Archive for PR


Calling All Interns

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Having helped run Peppercomm’s intern program for several years–knowing hat to look for in a candidate has become second nature.

We’re always looking for candidates who are:

  • Smart (duh)
  • Capable
  • Quick studies
  • Willing to learn
  • Fit in  with our unique culture

Of course, there are some basic skills that are a must such as great writing and researching skills. It’s always a bonus if you already posses some media relations skills, but those are skills that can certainly be taught.

If you’re interested in our program, SURPRISE, we’re hiring now. Check out our intern program page for more information and how to apply. And if you’re looking for the perfect intern model, here’s a great video to use as a “guide” (maybe don’t do everything from this video . . . or any of it–but who doesn’t love the Muppets): What If The Muppets Were Interns.

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The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Madeline Skahill.


Madeline Skahill 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 am a recent graduate from Wake Forest University and I have ventured all the way from Williamsburg, Virginia. Whether you were forced to dress up in 18th century colonial garb by your grandparents or peer-pressured by fellow classmates to endlessly ride all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, I am sure there are a few hidden gems that have been so lucky to have experienced my hometown. With that said, I could not be more excited to be in New York City.

Last summer, I worked as a PR intern for the National Park Foundation and was fortunate to get hands-on experience in promoting the parks nationwide. I wanted to continue my passion of PR, however, continue this passion with an agency. Within the first few minutes of looking at Peppercomm’s website, I knew it was the place for me. From the evident vibrant culture to the dynamic list of clients, Peppercomm has proven to be the perfect fit.

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

The area of the industry I find the most interesting is the distinct role the media plays within the agency. All forms of media, from print to digital, play a tremendous part in the future of a brand or corporation. I love experiencing the constant contact between a PR agency and media outlets as well as the ability to watch a particular client’s progress in the media spotlight.

3)     Any surprises or revelations about the industry?

The importance of Crisis Communication within a PR agency has proven to be one of my biggest surprises thus far. Within a matter of seconds, an entire group of individuals are forced to put on their thinking caps and act fast with the future of a company lying in their hands.  Before, I always thought this was the role of corporations, however, with the emphasis of Crisis Communication at Peppercomm, I truly understand the importance an agency plays in handling anything that may come their way.

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

I would love to continue the path of working at an agency and balancing multiple clients rather than working for a particular corporation. I would also love to be able to work for a client from the ground up. The beginning stages of a company are filled with bright new ideas and have the ability to alter the way the general public views the world. It would be a tremendous accomplishment to be with a client at the starting line and be able to see their progress and achievements firsthand.


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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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Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, Aaron Rodgers’s birthday—it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. With so many occasions to observe, it’s just a matter of time before corporate holiday parties scuttle their way onto the handy dandy Outlook calendar.

Seeing as we’re here to advise on entry-level PR, what kind of mentors would we be if we didn’t provide a little direction on holiday party etiquette? Below, we’ve compiled several tips for navigating your corporate festivities, and making sure you don’t give your managers any reason to quote Taylor Swift on, “I knew you were trouble when you walked in.”

  • Keep it classy. Contrary to popular belief, staying classy isn’t reserved for those residing in San Diego. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your colleagues and managers can and will take note of your behavior. You don’t want to be that girl/guy whose behavior is still a topic of conversation at your firm’s holiday shindig in 2019. Take Mean Girls’ supporting character Amber D’Alessio for example. She may have made out with a hot dog just one time, but people don’t forget. Amber can’t go back in time to fix her famous frank faux pas, but it’s not too late for you to keep it classy. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Use the holiday party as an opportunity to really get to know your colleagues. Electing to participate in the summer kickball league was one of the best choices I made during my interning period at Peppercomm, as it posed an opportunity to connect with colleagues outside of the business context. The holiday party presents a similar opportunity: an occasion to click with coworkers in a casual, stress-free environment. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and converse with people you may not be extremely familiar with—that’s exactly what you should be doing!
  • If you’re going to drink, have a glass of water between each beer. Holiday parties are not the time to whip out your tremendous beer pong skills, or engage in a flip cup competition- especially as an intern. Socially drinking is acceptable, but you never want to be “that intern” for years to come. General rule of thumb is watch the alcohol intake- and as tempting as it may be when you see other coworkers engage in such behavior- do as they say, and not as they do. Which brings us to our next point…
  • Don’t always do as you see. Depending on your office situation, some office parties can be a little more “free” than others. If you see a supervisor/superior drinking a little more than they should, it doesn’t mean you should, too. Always err on the side of caution and keep it to a two drink maximum. It’s important to always maintain a level of professionalism.
  • Dress the part. Ask your coworkers who may have been at former office parties what the dress code is. You don’t want to be underdressed—or on the flip side—wearing a gown if it’s casual.
  • Beware the next day. Whether or not you’re always early, right on time or a few minutes late for work—make SURE that you’re early for work on the morning following your corporate party. This is a day some higher-ups may be paying attention to those who are a bit late or, even worse, calling in sick. Even if you have completely legitimate excuses, being late or calling in is a red flag that you may have had too much fun the night before . . . and believe me, people notice.

