Archive for Career Advice

Jul
07

Taking the Plunge

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1Hello from Peppercomm’s favorite (and only) male intern! If we haven’t yet had the chance to meet, my name is John Tompkins, and I’m a rising senior at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. But I’ll leave any further introduction for my next post, because for now, I’d like to briefly talk about one of the biggest transitions of my life—from the art of journalism to the “dark side,” as my professors often refer to the profession, of public relations.

Until I arrived at Peppercomm’s doorstep just six short weeks ago—after taking the wrong train to work and aimlessly wandering along the Hudson River, of course—I had never taken a formal PR course or worked at an advertising, consulting, or public relations firm. I’m a journalist at heart and spent last summer covering Capitol Hill and the White House for McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau. So let me tell you, while I’ve had the time of my life working at Peppercomm with one of the best intern groups I could possibly imagine, the tasks haven’t always been easy. Not surprisingly, this has been compounded by the fact that I’m probably the clumsiest person on the face of the planet—inept enough to personally total two different cars in two separate accidents on the very same day! So, in the hopes that a future intern or employee finds him or herself in a similar position as I, I thought I’d share a few tips to smoothing the transition, if only a bit.

 

1) Don’t be Afraid to Copy and Paste

When I first came to Peppercomm, it took me about 2.2 seconds to realize that “Thou shan’t write what they can simply copy.” might as well be the Golden Rule of public relations. However, after years of having the Cardinal Rule of journalism (i.e. Never, ever plagiarize. Period.) drilled into my head, it took me far longer to accept the easy way out. I’ve since learned that this simple function can only be a gift, especially when compiling lengthy briefing books or internal research documents. So, as long as you’re not drafting original social media content or thought leadership for a client, save yourself time and hassle. You’ll be glad you did.

 

2) Learn to Cope with a more Rigid Schedule

For most journalists, each day is different, and that’s something I quickly learned last summer. There were slow news days when I found it hard not to check Facebook every five minutes, and there were insane days when I found myself (literally) running from one end of D.C. to the other working 11 hours at a time. But one of the benefits of being a reporter is that you can largely tailor your schedule to your personal work style. I could work late into the night or at the very crack of dawn, as long as I met general deadlines. Suffice it to say, life at Peppercomm has been much different, and switching to a rigid “9 to 5:30” daily schedule that’s always packed to the brim has been a huge (and somewhat difficult) adjustment. Try your best to set personal time goals and calendar deadlines early on, or you’ll find yourself falling behind. And that’s never a good thing, especially when your co-workers rely on you to complete your assignments in a timely manner.

 

3) Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

I can’t stress this enough—though keep in mind this piece of advice comes from a guy who was routinely called a “nervous wreck” by his freshman year high school biology teacher. Given my lack of a traditional PR background, I’ve had to ask my team members about 5 million questions since I started at Peppercomm—apologies to Brooke, Carly, Ali, Rose, Yue, Olivia and anyone else I constantly harass via Skype and the phone. But I’m always reminded that it’s better to ask a lot of questions and get something right than to assume you know what you’re doing and leave a team member to amend the many mistakes you left behind.

Well, that’s my two cents on transitioning from journalism to PR. As challenging as the last few weeks have been, I honestly count myself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to take my first steps at a firm as welcoming and supportive as Peppercomm.

Lastly, if you’ve recently taken the plunge from journalism to PR, I understand exactly how you’re probably feeling. And I’ll leave you with the words my seventh grade social studies teacher emphatically stated before each and every one of our tests: “Good luck. God Bless. And may The Force be with you.”

 

By: John Tompkins

 

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Today’s PRiscope is penned by Maggie Rose, Bowdoin ’17

The employment advantages of attending a college or university in an urban area were perfectly emphasized by Steve Cody in a recent blog post: By attending a school in a city, you are already located “where the strategic jobs of the future will be in greatest demand.” To study in a large city, a student is given the means to make serious steps in the right and desired career direction. It’s true – you cannot find the same extent of President Joseph Aoun’s “robot-proof professions” around rural campuses. The economic health of the surrounding communities in the most prestigious ivy-covered schools are not able to offer the same amount of professional opportunities than that of schools located in urban areas.

