Before You Launch Your Public Relations Career
JP Morgan Chase is one of the most powerful and well-known financial institutions in the world. And at the ripe ole’ age of 30, Lauren Francis serves as their Vice President of Media Relations (at Chase)– supporting their consumer banking businesses.
“It’s a very exciting and rewarding career,” says Lauren. “I like the fast-paced environment and being at the center of the company’s news and information.”
Public Relations was not the career Lauren originally envisioned herself doing. Like many young professionals, she fell into this specific track after some soul searching. Upon graduating with a degree in communications from Providence College, Lauren’s first introduction to the world of Public Relations was during an internship at Fidelity Investments in Smithfield, Rhode Island. It was after that internship Lauren realized she wanted to work in Public Relations.
Soon, Lauren landed her first job in Public Relations at Marsh Inc– an insurance broking and risk management company. There she worked with the sales staff to craft proposals and pitches in an effort to reach their sales goals. During her time with Marsh Inc, a friend of Lauren’s working at JP Morgan Chase, encouraged her to apply for an open position there.
She got the job.
Her first job at her new company was supporting Analysts and Economists in the Investment Bank — prepping them for media interviews. During this time, Lauren got her masters at Columbia University in Strategic Communications.
Today, Lauren has worked her way up to the VP of Media Relations at Chase.
“Everyday, I ensure those speaking on the organization’s behalf have a consistent and unified message,” says Lauren. “I am interacting with reporters, drafting talking points, creating media strategy documents, and monitoring social media channels.”
“This work is really interesting and engaging.”
Lauren has this advice for those thinking of working in the Public Relations field:
Be prepared to know your industry
“Because you don’t know what kind of questions you are going to get from the media, PR pros need to be a jack of all trades. Don’t take a PR job for a company based on something you have no interest in. Be prepared to always be learning the many layers of your field.”
Be prepared to be dedicated
“Working in PR means being accessible at all times. Reporters are often operating on extremely tight deadlines. We all have blackberries and must check in to see if the media has an inquiry or if an executive gets a call from the media and are constantly monitoring the media including social media.
Be prepared to take the lead
“Interpersonal skills, creativity, and incredible writing skills are a must in this field. Many times you must draft talking points, statements or press releases in while on the run. You are interacting with reporters regularly so being able to build a rapport with them and presenting yourself well is critical. If something happens, you have to be around to help take things rom crisis to calm.”
Be prepared to have a professional image outside of work
“How you conduct yourself outside of work has an impact on your job. I always keep that in the back of my mind as what I do may affect the company and ultimately my job.”
Be prepared for change
“You can’t predict world events or even what will unfold in your personal life. Things are bound to change so embrace it. Learn to work within it. Live in the present.”
Be prepared to be confident
“You have to have confidence in yourself. Even if you feel that you are young or that you are not an expert on a topic. The fact that you are there means you have something to bring to the table. Be confident in that.”