Archive for Tips and Tricks

For the past six summers, the pool has been my second home. Lifeguard shifts, nannying, coaching a swim team and my own swim practices kept me there from sun-up to sun-down. This summer, however, I was ready to give up the chlorine burn and hyperactive children to challenge myself with an internship in the PR industry.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.

 

This is my first real-world, intern experience. Ever. I guess you can call me a newbie at the cubical-lifestyle. Walking into the building on my first day, I had no real baseline of what to expect. Snippets of conversations from my interviews and stories from friends of their own experiences (both good and bad) jumbled in my head. As the elevator doors opened on the fourth floor, I had no idea how this experience would unfold.

Looking back to that first day, a lot has changed in these past few months. I am happy to report that the reality of my internship experience has surpassed my expectations, which was, quite frankly, a relief.

 

Expectation number one: Coffee runs and making copies

I left my interview assured of the many responsibilities I would encounter on the job. Yet, I had no bench mark on what “many” constituted. My friends always complained about their grunt work and never ending errands. I had no idea how much responsibility to expect.

The reality is though, within the first week of work, I was elbow-deep in excel spread sheets and analytics. My team treated me as a true member and not just an intern. I’ve enjoyed contributing to the quarterly reports and conducting industry research for presentations.

 

Expectation number two: “You’ll figure it out.”

Everyone has heard the horror stories of someone showing up for a job to a stack of assignments and no guidance. Would I have to be an expert in Boolean operations or programming excel by day one? I prepared to make Google Search my best friend for the next three months.

My coworkers have been nothing but helpful and encouraging during these past few months. I have yet to dive into a project unprepared and told, “figure it out.” My endless questions are always answered and feedback given to encourage my professional growth.

 

Expectation number three: The Dreaded Intern Corner

I have heard of internship programs with an invisible wall between them and the full-time employees. Stationed in a separate area, interns tackle endless case studies and busywork rather than client-work.

While there is an intern row, there is also an abundance of communication between interns and the rest of the office. (I should also note that I sit with the research and insights team, and not even in intern row.) We are members of teams, we sit on client calls and our mentors encourage us to provide input. Peppercomm is a close-knit community with comradery across all levels of leadership.

 

Expectation number four: Regurgitating Lectures

My biggest misconception of what to expect, was the skillsets I would be utilizing. I brushed up on my business and marketing lectures and prepared for everything from SWOT analysis’ to pivot table manipulating.

While this assumption was correct, it just wasn’t the whole picture. Yes, I am using skills I absorbed from college lectures, but I am also pulling from my extracurricular activities and other experiences. I am fortunate enough to have a small liberal arts background that guides me to draw connections and question the deeper meaning on topics. These big picture skills have aided me in my internship experience.

As I look forward to returning to school, I am also sad that I only have a month left as a PeppSquad member. I want to thank everyone who has helped me these past few months and have made my first intern experience memorable.

 

By: Madeline Simko

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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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blog random post 3.29As a young southern California girl, moving to the big city was quite the change. Everything from big buildings, bright lights and so many people. It took quite the adjustment to find my way. I decided to make a little list of do’s and don’ts for living in the New York City from my personal experience and with a little help from my fellow interns.

Do: Even though the city is a busy place, DO keep your eyes open and take it all in. I’ve noticed after being here for almost 3 years I still see something new every day. Like celebrities on the train, dogs with nicer outfits than I will ever afford and a naked cowboy. A building might look busted on the outside but it could be a gem on the inside.

Don’t: This is a big one that I’ve learned from personal experience. DON’T fall asleep on the subway without setting an alarm when you’re commuting an hour to work. Otherwise you’ll miss your stop and have to walk 10 cold blocks to work.

Do: Talk to other people! As someone who comes from San Diego, we are friendly folks and we say hi and smile to everyone. I realized at first that most people are very much in their own world, but a lot of people will be nice if you talk to them. DO ask for recommendations for restaurants, bars, and new places to visit. You’d be surprised by the amount of awesome people you can meet.

Don’t: This can really ruin your day. DON’T forget your headphones when you leave your house. Riding the subway without headphones is especially boring. Even if you just wear them without music playing, it gives the illusion to everyone around that you don’t want to talk to them and usually will keep the guys that are selling something on the trains away too.

Do: Eat pizza every week. Whether it’s for lunch or after a fun crazy night with friends at 3 a.m. DO eat pizza whenever possible. My favorite thing to do is bookmark places on my Yelp app to help me remember which spots I like the best so I can go back and relive the cheesy goodness over and over again.

Don’t: Go to Time Square or any touristy spot unless you absolutely need to. I don’t know how many times I use to go all the way to 42nd street my first year here to go shopping. WORST IDEA EVER! As if there wasn’t other Forever 21’s and H&M’s in the city. Not only will you spend hours waiting in line to buy the two items that you just “kind of” like, but you will run over all the tourist that want to stop mid-sidewalk to get a picture with their selfie stick.

So with all these suggestions hopefully you can make your life a little easier living here in this one of kind city.

P.S even though it’s March, check out this Elf video to get a few extra tips on NYC from the jolly bearded man himself.J

Till next time.

-Mo the Pro :)

 

by: Morgan Dewberry

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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