Archive for July, 2012

Jul
31

Camouflage and Comedy

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Today’s featured post was written by Nicole Hall, current Peppercom intern and future PR star. This post was originally published on The Stand Up Executive (posted on 7/27/12).

 

 

In a culture where everyone is required to dress the same, act the same and sport the same haircut, how are you supposed to practice authenticity?

Before working at Peppercom, I performed media relations and event planning for a Marine Corps organization. I worked mainly with the junior Marines and heard many accounts of their overseas escapades and barracks shenanigans. My favorite is probably their attempt at parachuting off their three-story barracks roof during Hurricane Irene (I didn’t say they used their free time wisely). But what all of these Marines had in common was their ability to be completely uncensored and authentic, both with me and each other. Last Halloween, I planned a short trip for a small group of Marines to see a haunted battleship. At the beginning of the trip, there were two distinct groups of friends who were attending. But after a couple of hours of exchanging funny stories on the road and laughing at the terrible actors on the ship, they were all hanging out together by the end of the night.

From that raw authenticity is how they develop relationships that carry into their workdays and combat situations.

It probably comes as no surprise that enlisting in the military is cited as the most stressful job of 2012. Aside from the obvious stress factors that are associated with overseas deployments, war zones, training and weapons, service members also experience the same situations as we do in our corporate jobs: impressing the boss, working for promotions, being on time, etc.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, comedy doesn’t necessarily belong in all situations, and the military is one of these examples. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t practice comedy outside of their camouflage.

When Marines spend time outside of their uniforms, they have the chance to practice comedy which forms bonds that carry into the field.  Living a lifestyle constantly defined by rank and a strict adherence to protocol, it is critical that Marines get the chance to laugh often and be able to express themselves in less stressful environments.

Even though practicing comedy outside of work is effective for the military, it does not mean this is the right mindset for a corporate culture. You don’t want your employees to only enjoy themselves outside of work. And you don’t want to run your business like a military institution—there’s a reason that only a small percentage of Americans choose that environment.

Do your employees practice comedy at work? Or is it encouraged to keep all personal interaction outside of the workplace?

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Jul
30

We never miss a party

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How many times have we written about this? We cannot stress it enough–the importance of networking. At any stage in your career, whether you’re an intern, mid-level or SVP of a company, it’s always important to network with colleagues, employers, potential employers and potential new hires.

Tomorrow night marks the 2nd Annual Intern Queen Party in NYC, with a great internship panel. Kristin Davie and I will be attending. Will you?

What networking opportunities have you been able to go to so far?

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Jul
25

Bea-ing Relatable

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Today’s featured post can also be found on The Stand Up Executive (posted on 7/24/12).

Bored and internet surfing a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an interesting show: “An Evening at the Improv.”

I was immediately drawn to an episode hosted by none other than Bea Arthur—which appealed to my love for “The Golden Girls.” I could not wait to watch.

At this point you can probably tell that this isn’t the most current television show I could find. In fact, one of the performers was a male comedian who had won Star Search (in the 80s).

For the purposes of this post, I will admit that I was a toddler the year this particular episode aired. Despite this and that fact that comedic delivery and content has undoubtedly changed, I thought the show was hysterical.

My fellow Millennials are often accused of being out of touch and not knowing their history—which I also loop pop culture references and comedy into, because when it’s in the past it’s history. While I agree there are many people my age like this, I don’t believe it’s a product of being a Millennial. It’s a product of being lazy and not reading enough. And these types of people have been around forever.

I attribute my diverse sense of humor to growing up watching shows that referenced a lot of what was happening during the times they aired. I loved watching more adult shows like “Absolutely Fabulous” and “Black Books” on Comedy Central—a channel I was not allowed to watch (luckily my strict parents never caught on and parental controls hadn’t been invented yet). I can also credit my knowledge of many pop culture references from previous generations due to a mix of my love of reading anything I can and Vh1’s “I love the [fill in the decade]” series. Expanding my horizons in this way has helped to give me the ability to relate to many different types of people regardless of generational gaps.

With comedy and public relations, those who are successful in both industries always talk about having the ability to connecting with and really knowing their respective audiences. When performing a comedic routine or giving a new business pitch, you need to be able to switch gears quickly based on the audience’s reaction to what you’re saying. Knowing references and being able to use humor/knowledge that appeals to multiple generations is one key to success.

