This past summer, I had the privilege of interning at Peppercomm. It was an amazing experience where I learned more than I ever thought possible and gained great relationships with members of the entire company. After visiting Peppercomm when my university, the College of Charleston, organized a public relations agency tour of New York, I knew that this dynamic environment was somewhere I wanted to spend my summer and learn the ropes of public relations. I set my goals high when applying to the summer internship program and I am so happy that it worked out in my favor the summer after I graduated.
Now, I find myself sitting in a journalism class at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A common thought is that public relations and journalism are opposite fields. PR is all about promotion, while journalism is about telling the facts, good and bad. I have always loved to write, and that skill came in handy in the public relations world. One of the best pieces of advice I heard in all of my PR classes and definitely during my tenure at Peppercomm was that writing is the top skill necessary to succeed in the field. The same rings true in journalism. Over the past four months in J-School, I have found that there are so many similarities between PR and journalism.
First and foremost, having sources you can rely on is key. In PR, you need to establish good relationships with the media to get your coverage placed. That means maintaining professional relationships with them, checking in with them from time to time, staying up to date on their work, and interacting with them on social media. In journalism, you always need sources to help you build your story. You need to prove facts and sources can help you back them up or give you quotes that enrich your story. In both fields, being personable, approachable and engaging is the underlying key to success and achieving your end goal, whether that be publication or placement.
Another similarity is, of course, the need for good writing. As someone who thoroughly enjoys writing, I have found great joy in both PR and journalism, despite the different types of writing that the two fields entail. In PR, I was tasked with writing persuasive and compelling emails, press releases, Tweets, Facebook posts and more. The goal of this writing? To get journalists to care about and cover our client. In journalism, writing is storytelling. We use words to describe a scene or explain what happened. Both writing styles are explanatory, but in different senses of the word. This is why I found my place in both PR and journalism: my words can represent something.
Another key to success in both industries is the constant consideration of the audience. In both journalism and PR, knowing who your audience is and what they desire is an important first step before taking action. If your message does not resonate with your audience, you are not going to achieve results. In PR, you constantly have to think of who would want to read about your client and why, and what the best way to relay that message might be. I remember working on a big client during my time at Peppercomm and really trying to channel into the niche audience that would be interested in learning more about the client and their product. It was a fun, yet arduous task that proved to be successful in the end. In journalism, you need to consider your audience in every step of the writing and reporting process. When thinking of a story idea, you need to understand why this story would be relevant to your audience. When reporting, you need to ask questions of your sources that would result in responses that answer your audience’s questions. After writing your story, you need to get it in front of your audience and make sure they read the whole thing to get the answers or information they are looking for.
Finally, having worked in public relations has proved to be such an asset in the journalism field. I understand how PR people write, speak and think, giving me an edge when it comes to trying to get in touch with someone or get the answer I am trying to obtain. I just returned from a weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, where I covered the Iowa Caucuses, and I had the privilege of attending the events of several presidential candidates. I knew I wanted to obtain interviews with as many of them as I could, so the first thing I did was reach out to their press people and engage them in conversation. I answered any questions they had, and also let them know some of my questions and story ideas so we could mutually work together to achieve a common end goal. It proved to be a successful endeavor, and I can thank my PR background for success not just this weekend but constantly during my time in journalism school.
I graduate from Medill in August and while I do not know where my career path will lead me just yet, I am certain that through my experiences in PR and journalism, I have the skillsets necessary to succeed in either field and can lend my knowledge of both to being innovative and creative in whatever I end up doing.
Each year, we host a number of site visits with select colleges and universities. Students from all over the country visit Peppercomm for a full day visit, which consists of an agency overview presentation from Intern Committee, Q&A Lunch with our current interns and shadowing.
During the shadowing portion, students have the opportunity to work on mock assignments, speak with industry professionals about their experience, learn about the different departments that make up Peppercomm and experience a typical day in PR.
As University Relations Coordinator, I work closely with school career advisors and students to develop a beneficial experience tailored specifically to their interests.
If you are interested in coming in individually for a site visit and shadowing experience, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If would like us to schedule a visit with your school or PRSSA group, just have one of your advisors reach out to us.
