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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.

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The Nicknames We Love

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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?

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My first job: Golf Caddy

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Colin Reynolds.

My first job, like most I would imagine, provided countless learning opportunities and life lessons – for better or worse. But my first gig also taught me several unique tactical skills, many of which I still practice on a daily basis.

I learned how to manage different personalities and situations, gained the wherewithal to identify and react to a potential crisis in a composed and lucid manner, and lastly – and this was most important to my clientele – I developed an uncanny ability to read any putt inside of 12 feet.

It was the summer of 2001 and the ink on my first driver’s license was barely dry. I was young, able-bodied, and newly mobile. I was also the newest caddie at my local golf club.

What I gained from this experience, besides a few free rounds and an occasional sore shoulder, was how to handle people at their best – but especially at their worst. Here are a few takeaways from that summer that have stuck with me all this time:

  • Know your client: Everyone is different and I had to learn how to approach and manage various personalities. On the course, some players loved to chat and others DID NOT. While some folks were easy going, others were more, let’s just say, serious. As a caddie, it was my job to identify who was who and adjust accordingly – sometimes on the fly. I wouldn’t want to make a joke or be too playful around the more serious players, or come across as boring or stiff with the looser ones. It was up to me to know exactly what I was getting into and act appropriately for the given situation.
  • Read more than just the green: Similarly to the last note, a caddie’s job is all about making a player feel good and confident in his/her golf game. However, a missed putt here or errant drive there can make even the most comfortable player tense and irritable – and given the nature of the game, this can change in an instant. That’s where body language and other cues become very important. I would do my best to pull a player out of a rut by providing advice and keeping the mood light, but sometimes they would just want to be left alone with their thoughts, and that was ok too. But it was on me to know when to push and when to back off.
  • Be prepared: Golfers pay pretty good money to enjoy a relaxing round – especially if they’ve opted for a caddie. It was my responsibility to be as prepared as possible to show the extra investment was worth it. I knew everything about that course, from different green speeds and bunker lies, to accurate distances and necessary club selection. I owed it to my clients to know the course. It’s irresponsible to approach any professional situation unprepared, especially when others are counting on you.
  • Be confident: Always speak with confidence, even if you’re not 100 percent sure – and even if you have to add a caveat to let your client know you’re not 100 percent sure, do it with confidence. If I thought a player was in-between clubs, I’d let him/her know, but I would do it in an assuring manner. You want your client feeling poised and assured – no one takes advice from someone that sounds wavering or uncertain. You’re the expert, own it.
  • Always be closing: Believe it or not, caddies are highly competitive with each other and certain players are more fun – and profitable – to caddy for. Beyond basic golf acumen, I also had to sell myself and as well as the club to keep players coming back and requesting my services. Maintaining repeat customers is always a clear indication of a job well done, so I would go above and beyond to prove that the client made the right choice by enlisting my help.
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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Samantha Bruno.

My first official job was at The Inflation Station, an inflatable bounce house for kid in New Jersey. I started working there with three friends, creating an ideal situation for a high school student who could only work Saturdays during the school year and who was incredibly preoccupied with having constant social interaction.

I began as a ride monitor, which is in fact as boring as it sounds. Spending what felt like endless shifts on the outskirts, watching children and their families bounce around while shrieking with joy and laughter.  The occasional scared two year old or injured child in need of a first aid kit was not nearly enough fuel to make the shift go any faster.

Then I became a party host and the game changed.  I was now being asked to run on-site birthday parties, work with families and spend time with little children on their special day. I was also able to earn tips in addition to my hourly wage.  Instead of sitting and watching the fun happen around me, I was being tasked to help create the level of fun that was being experienced!

At the time, the owner Steve, who was quirky but innovative – no, not Steve Cody of Peppercomm, although I am now realizing that I have worked for multiple men named Steve with similar dispositions– was all about fostering a fun environment while making as much money as possible. A business principle, I found rather effective. When your employees enjoy the atmosphere at work and are happy, they produce better results, a principle that is also front and center here at Peppercomm (the parallels are seemingly endless).

