Archive for Career Advice

Not another News App

There are many apps that should be on every public relations professional phone, tablet and/or iPod Touch. After taking a look at Facebook PagesHootsuite and Pulse, I began to question why I never used Pulse before this time. Facebook Pages and Hootsuite are fun and easy to use, but Pulse is chalk full of information tailored for me.

The iTunes app store describes Pulse as, “Pulse by LinkedIn is the professional news app tailored to you.” The description goes on to say, “The Apple Design Award-winning app allows you to customize your news reading experience, easily explore compelling professional content, and share stories to your favorite social networks.”

There’s nothing like being introduced to a new app and I’m glad that Pulse is now part of my app library.

PR Professionals, This App is for You

Since all public relations professionals are on LinkedIn (or at least should be), it’s easy to signup for this app. Just login with your LinkedIn credentials and you’re all set. After walking through the demo it’s time to tailor it to deliver the news that you want. You can have news sights such as NPRPeople Magazine or industry trade news sites at your fingertips. The best part, it’s all in one location and with a click on the screen you’re taken to the full article.

The purpose of this app is for you to create different news channels based on your interest. So, if one of your clients works in the agricultural industry then maybe you’ll have an ag related news channel. Then below that you may have a tech related news channel for a different client. You are then able to scroll through the most recent articles published on that site and read a preview before clicking on it to read the full article.

Upon clicking on the preview you are taken to the full article or sometimes more of the article with the option of opening the rest of it via the web. Within the app you are able to leave a comment, share the article across your various social media channels, like it, bookmark it and click on embedded links.

Download vs. Not Download

It goes without saying that I think this app needs to be downloaded. Working in public relations you have to stay current with the news, especially when that news can affect your clients. Having all of your main news sources in one place makes that so much easier. You don’t have to worry about visiting individual websites and scrolling through Twitter hoping you’ll see every relevant article.

Ease of Use

From my use so far, I don’t think there are any deficiencies that I can name at this time. Maybe with a bit more time using the app, I will be able to point some out. It’s easy to change the reading style, clicking and scrolling through the articles is simple and most importantly finding and creating new channels is a breeze.

As you are navigating the busy news landscape, give this app or other similar apps a try to help make your life easier. Your teams and managers will thank you once you begin sharing relevant news articles with them each day.

 

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Nov
13

Don’t Rule Out Internships

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Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Once you graduate you may expect to start you dream job and begin putting those college internships behind you. Right? Well, in PR that is not always the case. Your career path may call for you to take on a post-grad internship (or two) before you land your first job that doesn’t have the word “Intern” in its title.

When you are looking for your first job after college be sure to apply for both entry-level positions and internships. You can work at an internship full-time allowing you to get into the flow of what life will be like in your first career job.

I suggest that you take on a lot of responsibility at your internship, treating it as if it’s the position that you want next. Ask your supervisor what’s the difference between an intern and the position above that role. This will allow you to map out your internship to help prepare you for your next position.

Other benefits/tips of a post-grad internship:

  • Allows you to work in a new city temporarily helping get your feet wet in your career and the city.
  • Take it very seriously – There is a great chance it can lead to a full-time permanent position, so act like you got the job.
  • Live your life outside of your internship as close as possible to the way you want it to be at your first career job.
  • At internships you are held responsible/accountable for your work, but it’s expected for you to be there to learn. Take advantage of this as a learning opportunity!
  • Internships, especially in PR are important for your career and your next employer will really look at all of the experience you had regardless if the job title has the word “intern” in it.
  • Don’t rule out a post-grad internship.

Overall, when you are looking for your post-grad job be sure to search the internship listings too. You never know where an internship can take you.

Keep in mind that Peppercomm hires full-time interns in both New York and San Francisco: http://peppercomm.com/employment

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Regardless of your education level you should find ways to enhance your learning: formally and/or informally. After reading the 10 ways to do this on a budget I’m committed to making sure I remain a student for life.