However, there are three things the campuses with neo-Gothic buildings will always have over any city location – and these advantages are most definitely appealing to employment recruiters.

Diversity of Thought: Colleges and universities located in urban areas typically have their undergraduate students enroll in one academically focused school to help students specialize in their areas of interest. This is true of Michigan, NYU, B.U. and almost all other large, city schools. Colleges and universities located in rural areas are more likely to have students enroll in a general curriculum where a specialization is not necessary until upper-classman years. These schools encourage thinking outside of the box and exploring areas outside of comfort zones to gain what the Huffington Post labels as a, “cross-disciplinary perspective.” Graduates coming from Yale or Williams may be in a better position to handle a wider and more challenging variety of projects in the workplace. Rural campuses do not teach their students to think only in one direction.

Critical Thinking Skills: Students at rural schools are strongly encouraged to think analytically. Classes emphasize writing and critical thinking as the foundation to any and all academic progress, no matter the field. Class size is also significantly smaller, making participation much more valuable. U.S. News states, “research has shown that smaller classes foster a productive and positive learning environment.” A student coming from a liberal arts school has stronger written and oral communication skills simply because of the amount of critical thinking and participation necessary to do well in classes.

Sense of Community: Rural campuses foster a sense of community that is irreplaceable. A student has the chance to become closer to their peers, professors and even their administrators. While there might be more extracurricular opportunities at larger city schools, participation is higher in student organizations on rural campuses because of the confidence an on-campus community can stimulate. Employers want a college grad for much more than just their academic achievements. Students at rural schools are extraordinarily involved in community building, crisis management and organization through student activities.

College should be more than just a step in life to get a job. A high school graduate should go to college to expand their mind and horizons, making moves outside of their comfort zones every day. Urban and rural schools both have serious, but different advantages in a young adults’ career trajectory. Neither location is better than the other, but there is a reason “the bucolic New England village with tree-lined quads” continues to embrace the titles of best schools in the nation.

 

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abc

Who doesn’t want to be a triple threat? As a high-school musical wannabe who danced, sang and performed and a retired varsity soccer player who ran, passed and scored; becoming a triple threat has always been at the forefront of my mind.

Today, my quest to become a triple threat continues as a PR intern at Peppercomm. At Peppercomm, my fellow interns and I work on accounts across three industries–consumer, financial and B2B.

Prior to joining the PeppSqaud, my PR experience was limited to the fashion industry. During past summers I studied at FIT, participated in fashion PR courses and completed the summer long Vogue Intensive Program at Conde Nast College of Fashion. Although PR had always been at the core of my fashion resume, I was initially nervous to enter the financial and B2B industries at Peppercomm.

In hindsight I had nothing to fear.

After a few weeks at Peppercomm, I realized the same three basic principles held true across all accounts. The ABCs of PR (as I call them) have guided me to become a PR triple threat.

Audience

  • Discover and learn your client’s target market. Whether it is a large demographic for a consumer account or a few specific stakeholders for a B2B account, figure out who your client needs to communicate to.
  • Research theiraudience. Look into this audience’s interests, opinions, lifestyle, occupation and age. The more information, the better.
  • Draw upon someone you know or a company you are familiar with that fits within the target market, as a reference.

Brand

  • Figure out who your client is and who they want to be. This includes the client’s personality, values, beliefs, interests.
  • Reference your client’s mission statement, website, products or services. In addition, social media is a popular and effective way to cultivate a brand image for your client.
  • Compliment and highlight your client’s leadership. Inspiring leaders span across all industries, from consumer to B2B to financial. Have these leaders comment on current events or leadership techniques.