As juvenile as the job may have been, little did I realize it taught me skills that I have carried into my adult professional career.  Here are a few learnings I can undeniably attribute to my time spent with the inflatables.

1)      Work Hard, Play Hard: Your work can also be fun. There is something to be said about liking where you work because you truly take pleasure in what you do for a living.

2)      Take the job seriously but never take yourself too serious: When it came to the inflatables, it was important to follow instructions and protocol.  The potential of having someone injured on a ride was a serious liability that, despite customers signing their life away on the waiver, was something management was naturally trying to avoid. That being said, no one wanted an inflatable Nazi, who banned fun in the name of “because I said so.” Instead, put yourself in the shoes of a five year old (actually that’s a bad metaphor since they were required to take them off before entering the play area…) and remember not to stress the little things. Even now, I pride myself on taking my work seriously, but not taking myself too seriously or coming across too harsh with my coworkers, clients, etc.

3)      You don’t have to leave work at work: Although it is important to be able to separate yourself from work so you can regroup and return again the next day at the top of your game, the relationships you build with coworkers do not have to be turned off at the end of the day. It was important to me to have friends at work in high school the same way it is important to me now. Not only does it make the work day more pleasant, I have been able to cultivate long-lasting relationships with co-workers that extend long past 5:30 p.m.

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In this guest post from Catharine Cody, junior account executive at Peppercomm, Catharine shares some lessons learned from her first job.


You know how everyone says that the best time of their life was in college? They say it because it’s true. College was amazing. We had a free gym, the luxury to make our own schedules and we were finally of legal age to drink! I blame college for the cold slap of reality I received the day I started my first real job.

After parlaying a few successful internships at NBC into a full time Production Assistant job, I realized that college taught me very little.  The earliest I ever woke up in college was 9:30am, and that was a bad day! Most of my classes didn’t start until after 11:00am.  That meant that I could wake up and watch a solid hour of Wife Swap before even washing my face.

So, you can imagine my consternation when I found out my new hours: Thursdays & Fridays 8-4pm and Saturdays & Sundays 4am-4pm.  That’s a 40 hour week smashed into four days.  Goodbye carefree days of my youth!

After a few months, however, I settled into a nice routine.  I would go to bed on Friday nights at 8pm and wake up at 2:45am in order to get to the studio by 3:45.  During my time there, I created graphics to accompany the news segments, wrote copy and edited video. By the time 4pm rolled around on Sunday I had the biggest feeling of accomplishment, like, EVER.  Monday-Wednesdays were spent catching up on sleep.  I had no social life, and stopped hanging out with the majority of my friends.

Unfortunately, Comcast bought NBC in 2011 causing many jobs to be cut, including mine.  But, I’ve never ONCE regretted my time spent at MSNBC.  I even got to meet some cool amazing famous people like Snooki, Mike Tyson and Bradley Cooper.  I met more high-caliber celebrities like Ariana Huffington & Bob Woodward, too.  I also learned some valuable lessons that I’ve taken with me to my current job:

  • School is cool, but doesn’t prepare you for the real world. Class at 10am? Really guys? In what world does work start at 10am? Questioning professors makes you look good in class, but some bosses don’t want to be second-guessed.
  • Complaining gets you nowhere.  Don’t complain to your boss that your commute sucks and you’ve been up for hours.  Chances are s/he’s been up and working a lot longer and harder than you.
  • Follow instructions. Working is hard.  Following instructions is even harder. Bosses and supervisors get mad when you don’t follow their instructions. So, just do it right the first time.
  • True friends are hard to find. Most of your friends will eventually stop asking you to hang out when you constantly say you are working, or too tired.  True friends never stop asking you to hang out and will work to find time that works for both of you.
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The power of a PR degree, Part II

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If you’ll recall, Laura recently lead a discussion surrounding a PR Daily article on whether or not a public relations degree is necessary to be successful in the industry.  Having achieved a PR degree from Virginia Tech in May, I thought I’d weigh in on the issue to provide a fresh grad’s perspective.

