Today’s guest post was written by star Peppercomm intern, McKenzie Clark.

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Today marks the 40th day of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter; and still, not one of the 276 girls abducted from their school in the town of Chibok in the Borno State of Nigeria has been rescued. These girls, who are anywhere between 15 to 18 years of age, went to school like any other day, but were met by Boko Haram before they had the chance to return home (I just saw an article post that four girls have escaped, too).

Since the day of this horrific kidnapping on April 15, the news hit the ground running on social media.

On April 23, Nigerian Lawyer Ibrahim Abdullah posted a tweet with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls which spun into an international movement to get these young Nigerian schoolgirls back to their homes without harm. While the movement hashtag trended worldwide (and for good reason) because of Nigeria’s lack of action, celebrities have started chiming in on the issue by posting pictures of themselves, on their social media accounts, holding signs that say either “#BringBackOurGirls” or “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” The Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 14th through May 25th, has also proved to be an opportune moment for actors to hold up the famed “slogan” showing their support for rescuing these girls.

BringBackOurGirls

But how much do these well-known celebrity actors and actresses know about the situation at hand? Do they even know where Chibok is? Several journalists have speculated “The Expendables 3” cast only held up their freshly copied signs to gain more PR for their movie at Cannes. Does this mean this sign of support may not be as “heartwarming” as the public originally thought? If these celebrities were truly passionate about the cause, I would sure hope they are doing more than just holding signs at their red carpet event. Maybe they are and we just don’t hear about that.

Social media, the hero and potential villain of our generation, is undoubtedly one of the fastest ways to spread news and trends around the globe. But does it actually educate the population about worldwide issues or does it simply encourage users to just follow along blindly? With the transformative power of social media, news of a global tragedy needs to be used as a means of change and not self-promotion. To me, the mission seems to be lost when posters are held by celebrities on the red carpet.

What’s your take? Do you find these displays of online activism sincere or too promotional?

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Photo Courtesy of Orlando  Sentinel

Photo Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

This time of year always brings an influx of familiar faces delivering speeches around the world and thanks to sites like YouTube we can watch them all. Elin Nordegren delivered a speech that caught my attention this year. You know her or at least of her because of her famous ex-husband who’s a professional golfer.

It was only a few years ago that she was thrust onto the top of all the headlines when her then husband “extracurricular activities” came to light. Through it all she stayed quiet and let her actions do a lot of the talking; divorce, custody of the kids and starting her life over.

I only recently discovered this, but Elin is now a Rollins College 2014 graduate and was selected as the Outstanding Graduating Senior for her graduating class.

Elin, a woman of very few words teaches us that sometimes not saying much can say it all. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Regardless of the stage you are in your own career being able to show results from your efforts can really make you stand out in the crowd of competing peers.

Her story also proves that even in our moments of complete chaos, we have to fight to find the bright side of the situation. That internship that you thought you wouldn’t survive can become a humorous memory you can share down the road in life.

Giving this commencement speech gave her an opportunity to stay connected to her past, but still show that she’s moved on and is better than ever. The next time something doesn’t go your way just dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Taking nine years to finish college as Elin did for more reasons than one can serve as inspiration that the goal your going after may not come overnight or even in four years, but what’s meant to be will happen.

Being thrust in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons can’t be easy and it’s times like this that present an opportunity to prove not only what we are made of, but for us working in public relations, using the power of PR for our personal lives.

Congratulations to all of those graduating into a new stage in life. Take it from Elin Nordegren, and know that journey of where we want to be may not go exactly as planned, but the reward of accomplishing a goal is well worth it.

Click here to view Elin Nordegren’s speech.

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Categories : Career Advice
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May
06

#internlife

We love #iworkinpr and yesterday’s post is so on point (see below). Don’t be that intern (or anyone in the workforce) who just has excuse after excuse. You can view the original post here.

 

When your new intern shows up late for the 83948394 time and feeds you a story about his/her [insert problem: car, boyfriend, school]

 

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm digital strategist, Alex Shippee.

When I was 16 or 17, I got my first job as a bus boy at a place called “The Sandwich Man Family Restaurant.” An opening came up early Sunday morning when the previous guy didn’t show up and they needed someone at a moment’s notice to help handle the morning rush. My parents dragged me out of bed and I was replacing coffee mugs and cleaning tables before I knew it.