For even more tips on the topic, see Jacqueline Whitmore’s recent Entrepreneur piece 7 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble During Your Holiday Office Party.

Do you have any holiday party horror stories or additional etiquette tips to share? Please comment below—we’d love to hear from you!

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Six Things . . .

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We all love lists, right? I sure do (*cough* Buzzfeed *cough*). I came across two lists this past week that not only give good advice, but also have fantastic imagery to go along with each point. One has to do with what journalists do that annoy PR pros and, of course, the second list looks at what PR pros do to annoy journalists.

I hope you enjoy as much as I do:

Six Things Journalists Do That Piss Off PR Pros

Six Ways PR Flacks Piss Off Journalists

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Categories : PR, Public Relations
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I hope you pictured me with a cane while shaking my fist when reading the headline.

Almost every intern session, we have one or two people innocently ask, “How did you do XYZ before the internet?”

Luckily for me, I was not working in the field prior to Google being the go-to for any quick research, so I have always been able to look up a reporter, do research, pull data, etc.

It always surprises me when that question pops up—maybe because I was used to not simply relying on the Internet in school. I definitely benefited, but even in college, I was still mainly using books (yay, being a history major and really getting to know LexisNexis).

When I first started in the industry, I had purchased a book on public relations that might have been printed in the late-90s. Most of the tactics were tailored for pre-internet success, which was great for learning how things used to be done. Not so great for getting things done when I had no one to learn from.

So, what did you have to do without the internet to be effective in the industry? You were making more phone calls, having more in-person meetings and you were fighting over a printed database of media contacts that was issued periodically.

After doing some research (yes, using the internet), it looks like there are a fair amount of “history of PR” courses offered.  I’m not sure if this is a requirement for any programs, but it should be. It’s always good to know about your own industry and how it started and evolved. Even the term “PR” is too specific to describe the type of work I do at least at a strategic communications and marketing firm.

But not knowing the history and evolution of your own industry goes beyond knowing how current companies were formed. You can learn about effective tactics that might be applicable today, spark ideas, but, most importantly, not look “uneducated” by asking questions like that to supervisors who may have worked during the time before the internet.

The Economist printed an interesting article a few years ago that touches on some of the beginnings of the industry as we know it.  I’ve been looking into some good books–and better than the ones I initially read–that provide a good history of the industry, but am always open to suggestions.

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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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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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So, that fire training exercise that took place yesterday at Logan International Airport in Boston, Mass. . . .

Yes, you read that correctly. An airport in a major US city held a fire training exercise complete with roaring flames and heavy smoke on the anniversary of Sept. 11th. Yikes. Poor timing?

It’s also an interesting choice of timing considering the bombings at the Boston Marathon just a few short months ago.

When the announcement of the exercises was made, followers of the airport on Twitter began to make a bit of noise.

There have been statements and apologies from various Massachusetts officials including my personal favorite from Governor Deval Patrick saying the decision was “just dumb.”

From my perspective, the various parties acted quickly and disseminated those well-phrased statements across various channels—reaching out to the media and making good use of social media. We’ll ignore the one from Salvatore LaMattina, a city councilor, who was quoted in The Boston Globe as saying:

“Sept. 11 happened 12 years ago, and it was a horrific event in America’s history,” he said. “My East Boston neighborhood was shaken. But now we . . . and the airport, must move on. The firefighters, those are our first responders, and so it’s only fitting that they train today.”

No, Councilor LaMattina, it is not fitting for them to train on that day, maybe in another 20 years it could be, but another day would have been more appropriate.

Excluding that comment and outside of not holding the exercise on that day, it seems like officials did what they could in light of the poor decision. Hopefully it will just help for officials to think a little more about actions and implications.

What are your thoughts? Think the reaction from officials was good? Think there was something more they could have done? Whether you’re an intern, entry-level, etc., it’s always important to think about potential responses. Let us know what you think!

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If you’ve been keeping up with this blog and some of our posts on interning and the Peppercomm internship program, you know that it is one that provides a great set of skills and experiences. I went through this program and can certainly attest to how it prepared me for the industry.

One of our current (though, soon to be going back to school) interns, Nick Gilyard, has shared some of his internship experiences this summer in this CNBC story on college courses that help grads land a job. You’ll find some great insights. Let us know if you agree.

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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