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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Chris Piedmont.
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.
In this industry, we do like to tap in and offer POV’s on what’s happening around the world. Do you agree with my take on what’s happened with the firestorm Rolling Stone‘s latest cover created? Today’s post originally ran on RepMan on July 22nd.
Unless you live under a “stone” (pun intended), you know that the latest—or soon to be latest—cover of Rolling Stone magazine has created a firestorm in the media, online and, really, just everywhere.
From the comments I’ve read and the major brands that have come out against the cover going so far as to ban the issue from being sold in their stores, there is no bigger “eff you” to the victims of the bombing than immortalizing the Boston bomber’s image on the cover of a popular consumer magazine.
I’m not saying the article doesn’t deserve to be written and his side of the story shouldn’t be heard, but this is an interesting creative choice. There were certainly other artistic directions to go in rather than linking his image to the feature. So why did the editors choose that one? My guess? Sales and exactly what’s happening now—the widespread conversation about the magazine.
I don’t think it was much of a stretch for the editors to find it ethically appropriate to put the bomber’s image on the cover. Despite not being a hard news outlet, the precedent for glorifying horrific crimes in this culture has been set long ago. Case in point? The Mafia.
It may sound silly, but how many movies, shows, books, etc. have you read/seen on the subject? Even on specific mobsters? The crimes of this organization have been horrific and very high in frequency and are still happening. Yet, the public can’t get enough of it.
While we know these crime rings still exist (thank you reality TV for confirming that, residents of states like New Jersey and Rhode Island see that these families are still a part of society), it’s not quite as scary to encounter someone in this group —mainly because the police and public aren’t intimidated/terrified anymore. But when did we reach this point where glorifying these types of criminals and crimes as acceptable? Did the first movie or magazine story about the mafia reach the same level of anger from the public as this issue of Rolling Stone?
I don’t know the answer, but I do wonder if the type of notoriety for criminals accused of terrorism is heading toward this same type of ‘immortalization’ status.
Right now, everyone is talking about the latest Rolling Stone issue, clicking through to the website and thinking about Rolling Stone. Links to the now-live online issue can be found in multiple stories across the internet, as well as social media. All of the major news outlets are covering the controversy and putting Rolling Stone front and center. Some are positive remarks, some negative, but all are discussing the subject of the Boston bomber’s image and Rolling Stone.
As more outlets cover the story, the magazine will get more people talking about it, get more people clicking through to the website and then people will most likely be more apt to buy the print version to see what the article is about (not to mention those sales from the people who will see the name Rolling Stone wonder why it’s trending and then pick it up).
A Poynter Institute article on the matter has some interesting information that is hard to ignore:
“Rolling Stone has not publicly acknowledged its critics but did talk briefly with USA Today:
Rolling Stone declined to comment to USA TODAY on the controversial cover, except to note that the outcry is reminiscent of another polarizing cover, more than 40 years ago, on cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson.
That cover, in June 1970, including a prison interview with Manson, became one of Rolling Stone’s biggest selling issues and won a National Magazine award.”
Whether this will become a best-selling issue for the magazine remains to be seen, but they certainly seem to be treading familiar water. Is it at the cost of immortalizing terrorists?
It seems that Ii it’s OK to immortalize murderers and criminals like the mafia (and Charles Manson, to name a few), I see nothing wrong with putting a picture of an alleged bomber on the cover of a magazine. It would have been a more tasteful editorial choice for there to be a different cover (and it would have shown that the magazine stands by its fellow Americans), but, hey, that doesn’t sell and get people talking does it?
Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern and future industry star, Taylor Hatch.
One of my favorite tasks as an intern at Peppercomm is tweeting for clients. In fact, the other day I tweeted an article about entrepreneurship entitled, “3 Reasons Why ‘No’ Should Be an Entrepreneur’s Favorite Word,” which you can find here. It’s not the first article I’ve read warning against the dangers of taking on too much—and it shouldn’t fall on deaf ears. In my brief exposure to the PR industry, I’ve seen ambitious and hardworking professionals who wouldn’t survive the day if they took on each and every task that crossed their desks.
However, in my experience, “no” has little value—if any—for a PR intern. Here’s why:
1) What’s considered a time-consuming task to a more established PR professional is an opportunity for an intern. This is the time to develop new skills, like media relations, while perfecting others, even if that means becoming a pro at using the copy machine.
That’s not to say you should be satisfied with an internship that involves nothing but coffee runs and laminating. However, more menial jobs are not necessarily worthless. Something should only be considered a mundane task if you’re so comfortable with it you could do it in your sleep:
2) Interns work hard—especially here at Peppercomm—but let’s be honest, an intern’s workload is not as intense as, shall we say, real life. Many of us are living on our own—no kids or pets for which we’re responsible. In fact, this may be the most flexible time in our professional lives, so take advantage of it! Once you take that perspective, it’s really no sweat if your supervisor tells you:
3) Interns are the newest members of the agency family! Not only should we all be willing to help our more senior colleagues (after all, they all likely paid their intern dues at one point) but interns should also be eager to contribute.
One way to tell if you’re a successful intern is if you feel needed by your coworkers. When your contributions make other employees’ lives easier, you’re probably valued by the agency—and that’s a good feeling!
4) In my first internship, I was terrified to volunteer for anything that I didn’t already know how to do. “A media list? What? I’ve never… no! “ would go through my head. Luckily, I was the only intern at the firm for a few weeks, so “no” wasn’t an option. It only took a couple of tries to realize I could handle media lists, experience that has been essential at Peppercomm.
Let’s use the “diving in” metaphor. Tasks are like diving boards, the harder (or higher) they seem, the more you fear you might drown. But it’s the challenging, seemingly “out-of-your-league” tasks that will have the greatest impact on your professional development. So even though you’ll feel like this at first:
Eventually you realize:
5) Finally, being the one who’s never available to help is simply not a good reputation to have—especially for interns! We’re new, both to the company and to the PR world, so we’re expected to be a little more eager and flexible. In my opinion, the worst mistake you can make as an intern is shying away from challenges and new opportunities. Don’t be that guy:
The goal for most when finding a job is to land a position at your dream company. So you go through the interview process, you like them, they like you and a few months in, you realize you’re not actually the best fit.
No one will fault you for leaving a job after six or so months, in fact, recognizing that you are not happy/fitting within the company shows a sign of maturity (though be mindful of how many times you do that, you can be tagged as a “job jumper”).
Sometimes you just know you need to leave your job and whatever the reasons are, it is important to tactfully resign.
Check out this article from CIO.com on 5 LinkedIn Tips for How to Resign From Your Job Gracefully for some good advice if you need to leave.