Archive for August, 2012

Aug
30

It’s called enabling

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Today’s post (by Laura) was originally featured on Peppercom Cofounder and Managing Partner, Steve Cody’s RepMan.



Millennial

The millennial generation has been under fire for some time, especially in the past year or so. I frequently see articles and reports popping up with ridiculous “reasons” for why my generation “is the way it is.” I was alerted to an article in The Wall Street Journal titled: Delayed Development: 20-Somethings Blame the Brain” (special thanks to Steve Cody and Ann Barlow for sending it my way). This article was no different in terms of the tone.

The piece begins by pointing out that many parents of the millennial generation are worried that their respective children don’t have a career, aren’t married and/or aren’t financial independent—to name a few issues.

According to the article, this is all OK because recent research suggests that the brain develops at a pace that makes people better equipped to make major life decisions in their late 20s rather than earlier in their lives.

Great? From this millennial’s perspective, absolutely not.

First, this seems like another excuse to explain and project a behavior of a small group upon an entire generation. This can’t be too drastic of a development in the brain, otherwise I would think groups should probably start lobbying to raise the legal age of adulthood. Why position it as the reason for why millennials “act the way they do”?

Second, for those who do exhibit any irresponsible behavior, hopefully the millennials parents’ minds are not at ease because this research is just an easy way to justify poor choices. And guess what, Mom and Dad, those poor choices are coming from you too—it’s called enabling.

On a base level, this research is very interesting and makes a tremendous amount of sense, especially in terms of how the average age people are marrying has risen by six years. However, (and, full disclosure: I am not a scientist) it sounds like this is how the brain has been developing since the dawn of man?

So, we’re better equipped to make bigger decisions in our late-20s? Why is it that all of the previous generations have been capable of functioning without having full-scale investigations launched to figure out why they aren’t “successful”?

This article and ones like it stereotype millennials to seem like we are all dysfunctional humans unfit for this world. I’m not sure where all of these examples are coming from; I know plenty of younger people with “underdeveloped brains” who have not been financially dependent on their parents for some time (myself included).

Of course, when I hear some of the examples people have about their freeloading kids, I have the same natural reaction and tone of the authors of said articles—I am incensed. But I think there is a larger issue at work here.

Let’s discuss the group of millennials giving the entire generation the bad name. It is safe to say that parents from an early age want to make sure their child has the best life possible—which includes college. But what are parents really telling their kids? Are they letting their kids know that while college is important, it is still equally as important to pay for said education and also be a functional member of society? Education can become very expensive, very quickly. Why can’t a kid take a gap year and start saving to pay for school? Why can’t they take part-time classes while working to help make school more affordable? Also there is nothing wrong with delaying or not even attending college. I was always told there is nothing wrong with hard honest work, and to be honest, it’s made me who I am today.

Clearly, some parents choose to coddle their kids by allowing them to stay financially dependent for them to focus on their studies. At that point, is the millennial to be fully blamed? Those who act entitled had to learn that they are entitled from someone.

We are a smart and resourceful generation. We seem drastically different because we are dealing with a very different world—a world and economy that our predecessors created for us.  We work hard. For those of us who do not, guess what, there are people who are lazy in every generation.

To circle back on the article, I myself am in my late-20s and I made very big decisions in my life starting at age 18 up until now. My brain may not have been fully developed yet, but I still made those decisions and used research and advice from those who have been in similar situations and made the best choices. I am still standing and have been on my own two feet for some time and I certainly did it on my own. I speak on behalf of all millennials as I say “pick on someone your own age!”

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Aug
22

Thriving in your job search

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Looking for a job but all you’re getting are rejection letters?  In today’s increasingly competitive job market, it is easy to get frustrated after months of  ”no’” from employers and feel like you’re never going to find a job that is right for you.  With that said, it is increasingly important and expected that you find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicant pool during your job search.

