Archive for Q&A
Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Katelyn Pecorelli.
For 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.
Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Brooke Ferreri
For 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.
Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Kamali Lavergne
Part one of our PeppTalks series features Janine Gordon , President, Luxury & Lifestyle and a Peppercomm Executive.
Janine Gordon has been working in communications since the tender age of 20. From Harrods in London, to Saatchi & Saatchi and starting her own PR firm, JGA, Janine took the industry by storm and has not looked back. I sat down with Janine to find out more about her life in and out of the office.
KL: Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?
JG: I am a third generation New Yorker.
I went to the University of Pennsylvania because of the school’s 5:1 men to women ratio.
KL: What was the first concert you attended?
JG: My first concert, at age 8, was a “Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concert” led and conducted by the acclaimed composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein. It was part of a series for pre-teens and younger. Arguably, that series spawned her life-long love of music.
(Pictured above: Janine Gordon in Singapore)
KL: Which TV show is your guilty pleasure?
KL: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
JG: I was the Assistant Buyer of Junior Coats and Suits at Bloomingdale’s. That job taught me that I didn’t like shopping for other people.
Janine has impeccable taste, wearing pieces that appear curated for the Life and Times of Janine Gordon. I also ask her about the larger than life-size photograph of herself on the wall in her office.
I was asked to model in a charity fashion show.
KL: What drew you to Peppercomm?
JG: Peppercomm came to me, but it was a perfect fit culturally. I respected everything about Ed, Steve and Ted and everyone else I met.
I wonder if they saw in her what others have said to see – she appreciates the little things and makes you feel special.
KL: What activity have you taken up in your spare time?
JG: Learning Italian.
KL: What is your favorite Italian word or phrase?
JG: Porca Miseria!
What does that mean?
You miserable pig!
I crack up laughing, Janine just cracks a smile.
KL: If you could do PR for anyone famous, who would it be?
JG: Maggie Smith because she is extraordinarily talented and has a remarkable range. She’s currently portraying a bag lady in a feature film after playing the Downton Abbey Dowager Countess.
KL: What living person do you most admire and why?
JG: Emma Thompson because she is very funny, a gifted actress, an Academy award-winning screenwriter, and, from all reports, happily married and a good mom.
KL: What would your last meal on earth be?
JG: Strawberry shortcake — the entire cake — or a strawberry rhubarb pie — the entire pie. Either would be a delicious demise.
By the looks of it, Janine does not often partake in these.
KL: What was your most memorable job?
JG: Being Press Officer at Harrods, the world-famous British department store, at age 26. It was like taking the naughtiest kid in the class and making them class monitor.
KL: How did you, a young American, land the job?
JG: When asked by the Managing Director what I would need to do the job, I requested an electric typewriter. Apparently, all the other applicants asked for clothing allowances and big expense accounts. The Managing Director was a good Scot… and I came cheap. Actually, he did tell me later that my answer told him that all I really wanted to do was the job.
KL: Do you have a piece of advice you live by?
JG: ‘Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.’ I believe that this is a better philosophy than, ‘Do onto others before they do onto you.’
KL: What is Your Definition of Success?
JG: That’s a great question. How would you answer?
I tell her that my definition of success is mastering something you love.
Well, that’s it, write that down. As my favorite Intern Kamali would say, “Success is mastering something you love.”
I can now say I’ve been quoted by one of the best – an industry insider and a Peppercomm leader.
In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Sidney Encarnacion.
My name is Sidney Encarnacion and I’m from the lovely town of Williamsburg, Virginia. I graduated from Radford University with a bachelors in communication and a minor in art. While at Radford, I was also a four year varsity student-athlete for the women’s field hockey team. Go Highlanders! I was involved in my schools Career Services Program and worked as a communications intern.
I was introduced to Peppercomm via referral from a previous internship. The charismatic people and use of comedy combined with the dedication to serving their clients really struck me. Upon finding out about the opportunities I would be given at Peppercomm, I knew I had to be a part of their stellar program.
