Archive for Peppercomm

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. #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.
  4. 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).

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I was reminded this past weekend that there are many people who just don’t understand what we do in this industry. Over the course of my career, I have had my job described as:

1)     “She’s in advertising”

2)     “She’s like Samantha Jones”

3)     “She calls reporters all day”

4)     “She annoys reporters all day” (this is for my journalist friends . . . )

5)     “Oh, yes, she’s the middleman between companies and the people who make commercials [ad agencies]” (that’s not a job that I am aware of)

6)      “I have no idea what she does, but from what I understand, companies could do it on their own”

All of the above, and more, make my blood boil, but what do I say as a response? “No, I’m in strategic communications and marketing.” This description literally means nothing to anyone outside of the industry.

I’ve usually said something along the lines of: “I help companies communicate internally and externally a set of messages we decide makes sense for their goals.”

According to some (who shall remain nameless), this sounds like a fake job.

Both are true. The above is an accurate way to describe what I do, but it also sounds like a fake job.

So, how do we as industry professionals fix this problem? First, we have to fix ourselves. If the way someone describes their job makes it sound like it’s fake, then how do we describe it in a way that adds legitimacy to everyone outside of the profession?

It’s not easy to describe what we do. For me, this is because on a day to day basis, I jump from so many different tasks and types of work that it sounds like I have 75 different jobs. I can easily rattle off what I do and how I interact with clients and brands, but there has to be a more efficient way to do that than launching into a 15 minute speech on my work.

I think we all work to help others communicate as effectively and as efficiently as possible through various channels such as marketing, social media, public relations, etc. Perhaps there is no easier way to describe this. In fact, this is one of the ways I think I am best able to describe in layman’s terms what I do.

Hearing peers refer to themselves as public relations professionals or event planners, when I know that is just a small part of what they do, hinders the understanding of non-industry professionals—such as the people I encounter—to have no idea what we do.

We need to be better communicators and be able to communicate what we do, otherwise we may not be as effective as we think we are, right? I’m open to suggestions. Is there a better way to describe what we do?

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Sep
16

PRowl now, PRocrastinate later.

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Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern, Mandy Roth

 

Senioritis symptoms escalate uncontrollably as the familiar aromas of chlorine and sunscreen ally to invade the residence halls. You procrastinate from studying for finals by determining the exact fashion in which you will dispose of the plethora of lecture notes that has accumulated throughout the semester; whether burning, shredding, or ripping will elicit the most satisfaction. It’s finally May, and in a few days, the freedom of summer will be upon you; all will be right with the world. Suddenly you’re confronted with a petrifying epiphany: your textbook sell back failed to cover your Dave Matthews summer tour ticket and your lifeguard certifications expired months ago. The taste of freedom that has inhabited your mouth since spring break is instantly tainted with the bitter zest of reality. It’s not long before you regret the hours you spent perfecting your beer pong form and re-tweeting @UnluckyBrian when you should’ve been applying for jobs.

“Taking the summer off won’t be so bad,” you console yourself. “I’ll get a ‘real’ job in the fall anyways.” Great pep-talk, except that everyone with previous interning experience is suddenly ahead of you in the job market. “It’s ok,” you reason, “I’ve still got a few days before summer vacation. That leaves plenty of time to land an internship before June!” Your confidence is wonderful, but you’ve failed to consider where you’ll be applying and what you’re qualified for, let alone the millions of other students who made the same classic error you did.

I was fortunate enough to have been advised by my former boss, “Start your job search in the fall.” I’ll admit it seemed a bit premature at the time, especially considering that entry-level positions are often looking to be filled ASAP. In any case, I soon realized the brilliance in my boss’s advice: I now had the opportunity to familiarize myself with companies and programs to figure out exactly what I wanted and what I had to do to get there. An early start turned out to be especially crucial when I realized that many of the agencies I was interested in happened to be in New York City. Since my graduation date was still but a figment of the future, I was able to visit NYC to determine whether I could in fact call home to the city that never sleeps.

While it might be classy to arrive fashionably late to a party, it’s nothing short of dowdy to apply to a job past the deadline. Even if a company notes that they are looking for an immediate hire, it’ll never hurt to put your name in the hat. Doing so might open up a door for the future; perhaps the company can’t hire you now, but will keep your resume on file for future opportunities. Internships are in high demand, especially in this economy, and the number of intern applicants grows exponentially in the months leading up to summer. Instead of applying at rush hour, give yourself the chance to stand out by applying before the traffic gets too heavy.

