In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Madeline Skahill.
I am a recent graduate from Wake Forest University and I have ventured all the way from Williamsburg, Virginia. Whether you were forced to dress up in 18th century colonial garb by your grandparents or peer-pressured by fellow classmates to endlessly ride all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, I am sure there are a few hidden gems that have been so lucky to have experienced my hometown. With that said, I could not be more excited to be in New York City.
Last summer, I worked as a PR intern for the National Park Foundation and was fortunate to get hands-on experience in promoting the parks nationwide. I wanted to continue my passion of PR, however, continue this passion with an agency. Within the first few minutes of looking at Peppercomm’s website, I knew it was the place for me. From the evident vibrant culture to the dynamic list of clients, Peppercomm has proven to be the perfect fit.
2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
The area of the industry I find the most interesting is the distinct role the media plays within the agency. All forms of media, from print to digital, play a tremendous part in the future of a brand or corporation. I love experiencing the constant contact between a PR agency and media outlets as well as the ability to watch a particular client’s progress in the media spotlight.
3) Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
The importance of Crisis Communication within a PR agency has proven to be one of my biggest surprises thus far. Within a matter of seconds, an entire group of individuals are forced to put on their thinking caps and act fast with the future of a company lying in their hands. Before, I always thought this was the role of corporations, however, with the emphasis of Crisis Communication at Peppercomm, I truly understand the importance an agency plays in handling anything that may come their way.
4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
I would love to continue the path of working at an agency and balancing multiple clients rather than working for a particular corporation. I would also love to be able to work for a client from the ground up. The beginning stages of a company are filled with bright new ideas and have the ability to alter the way the general public views the world. It would be a tremendous accomplishment to be with a client at the starting line and be able to see their progress and achievements firsthand.
With job searching, finding the job you want is just half the battle. Prospective employees not only need to find the jobs they want to apply to, but it’s always helpful to know someone at said company so you can get your foot in the door. But how can you do that? Networking.
Networking is one of the most important items for a person at every level to do. You never know if that could lead to a new job, finding a good employee for your current job or maybe getting a new client. The possibilities are endless, which is also why it’s always good to meet new people and make sure you maintain relationships. But, how do you network when you’re more entry-level? Where do you go? Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
- Set up informational interviews at companies you may want to work for even if they’re not necessarily hiring. This will get you some great face time with the company and potentially allow you to connect with someone at the company.
- Stalk LinkedIn. See who in your network might already work at your dream company. Perhaps you already know someone there from college, or there is a friend that can set you up with an introduction to another friend.
- #HAPPO/Help a PR Pro Out is a great hashtag to search by on Twitter. Sometimes they have online chats and I have gone to a few in-person events, but many companies will tweet out about jobs using this hashtag.
- Go to any and all networking events. These can be a mix of industry events, maybe your college is hosting some, etc. These can be online and in-person, but great to go either way and get your name out there.
So get out there and start networking, it will help you get the job of your dreams (for starters).
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Pearce.
As a typical 15 year old girl, my main priorities were hanging out with my friends, not tripping over hurdles during track meets, and finishing my homework in time to watch Gossip Girl (this was pre-DVR era, people). Therefore, my parents really threw a wrench in my summer plans when they told me that it was time to take on some responsibility and get a summer job.
Luckily, I developed my strategic thinking skills early on in life and decided that if I had to get a job, I may as well work on my tan WHILE getting paid. Therefore, I combined my “experience” of watching years of Baywatch episodes on TV and a one-week training course to secure the prime position as the youngest lifeguard at the Easton Town Pool.
While I did get a killer one-piece tan that summer, I also gained some valuable work experience that has helped me get where I am today. Similar to my colleagues’ first jobs, lifeguarding taught me responsibility, accountability, and the importance of showing up to work on time.
Most importantly, I learned that age is just a number. As the youngest lifeguard, I had to prove myself from day one to show that I deserved the job and that I could handle the responsibilities that came with that position. As a young professional, this is a challenge that I am faced with on a daily basis. More often than not, I find that I am the youngest person in meetings. What I learned as a lifeguard and continue to remind myself on a daily basis is that age doesn’t matter, it is all about the ideas and experience that you bring to the table.
