Five Minutes With…Jessica Nelson

I absolutely love the field of public relations because there are so many different areas in which to work and be involved in. So far we’ve explored the world of public relations education at the University of Central Missouri, corporate public relations at UMB and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of PRSA, so today we are going to see first hand what it takes to become a talent recruitment manager.

Jessica Nelson is the manager of the talent recruitment initiative at Kansas City Area Development Council. She has worked her way up the ladder and jumped at the right opportunities to make her career as successful as it is.

Me: I see you were recently promoted to managing KCADC’s talent recruitment initiative. So first off, congratulations! Can you walk me through the different responsibilities that come with this new position and tell me your favorite part of the job?

Jessica: Thank you, Brooklyn! I just celebrated my three-year anniversary with the Kansas City Area Development Council, and it’s been a great experience (crazy how time flies).

My role at KCADC has changed quite a bit since I first started working as a marketing and public relations specialist. With my new position, I’ve transitioned from overseeing KCADC’s local media outreach and social media strategies to leading our Talent Recruitment Initiative. In this position, I drive communication strategies to attract corporate investment, jobs and talented people to the Kansas City region. I work everyday with companies new to Kansas City and the top 250 employers in the region to showcase Kansas City’s lifestyle to talented individuals from around the world. In addition, I oversee an exclusive group of global HR executives in the Kansas City community and act as co-publisher of KC Options magazine.

Essentially, my job is to encourage the world to recognize Kansas City as a hub for creativity and innovation. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity, seeing as those I get to meet so many incredible people.

Me: You began working for KCADC right after you graduated from the University of Kansas and you have slowly worked your way up to a managerial position. Would you recommend young professionals to take the same type of path when beginning their career?

Jessica: Absolutely. The KCADC gig was my first gig after college and I was lucky enough to accept the offer a few weeks before walking down the hill at KU. I graduated at the height of the recession in 2011, so I attribute landing my job right out of school to a few things…

First, networking is essential in the public relations industry. I was the director of professional development for KU PRSSA my senior year and used this position to network with industry leaders in Kansas City. I also regularly attended the Greater Kansas City PRSA New Pros networking events and PRSSA KC Summit. In addition, experiential learning and internships will set you apart from other job candidates. Heading into my senior year at KU, I interned in Chicago with Paramount Public Relations, a boutique firm specializing in media relations, marketing, special events and social media, where I learned how to execute media relations in a top-tier market and how to strategize social media for business.

One of my professors my sophomore year told us that at the end of the day that no one but you can speak on your experiences and tell your story. So get out there and be heard. That definitely stuck with me.

Me: You are an excellent public speaker – I would know as you spoke at an event hosted by my PRSSA chapter. For some, it comes naturally. Would you say public speaking is an important skill for all pr professionals to have, or can some get by without it?

Jessica: Thank you! I know it’s a scary thing for most people, but being comfortable speaking in front of groups of people has opened several doors for me, both personally and professionally. I wouldn’t say that you have to love speaking in front of large groups of people, there’s power in being an introvert, but as a public relations professional, you may one day need to coach your client for a big presentation or upcoming media interview, and the more experience you have, the better tips you’ll be able to offer.

Me: You also volunteer your time for several organizations, such as Art Bra KC and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of PRSSA. Do you think volunteer experience is something employers look for when choosing to hire an employee?

Jessica: Community involvement is definitely a critical element of your résumé and is now pretty much viewed as a “must have,” rather than a “nice to have,” along with internships and experiential learning. Employers look for well-rounded candidates who have initiative to participate in professional development and have a passion for giving back to the community. And actually, according to Forbes, 64 percent of Millennials say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place, so employers are putting an emphasis on community involvement in the workplace as a tool for recruiting top talent.

Me: Since part of your job is encouraging the world to see Kansas City as a hub for creativity and innovation (or overall a great place to be), what is your favorite thing to do in KC when you’re not working?

Jessica: That’s such a tough question! I’m always out-and-about exploring Kansas City. Here are a few of my favorite places:

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @nelsonjessica

Jessica Nelson Headshot


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