Archive for entry level PR

Nov
13

Don’t Rule Out Internships

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Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Once you graduate you may expect to start you dream job and begin putting those college internships behind you. Right? Well, in PR that is not always the case. Your career path may call for you to take on a post-grad internship (or two) before you land your first job that doesn’t have the word “Intern” in its title.

When you are looking for your first job after college be sure to apply for both entry-level positions and internships. You can work at an internship full-time allowing you to get into the flow of what life will be like in your first career job.

I suggest that you take on a lot of responsibility at your internship, treating it as if it’s the position that you want next. Ask your supervisor what’s the difference between an intern and the position above that role. This will allow you to map out your internship to help prepare you for your next position.

Other benefits/tips of a post-grad internship:

  • Allows you to work in a new city temporarily helping get your feet wet in your career and the city.
  • Take it very seriously – There is a great chance it can lead to a full-time permanent position, so act like you got the job.
  • Live your life outside of your internship as close as possible to the way you want it to be at your first career job.
  • At internships you are held responsible/accountable for your work, but it’s expected for you to be there to learn. Take advantage of this as a learning opportunity!
  • Internships, especially in PR are important for your career and your next employer will really look at all of the experience you had regardless if the job title has the word “intern” in it.
  • Don’t rule out a post-grad internship.

Overall, when you are looking for your post-grad job be sure to search the internship listings too. You never know where an internship can take you.

Keep in mind that Peppercomm hires full-time interns in both New York and San Francisco: http://peppercomm.com/employment

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Regardless of your education level you should find ways to enhance your learning: formally and/or informally. After reading the 10 ways to do this on a budget I’m committed to making sure I remain a student for life.

Here are the 10 ways to continue your PR education on a budget:

  1. Seek out free Webinars
  2. Take a class at your local community college
  3. Attend an event or conference that allows you to learn and network
  4. Find a mentor
  5. Conduct an informational interview
  6. Read industry journals
  7. Give your library card a workout
  8. Volunteer
  9. Join Twitter if you are not already a member
  10. Read up on award-winning case studies

I do a lot of these on the list already, but I really want to do more. You can read the full article here.

Which of the 10 ways to continue your PR education do you find the most interesting?

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Nov
05

14 Essentials for PR Newbies

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Today’s post is in response to this article

There are always so many tips for new PR pros and the above mentioned article is no different. There are great tips like always, but at the end of the day it’s up to you how you will be during your career. I suggest being proactive and searching out work in your current job, but know your limits. You don’t want to take on so much work that you begin missing deadlines.

The article gave 14 tips and here are my favorite five:

  • Learn a client’s industry and their business
    • How can you add value if you don’t know how your clients make money? Get in the trenches. Study your clients and their competition.
  • Network
    • The future belongs to those who can do the work and sell the work. Build relationships in the business community. Get involved in civic and charitable organizations, and don’t expect your company to pay for it all. You must invest in yourself.
  • Develop your oral and written communication skills
    • If you don’t know how to research a company and write a press release, you won’t make it in this field.
  • Dedicate yourself to learning
    • Those who go the extra mile to learn on their own will make it further. Firms are working with limited resources and don’t have time to spoon-feed newbies. If you learned how to do a research paper in college, apply those techniques on the job.
  • Watch business trends and analyze their impact on clients
    • In time, this trait will come to those who are naturally curious. I love curiosity, because it breeds creativity and ingenuity. Employers, seek employees who are naturally curious.

From the list above do you have a favorite or would you add anything else?

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Nov
03

5 Skills PR Interns Need

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Someone recently shared this PRNewser article with me, 5 Important Skills PR Interns Should Possess Before They Get the Gig. Starting my career as an intern, I remembering hearing these tips (and similar ones) many times. This advice came from mentors, internship managers, professors, school advisers and the like. After reading the article, I have to agree that having the following five skills will help interns move to the next level. Although, these same tips should be remembered at any stage in a public relations professionals career.

  1. Writing
  2. Multitasking
  3. Speaking
  4. Researching
  5. Questioning

Writing is a given. Be it in the form of a press release or email, being able to write is crucial in this industry. Multitasking for me is more about balancing my workload to get everything completed without trying to do everything at once. Attempting to write a press release, make a phone call and send a tweet all at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Instead, it’s about your ability to switch quickly from one project to the next while still producing quality work.

