Archive for Tips and Tricks

Mar
10

A Ride on the Poetry Train

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MUNI-N-San-Fancisco-1

You’d think a ride home on public transportation would be simple. Get on the subway, take a seat and/or stand, wait for your stop, and exit. There’s also the occasional small talk and looking down at your phone. So, what do you do when your usual ride home takes a turn in a different direction? Just go along for the ride.

That’s exactly what I had to do last night on my way home. The subway wasn’t that crowded because it was a Sunday evening and luckily I got a seat next to the window. A couple of stops after I take my seat a man gets on the subway. For the sake of protecting his identity I will refer to him as ‘Mr. Poet’.

Before I knew it Mr. Poet was reciting a poem. His poem lasted for a few minutes then he graciously asked for money. By this point I was just ready to get home, but I still had several more stops to go. Once he moved to the next set of riders in the car behind me, sharing the same story I might add, I got to thinking of how determined and fearless he had to be to get up in front of a bunch of random commuters and recite a poem.

Mr. Poet knew his audience enough to collect a few dollars. From what I noticed he scanned the crowd with his eyes being sure to hold eye contact in the process. His delivery of starting out with an anecdote about his life and why he was here was a helpful way to get the audience attention. His voice was clear, strong and loud enough to reach the ears of those listening. Finally, Mr. Poet used the area that he was given to move about in an undistracted manner which helped get those who weren’t paying attention to at least give him a chance.

Riding home last night I didn’t expect to get a refresher course in public speaking etiquette, but that’s exactly where that ride took me. It just goes to show that there are learning lessons in every situation whether we want to pay attention or not.

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images

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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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Pearce.

Lifeguard

As a typical 15 year old girl, my main priorities were hanging out with my friends, not tripping over hurdles during track meets, and finishing my homework in time to watch Gossip Girl (this was pre-DVR era, people). Therefore, my parents really threw a wrench in my summer plans when they told me that it was time to take on some responsibility and get a summer job.

Luckily, I developed my strategic thinking skills early on in life and decided that if I had to get a job, I may as well work on my tan WHILE getting paid. Therefore, I combined my “experience” of watching years of Baywatch episodes on TV and a one-week training course to secure the prime position as the youngest lifeguard at the Easton Town Pool.

While I did get a killer one-piece tan that summer, I also gained some valuable work experience that has helped me get where I am today.  Similar to my colleagues’ first jobs, lifeguarding taught me responsibility, accountability, and the importance of showing up to work on time.

Most importantly, I learned that age is just a number. As the youngest lifeguard, I had to prove myself from day one to show that I deserved the job and that I could handle the responsibilities that came with that position. As a young professional, this is a challenge that I am faced with on a daily basis. More often than not, I find that I am the youngest person in meetings. What I learned as a lifeguard and continue to remind myself on a daily basis is that age doesn’t matter, it is all about the ideas and experience that you bring to the table.

It’s important for young professionals to realize that their ideas are just as valuable as their colleagues and to never let their age deter them from participating in a conversation. Of course, this still means that you must exercise good judgment in determining when to speak and when to listen. But for those of you that fear that your input may not matter because you are young, remind yourself that you were invited to the table for a reason. Speak up and show that you deserve to stay.

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Feb
25

A Scandal To Escape By

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Scandal

With the Premiere of Scandal only two days away, I think it’s only fitting that I talk about one of the best shows currently on television. I promise that this isn’t going to be a promotional post about Scandal, but I know the Gladiators in all of us would rejoice. Instead, I’m going to use my love of Scandal to let you know that it’s possible to work hard and still find a way to take a break. Enter Scandal!

If you aren’t a fan or just haven’t tuned in, here’s a brief summary of the show: Scandal is based in Washington DC and stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the go to fixer in town. She’s always dressed to impressed and her nightly routine includes a glass of wine with popcorn. Let me not forget to mention her affair with the leader of the free world who just so happens to be married.

For me watching Scandal is my hourly escape every Thursday night. It’s a great way for me to put all of the things I’m thinking about on pause and join the millions of viewers who are watching and live tweeting along with the cast (Warning: If you live on the West Coast stay off of Twitter beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST). We’re all tuning in to see how Olivia is going to fix the reputation of a power player and still find a way to sneak in a secret meeting with the president.

An hour may not seem like a lot of time, but if Olivia can handle a major crisis, juggle multiple romances and still make it home for a glass of wine, I think it’s safe to say we can find an hour or two to relax and enjoy life.

Like the pace of the show our lives move very fast, crises happen, and our lives are full of surprises both good and bad. All of this is true, but for that one hour on Thursday’s my life is immediately transformed to a new realm. I become a “Gladiator in a suite” with a front row seat on how to handle the crisis of the week. That’s the magic of both television and finding those rare moments when you’re allowed to just let go and let someone else solve the world’s problems.

My excitement for the upcoming new episode has me impatiently waiting for it to be Thursday night already. While I do my best to contain my excitement, I’m going to work on identifying other simple ways to be present and enjoy the things that bring me joy and you can count on me saying, “it’s handled” each time I make a new discovery.