Here are the 10 ways to continue your PR education on a budget:

  1. Seek out free Webinars
  2. Take a class at your local community college
  3. Attend an event or conference that allows you to learn and network
  4. Find a mentor
  5. Conduct an informational interview
  6. Read industry journals
  7. Give your library card a workout
  8. Volunteer
  9. Join Twitter if you are not already a member
  10. Read up on award-winning case studies

I do a lot of these on the list already, but I really want to do more. You can read the full article here.

Which of the 10 ways to continue your PR education do you find the most interesting?

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Nov
05

14 Essentials for PR Newbies

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Today’s post is in response to this article

There are always so many tips for new PR pros and the above mentioned article is no different. There are great tips like always, but at the end of the day it’s up to you how you will be during your career. I suggest being proactive and searching out work in your current job, but know your limits. You don’t want to take on so much work that you begin missing deadlines.

The article gave 14 tips and here are my favorite five:

  • Learn a client’s industry and their business
    • How can you add value if you don’t know how your clients make money? Get in the trenches. Study your clients and their competition.
  • Network
    • The future belongs to those who can do the work and sell the work. Build relationships in the business community. Get involved in civic and charitable organizations, and don’t expect your company to pay for it all. You must invest in yourself.
  • Develop your oral and written communication skills
    • If you don’t know how to research a company and write a press release, you won’t make it in this field.
  • Dedicate yourself to learning
    • Those who go the extra mile to learn on their own will make it further. Firms are working with limited resources and don’t have time to spoon-feed newbies. If you learned how to do a research paper in college, apply those techniques on the job.
  • Watch business trends and analyze their impact on clients
    • In time, this trait will come to those who are naturally curious. I love curiosity, because it breeds creativity and ingenuity. Employers, seek employees who are naturally curious.

From the list above do you have a favorite or would you add anything else?

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Nov
03

5 Skills PR Interns Need

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Someone recently shared this PRNewser article with me, 5 Important Skills PR Interns Should Possess Before They Get the Gig. Starting my career as an intern, I remembering hearing these tips (and similar ones) many times. This advice came from mentors, internship managers, professors, school advisers and the like. After reading the article, I have to agree that having the following five skills will help interns move to the next level. Although, these same tips should be remembered at any stage in a public relations professionals career.

  1. Writing
  2. Multitasking
  3. Speaking
  4. Researching
  5. Questioning

Writing is a given. Be it in the form of a press release or email, being able to write is crucial in this industry. Multitasking for me is more about balancing my workload to get everything completed without trying to do everything at once. Attempting to write a press release, make a phone call and send a tweet all at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Instead, it’s about your ability to switch quickly from one project to the next while still producing quality work.

Speaking is an important skill to have when giving a presentation or making a cold call for a media pitch. Learning how to master the art of talking with a purpose is key to communicating with clients, the media and coworkers. Researching as an intern was one of the task I remembering having to do almost everyday. Using resources outside of Google really helped in sharpening my skills and gave me the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to my teams. Finally, ask questions. Questioning is something that you should never stop doing and as you advance you’ll become a lot better at it.

These are just a sample of skills that a PR intern needs in order to reach that next level. What other skills do you think are important?

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Oct
17

My First Job: Cashier

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Today’s guest post is by JGAPeppercomm account executive, Caitlin Brown.

I simultaneously loved – and despised – my first job (technically I was a babysitter first, but let’s not split hairs). I was 16, and having grown up without ever having household chores, starting a part-time job was painful – I obviously just wanted to hang out with my friends and watch TV.

In order to learn some responsibility, my parents decided I was not allowed to have a cell phone until I could pay for it on my own. Hence, I needed a job, and fast; it was 2006, and I needed that flip phone!

