Archive for Tips and Tricks
Sometimes it’s difficult to get through those tasks on the good ole “to-do” list. Especially the boring ones. As much as we’d love to say that you can just forget about having to complete the guilty task, we all know that we can’t.
In lieu of the free pass on tough assignments that you don’t want to do, check out this helpful article from Inc. on how to get through those hard to complete items on your list.
Are they any other tips you have for getting through an especially tough assignment?
Today’s post is a continuation of another post from one of our rock star interns & future PR pro, Jamie Hogan, on interview etiquette. You can read the first part here, but read on as she goes through some of the obvious (and some not so obvious) tips on how to be successful in your next job interview:
- Bring an extra copy (or two) of your resume printed on nice paper.
This is an “old school” rule of thumb, but one that should be followed. I don’t feel like this is stressed as much these days, but keep in mind that more often than not, you probably aren’t being interviewed by a millennial. If you’re asked for a copy of your resume and you have one on hand, you look mature and prepared.
- Speaking of prepared…PREPARE.
I once referred a friend for a job because she had been out of work for a bit and her past experience was a perfect fit for the position. I found out later that when asked why she was interested, her response was, “Because I need a job.”
Not only was this embarrassing for me (I referred her!) it was a blatant act of being unprepared for certain questions. You should always show up with a good response for the following:
“Why do you think this position would be a good fit?”
- “Because I need a job” is not going to work”
“Do you have any questions for me?”
- Do your research on the company. Have at least one (but hopefully more than that in case they answer it during your interview) question that you can ask.
“What is a negative quality that you possess?”
- I think this one is key. It’s easy to get caught up in singing your own praises (that’s what you should be doing!) but if asked, you don’t want to say, “I don’t have any negative qualities.” If that’s your answer, your negative quality is that you show up unprepared for things. On the other hand, don’t give an insincere response. They will see right through an answer like, “I work too hard, that’s always been my downfall.” Come up with something that’s realistic, but punctuate it by saying that it’s something you’re working to improve.
- Be yourself, but within reason.
Show off your winning personality, but maintain a level of competence and professionalism. If you get hired, you can (maybe someday) share stories of what happened when you went out last night, but during an interview is probably not the time. A personal anecdote here or there is fine if the situation really calls for it, but don’t go overboard.
A good interview is not just about being qualified, outgoing and coming in with a 4.0 GPA. While all of that can definitely help you score the job of your dreams, sometimes the devil is in the details.
And please, remember to forget that you own a cell phone.
Any tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way that Jamie should add to her list?
Today’s post is one of two from one of our rock star interns & future PR pro, Jamie Hogan, on interview etiquette.
The end of the academic year is rapidly approaching and the hunt for jobs is as competitive as ever. As someone who has been on both sides of the interview process at one time or another, here are some of the obvious (and maybe not so obvious) tips for representing yourself positively in an interview.
- The moment you walk through the door, pretend the interview has started.
The first impression can begin as early as your arrival. If you’re waiting in the lobby, sit up straight, look confident and keep your things (coat, folder, purse) in order. A great trick to remember is that the receptionist is also their employee! I worked at the front desk of a company for a couple of years and I would be asked how a person conducted themselves while they waited. If someone was rude or acted in a way that was really unprofessional, I was truthful about it.
Also, forget that you own a cell phone. Even better, turn it off. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, it can be boring to wait for someone without checking email quickly or updating your Facebook status (“Job interview, wish me luck, yay!”), but if management rounds a corner to collect you and you’re scrolling through your phone, it shows disinterest on your part and that you might not have the capacity or attention span to do the job you’re there for.
- Dress appropriately for a job interview.
This does not always mean a full suit, but it does mean you should be neat and pulled together. See Repman Cody’s blog for some sound advice.
- Shake hands like you mean it.
The limp, or “dead fish” handshake may not make or break an interview, but I think it’s worth mentioning. No one’s going to report back that you shook hands well, but sometimes a bad handshake gets scrutinized. Be sure to make eye contact and have a firm, meaningful grip.
It’s such a simple thing to correct, so don’t let this become a strike against you!
- Keep your hands to yourself (when you’re not shaking someone else’s).
On a recent interview that my husband conducted, the person who was brought in nervously played with a telephone cord that was on the table during the entire meeting. This act raised a red flag and while this wasn’t the only reason, the individual did not end up getting the job.
