Archive for Tips and Tricks

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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Sep
29

Surviving Office Politics

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office-politic-1Like it or not, there are personalities you’ll get along with very well and then those you may feel some friction with. It’s been the case since your school days and doesn’t end in the office.

Office politics is a game we all know and love to hate (or at least some of us do), but we have to acknowledge its existence. And, surprisingly, office politics isn’t all bad.

When starting your new job or internship, be yourself, but also do your best to assess the situation and the culture. See how your team interacts with each other and with other teams.

Next, think about how best to play “the game.”

The Good:

Some offices have supervisors, some have mentors, and some have both. But, you will always have yourself. You should always be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when you’ve done something well. If there is a really unique idea that you have, you should share it with your superiors. Just be careful not to have it come off as bragging or to seemingly step on someone’s toes. You can strike a good balance. But selling yourself and what you bring to the table is the key to getting raises, promotions, etc. And while some may advocate for you, oftentimes you also need to do so for yourself.

The Bad:

You’ve started a new job and really don’t know anyone in the office and haven’t figured out if there are any bad apples in the bunch (and there might not be). Be wary of the office bully or any gossips. Like in school, you don’t want to end up in “the wrong crowd” and it actually can happen in a professional setting.

If these people do exist in your new environment, sometimes you can’t avoid interaction because you’re on the same team. Keep doing what you do best and follow the plan of “the good.” It’s also best not to associate with them unless absolutely necessary.

The Ugly:

Unfortunately, not all offices are the same. There are some incredibly volatile ones. Competition can sometimes be healthy, but when colleagues and even bosses are conniving, it’s not a good situation for you. The key here is to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether or not this type of environment is one you can handle. If it’s not, then it might be time for you to move on.

With any new experience, always try to feel things out, do your best work and be yourself. Just remember that office politics exists and it’s best to know how to play rather than ignore it.

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Sep
22

Got skills?

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Today’s post is by former Peppercomm intern and future industry star, Jess Schram, who interned during this past summer session. 

Resume talk: Social Media

social-media-resume-360Eighty-nine percent of 18- to 29-year-old internet users are now active on social media, yet far too many of those millennials seem to think that adding “Facebook” and “Twitter” to their resumes will set them apart from other candidates and land them a high-paying job.

Too often people neglect to consider the important aspects of social media like listening and engaging, and consider themselves social gurus the moment they tweet about Brazil’s embarrassing soccer skills or Instagram a picture of their lunchtime ‘froyo’ and receive a few stars and hearts in their news feeds.

Newsflash: it’s 2014! Social media is nothing new—even my Nana has an Instagram to flaunt her Boca life in filtered glory.

Now, I’m not saying social media should be totally swiped from your resume. Being able to use social media is important skill in the communications world, but should only be added to your list of talents if you know how to use it effectively.

If you want to position yourself as an intern who knows the ropes on social, use these tips to help you stand out:

1. Know your audience

Think about your audience’s demographic and psychographic.  What do they care about? How can your social posts evoke emotion (humor, excitement, fear, happiness, motivation, etc.) in your readers? Everything you post on social media should be helpful, useful and relevant to your audience. If you can’t answer the question, “Why should they care?” trash it.

 2. Use correct and relevant hashtags

Because hashtags are how people can easily search for topics on social media, they can help get your posts into threads of relevant conversations, and therefore seen by the masses. Using hashtags correctly can increase buzz around your client’s brand and help you target current fans and future stakeholders.

It’s also necessary to start and continue with relevant hashtags to track and improve your social strategy. The number one reason hashtags fail is the lack of consistency between them. Why use #ConferenceX2013 and #ConferenceX2014 when you can track the success of #ConferenceX year after year and compare analytics for ROI? #Duh

3. Play more

Be human!  If your brand allows, don’t be afraid to be funny on social media or create a voice that will set you apart from your competitors. Virgin Mobile’s Twitter  is one of my favorite accounts to follow, and has done a great job of creating a unique voice for itself through playful, humorous tweets.

4. Actively listen and engage

Pushing out content isn’t enough, even if it’s relevant and interesting. If you want to be an all-star social media intern, you need to jump into conversations happening in your client’s industry and actively participate in them. Listen to influencers, engage with fans, answer skeptics’ questions, and reach out to users in your target demographic to build relationships and improve customer loyalty. Listening and engaging should be proactive not reactive practices.