In all honesty, when I first read the PR Daily story, I felt empowered by my newly obtained degree. I thought, “Chicka chicka yeah, PR degree, PR degree! I have mine and am now a leg up on everyone because Staci Harvatin said so!” Unfortunately for me, this spree of entitlement was short-lived; when I actually took a couple minutes to consider Staci’s words, I realized just how much I’d come to question her conclusions.

While I don’t doubt that my communication classes provided me with a solid foundation of industry knowledge, I can confidently say that my business and entrepreneurship classes had just as much of an influence on my career preparation. Another point to consider is the fact that experience speaks for itself. A little time in the trenches and your specific degree choice will take on a more supplemental role.

Peppercomm recently held an off-site meeting of the minds where we gathered to discuss the company’s evolving role in our rapidly changing industry. One topic of conversation was the fact that PR is becoming less of an industry and more of a service offering within a larger strategic communications umbrella. The reality is, firms that offer public relations services exclusively are less likely to “make it” in today’s technologically driven world; they’ll simply be expunged by agencies that can supply a wider array of offerings. Stricter competition calls for enhanced creative processes…and imaginative thinking is much more likely to occur when diverse minds are brought together—meaning employees with differing backgrounds and degrees!

Considering our transforming trade, it’s more ridiculous than ever to assume that PR is the only degree choice that will suffice. To clarify, I’m certainly not suggesting that a PR degree it’s a poor selection—I’m just saying it’s not the only practical choice for a successful future in the strategic communications field.

What’s your take on the issue? Please let us know in the comments below!

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In a bit of cross-promotion here, I am shamelessly plugging the post I wrote today for Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody’s RepMan blog.

While it goes a bit beyond the normal topics we cover on PRiscope, I am curious to hear your thoughts on the topic at hand–education.

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Laughing our way through the workday

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Today’s post is from Peppercomm intern, Madeline Skahill.

It started as a typical Tuesday morning. Rush hour, bustling streets, and a bright New York sky paved the way for three Peppercomm interns on their way to attend Workforce Live 2013, an event that gives thoughtful insights into becoming an employer of choice. Grabbing the only open chairs in the back of the conference room, Stephanie, Madeline, and Jessica were able to apply their fast-thinking and texting skills to live-tweet the event as well as learn an important comedic lesson from two of the best.

Steve Cody, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Peppercomm and Clayton Fletcher, full-time comedian and Chief Comedy Officer, took the stage at the event to discuss the importance of comedy in the workplace. According to Steve, “Peppercomm is a place where it’s OK to laugh and OK to have fun”, allowing the atmosphere of Peppercomm to truly embody the four elements of a successful business: trust, authenticity, openness and teamwork. From the company’s website to client meetings, these four elements are evident in daily life at Peppercomm.

Embracing these four elements is the fundamental goal of a stand-up comedy experience within the workplace. Steve and Clayton stressed the fact that stand-up comedy is not a monologue of your favorite knock-knock jokes or Popsicle stick puns. It is the ability to relax, tell a story, and build a relationship with your audience. This relationship with the audience, or in our case, fellow employees, is a true factor in what makes Peppercomm stand apart from other PR agencies. It is an atmosphere filled with encouragement, motivation, and success all because we can sit back, relax, and share a good laugh.

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The power of a PR degree

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A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this article from PR Daily on whether or not you need a degree in public relations to be successful in the industry.

To my surprise, the article tries to say you do.

As someone with a degree in history and political science, I found this view point a bit surprising.  4f6e11745ace0ea3fb27c6154

First, let’s look at the industry itself. It is always changing, to the point where—yes, I’m going to say it—“PR” is becoming an antiquated term. You’re starting to hear “strategic communications and marketing” more often than those who are only “PR.” It’s hard to even keep track of the skills you need, use and develop in the industry, so you need a term broader than just PR and that includes a program.

Certain communications schools/programs also require its students to have at least a minor in a liberal arts practice. There’s a reason for that—you’re fostering the very skills that are essential in the industry such as writing, researching and public speaking on a variety of topics.

