University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Bachelor in Communications
In just two short weeks, publicist Janice Yu-Moran went from social media stalking a company she admired to working on its public relations team — a testament to the rewards of identifying a good fit, then keeping an eye on the prize until an opportunity arises.
Now, as an account publicist at Wagstaff Worldwide, an agency specializing in hospitality PR, Janice’s days are usually filled with media and client meetings. It’s a fast-paced job with long to-do lists and no slow season, but we love her tips for avoiding burnout. And her no-nonsense advice to not settle for the wrong job is something we’ve all needed to hear at some point: “I’m a strong believer that the only way to do great work is to love what you do…” she says. “When you stop caring about your work, it’s a sign that you need to make a change or move on.”
You [don’t] need to have all the answers when you start, but you need to have the passion to figure them out.
How did you discover your current job?
I had heard wonderful things about Wagstaff Worldwide and admired their client roster. The agency represents an impressive number of hotels and restaurants in Chicago, including the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, JW Marriott, Mercadito Chicago and more. I wanted to work at the agency ever since I graduated from college, so I kept a sharp eye on their job openings. After working in public relations for two years, I saw a listing on LinkedIn and applied. I got a phone interview the same day I submitted my resume. Two weeks later, I got the job. It all happened really quickly!
How do you organize your day?
Every Monday, I write a to-do list for the week. Each morning I look at my schedule and to-do list and make a list of tasks I hope to accomplish that day. My days are usually filled with client calls and meetings, and so I always make sure agendas are prepared for each. Any time I have at my desk I spend answering emails and sending pitches to media for my clients.
Some days, I might have a media lunch at one of the restaurants I represent. That’s always a treat, because I get to spend face time with the journalist and enjoy a change of scenery from the office. My workday rarely ends at 5:30 p.m. — I might be hosting a media event for one of my clients or attending an industry networking event. I also work with chefs who have appearances for charity events, so I help make introductions with key media and influencers or take photos for social media.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
A big part of being a publicist is fostering relationships, and I enjoy meeting new people all of the time. I also have a good understanding of how the media works, which is very beneficial as a publicist, because my job is to help journalists develop interesting story angles. I read a lot and I have a good grasp of what people want to read about or see on TV. I think that’s been the key to my success in getting my clients media coverage.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Working in such a fast-paced industry, there are always a million things to do. I worry about how to get everything done. There’s never a slow part of the year in public relations, which keeps the job interesting, but it also means you have to constantly seek out opportunities for your clients to keep them relevant. I’m always working on short-lead and long-lead initiatives in tandem, so sometimes it’s a little hard to enjoy the present.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
A lot of people say public relations isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s really easy to make your life revolve around work because there are so many exciting things happening; from a hotel or restaurant opening to a cool brand partnership. And it’s true what they say: publicists are always on their phone. (My husband hates it when I send work emails when I’m with him.) To create balance, I try to dedicate specific days of the week for friends and family. For example, Fridays are date nights and Sundays are reserved for family time.
How do you avoid burnout?
Traveling really helps me feel inspired and refreshed. Even if it’s just a weekend trip, I recommend going for it. I love booking vacations so I have something to look forward to.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I’m a strong believer that the only way to do great work is to love what you do. This doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers when you start, but you need to have the passion to figure them out. When you stop caring about your work, it’s a sign that you need to make a change or move on. I’ve never believed that you have to stay at a job for a year before quitting.
I read a Forbes article recently that said job-hopping is the ‘new normal’ for Millennials. I think it’s a good thing. If you know the job is not right for you, why waste any more time? When I hear people whining about their jobs, the first thing I’ll say is, ‘Do something about it, then.’ I’ve learned something about the type of career I want from every job that I’ve had, and switching jobs has led to greater job fulfillment.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
To be great at PR, it’s essential to be a strong writer. Journalists have a very short attention span, so you have to write creatively and concisely.
And this might sound cliché, but you also have to be thick-skinned. Publicists deal with constant rejection. You may think you have a wonderful idea, but it can be shot down with a very simple ‘no’ or sometimes receive no response at all. You can’t take it personally or be discouraged.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
When you love your job, I think you feel ‘I made it’ moments every now and then, not just once. I felt that way when I got the job at Wagstaff. To get the opportunity to work for a company that’s so well respected in the industry and to work with clients who are industry thought-leaders is incredible. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done so far.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Reach for the stars. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Everything always works out in the end.