Doing What You Love with Jennifer Resick Williams [Interview]

Jennifer Resick Williams
Jennifer Resick Williams and Chef Mike Isabella – photo credit: Greg Powers

We’ve all heard the quote: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Based on today’s profile, we should probably change that to: “Figure out how to combine your professional skill set with a personal passion, and you’ll never be bored a day in your life.”

Jennifer Resick Williams - photo credit: Greg Powers
photo credit: Greg Powers

Introducing Jennifer Resick Williams, Principal and Founder of Know Public Relations. Jennifer has spent more than a decade providing public relations and integrated marketing communications services to restaurants, national and global brands, and non-profit organizations. Prior to founding Know Public Relations, Jennifer was Director for JML marketing + communications. She developed strategic marketing action plans, directed all national and local media relations for hospitality clients, and provided counsel for all marketing platforms and digital media. In less than one year, Jennifer directed launch strategies and generated media coverage for the opening of several prominent Washington, D.C. restaurants, including Graffiato and Rogue 24. Prior to that role, Jennifer was Communications Director for Earth Day Network and the Earth Day 40th anniversary campaign, and she spent over six years at Ketchum Public Relations.

What do you do?

Know Public Relations works with restaurants, chefs and culinary artisans in D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. We help hospitality business owners tell their stories through the media, the web, and other mediums to reach their guests. Our clients include a James Beard Award semi-finalist, two Top Chef finalists, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars All-Stars, a Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Chef of the Year, and cookbook authors.

Tell us about a recent success.

We began working with Justin Severino, chef/owner of Cure in Pittsburgh in 2014. Justin is a very talented chef and a leader in the restaurant community in a city with a moderate to low-profile dining scene. In just over a year and a half, we’ve helped to increase Chef Justin’s profile on a national level by leveraging accolades, securing participation in James Beard House and Celebrity Chef Tour events, and working with journalists to visit Cure and see the changing culinary landscape of the city.

This year, Chef Justin received his second consecutive James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, won The People’s Choice award for Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic, and he was named Chef of the Year by Pittsburgh Magazine. In July, The New York Times, Washington Post, Eater National, and Zagat all ran stories about Pittsburgh as a culinary destination, and nearly all outlets used Chef Justin and Cure as the anchors for their stories. We are very proud to be part of the team that helped Chef Justin earn the success he so well deserves.

How do you stay on top of things day-to-day?

My team works virtually, so calendars, Google Drive, and Dropbox are key to staying connected and well organized. Beyond a meeting organizer, I use my calendar to track deadlines and client deliverables, as well as team whereabouts and personal appointments.

How do you keep your eye on the big picture?

By nature, I’m always looking ahead and planning. I don’t have a formal business plan, but I’m constantly evaluating my clients’ needs against our team’s resources. Know PR has grown steadily over the past three and a half years, and it is rewarding to guide the business as it continues to grow.

On your worst day in the office, how do you put things in perspective?

The old adage “it’s PR, not the ER” is a good reminder that while our careers are fast-paced and high-stress, no one is going to lose a limb over a misplaced comma in a press release. On my worst days, I remind myself of the big picture, the great work my team does for our clients and the pride that comes from working with successful, satisfied independent business owners. I care deeply about my work and my relationships with our clients and the media, so it’s easy to sweat the small stuff when something goes wrong. Reminding myself of the big picture helps keep me even keeled.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out…

My approach may not be popular with Millennials who want to be their own boss by age 25, but my best advice is to get a broad range of experience before narrowing your expertise. In public relations, that means doing your time at a big agency, developing a transferable skill set, and hopefully working with a range of clients. Once you have seen and done it all, after seven to 10 years, you can write your own ticket and specialize in the type of public relations work most interesting to you.

If you do decide to become an entrepreneur, keep in mind two things. First, you lose your safety net. Being your own boss means you are solely responsible for answering to your clients and answering for your team. There will be hard days, tough decisions, and uncomfortable conversations. Second, find a mentor or set up a network with colleagues in your field to get outside perspectives and keep learning. The day you stop learning is the day you become obsolete.

How do you stay engaged with your work?

My free time and social life were spent steeped in the food world and restaurant industry before I made it my career. I was lucky enough to marry my public relations skills with my personal interests. Fortunately, that means it’s easy for me to stay engaged at work. Unfortunately, that also means it’s difficult to turn it off. Traveling, dining out, and even leisure reading now all feel a little like R&D, but I’m not complaining.


To learn more about Know Public Relations, please visit: http://www.knowpr.com/.  You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter at @JenResick.

I hope to do many more profiles like this one in the future. Any recommendations? Please DM or tweet me @RachelLColello or comment below!

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