Archive for entry level PR

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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madelineToday we are going to meet Peppercomm’s current youngest employee! But you can call her Madeline Simko.

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

Hi y’all! My name is Madeline Simko. I am 20 years old … pretty sure I am currently the baby of the office. I’m originally from Summit, New Jersey, but I switch between Hoboken and Sea Girt when I’m not at school. Essentially I am a Jersey girl born and raised. The “y’all” might confuse some people –I go to a southern school so I’ve picked up on some southern lingo, which sounds funny paired with my slight Jersey accent.

In the fall, I will be starting my junior year at Washington and Lee University. It is a tiny liberal arts college in Lexington, VA, which is the cutest little town. I am a business and psychology double major, which keeps me running across campus between our business school and the science building. Aside from academics, I am very involved with a volunteer program called Campus Kitchen, my sorority and several committees involving event planning for the school.

During my February break this past year, I traveled to NYC to tour PR agencies as a part of a school trip. We visited Peppercomm’s NYC office, and I loved it. There is a W&L alum here with whom I connected and then applied. I was thrilled when I was offered the position of research & analytics intern.

 

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

While I do love my excel sheets and Talkwalker dashboards, I also enjoy being active and just hanging out with friends. My weekdays are super busy between nannying and teaching swim lessons, workout classes and walking my dog. I go crazy if my schedule is not jam packed, so I am enjoying the constant movement.

In my little free time between work and chasing after these children I nanny, you can find me out and about. At school I am always hiking or exploring the hidden treasures of rural Virginia. Here, I love going to museums, walking the streets of NYC or soaking up the sun at the shore. I of course also love to meet up with my fellow intern pals. I am so fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.

This past weekend I spent The Fourth down at the shore. I’m that person that refuses to just sit on the beach all day. I love riding waves and walking along the water.

 

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

This is my first real experience with the industry, and it has been a lot to take in. I really love the analytics and strategy aspect. I think it is so cool how campaigns and strategies come from the insights we gather from data. The intersection of numbers and creativity has always amused me, and that is why I think PR is such a fascinating industry. Understanding what the consumer wants, and then helping the client meet these interests and wants is a fun challenge.

 

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

This biggest surprise, at least for me, has been the amount of responsibility that I’m given. Everyone tells me your first internship is always boring with a lot of grunt work. That is NOT the case at Peppercomm. I get to sit in on important meetings and present my insights. It’s a lot of work, but I love it, and I am learning a ton. My first week was definitely challenging trying to figure out how the industry and how Peppercomm work, but once I got in the swing of things I felt more confident in myself.

I guess the biggest revelation I had was that everyone working at Peppercomm started where I am now. Everyone at some point was an intern trying to learn the ins and the outs of the industry. This has given me reassurance and confidence to tackle my responsibilities and learn as much as I can from this experience.

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Honestly, at this point, I have no clue! I just learned this past year that there are more than just traditional ‘PR roles’ or ‘marketing roles’. I am definitely more of a numbers girl (over writing). so it was daunting at first to be in this industry. The industry is incredibly intertwined and nuanced. I love the interaction and blending of these different roles.

I do eventually want to focus on strategy, but I have no idea if it will be through analytics or content or both. At this point I am not really worried about where I am headed in the industry. For now, I am just enjoying the journey, learning as much as I can, and soaking up the experience. I do know for sure though that I am here to stay. Sorry PR industry, looks like you’re stuck with me for a while.

I hope y’all have enjoyed learning a little bit about me! I love talking about my experiences with the PR industry. :)

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or Hulu? Netflix 100%. I’ve rewatched Friends and the Office at least three times.
  • Text or Call? I actually prefer calling. I’m horrible at responding to texts and often talk/think too fast for my fingers.
  • Coffee or Tea? Low key addicted to both
  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs all the way
  • NYC or San Francisco? I went to San Fran once and loved it, but there is a special place in my heart for NYC since I’ve grown up here.
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars is such a classic.
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Honestly any kind of peanut butter. I eat it by the spoonful.
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweet tea!!!
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Growing up the only children networks my family had was Cartoon Network. Scooby Doo and the Powerpuff girls were my childhood.
  • The Simpsons or Family Guy? Family Guy
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? It depends on the food. Cake and icing wise definitely vanilla but everything else I would have to say chocolate.
  • Seltzer or Water? I just recently really got into seltzer. I love that the fridges here are always stocked.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake, but only because it has icing on it
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza, although I am a fan of the “Taco Tuesday” trend
  • Hogwarts House: Gryffindor or Puff

 

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shan (2)Today we are going to meet Peppercomm’s only red head: Shannon Clegg!

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

Good day! I’m Shannon. I’m from a town outside Cleveland, Ohio, called Chagrin Falls. I recently graduated from The Ohio State University with a major in strategic communication and minors in professional writing and fashion. It’s been a goal of mine to move to the city. Last fall, my sister sent me a list of best places to work in communications and you guessed it, Peppercomm was on the list! I applied and alas, here I am today.

 

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

I really enjoy music and going to concerts. I like scoping out jazz clubs and am a big fan of comedy shows. I recently saw John Early in Brooklyn—I highly recommend checking him out if you don’t know who he is… you won’t regret it. Outside of that, I like to run along the Hudson River and play basketball when I can.

 

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

I have an interest in two areas within the industry: branding and social media. Branding interests me because it allows you to have a lot of creative input over an organization’s brand direction. There are opportunities to mix social media, design and strategic thinking when building a company’s brand. I love that. Social media and social media analytics also intrigue me. Analytics is such a necessary skill to possess in the communications industry today. The ability to know how to properly message something and then analyze its impact with fancy graphs and numbers really sets you apart from other individuals and competitors.

 

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

The really awesome thing about Peppercomm is that they do not treat you like a typical intern. Each team gives you responsibilities that allow you to show your talents and build your PR skills. The atmosphere is fast-paced which makes you jump right into your work. There’s never a dull moment!

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I see myself going into more of a creative role within the industry. I want to use both my writing skills and overall design-oriented thinking skills to build companies’ brands and connect them with their target audiences.

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or HBO? For medieval TV dramas & Master of None: the ‘flix, for everything else: HBO
  • Text or Call? Call
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Dogs or Cats? Three words: HYPOALLERGENIC SMALL DOGS.
  • NYC or CLE? NYC but don’t underestimate the power of the 216! #Lebron
  • Cheesy or caramel popcorn? 100% Cheesy
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Nick minus Nick at Night—that always gave me weird vibes
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
  • Seltzer or Water? Water, but I’m slowly turning into a seltzer lover. Shoutout to the raspberry lime seltzer!
  • Cake or Pie?  Cake with cream cheese frosting.
  • Tacos or Pizza? Ooooo both.
  • Hogwarts House? I’ve always said I’m such a Hufflepuff.
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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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