What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
Since I started studying communications, I’ve always been interested in the consumer/lifestyle side of the industry. After having the opportunity to work on a wide range of accounts I feel that I interact the most with those brands and enjoy building upon their brands message. At Peppercomm I’ve been given the opportunity to continue working with such accounts and develop a stronger skillset.
Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?
I was surprised at the amount of responsibility given to interns at Peppercomm. You truly have the opportunity to develop your skills beyond entry-level assignments. Interns have access to a wealth of knowledge including on-going trainings and workshops to help them hone their skills. I feel that Peppercomm is confident in the intern’s ability to grow and contribute valuable knowledge to their clients.
Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
Later down the road, I see myself working in the consumer/lifestyle sector of public relations. I’ve always been drawn to working with companies that specialize in those types of clients. For now, I’m thrilled to be working at Peppercomm alongside an impressive array of professionals and mentors. I know that there is still a lot for me to learn and look forward to making the most of this opportunity.
In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Carly Sylvester.
Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm?
It all started in a small suburb of New Jersey (not Seaside, the only town people not from New Jersey can name thanks to my bff Snooki) called Rockaway. I was raised in the stereotypical fashion of an Italian from North Jersey – taking part in mob heists and fist pumping competitions, that is. I somehow ended up in Delaware calling myself a Blue Hen, which is possibly the worst mascot of all time, with the exception of UPenn’s Quaker, but I couldn’t be prouder to now call myself an alumni of The University of Delaware. It was there that I learned that my passion for writing, being creative and trying new things, and working with people could all be channeled into a successful career in public relations.
My journey with Peppercomm began (as most of my relationships do) with a dash of social media stalking. The lovely Sam Bruno and my sister are bridesmaid survivors of the same wedding, and through this mutual connection I was able to see the wonderful world of Peppercomm via Sam’s Instagram. Her regularly hash-tagged #ILoveMyJob posts had me question whether this “job” she spoke of had her brainwashed, or if this Peppercomm place was something I should seriously take a look at.
While brainwashing is only 5% of the job description here at Peppercomm, what my research into this wonderful organization told me was that I’d be a fool to not seek out a way to be a part of it. Experience has taught me that PR can be a very cold environment, but from the minute I opened Peppercomm’s website I felt nothing but warmth. I could sense immediately that the people who make up this organization are people who care – they genuinely care about their work, their clients, their client’s audiences, and most importantly each other. I knew finding a place that churns out such thoughtful and insightful work yet still maintains a relaxed and fun culture where people actually matter is a rarity, and before I knew it I was filling out an application, and the rest is history!
What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
One of the things I find most intriguing about PR is the relational aspect of it all. From working with a journalist to launching a new product, you have to have a deep and clear understanding of the people you’re working with. My degrees are in communication and sociology, so I am all about getting to the bottom of who people are and establishing a connection with them. I love the idea that in order for our work with a client to be successful, we have to know who their target audience is as people. Who are they? How did they end up here? Why is this brand important to them? Understanding people’s backgrounds is so important for an array of industries, but I love that in PR you get to utilize them as a basis for a continued relationship.
Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?
This is my first time in an agency setting, so initially I was very taken aback at how many different hats I was expected to wear being on so many different accounts. Now that the initial shock has worn off, I’ve genuinely grown to love being able to jump from one industry to another throughout my days. I can go from financial research to looking at pictures of cheeseburgers (#RestaurantPR) in an instant. It’s been such an incredible experience for me to learn how to balance so many different roles – I feel so much more confident now going into the next steps of my career. What’s even better is that Peppercomm has given me real, hands-on experience to boost my confidence even further. I really feel like a part of the team here, not just an intern doing intern work.
Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
I’ve fallen especially in love with the consumer/lifestyle side of the industry because of the attention to detail and connection with respective audiences that is required. Now that I’ve been given a taste of agency life, I can’t see myself working in a different setting down the road. For now, I’m continuing to enjoy this amazing opportunity and soaking up all the new experiences Peppercomm has to offer!