In this article, career and workplace expert Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter lists five ways on how you can increase your chances of winning over a prospective employer, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer on a job hunt.  In addition to having a clean and well-written resume, having the right mindset and focus during your search may just give you that little boost you need to land your dream job.

 

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Aug
21

The first business trip

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Today’s guest post is by Catharine Cody, current Peppercom intern and lover of London.

A few weeks ago I had the unique opportunity to work at Peppercom’s strategic partner in London, Flagship Consulting.  One of Peppercom’s newest offerings is Comedy Experience, where we teach clients, prospective clients, and even our newest staff members the benefits of performing stand-up comedy.  Since I received comedy training a few weeks prior to the trip, I was asked to help train Flagship Consulting.

However, not all of my time was spent working inside the office extolling the benefits of laugher.  We also went out to dinner every night and got to know each other very well.  The people were amazing.  Not only did the entire staff make sure I had everything I needed, but they became my friends.  Even though we work together and have exchanged numerous emails in the past, seeing them in person solidified our bond.  We realized that, although we work thousands of miles away from each other, our general attitudes and dispositions are the same.

Once back in the states, I realized that the bonds I formed while in London carried over to my work in New York.  I am constantly emailing with the staff about the Olympics and Kate Middleton. (Yes, those are my two London vices and I refuse to defend them.)   I’ve also become friends with them on Facebook and follow them all on Twitter.

If I can only give one piece of advice to my fellow junior workers it would be to travel as much as possible for business.  Not only does it broaden one’s perspective, but it allows you to see that, although we may talk, dress and act differently, people are people no matter where you go.  If you are a great worker, it will be evident on any continent.  Travelling expands one’s horizons and allows you to meet people you might never have the chance to otherwise.  As we know, networking is one of the most important tools one can utilize in their careers.  Why not network with someone from a different country?  This blogger certainly will be doing so from now on.

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Categories : Business, entry level PR
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Aug
20

How rude

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There are many things in life that annoy me and other people who hire for his or her respective companies, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Spelling errors on a resume/cover letter
  • Using a different company name when mentioning the place you’re applying to
  • A resume that’s on two pages—especially when you’re entry/mid-level, there is no need for a resume that long and if you do, make it two FULL pages; not a page and a half . . . or a page and a quarter

While these are pretty big errors, sometimes they can be saved by a follow-up note apologizing, etc. However, one faux pas that you can never save yourself from (without having a very legitimate excuse) is having a set interview time and not showing up/picking up the phone when you are called by the person who has set that time aside.

There is nothing more disrespectful to an interviewee and someone who coordinated a meeting time than to simply not show up. Of course, things happen and some people take different positions at other companies, but you should alert the person you’re meeting with to withdraw your application.

Many may think this is just common sense and the first rule of interviewing etiquette, but you would be surprised. It’s one action that will make me remember someone in a negative light. Cue Stephanie Tanner’s catchphrase.

 

What are your thoughts on this behavior? Do you think this is the kiss of death with a potential employer? Or is there something worse?

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Aug
17

The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s post, meet Courtney Moed–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?

I am from Manalapan, New Jersey and in the Fall I will be starting my junior year at Ramapo College. I am studying Communication Arts with a concentration in Global Communication and Media.   An interesting fact is that I am the Public Relations Committee Chair on the Executive Board at my school. This has given me a major leadership role and I feel as though this internship experience will make me even more qualified for the position.

I have always been interested in public relations and how the media works. Luckily, Ed, my uncle/cousin happened to have an “in” at this really hip PR firm. I came to visit the office a few times and knew this is exactly what I wanted to do.

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

Although I am still exploring the different areas within the industry, there are a few that I am particularly fond of. I find crisis management fascinating and think it is very exciting how PR firms are able to send out positive releases in the media when something negative happens. It is really interesting to see the creative outlets that people will use to display a positive image. I also think that event planning is very exciting because it is important for companies to have events that give them a good reputation and make people want to buy their products or discover their brands. Event planning is also intriguing because there are endless possibilities and every event is unique in its own way.