 5. Repeat!

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re still an intern, so you have some time to practice. That said, it’s important to expand your social media use past your personal accounts and get experience writing on behalf of a client or brand. If you don’t already, just ask! No experience? Tell your supervisor you’ve been reading up on social media, but have yet to get your feet wet. This blog’s a good start, don’t you think? Humor me. Even now, after managing more than six accounts throughout my intern years, including my most recent venture to make my cat famous, I still look for ways to improve and practice.

My final advice to you is this: Just because you’re a millennial doesn’t mean you’re an expert on social media, but it also doesn’t mean you can’t be. Know your audience, use hashtags correctly, create a voice for your brand, and most importantly: Listen. Engage. Repeat. (Peppercomm’s mantra.)

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That title sounds like a unicorn, right? We always doubt that our résumé are perfect and it’s scary to hit “send” when applying for jobs.

  • Are there any typos?
  • Did I provide enough details?
  • Did I provide too many details?
  • Am I using the best adjectives? Are they strong enough to get me hired?

Answer those questions and maybe a few that you didn’t think of with this great infographic in PR News.

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imagesAre you still searching for an internship or job? There are plenty of sites that claim to be the definitive source for that quest, but are they all the best? We’ve compiled a list of go-to sites for you that we think will help:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 300 million members in more than 200 countries. You can connect with colleagues, network with potential employers, do research on the industries and companies you may want to approach—joining this site is a no-brainer. And with any interview, you know your potential employer would be searching for your online presence, so having a strong LinkedIn profile can only help with that first impression.

Indeed

Why bother with other job searching sites when Indeed.com exists? This website combs all job listings. Basically, if the job is posted online, Indeed will find it for you.

It’s easy to search, apply for jobs right through the platform and, if you’re looking to hire someone, you can easily list, too.

This site currently boasts 140 million unique visitors every month.

Glassdoor

This website is a great supplement to LinkedIn and Indeed. With Glassdoor—which is touted as the most “transparent career community”—you have access not only to job postings, but you can look at company reviews, salaries, etc. It’s a great resource for your research.

One word of caution, like with other review sites, keep in mind that some may post inaccurate content. If you’re a disgruntled employee, you can easily take to Glassdoor to post an anonymous review. On the flip side, perhaps some happy employees may post extremely positive reviews/experiences to combat other reviews. While these could be true, good thing to keep in mind and all the more important to go for informational interviews at any prospective company.

Twitter

It’s no secret that those of us at PRiscope love Twitter. We’re all pretty avid tweeters, but you’re probably wondering why we think this could be good for your career. Well, we’ll tell you:

1)      You can do great research on the companies and employers you’re targeting. The tone, news and basic content their sharing is a good indication of the company culture.

2)      This is a great way to network with different companies and professionals. You can interact with them by replying to tweets, taking part in Twitter chats, etc.

3)      You can search for jobs here, too. Use the hashtag #HAPPO (Help a PR Pro Out) as some listings are posted with this.

4)      Your own following and the content you share may or may not be impressive to potential employers. Whether you have a slew of journalists following you or you’re great at sharing relevant content, this is a talent and will potentially be part of your job in the industry.

So, those are our top sites. Any that you think we’re missing?

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm business affairs supervisor, Kelly Lorenz

 

IMG_8492 Early to rise! That phrase is never music to a teenager’s ears, especially during summer break. However, I was an anomaly. My first job when I was 14-years-old was working on a horse farm, starting in the wee hours of the morning, often before the sun even came up. Translation: I shoveled horse poop and avoided getting kicked in the face by aggressive stud horses. But that’s not all my work experience chalked up to be – it was only the beginning.

To be clear, I had my own horses growing up so I was accustomed to cleaning stalls, throwing large bales of hay and all of the dirty work that comes with these incredible animals. But that was for three horses, not 30, and I was riding solo in this job.

Even though temperatures were in the 90s by early-morning and I wore jeans and boots, I look back on this work experience for giving me the most fun and rewarding summer of my youth. In fact, I’d do this every summer if I could. In the meantime, I carry a few lessons with me to this day:

-          Take pride in your work, no matter the task. Nobody wants to shovel s%#t, but somebody has to. So do it right, and do it well. I could have had a negative attitude and complained about the task, but instead I shoveled that dung like a rock star. My supervisor noticed and said the stalls had never been cleaner, done so quickly or without complaint. She hired two more people to take over most of that work so I could focus on other (less smelly) tasks.

