Having the guts to switch paths. An unapologetically big personality. Successfully launching her own business. Compassionate. These are some of the things that make Jessica Rafaeil a Female Disruptor. Jessica is a Public Relations Specialist who collaborates with The Buyer Group and her own gig, More Than Press. She describes her job as “working with brands to create compelling story ideas to pitch to the media to help create awareness for brands and their leadership.” From doing a career 180 to how she built relationships in the industry, Jessica tells it all. Keep on reading to discover her tips on being a good leader, business owner, and how to be more productive.
Jessica Rafaeil Finds Her Calling
Like many other Female Disruptors we’ve interviewed, Jessica had no idea she would end up on her career path. While a pre-med in college, she quickly realized that she was not happy. It was clear that her big personality and “loudmouth” would not fit well in quiet research laboratories. While she enjoyed helping raise awareness about artists on her own time, she wasn’t sure PR would be for her. But after interning with a black-owned PR agency in Tallahassee, she was sold. After multiple jobs, Jessica decided to start freelancing. She carefully developed her own business idea.
The entrepreneur light bulb went off as she was sitting in her cubicle at a law firm in Florida. As she looked through her client list, Jessica did not feel satisfied. She says, “I knew I wanted to have a bigger impact and I wanted to help the “underdog,” not the big corporate machines.” After applying to multiple agencies with no luck, Jessica realized that she could only do the work she really wanted to by creating that avenue for herself.
What differentiates Jessica from other PR professionals is her global perspective. She explains, “Coming from an ethnically diverse and multi-cultural background, I’ve always been interested in the connection between different cultures.” When working with a brand she always tries to ask the following questions. How do they fit into other cultures? Is there a language barrier that is stopping them from reaching a broader audience? Are they aware or sensitive to certain topics that might read differently to a group of people? These things can go unnoticed and lead to PR nightmares.
Adapting to 2020
Female Disruptors always have a plan B, C, and D. They know adaptability is key and are quick on their feet. Jessica Rafaeil is too. In order to survive the craziness of 2020, she has made it a habit to read and digitally detox consistently. Doing so has created a positive space in her life, both professionally and personally. She says that taking the time to read every night forces her to unplug and relax. She also explains that the more she reads the better she writes. Another tip is to give yourself at least one day a week to do absolutely whatever she wants.
Interestingly enough, the pandemic has not impacted Jessica’s life too much. Indeed, she had been working remotely for a long time. She explains, “Many things are up in the air since COVID, but I also think it has created space for different opportunities.” When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, she reveals that helping the Black community has been one of her goals from the beginning. She tells us, “The black community gave me my first real opportunities in PR and that’s where I found my passion for helping their success.” At More Than Press, she works with black-owned and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. By doing so, she can use her own privileges to help get their voices heard.
A Good Leader Strives to Improve
To Jessica, being a good leader means learning and improving, always. Here are five leadership lessons she has learned throughout her career.
- Leaders are patient. Some of the best leaders I’ve worked with understand the importance of patience. They’ve also taught me that to be patient does not mean to be stagnant.
- Never stop learning. Continuing to educate yourself and learn new things is so important in a world where things can shift and change with the click of a button. Also, apply that to your relationships with people. We can all learn something from one another, no matter our rank.
- Stay balanced. Exhaustion and burnout are real. You can’t give back if you aren’t fueled. Take time to relax and do things that inspire you. That energy will radiate through your leadership as well.
- Leaders listen. It’s not always about showing people what you know but being able to listen and understand other perspectives as well. The leader doesn’t always have to be the loudest person in the room, but they are usually the ones guiding collaboration by listening to others.
- Lead by example. Humans are products of their environment and mimic what they see and experience. The best leaders I’ve worked with have led by example. They put forth the work and are open and willing to teach others around them.
When asked what advice she would give to other women wanting to start their own business,
She explains that having a passion and a vision for how you want to help others is key. Make sure you are putting in the work. Don’t be afraid to shine a light on your talent or expertise.
She adds, “Find your tribe to succeed. Building a business takes a village.”
Her number one productivity tip is to write everything down. She also advises keeping a pretty consistent schedule.
Keeping in Touch with Jessica Rafaeil
Like any good Female Disruptor, Jessica is all about bringing goodness to the world. Her favorite quote is
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”
To her, focusing on the quality of her relationships with family and friends but also coworkers and clients is one important way to improve your own life and that of others.
Jessica tries to be kind and empathetic with everyone. She understands that one never knows what people are going through or what their story may be. To her, everyone deserves genuine kindness and to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. To feel even more inspired, follow Jessica Rafaeil on Instagram at @JessRafaeilPR. Her firm’s website is MoreThanPress.com.