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How She Got There: Jen Roy, Founder of Jen Roy PR

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Name: Jen Roy
Age: 37
Job Title and Description: President and Owner of Jen Roy PR
College/Major: Clark University in Worcester, MA/Double Major in communications and music
Website: www.jenroypr.com
Twitter Handle: @JenRoyPR

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day? 

Jen Roy: My job entails everything from creating events like a Vampire Blood Drive for the world’s first Halloween Superstore to conducting media training for executives at multi-billion dollar companies.  One day I could be setting up a book-signing tour for a new author, and the next day I could be strategizing a promotional campaign for one of the country’s top five largest credit unions.

My career in broadcast journalism prepared me for these “non-typical” days.  You can’t have a more random week than a general-assignment news reporter… unless you own a PR company.  I also have a segment of my business where I offer PR for college students at extremely low rates.  I do this because I believe college students need help in following their dreams since they’re paying exorbitant amounts for their educations.  I want to play a part in encouraging these great minds. The future of our country depends on them.

What is the best part of your job? 

JR: The best part of my job is knowing that I created it!  I started my own company after 13 difficult months of unemployment; I was laid off from corporate America and struggled to find a job in my field despite my excellent resume.  I practically rolled quarters to get my first business cards printed, and I couldn’t be prouder of that.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it? 

JR: The first entry-level job I had in my field happened to be my first job out of graduate school.  I was hired by my local television news station to be an assignment editor/health watch reporter on the very same day I graduated.  I got it in an interesting way.  I interned at that news station for my graduate school capstone project for six months.  After the six months was up, I didn’t tell anyone I was supposed to leave.  I just stayed and worked under the radar, and was hired six months later. Persistence pays!

You were a broadcast journalist and news anchor before switching to a career in PR. Why did you decide to change your path? What were some challenges of making a career switch, and what were some benefits? 

JR: I decided to change my career path from television journalism because reporting wasn’t in my blood.  I didn’t have the thick skin to hear about the sad stories I covered on a daily basis.  My last story as a reporter involved a father killing his son on Father’s Day.  There are some reporters who were born for this, and I wasn’t one of them.  I absolutely loved anchoring; however, anchoring jobs are few and far between.

The main challenge I faced leaving television and working in corporate America was simply a cultural difference. A newsroom is vastly different than a corporate office; in the news, you are running around, working to make deadline and grabbing food in between if you’re lucky.  Corporate America is much more structured.  The benefits of the career switch were making a lot more money in corporate and being able to transfer my journalism skills directly to community relations and PR.  Since I stayed in the same community, I already had great relationships with key stakeholders, which was a tremendous help.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better? 

JR: Myself. I was faced with 13 months of unemployment and no job prospects despite having a very good professional resume. I was losing self-esteem during this time and experienced the anxiety many people face when unemployed. Then one day, I sat at my kitchen table, and decided to open a business with almost nothing in my bank account. I created a Facebook page for Jen Roy PR.  I didn’t even know I had to get a business certificate in my city at the time.  All I knew were two things:  I was confident in the services I could provide, and I would ensure my clients would be as profitable as or more profitable than myself.  I was confident in my moral compass and planned to do as much good as I could through my business, and that made it intrinsically motivating for me.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable? 

JR: Anything from The Secret, The Power, The Magic and Hero by Rhonda Byrne.  Those books are so wonderful when facing any challenges in life.  They preach gratitude.  If you can remain positive, truly believe that good things will come and be grateful for everything in your life in one way or another, you will eventually succeed.  I also love The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

JR: At one point I stayed in a job I was extremely unhappy with.  I stayed because I believed I was in some kind of “contest” where I had to stay and “win.”  I would never do that again.  If a job is affecting you physically and emotionally, by all means, move on if you can. 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far? 

JR: The most surreal moment was passing out my business cards for the first time. I had to make this career decision quickly; I’m typically methodical and cautious in everything I do.  I had no time to adjust to this new role, no time to be afraid— no choice but to succeed.   

What do you look for when considering hiring someone? 

JR: For me, trust and a positive attitude are the most important qualities I look for in a new hire.  Writing and interpersonal skills are extremely important in public relations, but I need to trust a person when I’m giving them access to represent my clients’ brands.  I also need to trust they will conduct themselves professionally 24/7.  I built this business from the bottom up, so it means the world to me.  If I’m going to let someone into that world, I need to believe in them.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

JR: I started a business at 37 after I had a 10-year career in broadcast journalism, a career in community relations and worked in NYC for three years at a literary/music agency where I assisted James Taylor’s agent.  I would say go as far as you can in your education to give yourself the best foundation you can, then work towards your dream job. Internships are incredibly important because they provide your first “foot in the door” and give you the best contacts to secure your first job.  Choose kindness over getting ahead, love for your job over money and integrity above all else.

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