Speaking is an important skill to have when giving a presentation or making a cold call for a media pitch. Learning how to master the art of talking with a purpose is key to communicating with clients, the media and coworkers. Researching as an intern was one of the task I remembering having to do almost everyday. Using resources outside of Google really helped in sharpening my skills and gave me the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to my teams. Finally, ask questions. Questioning is something that you should never stop doing and as you advance you’ll become a lot better at it.

These are just a sample of skills that a PR intern needs in order to reach that next level. What other skills do you think are important?

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Oct
17

My First Job: Cashier

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Today’s guest post is by JGAPeppercomm account executive, Caitlin Brown.

I simultaneously loved – and despised – my first job (technically I was a babysitter first, but let’s not split hairs). I was 16, and having grown up without ever having household chores, starting a part-time job was painful – I obviously just wanted to hang out with my friends and watch TV.

In order to learn some responsibility, my parents decided I was not allowed to have a cell phone until I could pay for it on my own. Hence, I needed a job, and fast; it was 2006, and I needed that flip phone!

So what did I do? I applied to be a cashier at Wegmans, the best grocery store ever1. You may not think that your first job would have many similarities to your career, but you’d be surprised just what you learn:

Money Management Matters: As I mentioned, I needed a job in order to finally have a cell phone. As a part-time, underage worker, I could legally only work a certain number of hours, and I received minimum wage. Granted, my expenses weren’t out of control, but once I was able to purchase a phone and a cellular plan, I realized I had to keep paying for it – month after month. I quickly learned not to blow my entire paycheck on one trip to the mall, and I began to volunteer for extra shifts when possible.

It’s OK to Ask for Help: Even as a cashier, mistakes happen. Maybe you dropped someone’s fresh-from-the-oven pizza (yep, I did that), are having issues with the scanner/coupons, or someone refuses to give you their ID when they try to purchase beer. Never be afraid to call for a manager, or ask another coworker for help. You are constantly learning on the job and are interacting with others, and another set of eyes and ears can help turn around any sticky situation.

No Matter What, Always Smile: When a grocery store is full, you’d be shocked at the fast-paced environment for its employees. As a cashier, you are essentially the face of the store – so turn that frown upside down! This applies for anyone in a client-facing position; even if the customer isn’t always right, being pleasant goes a long way to making yourself and the company look good, and provides the customer with an overall pleasant experience.

 

1. Do not test Upstate New Yorkers on this; Wegmans is the best, and I stand by it. 

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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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Today’s guest post is by JGAPeppercomm director, Lauren Banyar Reich

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I’ve never been a fan of small children (and yes, I am now a mother of two… go figure).  So it came as no surprise that at the ripe old age of 14, I ran to my high school guidance counselor’s office, eager to obtain a working permit that would allow me to leave behind my days as a disgruntled babysitter.

After a holiday season spent working at the local nursery/Christmas “depot” I finally settled into what I would consider my first, official, real job – working as a sales person in a high-end ladies clothing boutique. For over seven years, all through high school and college, I worked at Annie-Prue Limited under the tutelage of Annie and her daughter Stephanie, who co-managed the store at the time.

Know that this was no typical retail job.  Annie didn’t suffer fools (even foolish customers) gladly, and was known to write off people based solely on a limp handshake.  She and Stephanie ran a tight ship, and did a brisk business selling labels like Longchamp, Donald Pliner, Eileen Fisher, Nicole Miller and others that you couldn’t buy anywhere but in their namesake boutiques in Philadelphia at the time.  Their clients were Wilmington Society ladies, wives of Philadelphia Phillies baseball players and relatives of the Wyeth family.

In other words, I’m not really sure why they hired me – a lanky, 15-year-old with no fashion knowledge – other than the fact that I was cheap and my parents promised to drop me off and pick me up on time.  But I’m certainly glad they did.  The lessons I learned during my tenure working for two dynamic and successful female entrepreneurs proved to be invaluable as I began to navigate the business world.  So what did I learn?

Be enthusiastic.  After my initial interview with Annie, I knew we had hit it off.  In fact, she all but offered me the job.  As we were wrapping up, she asked, offhand, how old I was.  When I answered, “Fifteen, last week,” I saw her face drop.  I reacted immediately by assuring her that I would be on time, even early, for every shift.  I promised to work hard and be dependable. I didn’t beg, but I showed her my enthusiasm for the job.  I wanted to work for her and I let her know it.  Within two weeks I was opening and closing the store on my own.

You can’t teach someone to have an enthusiastic, positive attitude – or to work hard.  People have to want that for themselves.  But you can show your boss, your co-workers, a prospective client, that you are someone they want on their team because of your passion and work ethic.  When it comes to breaking into PR – or any business – there’s always someone with more experience than you, so be the one with the best attitude and most enthusiasm for the job at hand.