-          Seek out opportunities. Growing up I mostly rode for pleasure and recreation, and my horses were well-trained. Many of the horses at the farm were owned by renowned riders and trainers who had a lot of expertise to share. As I built a rapport with the owners that summer, they saw how I handled their animals. So, they offered me complimentary training and most allowed me to train on their horses. Additionally, many offered me side jobs to exercise their horses at an hourly rate that’s nearly triple today’s minimum wage.

-          Capitalize on your strengths. There were many moving pieces and varying factors to completing this work in timely manner each day. For one, just like people, horses can be somewhat temperamental. Some horses can’t be around other horses (especially studs with mares…hello baby colts!), other horses can’t be removed from their stalls and the damn donkey that bites everyone/thing, but begs to socialize is another story. Not to mention the large ground you’re covering and the amounts of manual labor you’re required to complete in a short period of time. Here, organization and efficiency was everything. This is when I realized I had a strength for process and execution which are skills I use to this day in my professional life. I can steer a wheelbarrow while in a full sprint like a champ.

So, what was the biggest lesson learnt while shoveling dung? Turn work into play and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’d be fooling myself if I said this job wasn’t exhausting and dirty. This job was also a blast! Aside from working with horses, my one true love – horses –, I watched the sunrise over the mountains each morning, dunked friends in horse troughs of ice cold water and made human electric fence shock chains (not advised, and I was only 14). Not to mention my toned biceps, blond hair and killer farmers tan were the envy of every country girl when we returned to school in the fall.

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Aug
08

My First Job: In A Nutshell

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm associate, Madeline Skahill. 

While I have had my fair share of babysitting jobs and teaching younger kids the ropes of soccer at camp, my first “real” job all began during the warm summer months of Williamsburg. When you say “Williamsburg” to a group of New Yorkers, they automatically assume the trendy neighborhood of New York. However, when you say “Williamsburg” to anyone who has ever been on a field trip or have grandparents who live in the south, they think of Colonial Williamsburg; the mecca of bonnets, cannons, and daily reenactments  of 18th century life.

The summers in Colonial Williamsburg were where the tourists went to play and the high school students sought summer jobs. As a majority of my friends obtained jobs as hostesses at neighboring restaurants, I was lucky enough to land a job as a Sales Associate at “The Williamsburg Peanut Shop.” While I can’t say I ever felt a true passion behind how peanuts were made and seasoned, I can say that my summer months spent in the small store located on the corner of a bustling street, taught me a few lessons I will always be able to apply in my career.

  • Perform at your best, no matter what task you are completing: My first day on the job consisted of grabbing a fork from the back room and picking out the melted chocolate covered peanuts from the cracks of the wooden floor. While some may say this may not seem like the most ideal task, I knew if I did not get this job done right, my entire summer would be spent performing similar tasks.  Dedicating myself to this task, left the floors clean and my manager happy about my positive attitude and efficient works style. This was the last time I ever scrubbed the floors.
  • The customer is always right: This may not be entirely true, but for the most part dealing with an unhappy customer, or client, makes the task at hand, much more challenging. Understanding the needs of the customer, not only makes your job easier, but allows you to complete the job right and in a timely manner.
  • Never under-estimate your skills: Although I worked with a fair amount of people my age, the managers of the store were much older. That being said, I quickly learned that in order to gain more responsibly in the store, I had to show the managers I could think and act on their level.  By contributing to conversations about what products to buy for the store or how to handle the store operations when a summer storm knocks the power out, I was able to close the age gap between my co-workers and myself. While my ideas and thoughts may not have always been right, I did not let the age gap hinder the jobs I deserved to manage.

These are just a few tips I learned along the way, though I have many more stories to share. Unfortunately for you all, there is not enough time in the day to discuss the life lesson I learned from standing outside the store in a peanut hat for 2 hours.

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm’s Jade Moore, manager, client relationships.

My very first job didn’t feel much like one.  My aunt had a friend who ran an upscale (read: overpriced) boutique in my neighborhood in Staten Island, and asked if I’d be interested in working one or two days a week after school.  This place had all of the trappings you might expect from a Staten Island outfitter.  Sequins galore.  I said sure, why not?!  I was a junior in high school and could use some extra cash for buying acrylic nails or whatever horrible thing I was into back then.  Plus, she was a friend of my dear aunt, so she had to be nice to me.