Bottom line: a job isn’t going to come after you. It all comes down to being proactive, making connections, taking the time to do your research, and ultimately giving yourself the best chance possible. If you take some time throughout the year to break-away from Facebook stalking your Economics TA and research potential job opportunities instead, suddenly your last months of college might bear a rhythm of relaxation rather than a period of panic.

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Sep
11

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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Aug
08

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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Sometimes when we come to work here, we get asked to make videos . . . while wearing sunglasses. I was one of those asked to share a tip on ways to reduce stress during the summer.

Check out this video on CommPro.Biz with Steve Cody picking the brains of some Peppercommers on ways we stay cool during the hottest months of the year.

Let us know what you think of the tips and what you do to reduce stress. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear sunglasses while responding.

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Summer’s here (or will be as of tomorrow) and so is our internship program’s summer session. This week meet future communications industry star and current Peppercomm intern, Taylor Hatch.

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 am a rising senior at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and I hail from Montclair, NJ. I study Spanish and Marketing and first decided to give PR a shot last summer during an internship at a small public relations consultancy firm in New York City. I loved learning how to pitch and decided I wanted to do another PR internship at an agency, particularly one that would give me even more hands-on experience. It didn’t take me long to stumble across Peppercomm’s website and fall in love with the company culture, variety of clients, and internship description.

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

 So far, I’ve been most interested in the way social media is used as a PR tool. I think social media has enabled brands to express their personalities in ways that aren’t possible without it. it’s so interesting to see how companies that one may not expect to be “social”, like financial service companies, for example, engage customers across all platforms! Another area of PR that I’m interested in exploring is Crisis Management and, luckily for me, it completely intersects with social media. Now, when a crisis occurs, brands can’t put it off for even a day because they can instantly respond by tweeting about it. Social media is both a source of damage control and damage creation for brands and I love this area of PR because, in my opinion, it’s the most dynamic and engaging.

Any surprises or revelations about the industry?

Going from a much smaller PR firm to a mid-size agency like Peppercomm, one thing that surprised me was how many roles one agency can fill! In my first week I’ve noticed how Peppercomm owns so many of its clients’ projects from start to finish. Between research, design, events, media relations, crisis management, measurement, and so much more, it’s obvious that the industry is anything but limiting. I was happily surprised by how a career in PR can allow you to dabble in many different areas of marketing.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

While PR seems to be the place for me, I’d like to learn more about how PR agencies intersect with other types of  marketing firms, such as advertising agencies. It would be interesting to learn more about these other functions of marketing in order to better understand how to cooperate and coordinate client strategy on every level. For this reason, I definitely see myself working in an integrated marketing agency such as Peppercomm. I’ll have to see where my accounts take me this summer, but I imagine myself working with either consumer product or financial service companies in the future.

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Nick Gilyard.

Remember that one time it was your first day, of your first internship, of your first real PR practice outside of the classroom? Nope, me either. Although it’s been forever since I was “that guy”, (circa last Tuesday) these are five things I learned in my first week here at Peppercomm:

1. Classroom Time is not “Real-Time”.

In class, many of your professors will give you time (2-3 days, maybe even a week) to write out a well thought out pitch, blog post or handle some kind of simulated media relations crisis. This will not be the case when you enter the real world of PR. The account executives all around me are constantly creating, updating, responding and pitching content to and for clients. This can be shocking if you aren’t prepared for the switch, or unless you are Grumpy Cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Emails= Text Messaging for Adults.

Professors harp on you about texting (or Snapchatting) in class because they believe it distracts you from what’s going on in class. I’d argue that, minus the snapchatting, its actually good practice for the real world. Multitasking on the job is a must. The possibility that you may be interrupted at your desk or in a meeting by an email that requires an immediate response is very…very real.  It’s like getting a text from (Insert name of your best friend here) that says “Cute (insert sex of best friend’s preference here) just walked into Starbucks. What should I do?!?!!?!”  and taking forever to reply. In this scenario your best friend is upset until you promise to play the wingman/wingwoman later that night. In the work scenario, that text message was an email from a client/your boss and the repercussion for your tardiness may not be fixed with “Sry Girl, was in class. *frowny face* Still need my help <&hearts>?”[Send].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. There Really is No Such Thing as a Dumb Question.

