funny or Die had to work with her to creatively combine comedy with the sensitive and serious issue of sexual assault. 

The campaign was wildly effective, garnering millions of video views, 100,000 signatures on a petition, and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The bill passed, but the story didn’t end there. A movement had been born and Nguyen was recognized as a woman of influence.

Jenkins said the campaign worked because “One, she was brave, she was brave enough to tell her story.  Two, she was totally willing to do the unexpected and doing a comedy video about sexual assault. Three, she was really smart about galvanizing young people to pass her bill.”

The campaign showed to members of Congress that this issue deals with basic civil rights for everyone and shouldn’t be a one-sided issue. The team was able to work hand-in-hand with people across the aisle to develop meaningful messages with impact.

According to Jenkins, what made Nguyen such a powerful spokesperson and advocate for sexual assault victims’ rights was that “She was willing to take a risk, she was willing to be a little bit weird and it worked.”

If your organization has an important message to share, Jenkins reminded the audience that fancy equipment and celebrities aren’t necessary ingredients needed for a recipe for success. Jenkins left the audience with the following words of advice, “be great in your own social media.  Be brave in your own story and three, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself.”

Brad Jenkins spoke in April 2019 in a plenary session at the annual strategic communications summit in Washington, D.C. See the speakers featured at StratCommWorld 2020 on June 1-2 at the National Press Club. Visit for details about this unique global event that identifies strategies to enhance engagement and share methods to improve communications in corporations, the military, government agencies and nonprofits.


Brad Jenkins

Brad Jenkins is the former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and later he was managing director and executive producer of Funny or Die DC. Jenkins was a featured speaker at the 2019 National Summit on Strategic Communications. 


Robert Grupp

Robert Grupp is Director of StratCommWorld, and Adjunct Instructor and Director of a Global Strategic Communication Master’s Degree Program in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

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