Build relationships.  After just a few months of working at Annie-Prue, I knew the “regulars.”  After a few seasons, I knew the whole crew:  the men who visited for holidays and birthdays who expected us to pick out a selection of clothes and accessories their wives would love; the horse-lovers looking for the latest fashion-forward riding boots or preppy outerwear; the mom/daughter pairs who came in for every special occasion dress.  Hearing, “Oh you know what I like,” was always music to my ears.  It meant that I could pull the right items, with the right fit, for the right occasion, pretty quickly – and make a good sale without spending hours tearing up the store looking for a needle in a haystack.

Because I had strong relationships with my clients, I was able to work smarter, close more business and deliver on their expectations.  By listening, learning how to read people and building trust with our customers, my job became a whole lot easier – and I became better at it, faster.  In business, everyone says “it’s all about relationships,” because it is TRUE.  But if you want to boil it down to the basics, it’s also about getting ahead.  If you have strong, authentic, relationships with people inside and outside of your organization, you will produce better work without spinning your wheels.  And you’re likely to move up the corporate ladder much faster.

Treat your boss like your number one client.  In any retail situation, there can be a lot of downtime.  Maybe it was how my parents raised me, or maybe it’s just that I’m not very good at sitting still, but I was always asking Annie and Stephanie for jobs to do.  We would put together look books, create trend collages to put up in the dressing rooms, or I would help file invoices or manage markdowns on the sale rack.  Whenever possible I would ask how I could help, or take it upon myself to straighten the store, wipe the shelves or clean the front window.  I knew that if they found me to be useful, I would always have a job there… and it worked.

No one is irreplaceable (sorry, it’s true), but if you can create a situation where your boss depends on you for things that make their life easier, you start to become indispensable.  Thinking about him or her as your number one client is a good way to start.  How can you support them with research before a big pitch meeting?  What can you do to make them look smart in front of higher-ups at the company?  On the flipside, just as you wouldn’t gossip about someone in front of a client, maintain that same decorum in front of your superiors.  If you wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit at a client meeting, don’t wear it to work.

Also, I’m with Annie on the handshake test… but that’s a whole other column.

 

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Nicole Inserra

Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?

I’m a New Yorker, born in Westchester and currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. So, I guess you could say I’m a New Yorker to my core. I recently graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx with a degree in Communications and Media Studies and with a minor in Environmental Policy. There was a time when I thought my future was going to take a more science based path, but then I had to enroll in multi-variable calculus and physics, and that was the end of that. I’ve completed a variety of communication type internships throughout college, ranging from public relations specific to special event coordinating and luxury wedding planning. Each has been a rewarding internship in its own right, and I’ve immensely enjoyed the experiences. I decided after college I wanted to try public relations again, and stumbled across Peppercomm through word of mouth.  After reading about its comedy training and dog lover theme, I knew it would be the perfect home for me. Alas, here I am!

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I love the media relations aspect of this industry. I’m quite a talker, which anyone at this company would attest to, so I really enjoy getting to interact with the reporters and journalists. When a reporter writes back and agrees to cover a story you pitched, it’s the best feeling. You can’t help but do a little happy dance when that happens. It’s also an industry that is continually evolving, which makes it super exciting to be involved. Nothing is ever stagnant or dull in this industry. If I could focus all of my energies on the luxury accounts, I’d definitely be right in my element, but I know how beneficial it is to experience the many different types. You can’t know what you like until you try it all.

Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

Honestly, I was surprised by the environment here at Peppercomm. In the past, I’ve only worked for very small firms, so the number of co-workers was easily below ten. The atmosphere was always very relaxed and comfortable. I wondered if working at a big time strategic marketing firm would be the complete opposite. I was a little worried, but couldn’t believe how wrong I was since day one. Peppercomm is the most creative, fun-loving, interactive and energetic company I’ve ever worked for. The ideas are constantly flowing, and it is so obvious how much everyone here really enjoys and is passionate about what they do. I’ve experienced a variety of different companies, and this one by far produces the most well rounded, and happiest employees yet. Most importantly, I’ve found that my co-workers serve as each other’s biggest fans. The encouragement is never ending.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

My future is as much a mystery to you as it is to me. I could definitely see myself staying within the public relations realm, but I like to keep my options open. Event planning is my passion deep down, specifically luxury wedding planning, and I do hope to one day find a place in that industry again. I guess only time will tell… Stay tuned!

