Archive for Peppercomm

In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, Samantha Rushovich.  

 

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

I am a rising senior at Boston University studying public relations at the College of Communications. I’m also minoring in Film & Television and have a concentration in Anthropology . . . so I’m very busy!

I’m originally from Stamford, CT just 45 minutes outside the city. I have lived in the same house my whole life and I love it. I have had dogs since I was about three years old. I am practically dying at school without my pups, but I try to see them when I can. Occasionally my parents will be nice enough to drop off my dog in Boston to stay with me for a weekend before I meet them in Maine (we have a vacation house there). So, yes, I have sleepovers with my dog J.

When beginning my search for summer internships I decided I was going to be ambitious and only apply to the top firms. I knew I wanted to spend the summer in NYC, since it’s closer to home than Boston and I was ready for a new city for a bit. I looked up the top 50 PR firms in NYC and then looked through all their websites to see which ones had internship programs. Peppercomm specifically caught my eye because of the emphasis on comedy and work culture. I was learning through my internship in London at the time, that work environment has a huge impact on how enjoyable a job can be. It gave me that extra push to put just a little more effort into my Peppercomm application.

Oh, and Peppercomm is named after a dog, so I can’t lie, that definitely impacted my decision to work here.

 

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

It’s hard to say which area of PR I like the most. I’ve had experience in-house and I have now interned at a couple of agencies and one nonprofit, so my experience has been pretty broad. I definitely see myself going into nonprofit at some point, but I haven’t yet decided if I would want to be in-house at a major nonprofit, like the ASPCA, or if I would want to handle nonprofit accounts at a firm. I love the agency life!

I’ve always been pretty involved in charity and volunteer work. It’s mainly my love for animals that has driven me to be as active as I have been in the past. It’s one of my strongest passions, so it would be great to combine that with my love for PR.

 

3) Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

I never expected to have as much autonomy as I do here at Peppercomm. I’m encouraged to throw ideas out there and to follow them through if my teams agree on it. I never imagined my client teams would value my opinions as much as they do. That experience alone has made this internship one of a kind.

I’ve also finally seen firsthand how CRAZY life as a PR professional is. My to-do lists are more than a page long before I have even had my coffee. I have had busy internships in the past, but I usually had a supervisor who told me what my priorities should be. However, at Peppercomm I’m on accounts and don’t have someone managing my projects for me. It’s all on me and I love the busy-ness of it all. I never thought I would feel so ready to enter the workforce, but now I’m eager to graduate and get going with my career!

 

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

 In the short term, I definitely see myself ending up at a mid-size, full-service agency. After graduation that would be ideal! I also could see myself joining one of the major global PR firms at some point.

WAY down the road I hope to open my own agency that specializes in nonprofits. I would like to cater to them based on their budgets and find ways to provide low cost services that are still highly effective. I have a lot to learn before I can start planning that though.

Working for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) would also be a dream come true. I’ve admired quite a few of their campaigns over the years and am a huge supporter of their cause.

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Today’s guest post is from Meredith Briggs, future PR/communications star and current Peppercomm intern.

 

4For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a French and American Studies double major at Trinity College, a small liberal arts school in Hartford, CT. The French major is pretty self-explanatory, but American Studies occasionally throws people off. Most people just assume it’s synonymous with American history, but it’s much more than that. This major looks at all different aspects of American culture and lifestyle. For example, why we do certain things and what influences us.  I have taken classes ranging from “American Technology,” to “Female Bodies in 19th Century America,” to, my personal favorite, “American Food and Culture.” I chose to be an American Studies major because each semester I was drawn to the classes–there is such a wide range of classes to take. But while I do love my majors, for the past couple of years I have been drawn to the fast-paced PR/communications world. So, here I am today, a PR/communications intern who has never taken a class even remotely close to PR, advertising, marketing or journalism.

When I applied for my first PR internship last summer, the only knowledge I really had about the industry was from watching Kim Cattrall’s portrayal of Samantha Jones on Sex and the City. I’ve come to learn is not the most accurate portrayal of the industry, but hey, what else did I have to go on?  As soon as I heard that I had landed an interview with a PR firm I had applied to, I immediately called my dad. Of course he was excited and proud and wanted to do whatever he could to help me prepare and succeed. After we hung up my dad emailed me a document full of practice questions and told me to start practicing.

I sat at the desk in my dorm room and opened the document. The first question he listed was bolded with a red asterisk next to it saying “This will, without a doubt, be the first question they ask you.” Overwhelmed by the thought that I was too simple and had nothing to offer, I called my dad again. “Already?” he said. I started to hysterically explain to him that I would have nothing to talk about in my interview. My dad then asked, “Well, tell me a little about yourself.” I started to give the most basic answers: name, where I was from, school, and majors. Before I could even continue he interrupted me and asked me to explain my majors. After I answered, he asked me to explain why I picked each major. Lastly, he asked me how it applied to the PR world. If he had asked me this right after I had “told him a little about myself,” I would have said it doesn’t at all. But after having asked me the other two questions, I knew there was connection. After taking a few moments to think, I began rattling off different ways in which my majors actually helped me.

While I may not speak French in the office, having spoken French since 1st grade has provided me with many opportunities that allowed me to expand how I saw and thought of the world. I went to an immersion elementary school where all of my classes were taught in French. In 5th grade I participated in a “Back to Back” program, where at the age of 10 I traveled to Brittany, France, and lived alone with a family for a month and a half. The fall semester of my junior year of college I was again given the opportunity to study abroad in Paris. For four months I studied alongside French students, and explored France, along with other parts of Europe, which allowed me to change how I saw the world. Going to a very small high school, and a fairly small college, I was fairly closed minded to any world outside of what I knew. But exploring different cultures allowed me to not only learn about but actually experience different cultures and understand how and why they do certain things.

As for my American Studies major, it first and foremost gave me a chance to practice writing, which is, as you all know, very important in PR. In the PR industry you have to write a certain way for different people, just as you have to with different professors and different topics. Even at Peppercomm I write pitches one way for a financial services client, and another way for a consumer client, because the people I’m hoping to attract are two very different types of people. My American Studies major has also taught me to think about how to approach a situation or topic from all different aspects. My sophomore year I had to write a seven page paper analyzing a medical advertisement from the 19th century. While at first the task seemed impossible, as the ad was relatively small, I ended up writing more than the seven pages. I analyzed how the characters in the ad were portrayed, from their poses to their clothes, how that reflected the time period, the written text, and who the intended audience was, to name a few. These are all critical thinking skills that the industry uses daily, and I was able to learn them even without the traditional PR major.

When I went in for the interview I was nervous, of course, but had a new confidence I was lacking before.  While on paper I may not have seemed like the most ideal candidate for a PR internship, I knew I had something to offer them. I was essentially pitching myself to this company for a summer internship position, just as you all pitch your clients to publications. They may not always be the most obvious choice for the article, but as a PR professional, or in my case a desiring PR professional, it is up to you to highlight all of the possibilities your clients have to offer, instead of any downfalls they may have. Fortunately, my pitch was successful and I was offered the position. My summer internship only reinforced my desire to continue in the PR industry, and taught me (along with my dad) that even though I don’t have a PR background, that doesn’t put me at a disadvantage for succeeding in the PR world.

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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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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