Archive for entry level PR
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Madeline Skahill.
I am a recent graduate from Wake Forest University and I have ventured all the way from Williamsburg, Virginia. Whether you were forced to dress up in 18th century colonial garb by your grandparents or peer-pressured by fellow classmates to endlessly ride all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, I am sure there are a few hidden gems that have been so lucky to have experienced my hometown. With that said, I could not be more excited to be in New York City.
Last summer, I worked as a PR intern for the National Park Foundation and was fortunate to get hands-on experience in promoting the parks nationwide. I wanted to continue my passion of PR, however, continue this passion with an agency. Within the first few minutes of looking at Peppercomm’s website, I knew it was the place for me. From the evident vibrant culture to the dynamic list of clients, Peppercomm has proven to be the perfect fit.
2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
The area of the industry I find the most interesting is the distinct role the media plays within the agency. All forms of media, from print to digital, play a tremendous part in the future of a brand or corporation. I love experiencing the constant contact between a PR agency and media outlets as well as the ability to watch a particular client’s progress in the media spotlight.
3) Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
The importance of Crisis Communication within a PR agency has proven to be one of my biggest surprises thus far. Within a matter of seconds, an entire group of individuals are forced to put on their thinking caps and act fast with the future of a company lying in their hands. Before, I always thought this was the role of corporations, however, with the emphasis of Crisis Communication at Peppercomm, I truly understand the importance an agency plays in handling anything that may come their way.
4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
I would love to continue the path of working at an agency and balancing multiple clients rather than working for a particular corporation. I would also love to be able to work for a client from the ground up. The beginning stages of a company are filled with bright new ideas and have the ability to alter the way the general public views the world. It would be a tremendous accomplishment to be with a client at the starting line and be able to see their progress and achievements firsthand.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- #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.
- 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).
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Pearce.
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.
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.
Whether 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?
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”
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!
Today’s post is by Business Outcomes intern, Alex Garay.
This fall marks the second time in my career that I have tasked myself with the difficult, but rewarding act of balancing an internship with school. To some, it may seem crazy to give away time during the already-busy school week (especially on Fridays), but I really think it’s worth it. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages of taking on this type of schedule that you should know about before you decide that it is right for you.
An obvious benefit of undertaking this balancing act is that your time management skills will improve significantly. With a part-time internship during school, you may not have the morning before class to finish an assignment, you may not be able to meet with your group on Friday, and you may not have the whole weekend to study for an exam. There is certainly time lost, but you can make it up – it just means that you have to stay on top of your free time. Your internship will likely have set hours, but your schoolwork does not, which means that utilizing spare time is very important. Get started on an assignment the day it is given. Study for your exams over the course of a week rather than the night before. Prepare your end of group work early so that if you can’t meet as long as you’d like, you will still be able to pull your weight in the team.
As a junior or senior with a full-time internship in the fall, other difficulties arise – the summer internship you undertake after junior year is likely the most important, and of course during senior year it’s important to consider full-time employment. That means that while you’re juggling an internship and classes, you may have to worry about internship fairs, information sessions, and other job-related events that take place during the academic semester. It is difficult to balance so many commitments at once, but it can also be very impressive to potential employers, and should be highlighted when applying for jobs. This relates back to time management, which will be of even more importance in this scenario.
Another benefit of working while taking classes is that you may notice parallels between your work and your studies that help you in one, or both. The first time I took on an internship along with a full credit load, I worked at a record label, and had a class on market research that was helpful to my work in forecasting album sales. This time around, one of my classes on the responsibility of companies and corporations to the public fits in well with the analysis of clients’ PR efforts that I undertake at Peppercomm’s Business Outcomes team. These are just two examples from my own experience – you might find an even stronger correlation between work and school.
Taking on an internship during an academic semester is certainly difficult, but don’t be too quick to write it off. Managing your time well is a skill that you will have to learn at one point or another in the professional world, and it doesn’t hurt to master it while you’re still in school. Plus, you’ll gain valuable work experience that can be combined with previous jobs and summer internships to improve your all-around candidacy for positions that interest you. Of course, some extra spending money as a college student goes a long way, too!