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm junior account executive, Julie Hoang.

For my first job, I thought I had it good. I worked as an after school tutor at a local learning center. As a high school student, I did anything to avoid hard labor so this job was ideal for me. I would rather use my energy to shop at the mall or hang out with my friends. Though I was only a freshman at the time, I took away key lessons that still apply today.

I had actually gotten the job by previously volunteering at the learning center during the summers. After some time and eagerness to earn some shopping money, I asked for a part-time position. What also made me look for that specific job was because I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger. I knew that the knowledge I gained as a tutor would eventually help me if I decided to pursue the teacher career path. From there, I ended up working for an additional year and a half before I quit and moved to Staten Island with my family. The best part of the job though was being able to work with some of my closest friends and eventually making new friends.

Through my time there, I gained many essential skills that helped shape me into the person I am today. Here are some:

  • Build strong relationships: Building relationships are important no matter what age you are. Not all actions need an immediate result. You should always make an effort to build good relationships with your boss, co-workers, clients and anyone else around you because you may never know when that same person will be providing you with business or a reference down the line. For me, building strong relationships with my boss allowed him to see me as a trusted employee. He trusted my judgment when I referred my friends to work there. He even served as a reference for me when I decided to apply for other tutoring jobs in Staten Island.
  • It’s not always about the money: Making money is the obvious answer to why we work, but building your skill set and gaining a valuable experience is just as important. Understandably, many will pick one job over another because it pays more. However, it’s important to be able to walk away from a job with skills that you can use to reach your chosen career path or to help you reach a goal. For me, volunteering was the first step in reaching my goal. I wanted a paying job at the learning center, but had no prior experience. By volunteering there during the summers, I learned all the tasks and duties that were required for the job.
  • Be responsible: Whether it is your first job, third job or dream job, be responsible for your actions and tasks. Everyone is held accountable for their actions. If you are given an assignment, follow through with it and communicate with your manager, supervisor or boss if you need more time. As a tutor, I was responsible for not only my actions, but for the group of students I was looking after. It was my job to ensure their safety and ensure that their homework was done and done correctly. Managers, supervisors or bosses are not able to watch over your shoulder every step of the way so it’s your responsibility to remember your tasks and fulfill them. The parents put their trust in me to teach their children right, just as clients trust us to put their best interest in mind.
  • Know your audience: Knowing your audience is extremely important. The things you can say and the actions you take are dependent on your audience. For example, the way I acted towards my students, my boss and the parents was all different. Children are the most receptive to new information. Therefore, it is crucial to watch what you say around them. This same rule applies to clients. Working in an agency, being able shift accordingly dependent on the type of client you are interacting with is essential. Some clients are more lighthearted than others, so you will need to know when it’s okay to make a joke and when it isn’t.
  • Learn to multi-task: I think that being able to multi-task is a characteristic almost every job will look for in a candidate. At a young age, I learned that multi-tasking was a necessary skill. I attended school, worked after school and managed to finish my homework every day for three to four times a week. Now working at an agency, multi-tasking while remaining organized has helped me tremendously. PR can be somewhat unpredictable and no two days will ever be the same, so it’s imperative to adapt accordingly based on what is the highest priority.
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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm management supervisor, Lauren Parker.

As a little kid, I dreamed of being an actress in New York City. When I had my chance to belt out a solo in Beauty and the Beast’s classic tune “Be Our Guest” as part of a summer musical theater troupe, I quickly realized that being in the spotlight simply isn’t my thing. I was much happier supporting the chorus and trying not to fall out of my mother’s four-inch heels.

All this is to say that public speaking and sales does not come naturally to me. But funnily enough, my first job was in sales. I wasn’t cold calling time-strapped business executives, but I was peddling the latest flat of perennials at Siebenthaler’s Garden Center.

Although I was just a 16-year-old, I had a number of responsibilities including manning the cash register, watering plants and helping shoppers select the ideal bird feed. The job wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to customers all day, especially when they had complex botanical questions and I didn’t have the answer. I also became frustrated from time to time when my job seemed menial or boring (restock the terra cotta pots AGAIN?!).

I did have a few moments of real pride. The longer I worked there, the more knowledge I absorbed and the better I was at helping customers. I began to feel more comfortable in my role, which helped my confidence and even led to some big sales as a result of my recommendations. Halfway through the summer, my manager even asked me to train the new hire.

A few key lessons I learned from my first job are small but significant:

  • Fake it ‘til you make it – I learned that there will always be aspects of any job that you aren’t comfortable with. But if you step up to the plate and try – with a smile – chances are it will become more natural over time.
  • It’s OK to say “I don’t know” – When you’re young, you think you know everything. When you start to get older, you realize how little you know, but you also realize that it’s OK. Back then, I felt like a failure when I didn’t know a question, even though I had zero experience in studying plants. Today, I am constantly confronted with questions from co-workers, managers and clients and I don’t always know the answer. The best response, I’ve found, is “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”
  • Understand the bigger picture – As low man on the totem pole, I felt like an insignificant employee at times. I saw others at the store that had such a wealth of knowledge about plants and others who were skilled at managing a retail store. I, more or less, just did what I was told. It wasn’t until I stepped back and realized that someone’s got to water the plants and change the receipt feed in the register. In my job today, I can take that lesson and not only see how my contributions help Peppercomm and my clients, but how I can help others at the agency recognize their value.