*Julie Hoang is an Account Executive at Peppercomm and sits on Intern Committee as the University Relations Coordinator. As a member of Intern Committee, she participates in the recruiting, mentoring and advising of interns as well being responsible for building on-going relationships with universities across the country.
As a sophomore in college, transferring to Rutgers University was a big leap and something I couldn’t have been more excited about. As soon as I arrived for my first semester, I knew I wanted to be involved. I joined a great club called the Association for Woman in Communication. In joining this club, I received some great experiences, tips, and guest speakers! The day that Peppercomm came to talk to our club really stood out for me. Samantha Bruno, our guest speaker, really described it as an exciting, creative, and all around great firm to intern and work. I had to know more!
My friends and I were interested in shadowing the current interns Peppercomm. Samantha was more than happy to help set up a whole day for us to learn and explore the firm! Right from the start I knew I loved the people that represented this place.
The shadowing experience my friends and I had was so informative and really showed how Peppercomm operates and thrives as a PR firm. Every single person we met was so delighted to speak to us and answer any questions we had. We were enlightened about many different tasks that the company takes on and were all so blown away about what it takes to really run a successful firm. The interns ate lunch with us and were truly happy to answer any of our questions about working at Peppercomm. Everything they had to say was extremely positive and as the day went by I became more excited about the future and applying for an internship.
All in all, the day I spent there really opened my eyes and showed me what it is like to truly enjoy where you work. The positive atmosphere and the welcoming people only made me more excited to apply and learn more about the community around Peppercomm. The experience was illuminating and will be hard to top! My friends and I thank everyone who talked and helped us!
I can’t wait to be back!
Today’s guest post was written by Rutgers University student Taylor Blume
Last week, Chris Piedmont and I had the pleasure of attending the Columbia University Industry Showcase: AMP Panel and Networking event, where I sat on a panel with representatives from Mars, PepsiCo and more. I absolutely love being able to meet with students on their home turf. Think about it, we always have home court advantage. Asking students to take time out of their class and scheduling site visits our offices or to come interview. This is their time to shine in their comfort zone and Columbia did not disappoint.
This got me thinking, what advice can I give students around employers visiting their school? It’s probably best to avoid the “she doesn’t even go here” approach and take advantage of the opportunity!
1) Ask thoughtful questions. The students who make the best impressions ask questions that challenge us. Questions that go beyond “can you tell me about the internship?” or “can you tell me more about Peppercomm?” Certainly, ask those introductory questions, but this is your opportunity to showcase your curiosity about the industry, how your experience can translate in a relevant manner, etc.
2) While you want one-on-one face time, don’t be afraid to jump in on a group conversation. We are often answering the same question 10 times in a row and much appreciate everyone crowding around for a group conversation to avoid having to repeat ourselves over and over again.
3) Follow up. Try to keep in mind that we meet a lot of people at these events, so the follow up is important. In your follow up, referencing a part of the conversation that we had is always a nice touch.
Bottom line is, if we are making a school visit, we are on a mission to seek out qualified candidates. When we don our away jerseys, show us we made the right decision by choosing your school.
This post was written by Co-Intern Coordinator, Samantha Bruno
I never thought there was much difference between working in Germany, where I’m from, and working somewhere else in the world. Considering technology, in a way everything is connected in this day and age.
I’m 22 years old and have experienced a lot over the last couple of years—an internship at a German paper, an internship at another German company and a couple of student summer jobs to pay rent. Everything was pretty much the same. It was tough at the beginning. People were nice, friendly and supportive when I asked questions. Did I make friends right away? Not really. Did they care how I was feeling with my work load? Not really. Did I ever get any feedback on how I was doing, whether I did a good or not so good job? Yes, but only on my very last day.
I never had particularly bad experiences, but not great ones either. That is until I came to New York City. My internship at Peppercomm literally blew my mind. First, because I had so much on my plate, but also because it was such a great experience. People actually cared about how I was feeling with my work load. I received feedback. When I did something great, people let me know and when there was something I needed to work on, people gave me advice. And last but not least: people were very supportive and nice. I love the culture at this company. My initial feeling that there isn’t a big difference where you work or do an internship in the world was so wrong! It matters and New York was by far my favorite.