If you’ve ever seen “Happy Endings,” this shop was precisely like the boutique owned by ditzy Alex (played by Elisha Cuthbert) – that is, there were no customers.  Perhaps this place was bustling during prom and wedding season but when I started in the fall – crickets.  I quickly learned that I would be responsible for a few things:  vacuuming, steaming clothes – which, admittedly, I love to do (ironing, not so much) – and affixing price tags onto said clothing items.  The little price-tag gun was fun to use.  Maybe the highlight of my time there.

To be quite honest, given the fact that there was not much to do beyond the tasks outlined above – and the fact that there were, again, no customers – I don’t think I took the job too seriously, in hindsight.  I played with the owners dog.  I challenged myself to find normal-ish clothes for myself among the bedazzled frocks.  I may have napped once.  Yes, you heard correctly.  As a conscientious and responsible adult, I would never pull a George Costanza today.  I’m ashamed to say I did then, but I had a good reason!  See, the night before, I was at Yankee Stadium, watching the Yankees play the Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.  An epic, 12-inning win for the Yanks.  I was tired.  I don’t think anyone noticed, but I still feel bad about that.

After a few months,  the owner decided she didn’t really need me anymore and stopped calling me in for work.  Probably for the best that we parted ways.  In the end, I definitely hadn’t learned how to be a master salesperson.  Or even how to use a cash register.  The “no customers” part kind of made these things challenging.  I didn’t really look up to the Boss either.  Let’s just say, she was a little gossipy.  But I took a couple of key lessons away from my brief foray in retail:

  • Put your best foot forward.  Even if you don’t feel like you can contribute much, there’s always something you can do to go above and beyond and add value.  I could’ve used the opportunity to think of and share ways to bring in new customers.  Or ask my boss to give me a lesson in making a sale.
  • Don’t sleep on the job.

There’s something to be learned from every job.  What may not seem like a worthwhile experience can be full of surprises if you keep your eyes and ears open and make the most of it.

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May
06

#internlife

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We love #iworkinpr and yesterday’s post is so on point (see below). Don’t be that intern (or anyone in the workforce) who just has excuse after excuse. You can view the original post here.

 

When your new intern shows up late for the 83948394 time and feeds you a story about his/her [insert problem: car, boyfriend, school]

 

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May
02

My First Job: Bus Boy

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm digital strategist, Alex Shippee.

When I was 16 or 17, I got my first job as a bus boy at a place called “The Sandwich Man Family Restaurant.” An opening came up early Sunday morning when the previous guy didn’t show up and they needed someone at a moment’s notice to help handle the morning rush. My parents dragged me out of bed and I was replacing coffee mugs and cleaning tables before I knew it.

I worked there on and off for the next 3 or 4 years, in between my winter swim season and continued for a little while during summers home from college. (My second job was working on a farm, but that’s another story).

I learned a surprising amount at this job, but more than just to be polite to the people who serve your food and to never to eat the coleslaw. There were also a few things that still apply today:

1. Know who you’re working for: Yes, I got a check every two weeks from the owners and it was my job to make sure the customers had clean tables. Ultimately, though, it was the wait-staff who tipped me out every day. They were the ones who most directly depended on me to help them do their jobs well. After all, how quickly I cleared the tables (particularly the booths) determined when they got to seat their next customers.

At the end of one of my first nights, though, the head waitress was upset that I didn’t clear the empty soup and salad bowls quickly enough. I calmly told her that it had been a busy night and had to choose between getting new booths ready and reducing the clutter. She understood where I was coming from and that I was still using my time to help them the best that I could.

2. Learn from the people who did your job before you: As you can imagine, not all the bus boys that walked through the door were flawless and impeccable members of polite society. Plenty of them got fired during the four scattered years I had been there for everything from showing up late, to stealing, to drinking on the job.

It wasn’t an impossible thing to master, but the guy who trained me (“Mo”) knew what he was doing and treated approached his job with a level of professionalism. One of the regular duties he told me to always do, even if he wasn’t there to supervise, was to sweep up any paper, crumbs, etc. between the breakfast rush and the dinner rush.

Years later, one of the owners remarked happily that it was only the two of us whoever did that. He liked that he didn’t have to ask us to keep the carpet clean.

And seriously – do not eat that coleslaw.

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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