Archive for Public Relations
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 by Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.
I had that opportunity because I’ve been a member of the CofC’s Department of Communications Advisory Council for the past five years.
I must confess that, aside from my alma mater, Northeastern University, the College of Charleston is my extra special favorite place (that’s a riff on what the young Rep, Jr., used to call me).
During my visit, I participated in a speed networking event with 60 or so sophomores, juniors and seniors. As is the case with students I’ve met from other schools, yesterday’s group ran the gamut from the superbly poised and prepared to those who, shall we say, were somewhat lost at sea.
The best and brightest had it all:
- Relevant internships
- Significant pro bono/volunteer service
- A strong digital footprint
- A poised, professional manner
- The ability to listen and respond in the moment.
They also knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. One was combining her original interest in health care with her current passion for communications and intended to work within a large medical center after graduation. Another one had focused on internships in the fashion world and intended to combine that hands-on retail experience with her communications skills to work in the marketing group of a well-known department store.
And, then, there were the others. When I asked one senior how many interviews she’d lined up prior to graduating next month, she replied, “Oh, I’m much too busy studying for finals to worry about that. I’ll start looking after graduation.” Good luck with that.
Another admitted she had no real interest in communications at all and intended, instead, to pursue a completely different career. Oh. That immediately reminded me of a Millennial who recently interviewed at Peppercomm. When asked why she was interested in a career in PR, she responded, “Well, I’d really prefer to be a teacher.” End of interview.
Success in life is the end result of careful planning and hard work. Like their peers who are graduating from thousands of other schools this spring, some CofC students will become absolute rock stars. Others, though, will wake up in a few years’ time and realize they’ve let the world pass them by.
So, note to all college and university undergrads: the time to map your future isn’t after graduation. Focus on your passion now, land the internships that will build your credentials and network, network, network.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Knowing how unpredictable the future will be, it’s that much more important to put a plan in place this morning and begin implementing it this afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself waking up at one minute to midnight with few, if any, career options.
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.
Today’s post is by Steve Cody and originally ran on March 7 on RepMan.
The Center for Talent Innovation just surveyed 4,000 male and female executives, asking how the two genders react to workers who dress in a polished, professional manner as opposed to those who, say, look more like Johnny Depp after a weekend-long binge.
- Both genders agree good grooming is a must.
- Both genders agree it’s more important for a man to be tall and thin (which can’t be good news for roly-poly, job-seeking little guys).
- Arrogance is seen as a bigger sin for women because it’s ‘associated with sexual impropriety’ and suggests the executive ‘has an inflated opinion of oneself.’ Talk about a double standard.
Male and female executives alike agreed the biggest communications blunders were:
- Making racially-biased comments.
- Making off-color jokes (Note: I may have erred on that side on more than occasion).
- Someone who cries (Amen. Save it for the pillow when you get home).
The survey is especially timely since an entire new crop of college graduates is about to enter the workplace.
Over the years, I’ve had first-hand experience with good, bad and just, plain ugly Peppercomm wanna-bes. And, when I say good, bad and ugly, I’m addressing their personal grooming, not their attractiveness.
One day, our reception area became a positive beehive of activity for a few, brief moments. Why? Because a fairly attractive, but oh-so-scantily-clad young woman (think: Madonna, circa 1990) was waiting to be interviewed. Needless to say, the guys loved it. But, our female employees were appalled. So, guess who was thanked for coming in, but sent packing faster than one can say Material Girl?
On another occasion, a gum-chewing, torn jeans, mandals-wearing dude strolled in to interview for an account executive position. Since Peppercomm embraces a business casual dress code, we gave the guy an initial pass, and brought him in for interviews. But his aloof, arrogant attitude matched his fashion faux pas and he, too, was given the bum’s rush.
Finally, a middle-aged, impeccably groomed business executive in a three-piece suit arrived to interview for a management supervisor spot. His attire told us immediately that he hadn’t taken the time to conduct due diligence on our firm (i.e. our dress code). Since we are adamant about checking, in advance, to determine whether a client or prospect’s dress code is business formal or casual, we almost always discount someone whose appearance reflects a laziness in his or her preparation. The Don Draper clone was also handed a one-way ticket to Palookaville.
While it may not be a complete show-stopper for job prospects, appearance, attitude and grooming are an intrinsic part of one’s current and future success (and can spell the difference between success and failure).
Take the time to research an organization’s dress code and culture BEFORE arriving for an interview, new business presentation or kick-off meeting with a new client.
Oh, and while there are exceptions to the rule, I’d advise you to also remove the nose ring and cover as many tats as possible before arriving at a prospective employer’s office (unless, of course your tattoo displays Peppercomm’s way cool new logo and tagline. That might generate an immediate offer AND a signing bonus).
Even though it’s post-Valentine’s Day, love is still in the air. And you know what that means—we’re going to post a list of fictional television characters that we think would be great in the industry based on a few character traits. Why? Why not! It’s a day about love. So check out our list (which is in no particular order or by any means “final”). Let us know who else you would add to the list, but first enjoy our picks:
If you watch Downton Abbey, you know Mary Crawley’s a tough cookie. Watch and listen closely, she knows exactly what to say and how to say it. Whether it’s about the war, her family, unrequited love, she keeps everything together and responds well. She never shares information that could come back to hurt her (too much). Also, remember a certain deal with a big newspaper man? Good job, Mary.
What Michael Bluth of Arrested Development dealt with was straight up crisis communications. While not perfect, he was (mostly) always cool, calm and collected. We could see him doing very well, especially in some high pressure/ridiculous situations . . . and we know Job would be entertaining.
Smart, funny and hardworking, Ari Gold “embodies” all that goes into the industry (plus a lot of choice curse words). So, he may be a bit crazy at times, but The Entourage character is tasked with building the brand of his client, so not too far a stretch to jump to the industry. We just hope if he were real, he was on our team.
For the Parks & Recreation fan, you know that Ben has been a successful campaign manager and is very intelligent (he is marrying Leslie Knope after all). He can do it all—crafting messages, working in publicity/with the media and we think he would excel in the field. Ron Swanson was a close second, but we thought his “take all bacon and eggs” attitude put him just a little behind Ben.
She might be 8-years-old, but Lisa Simpson is poised and ready to take on anything. We picture her balance of smarts and calm attitude taking over the world. We wouldn’t mind a little jazz saxophone, too.
Blogs and memes come and go, but sometimes you just know when one is great. Here is one of our new favorite PR humor blogs: #iworkinpr and one of our favorite postings so far:
When you’ve been hung up on by a reporter for the 10th time
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.