Today’s post is by Peppercomm Business Outcomes intern, Alex Garay.
Ever since I can remember, I was never really a fan of any activity that had one specific, strict way in which it should be done. As a child when learning to play the piano, I abhorred the concept of “piano fingering”, where certain notes had to be played with certain fingers. If I could find a way to play the exact same notes in an easier way, why not do it? If my method works and produces an equal or better result, it couldn’t be a bad thing, could it? Why do I have to do it the “right” way if my way works better for me? Some may disagree, but I’ve always enjoyed activities, tasks, classes, and jobs more when I have the freedom to find a better way. A task becomes more rewarding, exciting, and funner for me when there is more than one way to do it; in school I enjoy classes that involve a creative element (such as strategy, marketing, and some finance) more than classes that teach a subject that has always been done way and is designed to always be done that way. Classes that allow for some creativity often provide example-based experience where you can test your ability to think in new ways, which I think is a more valuable learning experience than simply learning a process. Of course, it’s incredibly important to explore all types of classes so that you know where you stand and can understand what type of work you feel more comfortable with. Remember, however, that there is not always a clear line between by-the-book and creative.
I personally don’t always like doing something the “right way”, but don’t get me wrong – established processes are obviously very important, and they are a testament to the creativity and insight of their developers. Someone, or several people, worked hard to facilitate the future by creating methods that can be followed. But I think that an established process should be a baseline, a benchmark that can then be improved upon and developed further to facilitate progress and ensure that it is still relevant. This could apply to anything, from something as simple as data entry to something as complex as federal tax code. I am a strong believer in the idea that “there is always a better way”, and I also believe that it can be applied to almost anything.
How does this relate to job searches, internships, and PR? Well, I’ve had jobs and internships where I have to do the same thing, the same way, every day, and then I’ve had and internships where I have the freedom to do something a different way if I can show that it’s easier, more efficient, or in some way better than the current way. It’s not difficult for me to decide which of these I enjoy more and get more fulfillment from. Public relations, marketing, communications, strategy – they’re all great industries to examine and carefully consider for someone who seeks that sort of experience. There are others, to be sure – in fact, almost any industry will have a creative aspect. But if that freedom and room for creativity is what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it if you involve yourself in one or more of these industries, because they revolve around new ideas – there’s not always a “right way.”
As we head into the colder months, it’s important to start thinking about just that—colds.
Being an entry-level employee or intern sometimes might make you feel that you need to work through whatever illness you may have. I’ve been there myself and know that struggle.
There are some offices and industries that expect you to work at all times, but there are others that are the exact opposite. Despite whatever situation you’re in there are a few items to keep in mind if you’re not feeling well:
- Don’t come into the office. This is pretty much common sense, but really, sometimes when you even have a cold, you don’t realize how quickly it can spread in an office setting. You’re basically working in a glorified Petri dish and spreading your germs quickly.
- You could actually be sicker than you think. This is an extreme case, but when I was in college, I started coughing and kept being really tired for much longer than I would like to say because when I say it out loud, it seems insane that I didn’t go to a doctor—but I chalked it up to just burning the candle at both ends. What’s funny was that the cough was a little worse than I thought – I had two types of pneumonia and the whooping cough at the same time . . . and had been spreading that around the entire time.
- You’re not doing good work. I don’t care what anyone says, when you don’t feel well, you’re not doing your best work. Sure, your work might be adequate or even good, but it’s not your best and most efficient. You do your company and your clients a disservice when trying to work when sick. You’re just not at your best and you’re being paid for your best.
- Don’t come into the office. Yes, this is on here twice. I know there are more out there like me—if a coworker gets me sick, I get mad. I want them to feel better, of course, but I also don’t want to get sick, so STAY HOME.
Sometimes there is the worry that if you take a sick day you may be missing out on important work and meetings. Also, sometimes if you’re feeling a little sick, you might not be totally down for the count. In situations like this, if you’re able to work remotely, that’s a good option. I would just advise that you really listen to your body. You want to make sure that you’re always able to give your work 100 percent.
Of course, you need to always be working hard and need to balance taking time off, but you need to be considerate of others and of your own health.
What’s your take on sick days?