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Expectation vs. Reality: Shannon’s PR Edition

Growing up I had colorful career aspirations – from wanting to be a Shop Rite cashier who had extra-long hot pink acrylic tips to wanting to be a marine biologist even though I was terrified of fish. I never imagined I’d be working in PR. It’s been over 10 years I’ve been working in the field and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Granted when I thought of PR 10 years ago, I imagined myself as the fiercely independent Samantha Jones sitting behind a large desk on the phone making deals with top movie producers while barking orders at my personal assistant.

I started my career out as a babysitter – shout-out to SitterCity.com for financing my college years in Miami. Simultaneously I started an internship for the mother of the girl I was babysitting, she had a boutique advertising and PR firm in the Design District. I was briefly living my Samantha Jones dreams at this firm, hanging out backstage at concerts at Sun Life Stadium where I would drive LL Cool J and Toni Braxton around in a golf cart and sit on stage next to Usher while watching Baby Face perform. I was living the dream. Then, reality set in. I needed to make more money, so I packed up my bags said goodbye to Miami and went back home to Jersey where I had a rude awakening.

There weren’t any glamorous entry-level PR positions for me in the tri-state area, so I took the first job I could get, at a law firm. Law firm marketing is…not for everyone (including me). After a few years, I found myself working in commercial real estate PR which was way more interesting and allowed me to grow and hone my skills. After 4 years back in the north, I grew tired of the cold winters, so my fiancé and I headed south for Florida where I landed in franchising PR.

PR is not for everyone. At times it can be incredibly stressful trying to land a story about nothing, often times PR pros are given very limited information and are expected to land articles in top tier publications but that’s why we’re the pros – we turn nothing in something. PR is not all glitz and glamour but there are so many different avenues in this field, so for all you aspiring PR pros out there explore – dip your toes into different industries until you find something that you enjoy (on most days) doing.