Content

  • Content is key across all sectors of PR. PR professionals share and create various types of content from press releases to pitches to thought leadership.
  • Newsworthy content is required in order to successfully write a press release or pitch a story.
  • Different clients share different types of content. Consumer clients share new products and special events, while B2B clients share trades, acquisitions and partnerships.

Use these ABCs to master all of your accounts from finance to consumer to B2B. By applying the universal ABC’s of PR to various accounts you’ll become a triple threat in no time!

 

by Molly Prybylski

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May
13

PeppTalks: CEO Edition

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Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Katelyn Pecorelli.

Steve CodyFor this edition of Pepp Talks we sat down with the Co-Founder and CEO of Peppercomm, Steve Cody. At the age of 39 after leaving a global agency Steve found the time to co-create Peppercomm. Today, you will learn all about his life and what drove him to start this energy filled company.

KP: Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
SC: Right across the bridge, I grew up in Fort Lee, NJ. I went to a nearby public school, Ridgefield Park High School and then Northeastern University.

KP: What was your first concert?
SC: Oh I know what it was! I saw Billy Joel in 1972 at a place called Paul’s Mall and it was just before he released Piano Man. There were only about 50 or 60 people there and he was the second or third person on the bill-it was way before he made it big.

KP: Which TV show is your guilty pleasure?
SC: Right now it is Vinyl, on Showtime. I also watch Billions on HBO. To be honest, the presidential debates, as far as guilty pleasures go, are better than the first year of the Jersey Shore.

KP: What’s an activity you like to do in your spare time? Besides mountain climbing and stand-up comedy and how do you find time for them?
SC: I read, all nonfiction. I am not a fiction person at all. I am always reading. I am able to mountain climb, schedule personal training sessions and perform stand-up comedy because of Dandy. She makes sure I set aside time to pursue my passions. As far as reading, the only upside of commuting on NJ transit is that I have an hour plus to pour into whatever book or podcast I choose.

KP: Which living person do you most admire?
SC: I have always thought Winston Churchill was the most amazing figure in history. Living…that is tough. My dad, Pop pop, because he raised three of us, put three of us through college and at 90 plus he is still feistier than ever. I take him out every Sunday for dinner.

KP: What would be your last meal on Earth?
SC: Last meal on Earth would be crabmeat cocktail and Dover sole with some nice Sancerre, which is French Savignon Blanc.

KP: If you could do PR for one celebrity/ client who would it be?
SC: Harvard Business School, I have worked with some great business schools but I would love to have a crack at a number one or number two.

KP: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
SC: Dairy Queen, making ice cream cones and banana splits and I learned a very valuable lesson; I never wanted a job that had anything to do with dealing with the public. It was 3 months in hell, but it taught me a great lesson.

KP: What was your most memorable job?
SC: One of my first co-op jobs with Northeastern, where I worked for a radio station in Greenwich, CT. Two weeks into the job and this murder case was front and center–Martha Moxley and Ethel Skakel-Kennedy’s nephew was the prime suspect. So the first two weeks of my job, I would walk down to the police station and meet the police chief, Chief Barron, and he would tell me the crimes that had happened. Then the Martha Moxley murder happened and she was 16 and was savagely killed, so it became National news due to the Kennedy connection. One of the coolest moments was the morning after. Everyone was there for the press conference and Chief Barron opened the floor for questions. He said he wanted to start with Steve Cody at WGCH radio, which was unbelievable. I was dumbfounded and asked a generic question. The case is still unsolved.

KP: Do you have a piece of advice you live by?
SC: Try to help others. Any age, anyone, just help others in any way. I mentor a lot of students and the most rewarding part is working with them and staying in touch to see where they end up.

KP: What is your definition of success?
SC: Success is doing something that you enjoy every single day that challenges you, that stretches you, that makes you feel like you are in some way, shape or form giving back. That is success. Nothing to do with money, prestige or power, it just turns you on to doing whatever that is. That is professional success. Personal success is being at peace with yourself and having a good group of people that you care about and who care about you.