I’ve been hearing it since elementary school and never believed it… until now. If you are interning (at least at Crain’s voted NYC #1 place to work) you are encouraged to ask questions. Don’t assume you’re an Excel, Outlook or media list expert because A: Using a program one time in class doesn’t make you an expert and B: The company employees you’re working with DON’T expect you to be an expert. They want you to ask questions, so they can teach you. So don’t Google answers to your questions, just email or stroll on over to a real person for some advice. Also this may be a question you want to avoid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of what Nick learned during his first week . . .

 

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May
14

That’s What His Boss Said

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Today’s post originally ran on The Stand Up Executive on May 13, 2013.

 

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian

As the series finale approaches for one of my favorite television shows—NBC’s The Office—I have done two things:

1)      Watched lots of old episodes to gear up for the finale (oh, and went to The Office Wrap Party in Scranton)

2)      Been thinking of lots of Michael Scott-isms

If you’re not familiar with the show, you should stop reading here and get out of the hole you’ve been living in . . . the show has been on for nine years. That’s like growing up in the 70s and never watching M*A*S*H.

Anyway, immersing myself in old episodes of The Office made me think of my favorite, real-life Michael Scott story—except this boss isn’t played by the loveable Steve Carell.

An old friend of mine works at a very buttoned up office. There are no Jims, or Dwights, or Michaels. No shenanigans, at least not in the way that you see it on the show.

One of his coworkers—we’ll call him Bob—was taking time off to go to Minnesota to visit his family. The office boss asks Bob why he is going to Minnesota. Bob’s response? “I’m going to support my brother who is competing in the Special Olympics.”

Bob’s boss’s response? “Oh, so your mom had two retarded kids.” (Cue: the boss thinking he said the most clever thing EVER and looks around to see how many sidesplitting laughs he has elicited from the rest of the employees.)

Sigh. No one laughed.

It’s pretty obvious how inappropriate Bob’s boss’s response was. In a culture like Peppercomm’s where people joke and make light of situations, this would never fly, never mind in a culture like Bob’s. Why? Because it really wasn’t funny and it was mean-spirited.

It’s OK to use humor to engage employees and help lighten the mood in a difficult situation, but one needs to know when to draw the line between funny, offensive and mean. If you’re questioning whether something may be offensive or not, you should err on the side of caution and just refrain from saying it.

Now a “that’s what she said” joke, not always appropriate, but always funny.

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Today’s post is by Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.

 

Plan abI had the great fortune to spend the past few days lecturing, mentoring and networking with the College of Charleston’s faculty, alumni and students.

I had that opportunity because I’ve been a member of the CofC’s Department of Communications Advisory Council for the past five years.

I must confess that, aside from my alma mater, Northeastern University, the College of Charleston is my extra special favorite place (that’s a riff on what the young Rep, Jr., used to call me).

During my visit, I participated in a speed networking event with 60 or so sophomores, juniors and seniors. As is the case with students I’ve met from other schools, yesterday’s group ran the gamut from the superbly poised and prepared to those who, shall we say, were somewhat lost at sea.

The best and brightest had it all:

- Relevant internships
- Significant pro bono/volunteer service
- A strong digital footprint
- A poised, professional manner
- The ability to listen and respond in the moment.

They also knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. One was combining her original interest in health care with her current passion for communications and intended to work within a large medical center after graduation. Another one had focused on internships in the fashion world and intended to combine that hands-on retail experience with her communications skills to work in the marketing group of a well-known department store.

And, then, there were the others. When I asked one senior how many interviews she’d lined up prior to graduating next month, she replied, “Oh, I’m much too busy studying for finals to worry about that. I’ll start looking after graduation.” Good luck with that.

Another admitted she had no real interest in communications at all and intended, instead, to pursue a completely different career. Oh. That immediately reminded me of a Millennial who recently interviewed at Peppercomm. When asked why she was interested in a career in PR, she responded, “Well, I’d really prefer to be a teacher.” End of interview.

Success in life is the end result of careful planning and hard work. Like their peers who are graduating from thousands of other schools this spring, some CofC students will become absolute rock stars. Others, though, will wake up in a few years’ time and realize they’ve let the world pass them by.

So, note to all college and university undergrads: the time to map your future isn’t after graduation. Focus on your passion now, land the internships that will build your credentials and network, network, network.

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Knowing how unpredictable the future will be, it’s that much more important to put a plan in place this morning and begin implementing it this afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself waking up at one minute to midnight with few, if any, career options.


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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