Archive for January, 2012

(This is NOT my mom)

If you’re reading about the PR/communications industry, working right in it or just happen to know what PR is, you know that social media is a huge force that most, if not all of your clients should already be dabbling in.

Before I continue, I will openly apologize to my mom for what comes next.

My mom, who is a nurse, just got rid of her Zack Morris-like cell phone (solely because it died which prompted her to get the “newest” Zack Morris-like cell phone that the phone companies could permit her to have). She still admits to not really understanding what I do on a daily basis in this field, yet has been exploring social media much longer than even some candidates that apply to work here have.

Calling out my mom and potentially making it so she never talks to me again for discussing this actually has a point. For a person who really has “no reason” for being on Facebook outside of keeping in touch with family, she is becoming ridiculously well versed in social media—a great reason for all brands to continue a focus on having a strong social media presence. With nearly all demographics using social media, it’s now easier than ever for a brand to reach its target audience and across multiple platforms.

For my mom, it started with her Facebook profile. But don’t worry, she discovered everything that comes next. She’s got Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and is now asking me questions about Spotify and the social functions on there, citing that she likes that one has to be linked to Facebook so she can see what others are listening to and vice versa (and, of course she does, because she is the new “social media director” of my childhood home).

Her new love? Pinterest. Brands are slowly realizing this venue can be and should be used to their advantage. It’s such an easy site to use and visual. The best of both worlds. My mom being on this site already is a huge indication of this—and she is repining items from boards from the brands that push to her demographic. As are her friends and other members of my family who aren’t as social media savvy as my mom. And she’s been active on the site for a few months now—much longer than even some in the industry.

So, if you weren’t exploring everything social media has to offer, you should. Not just because your clients and potential clients will undoubtedly be in this space, and not because all PR professionals, regardless of if you’re marked as “digital” or not should be exploring all of these sites and what they can offer, but because my mom does.

My mom who made fun of me for still having a MySpace profile.

My mom who will be like a lot of other moms and dads who want to connect with their kids and realize there are lots of interesting things to do on the internet and they are really easy to navigate.

My mom who I don’t want to be mad for writing this and who is making me consider not tweeting a link to this post out because she will see it quicker on her newsfeed.

And yes, mom, I still have a MySpace account.

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Navigating the tunnels of PR

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Today’s guest post is by Jason Fischbach, former Peppercom intern and future PR pro.

As I started my internship, I took the posts from Laura about how to navigate the subways to heart. As I learned more about the world of PR, I also became better and better at making my way through the city’s underground. Fortunately, there are a lot of similarities. Here are some tips that will help you make it through the commute quicker and easier, and also help you once you get there (on time).

First, be sure to do your reading and prepare. Knowing what turns you need to make and where to go will help you avoid delays. Obviously you can’t cut corners in either situation, but if you walk towards the right spot in the tunnels, you won’t have to cut across crowds of people when you get there. When you’re pitching reporters, you need to have done your reading as well. There’s nothing worse than having a reporter ask “Have you ever read anything I’ve written?” and not being able to explain why your pitch is relevant to them. In both cases, you should save your efforts by focusing: only go where you might find some benefit.

While you’re walking through crowds, the first instinct is often to keep your head down, close up and just power through. Pitching can have the same effect. Challenge yourself to make eye contact as you battle the hustle and bustle. While you can’t always make eye contact on the phones, the concept is the same; humanizing yourself is always a benefit. You can’t always focus on each individual as you move through a group, but I can guarantee that the one person that someone makes eye contact with is the last person they’ll run into. It may be that you have 30 reporters to reach out to, but if you can even include one personalized sentence in each pitch, you’ll greatly increase your chance of success.

This last tip is my personal favorite: be different. As you’re sending out a message to a reporter, you have to understand that they’re also receiving messages from many other sources. You have to find a way to stand out, and the personalization mentioned earlier will help with that. However, while many people reference a recent article or an author’s bio, few make the effort to show that their message isn’t just a cookie-cutter with a sentence added. A message that seems automated is a message that gets ignored. The masses in the underground also follow trends: towards either wall. It makes sense; with people coming from only one direction, there are less bodies to compete with. However, if you walk in the center of the hall (on the edge of people moving one direction and the other) you’ll find a surprising amount of time and space.

You don’t always need to expend more effort to achieve better results. Sometimes, all it takes is a second to think about what you’re doing, and you can reap benefits from the increased efficiency. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the time you save, both in your commute and in your work life, by working more efficiently adds up quickly.


Don't be RIDDLED when asked if you have any questions in an interview. (Please note: I was just looking for an excuse to use this picture of Frank Gorshin)

If you ask anyone for interviewing advice, most will say to make sure to have a few questions prepared for that discussion. But what do you ask?

I’ve heard it said that there are no “stupid” questions. While that may be somewhat true, there are a number of right and wrong questions to ask during an interview.

Members of the intern committee here at Peppercom will say that the best questions interviewees ask are those that genuinely make us stop and think for a moment—or better yet, completely stump us. Not that you should be asking ridiculous questions that we would have no knowledge of (spoiler alert: if you ask me a math question that is not extremely easy, you will stump me . . . and I will NOT be impressed by that).

A good jumping off point for questions are to ask ones about the interviewer, such as asking them what attracted them to the company you’re interviewing at or what a person’s favorite part of the company culture is. These are excellent questions to ask because it will make the interviewee think, but will give you a good indication on what the company and people are truly like.

Questions to avoid are those that can be answered by a company’s website, which may seem obvious, but the number of people who ask us questions regarding items that can found on the homepage are too many. If you have a legitimate question that you think might be answered on a particular company site, one good rule of thumb is to say something along these lines:

“I saw that XYZ company is doing this; I’m wondering what you’re doing in ABC area?”

It shows that you did do your homework and know something about the company you would potentially like to work for.

And definitely have a few options for questions to ask, in case some of the ones you thought of are answered organically throughout the discussion. And whatever you do, if you are asked if you have any questions, don’t make it seem like you are disinterested in the company by simply answering with a “no.”



Intern Video

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this YouTube video produced by former Peppercomm interns who share their experiences. Click Here