Is someone with simply a PR degree not going to do well with a task such as compiling in-depth research? Certainly not, but I am confident that someone like me with a history degree is going to have an easier time of knowing how to organize and even have scrappier ideas in where to find that information. Why? Because with the countless papers and projects throughout undergrad, I know I have out-researched my communications friends. Confident.

There are certainly arguments for all types of degrees and pros and cons for all, but to say that you absolutely need a PR degree is just incorrect. Saying that the PR degree will give you a leg up on a non-PR degree (when you can connect why your actual degree would serve you well in the industry) just doesn’t seem right to me. I know many colleagues go on to obtain their masters in PR, which is probably never a bad thing to have, but I still think those people would have very successful careers in the industry without said PR diploma.

I’ve been in this industry for less than three years and can say that if I knew I would end up here, I would still follow the track I did. What I learned in school has come in handy and lets me bring something very different and useful to the table.

My advice? If you’d like to pursue the PR degree, great. Do it. But definitely follow suit of some of the better communications programs and make sure you also have at least a minor in liberal arts if not a double-major.

Like in any field, you should always be looking to learn more and take workshops/classes to make sure you’re staying up in the latest trends and findings.


What’s your take on this debate? Fellow PRiscope contributor, Lin Shen, thinks having a PR degree on your resume definitely puts you above someone who might not have that prior knowledge or experience with potential employers.

We’d love to hear what you think!

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The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Chris Piedmont.

Piedmont, Chris

1.  Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm and public relations?

I’m currently a senior at the College of Charleston located in historic downtown Charleston, SC where I’m serving as the Student Body Vice President this year. I grew up just outside of Charleston in a small suburb. After spending my first year of college at another university in the upstate of SC, Charleston called me home.  When I originally went off to school, I was dead set on going into education but, after my introductory class had us tutoring local high school children, I felt like something was off. I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in something I could do more with than teach and, if the call to educate came later in life, I could always take classes to get my teaching certification.

After making this decision, I started taking career surveys to figure out what I should consider. One of the surveys suggested that I’d be good at teaching (shocker), psychiatry and public relations. Prior to this, I never understood what public relations field really was but decided to try it out and I’ve never looked back.

My interest in public relations was what sparked my transfer back home to the College of Charleston due to our thriving strategic communication program, our Advisory Council and the internship opportunities available in the Charleston area that were not as easy to find in the upstate. A month after I started at CofC, I had the pleasure of hearing Steve Cody speak at one of our Advisory Council Student Forums about developing your own personal brand. I was so blown away by his ability to connect with everyone in the room, make us all laugh, and learn at the same time. Later in the year, I was able to participate in a networking trip to NYC and one of our stops was Peppercomm. While visiting, we learned about Peppercomm, the internship program and the great work and culture that exists here. After seeing all this, I knew that this was the place for me and I still get excited every day to come in to work because I’ve wanted this for so long.

2.  What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

Right now, I find public affairs the most appealing part of the industry because it’s the unknown for me. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much work in this area and would love to take a stab at it. With that said, I really enjoy the consumer and financial services sectors that I’ve been introduced to recently.

 3.  Any surprises or revelations about the industry?

One surprise for me would be the extent to which public relations professionals love their jobs and have fun while at work. In talking with friends at other internships in different sectors, they are getting coffee, filing papers, and not really enjoying life. For my friends in PR internships and myself, that couldn’t be further from the case. We’re getting hands-on experience and learning from professionals who light up when they come to work.

 4.  Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Who knows? If I’ve learned anything from networking and speaking to my colleagues here at Peppercomm and elsewhere in the public relations industry, it’s that you never know where you’ll end up because opportunities simply have a way of presenting themselves. While I’d like to say that my crystal ball is in full working condition and that I know exactly where I’ll be in one, five, or 10 years, I can’t. I simply plan on working my hardest and taking any and every opportunity that presents itself because there’s always something more to be learned.

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Intern Podcast

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