I worked there on and off for the next 3 or 4 years, in between my winter swim season and continued for a little while during summers home from college. (My second job was working on a farm, but that’s another story).

I learned a surprising amount at this job, but more than just to be polite to the people who serve your food and to never to eat the coleslaw. There were also a few things that still apply today:

1. Know who you’re working for: Yes, I got a check every two weeks from the owners and it was my job to make sure the customers had clean tables. Ultimately, though, it was the wait-staff who tipped me out every day. They were the ones who most directly depended on me to help them do their jobs well. After all, how quickly I cleared the tables (particularly the booths) determined when they got to seat their next customers.

At the end of one of my first nights, though, the head waitress was upset that I didn’t clear the empty soup and salad bowls quickly enough. I calmly told her that it had been a busy night and had to choose between getting new booths ready and reducing the clutter. She understood where I was coming from and that I was still using my time to help them the best that I could.

2. Learn from the people who did your job before you: As you can imagine, not all the bus boys that walked through the door were flawless and impeccable members of polite society. Plenty of them got fired during the four scattered years I had been there for everything from showing up late, to stealing, to drinking on the job.

It wasn’t an impossible thing to master, but the guy who trained me (“Mo”) knew what he was doing and treated approached his job with a level of professionalism. One of the regular duties he told me to always do, even if he wasn’t there to supervise, was to sweep up any paper, crumbs, etc. between the breakfast rush and the dinner rush.

Years later, one of the owners remarked happily that it was only the two of us whoever did that. He liked that he didn’t have to ask us to keep the carpet clean.

And seriously – do not eat that coleslaw.

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Today’s post is by Peppercomm co-founder Steve Cody, and originally ran on his blog, RepMan

 

no-silosWe just won a very nice piece of business yesterday. And, the new client told me one of the contributing factors was our very different business model.

Unlike 99 percent of PR firms and advertising agencies, our business is divided neither by geography nor by practice group. So, in the former instance, we don’t have multiple profit centers fighting for their share of the client’s budget. In the latter, it means you won’t a find a Tech Group or a Health Care Practice at Peppercomm.

And, while prospects absolutely adore the first differentiator they can be puzzled by our silo-free business model. But, then we explain the logic:

- Initially, Peppercomm DID feature three practice groups: one was a BtoB unit, another was consumer and the third was comprised of dotcom era tech heads. The three group heads saw themselves as Vladimir Putin wanna-bes.

Even though they didn’t have separate P&L’s, they acted as if they did. So, they wouldn’t share information or resources. Within a few years’ time, we actually had three tiny agencies within one. And, the internecine warfare actually got nasty at times.

The dotcom crash enabled us to blow up the practice silo approach and start over.

- Today, we match the client or prospect’s specific needs with an integrated communications team that possesses the deepest industry-specific expertise, the right set of traditional, social or digital skills AND exhibits the most passion for the new account. That assures a win-win on both sides.

A practice-free workplace also assures our employees aren’t pigeon-holed in one area for their entire careers. Trust me, once you’ve spent five or six years plying your trade as a health care specialist, you’ll never find a gig with an agency representing Fortune 500 BtoB or financial services organizations.

It also provides an employee with variety. So, in the morning, Jane may be working on MINI Cooper and TGI Friday’s and, in the afternoon, she’ll switch to Honeywell and Oppenheimer. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s managed correctly.

And, truthfully, the latter is really our greatest challenge. Happily, though, we have a talented group of middle and senior managers who keep a close eye on who works on what.

Like my alma mater, Northeastern University, which pioneered the Co-op system of education, our practice-free model isn’t for everyone. Nor is it for the faint of heart.

And, for those of you who think it prevents specialization in an era of specialization, think again. Our model also assures that should Sally WANT to specialize in financial services only, she can. Ditto for Dave’s desire to only work on consumer business.

The model works.

So, for those of you who are burning out after 10 years of representing the same old clients in the same old category and pitching the same old trade or beat reporters, shoot me a note. Ditto to those of you who may just starting out, and believe variety is the spice of life. We just might have a silo-free gig for you.

