We're called I Want Her Job for a reason, and it's because we firmly believe that you should love your job fiercely — so much that you really want to get out of bed in the morning so you can dive right in. Lesly Cardec, public relations manager at SFN Group, is one of those ladies. But ask Lesly if she thought she was going to be in public relations, and the answer she would have given you a while back was "no" as her heart was set on being a reporter. But after a stint at a local news station, she decided it just wasn't a fit. Though one thing was certain — she loved people and writing — which is how she discovered her recent career.
When Lesly isn't working hard to secure coverage she enjoys being a mom, which she says is the toughest but most rewarding job in the world. Her son, Jett Mattingly, is six months old. She also enjoys writing about being a new mom for her blog, and the stories people tell. She will tell you she's a sucker for biographies, because whether through struggle, pure talent or great writing, she believes everyone has a story to tell.
Always do more than the person sitting next to you.
How did you discover your current job?
I opened my time capsule last year (10 years after graduating high school), and apparently I wanted to be a famous talk show host and married with kids by now! Well, since Oprah stole my thunder (ha!), I thought I would be a great reporter. I went on to do an internship with a local news station. Although I love the news, I realized that being a reporter wasn’t the right fit for me. Two things that I have always loved are writing and people. The next logical career/degree (at least in my mind) seemed to be public relations. I wasn’t the type of person that just ‘knew’ from birth what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember feeling so much pressure because there were some students who were already in their second internship at orientation! After I graduated and submitted my resume to various job openings, the calls I got back were mainly from companies looking to hire recruiters and public relations account executives. It’s kind of ironic now that I think about it since I ended up working in public relations for a staffing and recruiting company!
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
There are NO typical days. And, guess what? That’s the best part! Some days I am pitching to various media outlets, addressing potential crises, creating executive talking points, developing thought leadership programs/strategic campaigns, or writing a news release; other days I am working with my team to develop interactive videos on social media and mobile or working with writers for one of our branded entertainment web series. It’s never the same…and that’s why I love it! I am incredibly lucky to have the ability to work on things that don’t just fall under traditional public relations. I started out clipping media coverage in binders. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You have to start somewhere.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is taking an idea from conception, determining the best channels, and seeing it become a success. The PR field is so much more than just writing a news release. It’s about brand management, building communities (and a reputation in that community), new/digital media, marketing, advertising, sales and journalism. The fact that my role is “blended” is one of the reasons why I find it so rewarding. My job definitely keeps me on my toes!
I would say the most challenging part of being in public relations is keeping up with the technology. Tools are constantly evolving, and PR professionals have to keep up with the best ways to engage various audiences. This is so important.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
That’s tough to answer. I would say the biggest challenge I have is learning to shut it off. Social media and technology, in general, make access to news and networking 24/7. One of the challenges I sometimes struggle with is trying to balance it all -- wanting to be a successful career woman, as well as a great mother. But, I don’t look at balance as a destination; it’s more like a process. My quest for balance is to try and be 100 percent present in whatever is in front of me. If I am with my son, I am 100 percent with him. If I am at work, I put 100 percent focus and effort into it.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Always speak with confidence and conviction. People sense uncertainty. Remember: If you know what you are doing, there is no reason not to exude confidence and sincerity. My very first boss taught me this, and it has stuck with me ever since.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I would say that one of the biggest challenges for PR professionals (in general) is to quantify the value of outreach and placements to various stakeholders -- beyond media pick-up, ad value or impressions. It’s not easy to measure public perception, but there are a lot of measurement tools and technology that make it easier to measure the impact of campaigns depending on what your goals are. PR is so much more than getting into mainstream media and the number of hits you get. It’s about engagement, developing strategic content, packaging, etc.
Who are your role models?
My mother, hands down. She is the hardest working person I know. I grew up with a strong, independent role model that never settled. I believe that a lot of her strength and determination is engrained in me. She goes after what she wants and doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s fierce.
What are some of the rules you live by?
-Stay hungry. Don’t ever get too comfortable … in anything.
-Always do more than the person sitting next to you.
-Never surprise the boss.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Read a lot, write a lot more, and social network. Read what your boss/clients read. Know the industry inside and out, as well as the latest trends on the horizon. There will always be a need for writers. Content is king; that will never change. Stay on top and know (at least) the basics of new media. This will give you a competitive edge. Network with others in the industry. Join Twitter chats, discussions taking place online and local association meetings. Meet as many people as you can.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I love the PR industry. I love that it's evolving and all of the incredible people that I get to work with. I am incredibly passionate about social/new media and would imagine that I will still be working within this space. But, more importantly, I just want to be happy. I am a firm believer that passion is the foundation of greatness. Life can change at any moment. Whatever I’m doing in five years -- I just want to keep learning, be challenged and be surrounded by creativity and great people in a rewarding environment.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
A few random facts about me:
-I give awful hugs. (I’ve been told this by multiple people).
-I still tie my laces with bunny ears.
-When I was a little girl, all of my friends wanted to come over and play school. I always wanted to play CEO.