Archive for Q&A

maddypost2Today we are going to meet Peppercomm’s Michigan Wolverine, Madison Lehman!

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

Hi everyone! My name is Madison (Maddy) Lehman. I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan, pursuing a double major in International Studies, with a sub plan in Political Economy and Development, and Communication Studies. I grew up in a small farm town in New Jersey called Cranbury, but I usually say I am from Princeton since I went to high school there and it is more well known. I have always been interested in the communications industry, but I decided to explore PR after speaking with Ed Moed, one of the CEOs at Peppercomm, prior to deciding which major to pursue sophomore year. The conversation with Ed immediately peaked my interest about the PR industry. I first dove into the PR industry when I worked for a PR agency last summer and loved it. Now, I am fortunate enough to experience the agency life again as a Peppercomm intern!

 

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

Being lucky enough to grow up in a home surrounded by farmland, woods and a lake, I love to be outside with family and friends. You can oftentimes find me fishing in my backyard on a canoe or helping my florist mom in our flower field. I also love going on hikes and taking our kayaks to the bay or parks around our area to explore. Since I live in New Jersey, I am only about a 40-minute car ride from the Jersey Shore, so my friends and I often take day trips to the beach as well (and no, I have never seen Snooki).

 

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

Seeing how a specific product or services brand message can alter the audience’s perception, really attracted me to PR. Drafting pitches and reaching out to reporters showed me how important it is to research the reporters you are contacting in order to create a pitch angle that will interest them. I think it is very fascinating that changing even a small phrase or subject line of an email can determine whether or not a reporter writes about your client. I really enjoy learning about the strategy behind media relations and I am excited to learn more.

 

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

The great thing about Peppercomm’s internship program is that they really throw you into the work. While everyone at the company is very willing to help, it was a bit overwhelming at first because I had to learn how to better manage my time. Being thrown many tasks at once taught me how to prioritize assignments. I now always ask for assignment deadlines, so I can better manage my time and get my work done as efficiently as possible. I think my time management skills have improved immensely along with my ability to do quality work in a very limited amount of time.

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I can honestly say I am unsure. I love working in an agency and learning about a wide range of industries, but I would also be willing to try out the in-house PR route. This internship experience definitely let me know that I love the agency work and atmosphere!

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
  • Text or Call? Text
  • Cheesy or caramel popcorn? Ugh this is a hard one, but I will have to say caramel
  • Coffee or Tea?Tea, unless I am very tired
  • Dogs or Cats? I have to say dogs, but I do have two cats so I need to keep that quiet
  • NYC or San Francisco? NYC
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?Crunchy
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweetened
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Nickelodeon
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? This often changes day by day for me
  • Seltzer or Water? Water
  • Cake or Pie? I got sick once from eating too much cake batter and I haven’t wanted cake since
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza
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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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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Caleb O’Neal.

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

I am about to start my senior year at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. I am originally from Burleson, Texas, which is about 15 miles south of Fort Worth.

When I started college I had no idea what I wanted to major in. During the first week of school I decided I would major in advertising and public relations, and I haven’t looked back.

During the second semester of my junior year I started looking for internships. One day during my search, I decided to google “top PR firms in New York City,” and coming in at the number 9 spot was none other than Peppercomm. I visited its website and fell in love. I loved that Peppercomm did so much more than your average PR agency—they in fact redefined PR. I decided to apply and the rest is history!

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

I am a huge baseball fan! I absolutely love the sport and the game experience. I have loved baseball ever since I was 2 years old and my dad took me to my first Texas Rangers game. I would love to work in public relations, player relations, or media relations for any professional sports team. That is my dream and that is the area of PR I find most appealing. Not only would I get to do the thing I love, PR, but I would also get to do it for a sport that I love.

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

I was quite shocked when I arrived at my desk on my first day and immediately had a project to start working on. When people hear the word intern they think of someone who just gets coffee. At Peppercomm, everyone, even the interns, plays an important role. I also faced some culture shock when I arrived in New York. No one seems to use “yes ma’am” and no one has even heard of the term “cattywampus.” But, that’s a topic for a different post.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I would love to say I see myself working my way up the ladder for the Texas Rangers and then eventually becoming head of player relations or media relations, but who knows? I could end up going in an entirely different direction than sports and honestly, I wouldn’t mind. Even though I have only been at Peppercomm a short while, I absolutely love it here. This environment is definitely something I have not experienced before. Yes, I am an intern, but that doesn’t mean I have to be scared to be friendly with everyone I work with. I am excited to see where I end up in this industry.

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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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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