3)      Any surprises or revelations about the industry?

My biggest revelation about the industry is how much work actually goes into each task. This industry is ever-changing and fast paced so it is important to not lose sight of the future. Public Relations is extremely exciting because it is always something new and stimulating, but that can also be its downfall because it requires a lot of effort and attention. As a PR intern, the most important thing is making sure you have excellent time management skills, otherwise you may become overwhelmed very quickly.

4)      Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship program so far.

My proudest moment in the internship program so far is being able to see all of the hard work I have done come together. It is rewarding to see all the research and time you spend on a project really benefit to become a positive presentation or blog post. The first time my blog post was posted, I was so proud of it because I put so much effort into it and now it was finally out there for the world to read.

5)      Any favorite/inspiring case studies? (This does not have to be limited to Peppercom)

My favorite case study so far would have to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turn 25. I believe that fans are the most vital people because they are the ones who need to be pleased. It was great how fans were able to be reached whether it was through blogs or Twitter. Social networking is something that our society cannot live without so it is extremely important that it is incorporated into campaigns.

 

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Aug
15

Fight back rejection

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Hearing the word “no,” is always tough. How about hearing “no” more than 30 times from a company you’ve applied to?

One could argue that being too persistent and applying too many times can definitely keep a qualified candidate from getting hired–and believe me, I definitely think that is true in many instances.

Check out this piece in the New York Daily News about a woman who was rejected so many times that she was fed up and told that company where they could stick their rejections. Her email response has gone viral and has been getting lots of coverage. Do you agree with her move? There are pros and cons, of course, and we’d love to hear your opinions.  Think anyone else will try doing something similar to elicit a similar response?

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Categories : Uncategorized
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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.

4496133-businessman-holding-a-cleaning-broom-selective-focusWhenever my monthly edition of PR Week washes up on my desk, I immediately turn to my favorite part: Don Spetner’s column on the final page.

Fittingly entitled, ‘Last’, Spetner’s column is chock full of wise, funny insights from his life in PR. The most recent one, headlined: ‘Driven people only need apply‘ really struck a nerve.

Spetner references an industry organization to which we both belong that is populated by the top chief communications officers and agency leaders in America. As he took note of a recent gathering, Spetner was taken by the shared traits and abilities of the CCOs: “Most of them have extraordinary social skills… and the majority is gracious, warm and flexible.” But, he quickly added that, in order to have achieved the level of success they have, the CCOs also possessed “…steely resolve.” Amen, brother. And, ditto for their agency brethren, BTW.

Spetner makes the point that a fast-track career in PR isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not a nine-to-five gig. Nor is it a job one can leave behind when one heads home for the night. Quoting the Rapper Mobb Deep, he says, “There ain’t no such thing as halfway crooks.”

I tell aspiring job applicants the same thing (although I rarely find myself quoting rap lyrics). PR either is, or isn’t, in your DNA. You either love it or hate it. That’s not to suggest mediocre types can’t find a place to hide. They can. But, the profession’s intensity eventually outs them.

Spetner added one other salient point in his column. In recalling an incident from his very first job as a busboy at a Tucson Denny’s, Spetner describes his amazement at seeing the franchise owner bend down and pick up a tissue paper on the floor (the owner picking up tissue?!?!).

I experienced the exact same incident at one of my first PR gigs. I worked at Geltzer & Company, a midsized agency.  Just before a big, new business pitch, I accompanied Howard Geltzer into the men’s room. I watched as he not only took care of business, but picked up errant paper towels and toilet paper littering the floor. Noticing my astonished look, Howard said, “Steve, it ALL matters. It matters to the client, the prospect and the employee. And, it should matter to you too.”

As Spetner says, the pursuit of excellence is in the DNA of the very best professionals in PR. I would add that, those of us who also happen to be entrepreneurs, take Spetner’s POV to an even higher level since the business is, in fact, our baby (I routinely straighten picture frames, wipe up spills on conference room tables, etc.).

