Public Relations Expectations vs. Reality… Q&A with Jessica Russo, Future PR Major at Florida State University


Before I pursued a career in PR, to say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into would be the understatement of the century. To be honest, I thought that I was pursuing a glamorous career à la Samantha Jones from Sex & the City. I expected fabulous parties where I could mingle with celebrities and be successful enough to dress head-to-toe in designer clothes while simultaneously having enough free time to take leisurely daily lunch breaks with my girlfriends (basically, I spent most of my teenage life expecting to grow up to be a full-blown cast member of SATC). Per usual, reality struck me square in the face post-graduation where I realized that while PR was a seriously awesome industry to work in, it wasn’t awesome in all of the ways I expected. Spoiler alert: I have not yet met a celebrity through work (although I have met several Bravo Real Housewives outside of work, which I am proud to admit has been a highlight of my life).

Last week, my little sister Jessica was accepted to her college of choice, Florida State University (SO PROUD!!!!!). At our family celebratory dinner, she mentioned that she was considering majoring in marketing or public relations and potentially pursuing a career in PR like her amazingly amazing older sister (me). When we were chatting about why she may want to work in this field, a few of the words she threw out were “so much fun,” “parties” and “exciting.” It was obvious to me that just like I did, my sister had somewhat of a distorted idea of what working in PR meant.

So, I decided to have her fill out a little Q&A about what she knows (or thinks she knows) about PR and what her expectations are. Unlike me, my sister has a little more insight into what PR is and what the work entails since I am that annoying family member who talks about work a lot (I seriously had no clue she listened to me when I spoke so much). Nonetheless, it’s obvious she still thinks of the industry as quite a bit more glamorous and fun than it typically is on a day-to-day basis. Sorry to break it to you Jess, but I sit at a desk all day, I am not in fact an event planner, and on a scale of 1-10 of how stressful working in PR is, the answer is FOR SURE higher than a 3 (and I say that as someone who loves her job).

Here is a glimpse into the mind of a soon-to-be college student (#GoNoles) who is hoping to someday work in PR…

Name: Jessica Russo 

Age: 17

School: Currently a senior at Cypress Bay High School, will be attending Florida State University in Summer 2017 

In your own words, what is public relations? Honestly, I only know the answer to this because I’ve heard my sister explain it to our family at every holiday. I actually think our grandma still thinks she is a journalist LOL. Public relations means that you have a bunch of clients, and you help them get in the news for whatever is going on with their company. To do this, you reach out to reporters and send them ideas for stories, and then try to get your clients quoted in the story.

Why do you want to work in PR? After I graduate, the last thing I want to do is get a job where I have to sit at my desk all day. When you work in PR, you get to go to cool parties, network and meet a bunch of different people, and use your creativity to come up with interesting ideas to help your clients get publicity. For example, my sister’s co-worker Andie, who is basically my 2nd sister LOVE YOU ANDIE, came up with a really cool idea about zodiac signs to get one of their clients on the Today Show. When Sam told me about it, I was so impressed! Especially since we grew up watching the Today Show. It would be so cool to be able to do the same thing some day.

Editor’s note: my sister may or may not idolize Andie more than she does me. Can’t say I blame her.

What do you hope to learn in school while studying PR? I hope I learn everything about PR! I want to learn how to write press releases, how to plan events and just learn more about how you are supposed to work with reporters from magazines.

What do you expect will be the hardest part about working in PR? I think the hardest part will be having to do a lot of writing.

What do you expect will be the most fun part of working in PR? Definitely planning and throwing awesome parties for my clients.

On a scale of 1-10, how stressful do you expect a career in PR is? It doesn’t seem stressful at all, it seems fun! But on a scale of 1-10, I would say a 3 since I’m sure working at events can be very stressful.

Do you think PR and advertising are similar fields? I have always thought they were the same thing! If I’m wrong, I’m sure I will learn the difference in school.

What do you think a PR crisis is? How would you handle one? A PR crisis is when your client makes a big mistake and their mistake gets in the news. Honestly, I have no clue how to handle one but if I had to take a guess, I know with celebrities whenever they make a mistake like getting a DUI or something (why don’t celebrities just use Uber???) they have to call reporters and give them an apology they can share. So, I guess the best way to handle a PR crisis would be to just apologize and try to get people to forget about what happened.

Do you want to work in PR because you have the coolest sister around and want to be just like her? Obviously 🙂

Editor’s note: interviewee may or may not have been bribed with an extra Chanukah present on the last question #ShamelessSelfPromotion