So what did I do? I applied to be a cashier at Wegmans, the best grocery store ever1. You may not think that your first job would have many similarities to your career, but you’d be surprised just what you learn:

Money Management Matters: As I mentioned, I needed a job in order to finally have a cell phone. As a part-time, underage worker, I could legally only work a certain number of hours, and I received minimum wage. Granted, my expenses weren’t out of control, but once I was able to purchase a phone and a cellular plan, I realized I had to keep paying for it – month after month. I quickly learned not to blow my entire paycheck on one trip to the mall, and I began to volunteer for extra shifts when possible.

It’s OK to Ask for Help: Even as a cashier, mistakes happen. Maybe you dropped someone’s fresh-from-the-oven pizza (yep, I did that), are having issues with the scanner/coupons, or someone refuses to give you their ID when they try to purchase beer. Never be afraid to call for a manager, or ask another coworker for help. You are constantly learning on the job and are interacting with others, and another set of eyes and ears can help turn around any sticky situation.

No Matter What, Always Smile: When a grocery store is full, you’d be shocked at the fast-paced environment for its employees. As a cashier, you are essentially the face of the store – so turn that frown upside down! This applies for anyone in a client-facing position; even if the customer isn’t always right, being pleasant goes a long way to making yourself and the company look good, and provides the customer with an overall pleasant experience.

 

1. Do not test Upstate New Yorkers on this; Wegmans is the best, and I stand by it. 

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Oct
13

Did I Do That?

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

As you’re starting off your career and all throughout it mistakes are bound to happen. No matter how hard we try to be perfect, that’s not always going to be the reality. Instead of beating yourself up over a mistake, here’s what I say do instead:

  • Treat it as a crisis
    • Figure out the quickest way to fix it and do it.
    • You want to be able to say, “It’s handled,” as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t deny or make excuses
    • Refrain from making excuses as to why it happened because that only waste time.
    • Instead, state the facts if someone ask and be a part of the solution.
  • You’re in the midst of the storm, don’t give up
    • You have to make up for the mistake, so fatigue is not an option.
    • Get the job done to reverse any of the consequences from the mistake.
  • The mistake is fixed, but you’re not done
    • Be apologetic, especially when it effects others.
      • This may mean an in-person apology or email blast to those team members involved.
      • Take ownership for the mistake, reassure the team you’ve learned from it and apologize again.
  • Dust it off and move on
    • You’ve survived the “crisis” and now it’s time to move on.
    • Just take note of what you did, learn so the next time you can do better.

Your career is all about learning and evolving and with that comes mistakes. Remember that they’re not the end of the world and remain optimistic that it will be alright.

How have you handled mistakes you have made on the job in the past?

 

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Today’s guest post is by JGAPeppercomm director, Lauren Banyar Reich

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I’ve never been a fan of small children (and yes, I am now a mother of two… go figure).  So it came as no surprise that at the ripe old age of 14, I ran to my high school guidance counselor’s office, eager to obtain a working permit that would allow me to leave behind my days as a disgruntled babysitter.

After a holiday season spent working at the local nursery/Christmas “depot” I finally settled into what I would consider my first, official, real job – working as a sales person in a high-end ladies clothing boutique. For over seven years, all through high school and college, I worked at Annie-Prue Limited under the tutelage of Annie and her daughter Stephanie, who co-managed the store at the time.

Know that this was no typical retail job.  Annie didn’t suffer fools (even foolish customers) gladly, and was known to write off people based solely on a limp handshake.  She and Stephanie ran a tight ship, and did a brisk business selling labels like Longchamp, Donald Pliner, Eileen Fisher, Nicole Miller and others that you couldn’t buy anywhere but in their namesake boutiques in Philadelphia at the time.  Their clients were Wilmington Society ladies, wives of Philadelphia Phillies baseball players and relatives of the Wyeth family.

In other words, I’m not really sure why they hired me – a lanky, 15-year-old with no fashion knowledge – other than the fact that I was cheap and my parents promised to drop me off and pick me up on time.  But I’m certainly glad they did.  The lessons I learned during my tenure working for two dynamic and successful female entrepreneurs proved to be invaluable as I began to navigate the business world.  So what did I learn?