If you know you’re a fidgety person, discreetly sit on your hands if you have to. Just don’t touch anything that isn’t yours. And if it is yours, like a pen or a notepad, be reasonable when handling them.
And, again, forget that you own a cell phone.
Stay tuned for the rest of Jamie’s advice on interview etiquette.
The goal for most when finding a job is to land a position at your dream company. So you go through the interview process, you like them, they like you and a few months in, you realize you’re not actually the best fit.
No one will fault you for leaving a job after six or so months, in fact, recognizing that you are not happy/fitting within the company shows a sign of maturity (though be mindful of how many times you do that, you can be tagged as a “job jumper”).
Sometimes you just know you need to leave your job and whatever the reasons are, it is important to tactfully resign.
Check out this article from CIO.com on 5 LinkedIn Tips for How to Resign From Your Job Gracefully for some good advice if you need to leave.
Whether or not you love or hate the media relations aspect of the industry, you typically need to have it mastered to be able to successfully progress in communications.
So how do you get to mastering this “art”? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.
Here are a few tips to help you get your pitch perfect before you reach out to anyone:
- Write out the key points you want to make; you can keep them in front of you when making calls, but writing it down will help you to figure out what you want to say and help identify the most important points you need to discuss.
- Practice! Ask another account team member or even just mumble it to yourself. If you can’t keep concisely convey the point, you are not ready to call anyone, especially not a busy person in the media. This will also help you to make sure you don’t stumble over any points.
- Be sure to keep your initial pitch down to 20-30 seconds. If the person you’ve called keeps you on the phone longer and asks, questions, that’s great, but keep it short when first trying to sell the idea.
- Do your research. Make sure the person you’re calling is the BEST person at that particular outlet, which means you should be reading what they typically cover and all recent articles.
- Emailing a pitch? Common sense says that you should proofread it, but it also never hurts to have someone else from your team take a quick look to make sure it’s informative, yet to the point.
These are just a few items to keep in mind when pitching. If you get nervous, just remember, you’re pitching via email and/or the phone, no one can see you.
Today’s post is by fellow Peppercomm Intern Committee member, Jason Green.
If you operate under the assumption that no one strives to be thought of as boring, it is hard to figure out how we end up sifting through so many indistinguishable cover letters and resumes during hiring season. The content contained in each cover letter and resume is not always uninteresting, but I am talking about how it is presented.
We differentiate for a living – when positioning our clients and when it comes to our personal brands. So it is no surprise that we are looking for someone that can demonstrate the ability to differentiate themselves from the e-mail above and below them in the intern jobs inbox.
A few words of caution, there is good differentiation (let’s flag this e-mail and make sure to call them) and bad differentiation (forward this cover letter and resume to the agency e-mail distribution because it is wildly inappropriate). The faux Amazon site job application that garnered serious buzz on the web this week is a prime example of the type of thinking that we look for at Peppercomm for interns and full-time positions.
This application says a few things to me and my colleagues on the intern committee. This applicant is:
- Very creative
- Willing to take risks
- Tech-savvy (design and development)
- Likely to have a solid sense of humor
- Hardworking (he took the time to transform his resume into something awesome)
When we get the standard “to whom it may concern” e-mail it is equally telling. This candidate has likely not thoroughly browsed our website (we name the intern coordinator), probably does not understand the Peppercomm culture and might not have the ability to work in the integrated environment that Peppercomm transformed into.
There is a plethora of resources on our new website that would lead a truly interested candidate to send us an eye-brow raising application – our acquisition of creative services firm H20 (this isn’t traditional PR anymore, folks), our use of comedy training throughout the agency and with clients, the Audience Experience service offering that we recently launched, etc.
It could be a witty subject line, it could be a link to a blog that you maintain or a website / app you helped code, it could be a video submission, comment on our Facebook page, comment on one of our Instagrams, or go back to the future and send us something that is hand-written. I won’t give up too many ideas here, but you get the point.
Show us your skills and make it interesting and I can guarantee you will be hearing from us. Our industry has evolved and the way you apply for jobs changed right along with it. We look forward to hearing from you. The Amazon guy has reportedly received over 100 job offers…
In today’s post, we asked Brian Blank, Account Supervisor of Peppercomm and PepperDigital, how technology and social media trends are shaping the way we communicate as PR professionals.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your role at Peppercomm.