It’s important for young professionals to realize that their ideas are just as valuable as their colleagues and to never let their age deter them from participating in a conversation. Of course, this still means that you must exercise good judgment in determining when to speak and when to listen. But for those of you that fear that your input may not matter because you are young, remind yourself that you were invited to the table for a reason. Speak up and show that you deserve to stay.
With the Premiere of Scandal only two days away, I think it’s only fitting that I talk about one of the best shows currently on television. I promise that this isn’t going to be a promotional post about Scandal, but I know the Gladiators in all of us would rejoice. Instead, I’m going to use my love of Scandal to let you know that it’s possible to work hard and still find a way to take a break. Enter Scandal!
If you aren’t a fan or just haven’t tuned in, here’s a brief summary of the show: Scandal is based in Washington DC and stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the go to fixer in town. She’s always dressed to impressed and her nightly routine includes a glass of wine with popcorn. Let me not forget to mention her affair with the leader of the free world who just so happens to be married.
For me watching Scandal is my hourly escape every Thursday night. It’s a great way for me to put all of the things I’m thinking about on pause and join the millions of viewers who are watching and live tweeting along with the cast (Warning: If you live on the West Coast stay off of Twitter beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST). We’re all tuning in to see how Olivia is going to fix the reputation of a power player and still find a way to sneak in a secret meeting with the president.
An hour may not seem like a lot of time, but if Olivia can handle a major crisis, juggle multiple romances and still make it home for a glass of wine, I think it’s safe to say we can find an hour or two to relax and enjoy life.
Like the pace of the show our lives move very fast, crises happen, and our lives are full of surprises both good and bad. All of this is true, but for that one hour on Thursday’s my life is immediately transformed to a new realm. I become a “Gladiator in a suite” with a front row seat on how to handle the crisis of the week. That’s the magic of both television and finding those rare moments when you’re allowed to just let go and let someone else solve the world’s problems.
My excitement for the upcoming new episode has me impatiently waiting for it to be Thursday night already. While I do my best to contain my excitement, I’m going to work on identifying other simple ways to be present and enjoy the things that bring me joy and you can count on me saying, “it’s handled” each time I make a new discovery.
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm junior account executive, Julie Hoang.
For my first job, I thought I had it good. I worked as an after school tutor at a local learning center. As a high school student, I did anything to avoid hard labor so this job was ideal for me. I would rather use my energy to shop at the mall or hang out with my friends. Though I was only a freshman at the time, I took away key lessons that still apply today.
I had actually gotten the job by previously volunteering at the learning center during the summers. After some time and eagerness to earn some shopping money, I asked for a part-time position. What also made me look for that specific job was because I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger. I knew that the knowledge I gained as a tutor would eventually help me if I decided to pursue the teacher career path. From there, I ended up working for an additional year and a half before I quit and moved to Staten Island with my family. The best part of the job though was being able to work with some of my closest friends and eventually making new friends.
Through my time there, I gained many essential skills that helped shape me into the person I am today. Here are some:
- Build strong relationships: Building relationships are important no matter what age you are. Not all actions need an immediate result. You should always make an effort to build good relationships with your boss, co-workers, clients and anyone else around you because you may never know when that same person will be providing you with business or a reference down the line. For me, building strong relationships with my boss allowed him to see me as a trusted employee. He trusted my judgment when I referred my friends to work there. He even served as a reference for me when I decided to apply for other tutoring jobs in Staten Island.
- It’s not always about the money: Making money is the obvious answer to why we work, but building your skill set and gaining a valuable experience is just as important. Understandably, many will pick one job over another because it pays more. However, it’s important to be able to walk away from a job with skills that you can use to reach your chosen career path or to help you reach a goal. For me, volunteering was the first step in reaching my goal. I wanted a paying job at the learning center, but had no prior experience. By volunteering there during the summers, I learned all the tasks and duties that were required for the job.
- Be responsible: Whether it is your first job, third job or dream job, be responsible for your actions and tasks. Everyone is held accountable for their actions. If you are given an assignment, follow through with it and communicate with your manager, supervisor or boss if you need more time. As a tutor, I was responsible for not only my actions, but for the group of students I was looking after. It was my job to ensure their safety and ensure that their homework was done and done correctly. Managers, supervisors or bosses are not able to watch over your shoulder every step of the way so it’s your responsibility to remember your tasks and fulfill them. The parents put their trust in me to teach their children right, just as clients trust us to put their best interest in mind.