Be enthusiastic.  After my initial interview with Annie, I knew we had hit it off.  In fact, she all but offered me the job.  As we were wrapping up, she asked, offhand, how old I was.  When I answered, “Fifteen, last week,” I saw her face drop.  I reacted immediately by assuring her that I would be on time, even early, for every shift.  I promised to work hard and be dependable. I didn’t beg, but I showed her my enthusiasm for the job.  I wanted to work for her and I let her know it.  Within two weeks I was opening and closing the store on my own.

You can’t teach someone to have an enthusiastic, positive attitude – or to work hard.  People have to want that for themselves.  But you can show your boss, your co-workers, a prospective client, that you are someone they want on their team because of your passion and work ethic.  When it comes to breaking into PR – or any business – there’s always someone with more experience than you, so be the one with the best attitude and most enthusiasm for the job at hand.

Build relationships.  After just a few months of working at Annie-Prue, I knew the “regulars.”  After a few seasons, I knew the whole crew:  the men who visited for holidays and birthdays who expected us to pick out a selection of clothes and accessories their wives would love; the horse-lovers looking for the latest fashion-forward riding boots or preppy outerwear; the mom/daughter pairs who came in for every special occasion dress.  Hearing, “Oh you know what I like,” was always music to my ears.  It meant that I could pull the right items, with the right fit, for the right occasion, pretty quickly – and make a good sale without spending hours tearing up the store looking for a needle in a haystack.

Because I had strong relationships with my clients, I was able to work smarter, close more business and deliver on their expectations.  By listening, learning how to read people and building trust with our customers, my job became a whole lot easier – and I became better at it, faster.  In business, everyone says “it’s all about relationships,” because it is TRUE.  But if you want to boil it down to the basics, it’s also about getting ahead.  If you have strong, authentic, relationships with people inside and outside of your organization, you will produce better work without spinning your wheels.  And you’re likely to move up the corporate ladder much faster.

Treat your boss like your number one client.  In any retail situation, there can be a lot of downtime.  Maybe it was how my parents raised me, or maybe it’s just that I’m not very good at sitting still, but I was always asking Annie and Stephanie for jobs to do.  We would put together look books, create trend collages to put up in the dressing rooms, or I would help file invoices or manage markdowns on the sale rack.  Whenever possible I would ask how I could help, or take it upon myself to straighten the store, wipe the shelves or clean the front window.  I knew that if they found me to be useful, I would always have a job there… and it worked.

No one is irreplaceable (sorry, it’s true), but if you can create a situation where your boss depends on you for things that make their life easier, you start to become indispensable.  Thinking about him or her as your number one client is a good way to start.  How can you support them with research before a big pitch meeting?  What can you do to make them look smart in front of higher-ups at the company?  On the flipside, just as you wouldn’t gossip about someone in front of a client, maintain that same decorum in front of your superiors.  If you wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit at a client meeting, don’t wear it to work.

Also, I’m with Annie on the handshake test… but that’s a whole other column.

 

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Nicole Inserra

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

I’m a New Yorker, born in Westchester and currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. So, I guess you could say I’m a New Yorker to my core. I recently graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx with a degree in Communications and Media Studies and with a minor in Environmental Policy. There was a time when I thought my future was going to take a more science based path, but then I had to enroll in multi-variable calculus and physics, and that was the end of that. I’ve completed a variety of communication type internships throughout college, ranging from public relations specific to special event coordinating and luxury wedding planning. Each has been a rewarding internship in its own right, and I’ve immensely enjoyed the experiences. I decided after college I wanted to try public relations again, and stumbled across Peppercomm through word of mouth.  After reading about its comedy training and dog lover theme, I knew it would be the perfect home for me. Alas, here I am!