So here’s a piece of advice to every novice who one day aspires to reach the upper echelons of PR: either engage completely or get out. There are no halfway crooks (or halfway PR success stories).

 

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Aug
09

The Intern Spotlight

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In today’s post, meet Ed Page, current Peppercom intern,  future PR pro and visitor from across the pond.

1.      Tell us about yourself—where did you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercom and public relations?

I am one of the many Ed’s at Peppercom, but the only British one! I am from London, England but live in Henley-On-Thames, a small town by the river Thames in Oxfordshire; famously known for its annual Royal Regatta and cameo in The Social Network. I am a student at the University of Nottingham majoring in American Studies, but a year ago I crossed the pond to go to college in the middle of a corn field, the University of Illinois in Champaign, on an exchange program for 10 months. There I studied a variety of modules such as marketing, journalism, advertising and even got involved with a weekly painting class. During my 10 months at the University of Illinois, I was fortunate enough to join the Illinois branch of the American Advertising Federation (AAF).

While there, I was fortunate enough to gain insight into the world of public relations, marketing and advertising. The membership included placement days, visits to various agencies in Chicago and weekly talks from various notables in the industry. It was these placements and visits to the agencies in Chicago that ultimately ignited my interest and curiosity into the world of Public Relations. It was not however until a family ski trip to Utah with one of Peppercom’s clients in February that I discovered and learned more about the company. Within three weeks I was on a plane to New York for what I thought would be a 20 minute interview, it turned into an hour long conversation with Mr. Ed Moed, Peppercom’s co-founder and the rest is history as they say. It also didn’t hurt that I was wearing a pair of trousers covered in tiny skulls which I think the Peppercom Intern Committee enjoyed quite a lot.

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

I am particularly fond of event planning and that is where a lot of my past experience lies. Coming from an artistic background I am also greatly drawn to the marketing and creative side of PR. I have enjoyed working on a variety of projects thus far from brainstorming and discussing marketing initiatives to gaining insight through H20–Peppercom’s in-house creative department.

3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?

Prior to working at Peppercom, I would have always said I wanted to focus my efforts on entertainment PR. However, since working at Peppercom, I have realized the extent of how public relations dominates the world in so many different sectors and markets. One of the best things about working at Peppercom and the industry so far has been the interaction with a plethora of clients from all different spheres. I particularly enjoy working with our clients in the financial sector which I never would have thought I would.  I have also come to learn that no day is the same in the PR world which is very exciting; the industry is extremely fast paced and you never know what might occur on any given day. From a crisis popping up to your pitching efforts resulting in a published story, the PR world is a multi-faceted and diverse arena.

4.       Tell us about your proudest moment in the internship program so far.

My proudest moment so far definitely has to be the third day of my internship, the saying “being thrown in at the deep end” is an understatement to say the least. It was a Friday night and one of our clients had a major event the following week and there was still a lot to get organized, myself along with my fellow intern Nicole, stayed until 1 AM putting together various documents that were crucial to the event running smoothly. My initial reaction when the clock struck midnight was “Is every night going to be like this? What am I doing? Have I made a mistake getting into the PR industry” (please note that this is not the norm for this agency)? As the night came to a close and reflecting on that evening, I not only bonded with my team and got to know them, but there was a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when the job was done. The client was happy, we were happy (if not rather tired), the event ran smoothly and the client was very impressed.

5.       Any favorite/inspiring case studies? (This does not have to be limited to Peppercom)

One of my favorite case studies has to be SPOUT: Connecting With Film Lovers. SPOUT is a unique online film community and it came to Peppercom as it needed to drive traffic to its Web site and encourage new members to join.  Being a film-buff myself, I was fascinated to see the work Peppercom did in driving circulation, buzz and obtaining great media coverage surrounding SPOUT; over 5,000 New Yorkers and film enthusiasts subsequently got involved. I find it fascinating how buzz surrounding a company can snowball and traffic grow as a result.