KP: How did you and Ed meet?
SC: I was at an agency and I got a call from a head hunter who thought Ed would be a good account supervisor. He felt we would click. Ed came in for the interview and I liked him. The company then won a big client, so I made the call and we hired Ed. Ed resigned from where he was, then the client that just hired us, fired us. So, I had to plead with my CEO to still hire him.

KP: What made you create Peppercomm?
SC: Two things; up until then I had just been working with big agencies and with big agencies the more you move up the less contact you have with the client. So, your job becomes administrative and operations–all the stuff I hate. The other thing was, I was at the perfect age. I was 39 and I said it was now or never, I don’t want to be 65 one day and say what if I tried. Those two things, in combination were why I started Peppercomm.

KP: How do you two work so well together for Peppercomm?
SC: We don’t! Only joking, after two and a half years of working together, we knew a lot about each other and who would be able to handle what parts of the company. It is still that way to this day, we are polar opposites in every way. He is the Hillary to my Trump.

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May
05

PeppTalks: CEO Edition

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Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Brooke Ferreri

Ed MoedFor today’s edition of PeppTalks we are introducing you to one of Peppercomm’s fearless leaders, Ed Moed, our Co-Founder and CEO. Ed has become a PR powerhouse having spent the last 20 years in the industry. Read on to discover some fun facts about Ed as well as some of his life advice.

BF: Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
EM: I grew up in West Hartford, CT and went to Conard High School. I then went on to attend Drew University in New Jersey.

BF: What was your first concert?
EM: My first concert was ACDC in 8th grade at the Hartford Civic Center (now XL Center).

BF: What is your favorite TV show?
EM: My favorite shows of all time are M*A*S*H and Cheers, the classics.
BF: What’s an activity you do in your spare time?
EM: I love spending time with my family. I coach my kid’s baseball teams and spend a lot of time driving them around to different activities. I also enjoy playing tennis, eating good food and drinking good wine.

BF: Who do you most admire?
EM: I would have to say the person I admire the most would be my Great Uncle Jack, the patriarch of our family. He was very smart, he went to law school and became an incredible lawyer and business man. In WWII he went over as a historian to visit and see the Nazi War Camps, he ended up writing a story about it.

BF: What would your last meal on Earth be?
EM: For my last meal on Earth I would have to have a great bottle of wine, specifically a Harlan Estate and the best cooked Beef Wellington. To top off the meal I would want gelato from Italy.

BF: If you could perform PR for one celebrity/client who would it be?
EM: Larry David, I would have a lot of fun with that.

BF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
EM: I worked at RC Auletta and Company in a junior PR position. I spent three years there and took away 10 years of experience. That job taught me how to be a communications pro and how to counsel clients in crises.

BF: What would your most memorable job be?
EM: My most memorable job, was not my best, I worked a lot of jobs through college. I spent one summer tarring I-95 between Connecticut and Rhode Island, it was miserable and made me realize why I was going to college.
BF: That will keep you motivated.
EM: It sure did.

BF: Do you have a piece of advice you live by?
EM: Everybody has a right to be happy and if someone is not harming you, let them live their life and be happy. People should be able to do whatever they want, as long as they are not harming others while they are doing it.

BF: What is your definition of success?
EM: I define success as when you are ultimately fulfilled with what you have done and what you are doing. Wealth and what level you get to don’t matter if you are not fulfilled with your work.

BF: Where did you and Steve (Cody) meet?
EM: Steve was the General Manager at EPB (Earle Palmer Brown) and I actually went in for an interview with him. It was 45 minutes of laughing and being entertained, we just instantly got along. He ended up hiring me.

BF: What inspired you guys to start Peppercomm?
EM: We had worked our way up to the pinnacle of agencies and we were so miserable there that there was no other alternative. It was time for us to become entrepreneurs and start our own company.

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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