Archive for entry level PR
It’s that time of year–graduation. There are plenty of emotions grads are feeling. And we can (will) give you plenty of advice especially throughout the next few weeks, but The Harvard Review has a great compilation of advice they wish they had been given. Read the full article here and let us know what you think!
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.
In today’s post, meet Jamie Hogan – current Peppercomm intern and future PR star
I am originally from Rochester, NY and attended college at Oswego State University in Oswego, NY. I graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing. After spending the summer after school working at AT&T, specifically teaching people how to use the iPhone when it first launched, I moved to New York, NY without a job. I snuck in right before the economy took a turn for the worst and after temping at a few random places (Hermès and Sony stick out in my mind) I landed an interview at a fashion jewelry company and got the position. I started out as the showroom manager and after that, was promoted to an account executive. Although I worked at that company for over five years, I knew that job wasn’t exactly right for me and that feeling was solidified by a particularly bad experience. I started seeking out new opportunities in fields that I thought would be interesting and because of my background in journalism, public relations really stood out. I was lucky enough to be hired as an intern at Peppercomm about three months ago, and have enjoyed my experiences since then!
2. What area of the industry do you find most interesting and why?
Since I didn’t have any experience in public relations before this internship began, I actually find many aspects to be appealing! I’ve learned so much in this short period of time and I really think that there are a lot of exciting facets to the industry. As far as my accounts go, I really like the more “consumer-y” traditional PR projects and also enjoy helping out with new business research. And although I haven’t done much with it, I think the event-planning side is very interesting as well.
3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
One real surprise was learning some of the “behind the scenes” responsibilities that public relations professionals take on. For instance, it was amazing to learn that many times, it’s our team who is writing articles and answering questions on behalf of the accounts that are hiring us. I had to really wrap my head around that one! As one co-worker put it, “PR people run the world, and no one knows it.” I thought that was a fun way of describing it and it makes me feel like I’m part of an underground secret society.
4. Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship so far.
I’d say that my proudest moment so far was when a team member on one of my accounts gave me a shout-out during one of Peppercomm’s staff meetings. Getting recognized for something that I had done well made me feel great and really boosted my confidence. It was nice to know that my hard work had paid off.
5. Any favorite/inspiring case studies?
While it was before my time at Peppercomm, I remember reading about the Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles 25th Anniversary. For such an iconic brand to reemerge and spark nostalgia into fans by way of social media, I thought it was a great juxtaposition of new and old because of the innovative use of modern technology.
Today’s post is by Peppercomm co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.
Mandy Roth (pictured) is one of hundreds of thousands of college seniors scheduled to graduate this Spring. And, like her peers, Mandy faces a formidable task: finding a job.
But, that’s not enough of a mountain for Mandy to climb. She also wants to work for the public relations firm of her dreams. (That would be Peppercomm, who else?)
So, Mandy set about setting herself apart from the hundreds and hundreds of applications we receive every year from upcoming graduates. And, to say she succeeded is akin to calling North Korea a rogue state.
Here’s why we’ll be interviewing Mandy this Friday and, if her in-person skills match those of her strategic branding campaign, offering her a paid Summer internship:
1.) Mandy created her own website JUST for Peppercomm. See:http://filebox.vt.edu/users/mandyy/Peppercomm/PepperCommsNextTopIntern.html. On the site, she included her resume, a cover letter and our personal favorite: ‘The 10 reasons why Mandy Roth would be Peppercomm’s next top intern.’
Note: Mandy says she built the specially-tailored website because she’d LISTENED to Peppercomm’s messages and wanted to ENGAGE in our conversations with a site that demonstrated her talent and creativity. FYI, our firm’s tagline is: ‘Listen. Engage. Repeat.’
2) In her cover letter, Mandy detailed the journey she’d taken during her college years, how she’d discovered Peppercomm and why our culture is perfectly aligned with her personal and professional goals.
