Meet Jennifer Sherlock, Founder & President of Jenna Communications, LLC – a Public Relations & Media Consulting Firm. Learn about her persistence and drive for becoming a television reporter/anchor to starting her own firm and providing clients a national & mainstream spotlight.
Sam: How did you receive your first position as a reporter after graduating Villanova?
Jennifer Sherlock: I had been sending tapes and applications out and kept getting escorted out of buildings and told "No." Then the week of Labor Day, at the end of summer, a general manager brought me in and how I carried myself and looked, she hired me as a reporter right on the spot. In my head, I thought "dreams do come true, this is amazing", but also it seemed too good to be true. Then she saw the tapes I sent, and called me a few days later, and said “I can’t hire you, you're terrible, like you’re awful.” I’ll never forget it, and she still tells it to this day. But, she started me at the assignment desk and said she would train me. She was true to her word and by November had me out doing my first report. After, I transferred quickly and within six months was promoted to a Morning Anchor.
Sam: Do you still keep in contact with your former boss?
Jennifer Sherlock: It’s funny because she still tells the story to this day when we message, or she gives speeches about how I wouldn’t go away. Cause it was really my persistence that even got me in the door. And the woman who worked for her would always push me out the door and push my tapes away.
Sam: Where did your career take you after that experience?
Jennifer Sherlock: From there (3 years later) I went to Fox in Harrisburg and the difference there was everything was live. Then that would prepare me for my next steps anchoring. I came back to Philly and had to do traffic, and I didn’t want to do traffic. However, back then I still had to pay my dues and work my way up.
Sam: What led you to creating Jenna Communications?
Jennifer Sherlock: I was working with Advanta Bank which no longer exists anymore, and the innovation team I was a part of were creating businesses and then executing them. [At the time], I never thought I’d get out of TV. It was my biggest learning curve, in the sense that I learned everything about entrepreneurship. We would go around the country, and I got to go to all these cool places and put on parties and I’d put all this press there. I realized I was really good at it, and I would get my boss on national news all the time. And I got a high off it & I loved it. Advanta Bank then went down during the recession. I picked up clients. I had a couple of clients, and it just kind of happened where I kept going with it, and in 2010 got my own office. I never intended it, and it’s kind of strange, but it’s just continues to go ten years later.
Sam: That is impressive, what do you attribute to that success, because it has been going around for over ten years now?
Jennifer Sherlock: I would say, you have to like what you do. PR is not a forty-hour work week, it’s 24/7. It’s working every day, and planning events, doing events, being at events. I think a part of it is you have to like it, cause you live and breathe it. Then also, you have to have drive, because I get beat up every day. If it’s not fighting for money, it’s fighting to show you did the work right. It’s something where you have to have grit inside, because it is not easy whatsoever. I don’t know if it’s a certain character trait, but it definitely takes a certain type of person.
Sam: One of things, I want to go back and highlight, because it is pretty profound, since most successful people have faced similar setbacks. Would you be able to describe the feeling of the GM pulling your offer and how you handled it? Were you devastated? In some cases, people may have been very upset & just decided to give up and work for someone else who wasn’t so blatantly honest?
Jennifer Sherlock: I was taking a chance, and she did say she would train me. So, I thought if she was true to her word this was my way in. But the whole thing was difficult, and then I was working more than 50 hours. But when you want something you do things like that and put yourself out there and push yourself. I wouldn’t say I was devastated; I was more like “wow she hired me without looking at my tapes first” and then I finally had a job. And I knew if I was taking it, I had to be sure I was going to be a reporter and I just kept asking her to finally do the story in November. So I wasn’t devastated, I just kept the big picture in mind.
Sam: What advice would you give to people following their passions or what was the best advice that maybe you could pass along?
Jennifer Sherlock: I would say it comes down to follow your passion. And I know a lot of people say that. But you will likely be working the next forty years of your life. And if you don’t truly like what you do how are you going to make it through the ups & downs of life. But, if you have a passion for it, you work a little harder, pay more attention and do care about the end result, in whatever you do. It’s still work, but it’s something you can accept challenges head on, because of how you feel deep down. I truly feel that. There are so many people out there who are miserable, because they don’t like what they do. People can see the energy and are attracted when you like what you do. And you have to be persistent, I’ve been told “no” and pushed away dozens and dozens of times. I’d think what would Barbara Walters do? What would Steve Jobs do? Try to think of what someone higher would do and be persistent.
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