Archive for March, 2012


The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s intern spotlight, meet current Peppercom intern and future PR star, Nicole Hall.

1) Let’s get the low-down. Where did you go to school, where are you from and how did you end up in PR?

Aside from the fact that PR runs in my blood (my aunt has been with Peppercom for 12 years), my interest sparked in PR when I visited Peppercom when I was 17 and had the opportunity to sit in on a client conference call. Hearing them discuss their plans for coverage and events, I knew I had found my niche.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, I attended college at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) in the small Texas town of Nacogdoches where I studied communications and graphic design. As a student, I held three internships—SFA Office of Public Affairs, SFA Alumni Association and Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital Community Relations—where I learned the ins and outs of repositioning, crisis management, social media and writing press releases.

From there, I moved to another small town in North Carolina, whose claims to fame were the birthplace of Pepsi and Nicholas Sparks. I worked as a Communications Specialist for the Single Marine Program at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. I genuinely enjoyed planning the trips and events for the Marines who did not have families in the area and was able to network with professional sports teams, such as the Yankees and Carolina Panthers, to provide special events for the Marines. It had always been my dream to work in NYC, so it seemed like a natural next step to move to the PR capital of the world and work for the company that piqued my original interest in the industry.

2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing?

I love event-planning, but crisis management is the most appealing aspect of PR to me. While I was an intern at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, the first swine flu death in the area occurred there. Although the patient was not from the area, the hospital was hit hard with the media and a paranoid public. We, however, were able to turn the negative press around by offering a free vaccination clinic and positioning the hospital as an advocate for preventatives. As I searched for newspaper clips the next day, all of the local papers had mentioned the hospital’s efforts to educated and vaccinate the community. The ability to turn something tragic into a positive light for a company is something that is unique to the PR field and requires quick and creative thinking. It’s always interesting to see what ideas PR executives come up with in similar situations.

3) What’s your biggest revelation about the industry so far?

The best description I found about the PR culture was in Patrice Tanaka’s book, Becoming Ginger Rogers. Regarding the evolution of email and the internet and the speed at which information could be processed, Tanaka expressed that new technology was both a curse and a blessing for clients, but either way it meant more work for the PR executives. PR is not just a 9-5 job with the occasional event to attend. Not that I expected it to be that way—I knew PR required a rigorous work ethic and to be accessible at all times—but I have come to realize that PR becomes who you are, not just what you do. Aside from receiving emails at all hours of the day, I find myself constantly scanning the news for references to my clients or their competitors, reporters who I can pitch a story to or current events for which I could offer my client as an industry expert to comment. Shopping now consists of looking for business casual attire that I can wear for work. I even write my text messages in AP style.

4) Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship program so far.

A current Peppercom client needed some extra bodies pitching to publications in California, so I volunteered to help. After a few phone calls and emails, I already had interest from four publications in the story. I am still keeping in touch with the reporters to arrange interviews with the sources, so my fingers are crossed that I get a story or four published from them!

5) Any favorite/inspiring case studies and why? (This does not have to be limited to Peppercom)

I recently saw a picture with the caption “’That’s a cool pair of Crocs,’ said no one ever.” It made me think of the case study about the YOU by Crocs launch that I had read on Peppercom’s website when I was researching about the company. Nearly 40 press representatives from big names such as Redbook, Cosmopolitan and InStyle indulged in lunch and spa treatments while learning more about the high-end Crocs. To transform the ugly duckling of the shoe industry into swan-status is the work of some very creative PR professionals. I like this case so much because it shows that no brand has to be stuck in a rut. With some creative event planning and media relations, anything is possible.

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Sick as a dog? Stay home!

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I’ve noticed a trend with many entry-level professionals in this field—the resistance against taking a sick day. I’m not sure if this has always been a trend or is a product of the current economy, but I find it to be problematic.

I get it. No one wants to create more work for their teams, appear weak, show a lack of dedication, etc. (the list of reasons can go on and on). However, I think recognizing that you are ill and need to take time off to make yourself stronger and not pass along germs shows maturity and more dedication to one’s craft.

I recently was quite ill and had to take a sick day. Why? Because I was sick and possibly contagious and further, would be ineffective. If you’re sick, your work is definitely not up to snuff and it is nearly impossible to concentrate, not to mention you may even make yourself sicker. On the flip side, why would you want to spread your illness around the office?

As a person who has the immune system of someone from the 1800s (I’ve had scarlet fever as a teenager, whooping cough, two types of pneumonia), I do not want Jane Smith coming to work when she has a fever and stomach bug, because I will likely catch it. Selfish, but true.

