How She Got There: Jessica Kleiman, VP, Public Relations for Hearst Magazines

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Name:
Jessica Kleiman 
  
Age:
37 
  
Job Title and Description:
VP, Public Relations for Hearst Magazines; I oversee PR efforts for the magazine division of Hearst Corporation, which includes 14 consumer magazines in the US and 200 internationally, as well as the company’s digital, brand development and integrated media groups.

Also co-author of the career guide, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work (Career Press, Jan. 2011)


 
College/Major:

University of Michigan / Communication

Website:
www.beyourownbestpublicist.com
 
  
Twitter Handle:
@jessicakleiman, @bestpublicist 
  
What is a typical day like for you?  

In my job, there really is no typical day.  Every day is different.  For example, I may go from breakfast with a reporter to a meeting with an editor on one day; the next, I’ll be writing a press release and PR strategy for a new product/project and doing a brainstorm session with my staff.  I love the variety my position offers – it keeps things from getting boring or routine. 
 
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it? 
 

My first job out of school was at a small magazine publicity firm called The Rosen Group.  I had wanted to be an editorial assistant and had started writing for magazines in college but couldn’t find a job in that field after graduation so I researched magazine PR, having done a couple of PR internships in addition to an editorial one, and found a few agencies that specialized in promoting magazines.  I figured I’d try to land a job at one so I could network with editors and switch back to that side.  But when I was hired at The Rosen Group, I realized I really enjoyed PR and decided to focus on that as my career while continuing to freelance write on the side.

 
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

My current boss, Debra Shriver (chief communications officer of Hearst Corporation), hired me at the age of 27 and has fostered my career path at the company, giving me a lot of autonomy and flexibility and empowering me to make decisions for the department and the public relations strategy for our brands.  I have worked for her for 10 years and I’m still learning from her! 
 
Is there a particular quote or mantra that you live by?

The worst someone can say is “no” but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

 
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it? 
When I first started managing people, I would find it easier to redo their work myself versus teaching them how to do it better.  As a manager, while it may take longer to give someone feedback and let them try again on their own, if you do, he or she will learn how to improve and in the long run, it will benefit both of you. 

 
What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

One, that I get to hire young people and help them grow into terrific PR professionals; and, two, that I still get excited when I land a positive story for my company. 

 
What do you look for when considering hiring someone? 
The Hearst PR department is a very fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment so the people I hire have to be hardworking, self-sufficient, creative, strategic and passionate about what they do.  While I have an open door policy and am always available to bounce ideas off of, I don’t have time or the desire to micromanage, so I look for folks who have the ability to see a project through from start to finish and who come to me not only with problems but also potential solutions.   In addition, strong writing and editing skills are imperative – we’re representing editors and journalists so we have to be able to write like one. 

 
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

My book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, has loads of great advice on how to get noticed in your career, even if you’re just starting out.  A few key tips include:

  1. Know what makes you unique and valuable and how to communicate that succinctly.
  2. Do your research before going into a job interview or meeting so you come across as smart, prepared and professional.
  3. Network as much as possible, both online (through sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and in person (through alumni and professional organizations and informational interviews).


     

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    About The Author

    Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.