 

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm director, Lia LoBello

Or: How to Deal with Crazy Teenage Boys Yelling at You

Soccer Referee Handing Out a Red Card

This is NOT Lia LoBello, but this is what we imagine her experience to look like.

In high school, the goal for many – not all, but many – 16-year-old girls to attract the attention of boys in a positive way. At my first job, I spent my Saturday and Sunday mornings getting screamed at by not just teenage boys, but their parents as well. I was a soccer referee.

It didn’t dawn on me until many years later the lunacy of refereeing boys my own age. As a soccer player, refereeing soccer games was an easy job – I knew the rules, I got paid in cash, and the field was around the corner from my house. The pay structure was simple – the center ref made double the amount of the age group playing in the game, and the line ref made the age exactly. That meant, if I refereed a minimum of four games – and in the South Florida sun, that was a simple 8 a.m. – 2pm work day – I could earn anywhere from $64-$128 in cold, hard, cash.  For a high school student, that was an incredible amount of money to have in hand every week!

The flipside was obvious – 16 year-old-boys are not known for tact, nor are they known for taking sports, shall we say, lightly. Put it together, and every perceived missed call, every questioned line judgment, and God forbid, any yellow or red cards was met by yelling, eye-rolling, and hands thrown in the air accompanied by a John McEnroe-like “ARE YOU SERIOUS?”

Looking back, however, I learned a lot from the job. I mean – how could I not have learned?! I learned how to stand my ground, to trust my judgment and to diffuse difficult situations. I learned how to walk by crazy parents while keeping my head high and I learned what was worth my time and attention to care about, as well as what was not. In the job I do today, which involves negotiating diverse personalities, keeping many balls in the air, and keeping teams motivated – I can make a direct correlation to my success in these departments to my time as a referee.

It’s also worth mentioning I had a killer tan.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm SF intern and future industry star, Jenna Bigham. 

Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?

Hey there! My name is Jenna and I am recent graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Communication and a minor in Business Administration. During my college years, I was very involved in my university’s student government, ASUA, and was involved in countless organizations and positions over the course of four years. I was also heavily involved in our student section for athletic events’ committee, ZonaZoo Crew and you could pretty much find me at every Wildcat sporting event that took place (Beardown!). I also was the TOMS Campus Club President for all four years of school, worked the front reception desk for the Pharmacology and Toxicology department of the university, and also worked (well, still work on the weekends) at the clothing store Anthropologie. Over-involved seemed to be the common theme throughout my college years and I could not be more proud to say I am a Wildcat alum now.

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, but after 22 years of the desert and the longest, scorching summers, I decided to take a chance and move to the Bay Area! I could not be happier here and am constantly finding new and exciting things to do. Moving up here is actually how I discovered Peppercomm – I told one of my Aunt’s friends that I had just graduated with a degree in Communication and was looking to break into the wild world of public relations. Turns out, her next door neighbor is Partner and President of the West Coast Peppercomm office, Ann Barlow, and she put me in contact with her to get some tips on breaking into the industry. After learning more and more about the incredible things Peppercomm has accomplished and works on every day, and how awesome their internship program is, I had to get involved. Next thing you know, I was applying for the internship program and the rest is history!

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I am so thankful to be working on a myriad of accounts that allows me to learn how each area of PR functions. The area that I definitely enjoy the most is the media relations side. I feel like I have really been able to experience how important it is for PR professionals and journalists to work hand in hand and combine forces to get both of their different (but somewhat similar) jobs done. Public relations, in general, has always appealed to me because I love bridging the gap between business and the media and ultimately working with a client to connect with the public.

 Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

I was totally surprised (and pleased) to find that I was immediately given so much responsibility as an intern. The second I walked in the door on my first day, a media list project was waiting for me and I dove on in. I have heard so many experiences through friends that they feel like they did not learn anything about PR and were treated as more of an office assistant in their previous internships. That has never been the case here at Peppercomm and it’s refreshing to be treated like a real team member and be expected handle the responsibility of an entry-level associate. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous my first week to be working with such a wide range of clients from financial to legal to non-profit areas of business but it has helped me to become so well-versed in the industry already.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I can definitely see myself working more in the consumer/lifestyle or tech side, just because I feel like that has always been the area of business I have always been passionate about. Down the road, I would love to either work in-house at company or with an agency that specializes in these things. For now, I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to constantly explore so many parts of the industry and learn each and every day from the amazing team at Peppercomm.

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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