3) She cited two separate Peppercomm blogs as truly inspiring her subsequent actions. One was written by our resident male fashionista, Jason Green, and entitled, ‘Don’t be boring in life, don’t be boring when applying’ . The other one, happily, was one of mine, and entitled, ‘Third party endorsement’.
4) Last, and definitely not least, Mandy’s 10 reasons why Mandy Roth would be Peppercomm’s next top intern was a show stopper (insert link). For the record, Mandy, you had me at 10 reasons. And, BTW, her number one reason (as well as the final sentence in her cover note) killed: ‘I know I could be the salt in your Peppercomm.’
Whether you’re 19 or 90, you MUST create, and continually refresh, your own, personal brand. Why? Two reasons:
- There are more people searching for fewer jobs than ever before.
- There has never been less corporate loyalty. I can personally attest to the fact that many clients will toss away their agencies of long-standing like yesterday’s newspaper if it’ll save their jobs. And, sadly, most businesses today place profits over people.
I don’t know how Mandy’s interviews will go on Friday. But, I can tell you this: regardless of whether she clicks with us, Mandy Roth has a bright future because, at a very early stage in her career, she’s figured out how to breakthrough the clutter AND build her own brand in a cool, compelling way.
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).
We’re always asked about the process for interviewing for internship and entry-level positions. Essentially, sometimes the process seems to be a bit longer than one would imagine because we’re looking for the best fit for the position and Peppercomm.
To get more of a glimpse into what is happening across the board in terms of hiring, check out this article in The New York Times: With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection.
Do you agree with the assessment?
1. Tell us about yourself- Where did you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm and PR?
My name is Ali Pearce and I’ve been interning at Peppercomm since September. I graduated from Elon University, a small liberal arts college in North Carolina, last May with a degree in Strategic Communications. I have always enjoyed working in teams and coming up with creative solutions to problems; therefore public relations was a perfect fit for me. Because it is an industry that encourages thinking outside of the box, I am constantly being challenged and continuously learning new ways to help our clients.
The culture at Peppercomm is unlike any other organization I have been a part of and immediately drew me into the company. The minute you step into the office, you can tell that everyone enjoys coming to work and because of that, the energy here is contagious. My interview flew by because I spent half of the time laughing with the intern committee. That’s when I knew I was sold and that Peppercomm was the place for me.
2. What area of the industry do you find most interesting and why?
I’m really interested in the digital side of public relations. Social media has revolutionized the industry by completely changing the relationship between brands and consumers. I love following the digital trends and learning new ways to build a brand’s presence through these social media platforms. One of my favorite aspects of this internship is working with Peppercomm’s internal digital team, PepperDigital.
3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
I think the biggest revelation about the industry for me was the different types of projects that we work on for our clients. Before working at Peppercomm, everything I knew about PR came from the classroom and my internship for an in-house PR department. Working for an agency is completely different; no two days are ever alike and you are constantly juggling different types of projects for a unique client base.
4. Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship so far.
One of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my internship thus far has been working for a foreign technology company. My team and I have been helping to establish a social media presence for this client. This has been difficult at times because of cultural differences and a differing of opinion on various topics. Drafting social media content for this client has taught me how to adjust my language and tone so that it matches my client’s audience, which I have come to learn is an essential skill in public relations. Overall, it has been rewarding every day to see an increase in engagement on the client’s Facebook page and to receive positive feedback from the client.
5. Any favorite/inspiring case studies?
I recently came across a Unicef campaign on Pinterest that really resonated with me. Pinterest is typically used as a platform for sharing things that you want in your closet, for your home or things that you want to cook or craft. Working off of this theme, Unicef created a fictional Pinterest account for Ami Musa, a 13 year old girl from Sierra Leone. Using this account, Unicef pinned items such as a cup of rice or clean drinking water to show the wants of a 13 year old living in poverty. These images stood out amongst the typical materialistic pins. Personally, this campaign forced me to think about those less fortunate about myself and instilled in me a desire to do something to help others instead of pinning another pair of shoes.
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.