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

I love the media relations aspect of this industry. I’m quite a talker, which anyone at this company would attest to, so I really enjoy getting to interact with the reporters and journalists. When a reporter writes back and agrees to cover a story you pitched, it’s the best feeling. You can’t help but do a little happy dance when that happens. It’s also an industry that is continually evolving, which makes it super exciting to be involved. Nothing is ever stagnant or dull in this industry. If I could focus all of my energies on the luxury accounts, I’d definitely be right in my element, but I know how beneficial it is to experience the many different types. You can’t know what you like until you try it all.

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

Honestly, I was surprised by the environment here at Peppercomm. In the past, I’ve only worked for very small firms, so the number of co-workers was easily below ten. The atmosphere was always very relaxed and comfortable. I wondered if working at a big time strategic marketing firm would be the complete opposite. I was a little worried, but couldn’t believe how wrong I was since day one. Peppercomm is the most creative, fun-loving, interactive and energetic company I’ve ever worked for. The ideas are constantly flowing, and it is so obvious how much everyone here really enjoys and is passionate about what they do. I’ve experienced a variety of different companies, and this one by far produces the most well rounded, and happiest employees yet. Most importantly, I’ve found that my co-workers serve as each other’s biggest fans. The encouragement is never ending.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

My future is as much a mystery to you as it is to me. I could definitely see myself staying within the public relations realm, but I like to keep my options open. Event planning is my passion deep down, specifically luxury wedding planning, and I do hope to one day find a place in that industry again. I guess only time will tell… Stay tuned!

 

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Hughes.

WILX“What on earth will you do in the real world with a degree in English?” Those were my mother’s exact words when I changed my major from Journalism to English. To be honest I don’t even remember my response, I just let my love of reading and writing lead my way.

Then graduation came and the inevitable job search. As I pursued job postings on “Pure Michigan Talent” having moved to a new state with my law-school boyfriend I couldn’t help but hear my mother’s words repeating through my head. After a few days…weeks… ok two months of blissful baking, reading, “Netflixing” and job searching, I found one that match my lack of experience and eagerness to earn money. News Writer: Part-time, overnight hours. The interview was pretty quick, once my soon-to-be boss learned I would be happy to work part-time and any hour possible.

With an English degree you would think writing for the news would be a piece of cake, and in some degree it was. What isn’t easy is being thrown into producing a full show within two weeks and having to learn television news programs, news room lingo, and timing all while writing. I was the new weekend morning show news producer, fresh out of college and still not sure what SOT (Sound on Camera) stood for.

My third weekend of producing the hour long morning show, I had a live shot scheduled at a marathon. For those of you that don’t know, a live shot is where a reporter is going live from an event and producer “tosses” to them from the control room. Between timing the show and the live shot being a few seconds behind, timing can get tricky. Long story short, my live shot consisted of runners at the end of the show, with my anchors having no time left to say goodbye or even explain what the audience was watching.

You would think messing up a live shot would be a fire able offense, (despite never being told how to actually pull one off) but my boss just said oh well, next time. I quickly learned that I had to teach myself everything when it came to producing, otherwise be thrown into something never being taught. After two months I became a full time producer, producing the weekend morning news shows (shift midnight-8 a.m.) and the 10 o’clock Fox news cast during the week (shift 2 p.m. – 11 p.m.)

The hours were exhausting, despite sleeping in a cave it is simply weird to sleep during the day and be awake at night, especially when your shift changes after the weekend. I learned how to somewhat successfully shoot a live shot, without cutting off the anchors or reporter. I also learned that my boss would gladly pay me as little as possible for the most amount of work I was willing to do.

It was my first job out of college, and I was quickly learning the way the world worked (at least in the news industry.) My colleagues who had been at the station for years, and were producing-wizards were consistently talking about “the good old days” of great pay and fair treatment. Being a few producers short became a common thing, since most people who want to be in the news industry want to be on air. At some point I found myself producing shows at back-to-back shifts. Producing the 10 o’clock show on a Friday night, and then staying at the station an hour until my 12 a.m. shift for the weekend morning show. It was one of those sleepless nights that I wondered… “What have I gotten myself into?”

To be continued…

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Categories : Career Advice
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Intern Video

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