A. My role is unique in the way that it straddles both the digital side of the agency along with the communication side of what agency. I primarily work as a consultant with our clients on a variety of areas and ways they can leverage digital media in a strategic way to carry their messages to a variety of audiences. This runs the gamut too – from developing and maintaining social media thought leadership programs to developing strategies for specific platforms. I also help out my accounts with strategic communication work, from writing PR plans and press releases to pitching news.
Q. What drew you to digital and social media?
A. I went to college here in the Silicon Valley and cut my PR teeth in the startup world. I was lucky enough to be on the “front lines” of emerging tech over the years and just loved to find out more about the tools and gadgets coming on the market each day. The digital world is all around us whether or not we choose to participate in social media and provides incredible opportunities for brand to reach new and existing audiences in a variety of ways.
For me, I found the tools fascinating as social media accelerated the feedback loop and changed the way companies interacted with customers. Technology allowed communication to evolve in ways we didn’t even imagine 10-15 years ago. I have always had a fascination for technology and gadgets and I believe this was one of the reasons why I was drawn to the digital and social realm.
How have recent developments and trends in digital and social media changed the PR landscape?
A. For better or worse, it has changed things dramatically, but PR and communications has been evolving for the last 30 years. The advent of the fax machine and email revolutionized the industry just as much as Twitter or Facebook does today. Although with social media we’ve become more open in many ways and sometimes share way too much information. But at the end of the day, we’re talking about tools here and Facebook is a tool, not a strategy. You still need solid counsel and support that matches your business objectives to be successful. The tools will continue to change, so look at the big picture and think critically and creatively.
Q. What skills should today’s PR students be sure to master if they are interested in a career in digital?
A. You have to be comfortable with the technology. As a society, it is becoming a part of our daily lives and you have to be able to know how to use it and be willing to get out of your comfort zone to try new things. Since technology continues to evolve, you have to be able to think about creative ways to solve problems. Think about what tools your client could use to reach their objectives.
Q. What are some basic rules that PR professionals should keep in mind when using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for work?
A. Separate your personal use from your professional use as much as possible, because a hilarious tweet you want to share with your friends late on a Friday night might not be so funny if you accidentally post on your client’s Twitter handle. Another thing is that it is OK to keep boundaries between your accounts. You don’t have to follow your boss on Facebook but it might make sense to do so on Twitter or LinkedIn. I use my Facebook page as my personal page for friends and family and really only add my coworkers if they become close friends. I open my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for professional use and prefer it that way.
Q. What one piece of advice do you have for those just starting their careers in PR?
A. Get started with internships early on and try a few. You might not love agency life but excel working at a non-profit. The experiences will help shape you professionally and will make you a more rounded candidate for your chosen career field. Learn to be a rock star researcher, because you will always be called upon to know a lot about a variety of topics and the quicker you can get up to speed, the more valuable you will be.
We probably hooked you with that title, right?
Everyone wants to find THE best place to work. Well, Kristin, Lin and I were asked to give some tips on what to look for and how to get to that perfect company for New York Women in Communications’ NEXT Blog.
Check out the post for all of our tips.
Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their CV or employment application as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired position. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack necessary basic skills . . .
In short, a cover letter is the first thing you want your potential employer to see. So why are so few young people actually putting this into practice?
The amount of intern/entry-level applications we receive, which are almost solely via email, consists of a note that says: Blah blah blah “attached is my cover letter and resume”.
That note is the absolute first thing we see from an applicant, so why would you attach your cover letter, rather than using it the way it was intended? It may sound silly, but by having to open an attachment, it’s another step an employer has to take to find out about you. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to learn about you and your intentions with a company.
One surefire way to make yourself standout to an employer? Try not attaching your cover letter and actually putting it into your initial email. Among the sea of applicants employers receive, this simple adjustment could make a huge difference.
The end of the year is always a time full of cheer, cookies and tips for how to do x, y or z the best way. Well, we’ve found five great tips for you on how to rock your PR skills this season.
Full disclosure: one of our bosses wrote this article, so we’re biased, but don’t let that stop you form checking out Steve Cody’s “5 Tips for Rocking Your PR Around the Holidays” in Inc.