- Know your audience: Knowing your audience is extremely important. The things you can say and the actions you take are dependent on your audience. For example, the way I acted towards my students, my boss and the parents was all different. Children are the most receptive to new information. Therefore, it is crucial to watch what you say around them. This same rule applies to clients. Working in an agency, being able shift accordingly dependent on the type of client you are interacting with is essential. Some clients are more lighthearted than others, so you will need to know when it’s okay to make a joke and when it isn’t.
- Learn to multi-task: I think that being able to multi-task is a characteristic almost every job will look for in a candidate. At a young age, I learned that multi-tasking was a necessary skill. I attended school, worked after school and managed to finish my homework every day for three to four times a week. Now working at an agency, multi-tasking while remaining organized has helped me tremendously. PR can be somewhat unpredictable and no two days will ever be the same, so it’s imperative to adapt accordingly based on what is the highest priority.
As a devoted fangirl of all things Jimmy Fallon, you can imagine the heartbreak that ensued when I woke up on Tuesday morning only to realize that I’d slept through the premier of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”
A Jimmy computer background and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” magnet contribute to my work “deskorations,” along with the wristband I wore to go on the set when I had the chance to see the show live back in September. Jimmy was certainly a driving force behind my comedic interest, and I’ve watched his SNL audition video more times than I can count. But when I really take a moment to analyze why I admire the guy so much, it’s not his dreamy portrayal of Ben Wrightman in the 2005 flick “Fever Pitch,” nor is it his uncanny resemblance to “How I Met Your Mother’s” Ted Mosby. It’s not even his boyish charm, nor his remarkable ability to pull an accurate impression of anyone on the planet. Nay; the main reason I’ve been “Fallon” for Jimmy since his first appearance on “SNL” is his obvious passion for his career.
While it likely provoked a cringing Lorne Michaels, I always adored the “SNL” skits where Jimmy would have no choice but to surrender to his own laughter. A prime example is in the classic “More Cowbell” skit, when a drumming Jimmy just can’t contain himself in the presence of a muffin-topped Will Farrell. Jimmy’s zeal for his profession is further evidenced by his handling of the “Tonight Show” debacle of 2010.
In the heat of a Jay/Conan head-to-head, Jimmy’s slot was affected also, and yet he retorted with class, remaining neutral and grateful for the opportunity he had. He even took a moment to praise both Conan and Jay for helping him become the host of Late Night. Fast-forward to Jimmy’s “Tonight Show” premier (which I’ve since watched), when he said, “I just want to do the best I can, and take care of the show for a while.” Yes, Jimmy’s always had a way of making his enthusiasm for his profession shine through in every aspect of his career—I could go on and on.
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not writing this post in hopes that Jimmy will read it and invite me to join him on stage at tomorrow’s “Tonight Show” (though I’d gladly accept!); but I’m writing to urge you, whoever you are, to find an occupation you love. It doesn’t have to be your first job. It doesn’t have to come with big bucks. Just tap into your interests, weigh your opportunities, and find something that has you aching to do your best; something you want to take care of for a while.
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm senior account executive, Heather Lovett.
My first job was working for a land surveyor and mapper. As someone who enjoyed staring at a good map and fantasizing about leaving my small town the second after graduation, this seemed like the perfect place for me. And, the $5.30/hour wage sure didn’t hurt.
My job interview occurred at a yard sale that I was hosting (did I mention I like to make money?). The owner’s wife stopped by and I convinced her that a fifteen year old high school girl was exactly what her family business needed. A few days later I was getting dropped off after school to begin my career as a file clerk.
After two days I am proud to announce that I had that office in tip-top shape. The maps were filed and I began accepting the new responsibility of janitor. I also realized how amazing Lime-Away was (and still is!). I worked 1.5 hours a day after school and full-time in the summer. I became incredibly close with the family and was later promoted to babysitter of their new and adorable granddaughter. The world was my oyster.
My days consisted of cleaning, babysitting, gossiping with the owner’s wife and watching the clock for the last ten minutes to an hour of the day. I might have been fifteen, but I was no Taylor Swift. I had places to be.