Clearly, you cannot know everything about everything. However, being able to apply what you do know to mixed generations will help get your point across much stronger and help you to gain the respect of your peers regardless of age. How do you do this? Easy, read more and if you’re in the communications industry, you should already be reading the news, so expand what you look at and read more about culture, history. It is also always beneficial to stay up to date on current events, politics, even that new show on channel XYZ. It also wouldn’t hurt to watch old TV episodes like me. Most importantly, open yourself up to the world of the people you interact with in your life, notice what they spend their time on and pay attention, you’ll find yourself  be very relatable—a necessary skill in this industry.

While you might not find “A Night At the Improv” to be funny like I do (and at the very least you should watch the intro to the show after the host does his or her monologue . . . it’s SO awesomely 1980s), it’s beneficial to be able to reference what was funny/topical across the decades. Relate-ability—it’s a good thing.

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Jul
24

The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s post, meet Shira Palka, current Peppercom intern and future PR star.

1) Tell us about yourself—where did you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercom and public relations?
Originally from Riverdale, New York, I now study at New York University as a media, culture & communications major and psychology minor. My involvement in the high school newspaper has led me to my first internship at the Bronx Press, and while I realized that journalism wasn’t my calling, I continued to search for outlets where I could explore my writing, researching and creative interests.

During my sophomore year, I interned at The .CO Registry, in which I assisted with the launch of the company and communicated with the outside public relations and marketing agencies. Also at that time, I was elected as one of the founding executive board members of NYU’s PRSSA chapter and I became much more aware and involved with the public relations community. When I landed at M Booth as an intern for the digital team, I learned about the importance of digital and social PR to help companies succeed in the modern era. I was curious to delve into the traditional side of PR, and I was happy to find Peppercom welcoming me just a few blocks away.

2) What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
I find technology and digital PR most appealing at this stage of my career. This is one of the most rapidly growing areas of our society, and public relations agencies must adapt their levels of expertise to help their clients be as up to date with their strategies as possible. It fascinates me that social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others have become significant tools in helping companies communicate with their audiences, and personalize their branding to hundreds of millions of people with the click of a button. There are so many up and coming technology startups that are in need of good public relations assistance, and additional technology vendors that work with these agencies to provide the ultimate support and understanding for their clients. While this field continues to expand by the minute, it will be interesting to see the new trends that arise along the way and their effects on the public relations industry.

3) Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
One thing I learned early on about the industry was the need to multitask on a large-scale level. Today’s generation is growing up on smartphones which allow you to email someone, while video chatting, simultaneously taking a picture, and then posting it on all your social channels. Surprisingly, I realized PR professionals need the same types of skills to work on their accounts. PR people work on several projects and accounts at once, while maintaining their personal reputations on the internet. I thought multitasking was an easily acquired skill if you’ve grown up in an environment that encourages it, yet I see people who have been in the PR industry for longer than I’ve existed that have been multitasking before I knew the true meaning of the word. This attribute is something that really stood out to me when first learning about the field.

4) Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship program so far.
So far, my proudest moment at Peppercom was pitching and planning for a large client event. I was able to secure bloggers and reporters from top-tier media to attend, and kept in touch with them as the event date neared. When I welcomed guests to the event that evening, I enjoyed seeing all of the planning details come together to form what appeared to be an effortless, yet elegant party with a satisfied client.

5) Any favorite/inspiring case studies (and this does not have to be a Peppercom case study)?
An inspiring case study done by Peppercom was the Nikon: Creation of an Online Sensation. While Nikon is a classic brand which has been around for a long time, it too was struggling to stay fresh in a continuously developing market. Peppercom strategically identified new audiences and media that may be attracted to Nikon’s online competition, and successfully drove thousands of visitors to the website with hundreds of media placements. The case study is a great example of how an older company can maintain its reputation with fresh, forward thinking public relations tactics to assist behind the scenes.

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Jul
23

Happy Internfest!

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With our summer intern session, an added bonus of the season is that we allow all of our interns in the New York office to spend the afternoon at an annual event hosted by the Council of Public Relations Firms–Internfest. During the event (at NYU’s Kimmel Center)  interns get to hear from a variety of industry professionals, including the keynote speaker Andy Polansky, President, Weber Shandwick and 2012 Chair, Council of Public Relations Firms.

Peppercom’s very own Nick Light, will be participating in a panel discussion as part of those events. There is also a chance to network with speakers and fellow interns. And you can catch Nick (and me) at the networking portion at the end. Be sure to stop by if you’re attending.

 

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Jul
18

“Look Ma, I’m in the paper!”