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Applying for an entry-level job can be a full-time job in itself. Between the resume tweaks, the endless cover letters and hours of company research, it can be daunting.

In our newest PRiscope series, we’re going to help you navigate some of the trickiest parts of the job-search process, as well as what to do when you land that dream internship or entry-level position. Better yet? We’ll do it in bite-size posts.

Here are five tips in five minutes for your next interview:

  1. Dress appropriately- Technically, this should be a no brainer. Still, you’d be surprised how many candidates fail to err on the side of formality, especially during the summer months. Someone once told me, “Dress for the job you want to have in five years.” It’s never too early to get a head start.
  2. Don’t forget a firm handshake- My father was in sales and he passed this tiny tidbit along to me at an early age. A firm handshake exemplifies confidence- and why shouldn’t you be? You’re their ideal candidate, remember?
  3. Cite key examples- The interview is the perfect time to elaborate on all the points you mention in your resume and cover letter. Did the Twitter account you managed increase in followers? Great! Oh, and did you mention that the interview you arranged for your client led to a Wall Street Journal article? AND 1,000 unique visitors to the website? Perfect!
  4. Know the industry- PR Week. PR News. There are publications you’ll come to know as a PR professional. Mention an article you read in a recent issue and see if the interviewer has a strong opinion on it- which leads us to the next tip.
  5. ASK QUESTIONS- Nothing hammers the nail in the coffin worse than stone silence at the end of an interview. Remember, you’re interviewing the company in a sense as well. Make sure that it’s the fit for you. In case you’re stumped, take a look at this Inc. article that offers some excellent examples.
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Aug
07

Impress me. Impress me not.

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I don’t do this often, but once in a while a resume will come through and I notice a very large error(s)—this is where the “I don’t do this often bit” comes in—and will respond to the potential candidate to let them know. Now, I am a stickler for consistency and grammar on resumes, but errors I am referencing are ones that are unforgivable and shouldn’t allow you to be hired anywhere even if you fix the mistake. Sometimes I feel particularly bad and want to let the candidate know before sending it to more potential employers.

Unfortunately, this happened the other day and it is something that would make me never consider this candidate for an internship ever . . . but only because of the way it unfolded.

After a note from the candidate asking if we required a writing sample, I responded and also let this person know that our deadline was that day, but would be happy to take a look even if it was a day or two after our posted deadline. This person immediately sent a resume and cover letter—both filled with errors.

I’m not sure why, but I felt for this person and let them know about one particularly large (and noticeable) error. My mistake.

The person wrote me back immediately, letting me know that he was under “a lot of stress” and corrected ME on something. Defensively saying “Oh, by the way . . . you’re wrong,” is not the way to impress someone who was trying to help you.

Had he thanked me and sent back a resume with the correction, I may have considered him a viable candidate. Even if he had thanked me for alerting him to a mistake that will prevent him from being hired anywhere, I may have reconsidered. Everyone makes mistakes whether or not they like to admit it, which is why despite being a stickler, I can be a bit forgiving.

This person’s cover letter noted that they had applied to “countless jobs to no avail.” I get that, but two things:

  1. Never put that in your cover letter or say that out loud to anyone outside of your mom.
  2. If no one is contacting you at all, that’s a big hint that the issue might be with you.

If you’re applying to a number of jobs and not even getting a response, sometimes it is just a factor of the very competitive job market right now. Alternatively, it could mean that you should tap some specialists to check your resume and/or cover letter. This is when you should go to your career services department at school or even a friend (if you’ve already graduated, many schools are still more than happy to help even just look a resume over).

I will tell you that if a potential employer encourages you to make an edit, you should apply those corrections and resend. The wrong way to respond is with a bad attitude.

Impress me not.

 

How would you have handled that situation? Any other tips for this candidate?

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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