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“What is Public Relations?” with Jennifer McGinley

Season 2 is special, and certainly a step up from Season 1. Why? Because we welcomed our first guest on the show. Not only that, she’s a seasoned PR professional who makes PR honest and trustworthy. I invited Jennifer McGinley, the CEO of JLM Strategic Communications, onto the Defiant Business Podcast to educate us on what public relations means to her. You’ll be hearing from Jenn 4 other times this season. She gave us so much great content, it was impossible to put into one episode!

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the transcript:

Ruth: Hi Jenn. I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming on The Defiant Business Podcast. This is a very special series since you are our first official guest. So, I just wanted to say thank  you. 

Jennifer: Thank you for having me. I value you so much for your experience and your intellect in this space. I’m really thrilled and honored to be here. Thank you. 

Ruth: Wow. You’re welcome! But our motto is that nobody has a lot of time, and so we’re not going to waste it. I’ll get right into our first question. 

I wanted to know a bit about your background and your business, as well as what you feel distinguishes you from others in your field. 

Jennifer: Three years ago, I started doing public relations on my own. I’ve been in the field for 25 years and I’ve done lots of jobs in-between. I’ve done a lot in healthcare for community hospitals or the behavioral health system. 

And after moving to Baltimore, I worked for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. I would say the greatest amount of my public relations experience is higher education and healthcare. 

Now I started JLM Strategic Communications, which I’m so grateful and excited to be doing. I specialize in reputation management, community outreach, and media relations. My goal with all of my clients is increasing their connection, visibility, as well as credibility. I think that’s the summary of what I do. 

Do all of those things fall under public relations? 

Jennifer: They do. To really explain to others that are watching/listening what public relations is, it’s generally all about building solid relationships. 

I have a proper definition too. “A strategic communication process can build mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.”

It really is about building awareness. It’s about serving others. That’s really hugely important to me. 

I’m not trying to just make my clients happy here. Of course that’s very important customer service-wise, but I always have to serve the community. I need to educate others. That organisation wants to educate others. I love having that type of perspective. 

Jennifer McGinley, CEO, JLM Strategic Communications

Ruth: Well that definitely sounds like a differentiating factor for you, because I feel like oftentimes when people talk about public relations, you get the impression that they’ll just work with anyone and promote any cause or business. So I think that that is pretty significant. 

Jennifer has a rare outlook on the purpose of public relations

Jennifer: For me, it is. I think I was raised this way as well, with stellar or extremely high-end ethics, values, and honesty. I’m not going to take anybody on as a client, unless I do my due diligence and make sure that they’re rigid. 

I think the field of public relations does a disservice when they take on any organization, client, or individual person that’s not representing themselves in the best, most authentic way possible. 

Jennifer McGinley, CEO, JLM Strategic Communications

The differentiator for me is I only want people that truly want to serve others. I really want their community to be better-off, this world to be better-off. 

It might sound hokey, but I truly believe that it is my calling to do public relations to help others. I want to do it in a way that’s authentic, honest, and it’s not a rinse-and-repeat process. 

My public relations is completely customized. My clients aren’t exclusively physicians, dentists, lawyers, or authors. I take on people I vibe with, and there’s this instant connection. I meet them, I delve into their backstory, their mission, and their purpose. All of a sudden I know everything I can do for them, and it’s just this magnetic explosion of awesome. 

Ruth:  I don’t think that that sounds hokey at all. When you consider the transformation that media in all channels is going through, and some of the outlets that have just had their reputation shredded, what you’re talking about may be the beginnings of the PR response to the new consumer demand for honest media. 

Jenn on trusting her gut as an entrepreneur

Jennifer: I have made mistakes. I have wrongly judged people in a way that I thought I could trust them. 

I think the floodgates to the entrepreneurial space are open, and you have to learn that there’s appropriate boundaries. Looking into word of mouth is huge, but I also Google everybody before I talk to them. I delve deep into their online presence, and if my gut says red flag, I pay attention to it. 

In the beginning I was like, “I need to help people. I need to serve others, whatever needs to happen.” But I do have to be careful because my reputation is on the line as well. 

In fact, I had a conversation with another PR expert yesterday and she said, “If something’s off, go with your gut.” And whenever I don’t go with my gut, I make a huge mistake. 

I’ve definitely learned and I’m excited for the good, the bad, and the ugly of being an entrepreneur. I’m going far in this journey and as I go along, I’m just being smart about my decisions. That’s extremely important to me.

Jenn gave us so much great information in her interview. I can’t wait to share the rest of it with you throughout the season! What are your thoughts on public relations? Are you using it in your company’s marketing and communications strategy? Let us know in the comments.