All in all, this was a great first job. I was able to complete my homework each day, catch up on the town’s latest gossip and learn the hard truth about taxes. Most importantly, I learned that it was okay to be yourself at work (with some censoring here and there). After all…
It’s February 13th and love is in the air. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day we want to discuss one thing I love about the industry–the nicknames.
Whether they’re wildly off or spot-on, no one can deny that we’re “loveable” in the industry, so that must be why we’re given nicknames:
- Spin masters or spin doctors. So, I definitely don’t agree with this one, but sometimes I suppose SOME do have to put a “spin” on things, but then you get a terrible sense of what we do. However, I do like the musical group, so I will take this as a compliment.
- Flack. From my quick online research I see that the origin of this name is unknown, but started popping up in the 40s. It feels very “His Girl Friday” and that I might start talking like an old timey reporter. I’m into it.
- PR pros. Everyone calls themselves a “PR pro” on Twitter and other social media. But why? The only “pros” I hear in any titles is really with “professional wrestlers.”That is a connection I don’t think the industry needs.
What are your thoughts on the nicknames? Are there any you especially love or hate?
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm management supervisor, Lauren Parker.
As a little kid, I dreamed of being an actress in New York City. When I had my chance to belt out a solo in Beauty and the Beast’s classic tune “Be Our Guest” as part of a summer musical theater troupe, I quickly realized that being in the spotlight simply isn’t my thing. I was much happier supporting the chorus and trying not to fall out of my mother’s four-inch heels.
All this is to say that public speaking and sales does not come naturally to me. But funnily enough, my first job was in sales. I wasn’t cold calling time-strapped business executives, but I was peddling the latest flat of perennials at Siebenthaler’s Garden Center.
Although I was just a 16-year-old, I had a number of responsibilities including manning the cash register, watering plants and helping shoppers select the ideal bird feed. The job wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to customers all day, especially when they had complex botanical questions and I didn’t have the answer. I also became frustrated from time to time when my job seemed menial or boring (restock the terra cotta pots AGAIN?!).
I did have a few moments of real pride. The longer I worked there, the more knowledge I absorbed and the better I was at helping customers. I began to feel more comfortable in my role, which helped my confidence and even led to some big sales as a result of my recommendations. Halfway through the summer, my manager even asked me to train the new hire.
A few key lessons I learned from my first job are small but significant:
- Fake it ‘til you make it – I learned that there will always be aspects of any job that you aren’t comfortable with. But if you step up to the plate and try – with a smile – chances are it will become more natural over time.
- It’s OK to say “I don’t know” – When you’re young, you think you know everything. When you start to get older, you realize how little you know, but you also realize that it’s OK. Back then, I felt like a failure when I didn’t know a question, even though I had zero experience in studying plants. Today, I am constantly confronted with questions from co-workers, managers and clients and I don’t always know the answer. The best response, I’ve found, is “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”
- Understand the bigger picture – As low man on the totem pole, I felt like an insignificant employee at times. I saw others at the store that had such a wealth of knowledge about plants and others who were skilled at managing a retail store. I, more or less, just did what I was told. It wasn’t until I stepped back and realized that someone’s got to water the plants and change the receipt feed in the register. In my job today, I can take that lesson and not only see how my contributions help Peppercomm and my clients, but how I can help others at the agency recognize their value.
When you are just starting out in your career, you will fumble from time to time. The important thing is to learn from those experiences and improve.
Whether you’re in NYC like me, or anywhere else in the US, you know the weather has been pretty wacky. Some areas are being pummeled by snow and sleet and then other areas are ridiculously cold . . . or both.
So what do you do when the weather is getting in the way of a smooth commute to work? We have a few things to consider:
1. This is a given, but make sure to check the highways and public transit before leaving. Is everything on schedule? Are there delays? Check well in advance to make sure everything is clear. Give yourself some extra commuting time.
2. Keep your managers informed, especially if you think there’s a chance you could be late. Shoot them an email or call before leaving home to let them know you’re on your way, but just wanted to give them the heads up that since the weather is bad you could be a few minutes late. Your managers will appreciate it.
3. Use your judgement. Think that the commute isn’t safe? If you have the option to work remotely, do it. If you don’t, call your manager/boss and talk to them. Work is obviously important, but your personal safety comes first. Articulating that you think it’s unsafe to get into work, is important.
Anything we’re forgetting? What’s do you think is important to consider in a rough commute?