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Seeing your name in print is always exciting.  That is, unless the article is talking about your client and the reporter just quoted you as the spokesperson.  While most reporters are usually willing to change the name after the fact, the gaffe may leave your clients less than amused.

When talking to reporters or bloggers, how do you make sure your discussion remains off the record without sounding presumptuous in your request to stay “off the record?”

Depending on the situation, ask if you can offer a quote or additional info FROM YOUR CLIENT for an article.  As a major part of our job in PR is to present our clients in the best way possible and maximize positive media exposure, ask the reporter if they would like additional insight from an industry expert, such as your client.  Doing so will not only increase your chances of having your client’s name in the paper, but also help establish their presence as leader in their industry.

Reiterate your position when talking to a reporter.  It’s fine if you sound repetitious but make sure reporters know that you are not the spokesperson and are merely here to facilitate discussion between them and your client.  While the reporter may have no intention of quoting you in his/her article, it helps to emphasize your role in this interaction.  Over time, the reporter may even come to regard you as the go-to source for information from your client and approach you for opportunities in the future.

When you get an amazing editorial article in high profile news outlet for a client only to realize that the reporter used your name and credited you as the spokesperson

When you get an amazing editorial article in high profile news outlet for a client only to realize that the reporter used your name and credited you as the spokesperson (via 99 problems but a pitch aint one)

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Have you ever sent a pitch to an editor via email with “unsubscribe” as his or her response? Have you ever been so busy and told you have to get media results, so rather than doing research on who the best fit for the story would be, you send an email blast down a list?

No one wants to admit that they have done this, but we all have at one point or another (though, some do this much more often than they should admit).

Those who are successful in media relations know that these are HUGE no-no’s. Surprisingly, there are a number of people who commit felonies like the ones mentioned above as well as others such as:

  • Using the wrong name of the reporter
  • Naming the wrong media outlet in the body of your note
  • Clearly not researching the beat of the journalist you are trying to “target”
  • Sending a pitch/press release to the same person twice
  • Calling a person over and over . . . and over again (guess what, editors have caller ID too)

While I can’t absolve you of these previous sins, I can constantly remind you of the best way to move forward and form good relationships with the media. One of these includes visiting this post in Ragan’s PR Daily by Amy McCarthy. Read up and don’t be one of the PR “pros” giving the industry a bad name.

Any other tips or atrocities you can think of avoiding when working with the media?

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Today’s featured post can also be found on RepMan and was written by Peppercom Cofounder and Managing Partner, Steve Cody.

One need only to read the PR trades to see that agency life in general, and big agency life in particular, is a never-ending revolving door. It seems like some head of healthcare at one holding company agency is ALWAYS leaving to assume the exact same spot at another holding company agency.

And, although the trades never connect the dots, it’s also become commonplace for holding companies to report ‘record profits’ in one quarter only to silently announce a 10 percent staff reduction in the next.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that personal brand building has never been more important. In fact, I’d argue that lifetime employment has joined military intelligence as a textbook definition of an oxymoron.

That’s why I found this Top 10 list from Ford R. Myers so compelling. Myers is a career coach who has just penned a book, entitled: ‘Get the job you want, even when no one’s hiring.’

I was especially taken by numbers three, four and seven on the list:

- Don’t just join trade associations. Take leading roles in them.
- Constantly publish your POV on industry issues.
- Help others, even if they’re not in a position to help you right away.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that job offers and, more importantly for the owner of a midsized firm, new business leads have come about as a direct result of my embracing these three specific strategies.

Too many communications professionals wait far too long to begin building their personal brands. As a result, when the Grim Reaper does come around, they’re not only stunned, they’re also damaged goods (i.e. they’ve done the same thing for so long that their skills aren’t transferable).

Study the Myers list and, whether you’re 22 or 52, take his advice to heart. The more people you know and who know you, the better your chances of sustaining a lifelong career path. Make the mistake of focusing solely on your day-to-day work and, one day soon, you’ll find yourself a middle-aged, one trick pony who no one knows and no one is in any hurry to hire.

Ask not for whom the door revolves. It revolves for you.

 

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July can mean so many things: summer fun, celebrations of America, oh, and Peppercom’s deadline for our Fall Intern Session.

Think you have what it takes to join our team? Submit your cover letter and resume to interncommittee(at)peppercom(dot)com by July 31st for consideration. We’re looking for candidates in both our NYC and San Francisco offices. We are also happy to do informational interviews if you would like to learn a bit more about Peppercom, the culture and, of course, more about the structure of our internship program.

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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