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MistakenI’ve been this way since I was young—but I am usually hardest on myself. In fact, there have been times when I did something wrong and instead of getting a punishment from my parents, they just let it go because they knew I had learned from said mistake and had agonized over it for a while (which is probably like three days in “kid time”).

As an adult, I have learned to balance how hard I am on myself, but now really try to make the most of when I make a mistake (which I still do because, SURPRISE, I’m human).

So what does that mean? We all hate making mistakes—in and out of the workplace. Sometimes they are small ones that no one notices or other times they’re larger ones that require someone above you to smooth out for you.

The important takeaway is to own up to what you did, apologize and learn from it. Learning from any size mistake goes beyond just “not doing it again,” but also requires you to think about the steps that led you to that mistake and why it was wrong. It might be small or it could be a bit more complicated.

A good rule of thumb is also to talk to a trusted colleague, friend or mentor about mistakes, especially the bigger ones that aren’t as clear cut. They can help you navigate the waters if you’re unsure and even help to pinpoint why something was wrong.

I for one still am bothered by mistakes I have even made just a few years ago in the workplace. I still remember mistakes I made in school, too. But in those instances, I will never forget what happened and try not to let it happen again.

Any mistakes you’d care to share? Or lessons learned? How do you handle when you make a mistake?

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Peppercomm and, really, the industry as a whole, has many that have gone to school for “PR/communications,” but there are just as many who have less traditional majors. We also hire based on a number of different factors, mainly experience and skills. Sometimes that is from a well-known school, sometimes not.

Our company’s co-founder, Steve Cody, likens the search for our summer interns to that of ‘March Madness.’ Do you agree with his assessment in Inc Magazine? I may be a bit biased, but as a Providence College Friar, I appreciate the nod and agree with Steve.

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Having helped run Peppercomm’s intern program for several years–knowing hat to look for in a candidate has become second nature.

We’re always looking for candidates who are:

  • Smart (duh)
  • Capable
  • Quick studies
  • Willing to learn
  • Fit in  with our unique culture

Of course, there are some basic skills that are a must such as great writing and researching skills. It’s always a bonus if you already posses some media relations skills, but those are skills that can certainly be taught.

If you’re interested in our program, SURPRISE, we’re hiring now. Check out our intern program page for more information and how to apply. And if you’re looking for the perfect intern model, here’s a great video to use as a “guide” (maybe don’t do everything from this video . . . or any of it–but who doesn’t love the Muppets): What If The Muppets Were Interns.

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MUNI-N-San-Fancisco-1

You’d think a ride home on public transportation would be simple. Get on the subway, take a seat and/or stand, wait for your stop, and exit. There’s also the occasional small talk and looking down at your phone. So, what do you do when your usual ride home takes a turn in a different direction? Just go along for the ride.

That’s exactly what I had to do last night on my way home. The subway wasn’t that crowded because it was a Sunday evening and luckily I got a seat next to the window. A couple of stops after I take my seat a man gets on the subway. For the sake of protecting his identity I will refer to him as ‘Mr. Poet’.

Before I knew it Mr. Poet was reciting a poem. His poem lasted for a few minutes then he graciously asked for money. By this point I was just ready to get home, but I still had several more stops to go. Once he moved to the next set of riders in the car behind me, sharing the same story I might add, I got to thinking of how determined and fearless he had to be to get up in front of a bunch of random commuters and recite a poem.

Mr. Poet knew his audience enough to collect a few dollars. From what I noticed he scanned the crowd with his eyes being sure to hold eye contact in the process. His delivery of starting out with an anecdote about his life and why he was here was a helpful way to get the audience attention. His voice was clear, strong and loud enough to reach the ears of those listening. Finally, Mr. Poet used the area that he was given to move about in an undistracted manner which helped get those who weren’t paying attention to at least give him a chance.

Riding home last night I didn’t expect to get a refresher course in public speaking etiquette, but that’s exactly where that ride took me. It just goes to show that there are learning lessons in every situation whether we want to pay attention or not.

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Categories : Tips and Tricks
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In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Madeline Skahill.

 

Madeline Skahill 1)     Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm and public relations?

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.

 

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Intern Podcast

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this podcast produced by former Peppercom interns who share their experiences. Click Here