When you are just starting out in your career, you will fumble from time to time. The important thing is to learn from those experiences and improve.

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Feb
05

All the weather

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christmas-weather.jpeg6-1280x960Whether you’re in NYC like me, or anywhere else  in the US, you know the weather has been pretty wacky.  Some areas are being pummeled by snow and sleet and then other areas are ridiculously cold . . . or both.

So what do you do when the weather is getting in the way of a smooth commute to work? We have a few things to consider:

1. This is a given, but make sure to check the highways and public transit before leaving. Is everything on schedule? Are there delays? Check well in advance to make sure everything is clear. Give yourself some extra commuting time.

2.  Keep your managers informed, especially if you think there’s a chance you could be late. Shoot them an email or call before leaving home to let them know you’re on your way, but just wanted to give them the heads up that since the weather is bad you could be a few minutes late. Your managers will appreciate it.

3. Use your judgement. Think that the commute isn’t safe? If you have the option to work remotely, do it. If you don’t, call your manager/boss and talk to them. Work is obviously important, but your personal safety comes first. Articulating that you think it’s unsafe to get into work, is important.

Anything we’re forgetting? What’s do you think is important to consider in a rough commute?

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LennyBoy

Recently, my mother (of all people) directed me to the following Cracked article from David Wong: “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”. In her note with the link, my mom advised, “Long and with bad language, but funny and good points made.” Naturally, I was intrigued, and decided to give ‘er a read—and a delightfully inappropriate, engaging read it was!

In addition to a glorious image of Lenny Kravitz prancing around in a titanic scarf, Wong gave me the push I needed to “own” 2014. While this specific piece features many worthy pointers, one argument stood out in particular. To quote Wong*:

… The end of 2014, that’s our deadline. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do freaking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. Don’t ask me what – good grief, pick something at random if you don’t know. Take a class in karate, or ballroom dancing, or pottery. Learn to bake. Build a birdhouse. Learn massage. Learn a programming language. Film a parody. Adopt a superhero persona and fight crime. Write a comment on PRiscope.

But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a husband, I’m going to make lots of money…”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.

“I don’t have the money to take a cooking class.” Then Google “how to cook.” Dagnabbit, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you.

Of course self-improvement, and this idea of “adding value to society” is nothing new; but Wong found a way to voice the point in an amusing way that forced me to listen. As a semi-recent college grad making my career début in the PR field, Wong made me consider the many ways in which I can add value to the audiences in my life—I can learn a new communication skill or program that will benefit my agency and my clients; I can add a new activity to my repertoire to be more interesting and useful to my friends and family; I can be a more gracious neighbor to well…benefit my neighbors (duh); and the list goes on.

The opportunities are there, and excuses are so 2013. Now it’s up to you to develop the skills that’ll help you stand out—as a student, intern, prospective employee, whatever it may be—and benefit the world around you.

How will you apply Wong’s advice to your life this year? Tell us in the comments below!

* And by “to quote Wong” I really mean to “express Wong’s sentiment in a slightly** less offensive manner that aligns more closely with PRiscope’s values & purposes”

** And by “a slightly” I mean “an extremely”

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Jan
13

Gotta preserve the rep

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reputation

Heading into a new year, people tend to make resolutions and set goals. And we have an easy one: take a look at your online presence.

While you can’t really get a fresh start, you can start to be more mindful of what you’re putting out there about yourself.

It may seem funny to say how slow it was at work so you ducked out early, or use hashtags such as: #Hungover #StillDrunk? #HowDidIMakeItHome? But do you want your employer or future employer to find these things? Even if it didn’t happen and you’re making a joke or your employer let you go early, it goes back to your overall perception.

One way to decide if and what you post, is to think, “If a potential employer saw these things, would they think twice of me as a recruit?” I almost guarantee that if you even have to ask that question, you probably shouldn’t post it.

A few things to consider:

  1. You’re private. Sure you are. No one can see your profile except your friends. That’s great, but it takes two seconds for one of those friends to copy and paste something you’ve posted and share on their own walls, feeds, etc. The best rule of thumb (and it’s similar to what we tell people in media training): nothing is ‘off the record.’ Treat everything you post online as potentially being seen by EVERYONE, because it can be seen and it is somewhere (the NSA taught us all that).
  2. No one knows it’s me writing this blog. If you’re writing a personal blog, sure it might be hard to find you, but I bet someone will eventually if you’re writing about details of your life. Maybe no one will, but do you really want to take that chance?
  3. Tagging policy. What are your tagging settings on Facebook? Can anyone tag you? Maybe it’s time to click the setting where you need to approve any potential tags. Isn’t it better to be more aware of where your name is linked? Trust us, it is.

The list can certainly continue, but these are a few items to think about as 2014 really gets going.

Are there any tips you suggest for keeping the integrity of your online presence? 

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offices2christmasparty_story

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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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