If you’re an intern and you come in with a fever and you seem like you’re high off cold medicine trying desperately to stay awake during a team meeting, you’re not going to be commended for your actions for coming in even though you barely have enough strength to use a pen to take notes. You’re going to be treated like a leper! No one wants to be sick.

So take this from someone who knows and who was once that person who refused to take a sick day. If you’re sick, stay home. You will feel better quicker and not spread a disease in your office.


Up-and-coming PR pros

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After being in this industry for a while, you’ll certainly begin to notice the importance of awards and being recognized for your talent by your peers and colleagues. It means your hard work is not going unnoticed. It’s also great for your company to have someone from their team to be honored or to have an account team win an award for the work that they did for a client—it shows that the company has invested in the right people and talent.

That’s why we’re excited to have our very own Mikinzie Stuart mentioned as one of Arik Hanson’s 15 up-and-coming PR pros to watch this year. Mikinzie is a rock star at Peppercom and it’s great to see that being recognized outside the company.

Read Arik’s full post here and learn more about Mikinzie and the others he says to keep an eye on.

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I’ll never forget the words ringing in my ears after watching a marathon of TLC’s What Not to Wear as fashion expert/stylist, Stacy London, said in several of the episodes, “dress for the job you want.”

Definitely not appropriate for this industry unless it's "Totally 80s" night and Rick Astley is playing in the background.

And while you may be working in public relations, looking to transition into a different career, that doesn’t mean you should start dressing like the president of a bank if that’s your ultimate goal. It means look at your job environment and take a cue from what your colleagues are doing—but zazz it up a bit to make yourself stand apart.

Every company in this industry has a different culture and subsequent dress code. Some may require that you wear a suit every day, while with others you’ll see people sporting jeans on a daily basis.

While ideally your ideas should be the only thing that people focus on, your client may not be able to get past the hole in your acid wash jeans (though hopefully no one is wearing that since it is not 1992, and then you may have bigger problems with your wardrobe).

And it’s not just clients who will notice what you’re wearing and your overall appearance—your colleagues and managers will take note as well.  Take a look at what people wear on an everyday basis, take note and maybe jazz it up a bit. Appearing a bit more refined will help to provide you with the appearance you want to give off.

Any thoughts, tips or tricks on how to dress for work?


The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s Intern Spotlight, meet Jonah Bromwich, current Peppercom intern and future PR superstar.

1)      Let’s get the low-down. Where are you originally from, where did you go to school and how did you end up in PR?

I’m originally from Washington DC, but decided to strike out west for college ending up at the University of Wisconsin where I majored in English.  I had a couple of jobs that intersected with the PR world—head of media relations at a non-profit campaign, branding and marketing agency in Australia—and after bartending for a while when I graduated, I decided that it was a field that I could definitely see myself in.  Just a couple of months later I get to work in Manhattan, the place where I’d always imagined being, in a truly interesting and engaging industry.

2)      Which area of the industry do you find most appealing?

One of the things I like about PR is the variety of concentrations, tasks and areas that are available to work in but I have to say, the area that I find the most interesting is positioning.  To me, it seems like the macro planning phase, in which we plan companies’ media messages,  takes a lot of creativity, smarts, and salesmanship—a perfect combination.

3)      What’s your biggest revelation about the industry so far?

I had always thought that advertising was by far the most effective way to ensure that your brand was well-known to customers but since working in PR, I’ve started to realize that it’s not so cut and dry.  The trick seems to me, to be legitimacy; people oftentimes automatically dismiss advertisements without even absorbing them but a cleverly placed media hit is taken much more seriously and, as a result, is much more effective.

4)      Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship program.

I’ve been proudest whenever I get to sit back and look at how my work is affecting the bigger picture.   Sometimes the actual activity seems pretty small, so it’s always nice to get a little more perspective on how you’re helping out on your accounts.  For instance, I support the Twitter handle for one of my accounts and recently, when one of our followers RT’d one of my tweets, I was able to strike up a relationship with him that led to the account having a solid, new media contact, one that was worthwhile enough to bring up to the clients.  It’s the first media relationship that I’ve personally created and I’m inordinately proud of it—hopefully that kind of thing will soon become standard practice for me!

5)      Any favorite/inspiring case studies and why? (This does not have to be limited to Peppercom)

This is extraordinarily dorky, but I love the Peppercom case studies: they’re one of the first things that really attracted me to the company.  One of my favorites is the digital PR we enacted for Nikon.  Full details are on the Peppercom website , but in short, we were able to reconnect a company with its customers in a way which created buzz, excitement, and abounding media coverage.  It seems as if everyone was involved, from the firm, to the media to consumers, so much so that the web site temporarily crashed!  I love that, working from behind the scenes, a PR company can have such a direct effect on company-customer relations—it makes what we do feel really worthwhile.

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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