On Thursday, June 16th, the Peppercomm New York interns were lucky enough to have the chance to attend InternFest, an event put on by the PR Council. This conference provided an opportunity for personal and professional growth, on top of being a great occasion to practice networking skills.
Once everyone arrived, attendees were split into different sessions that pertained to a certain sector of public relations, from Creative Digital to Trendspotting. Here’s what the PeppSquad had to say about their unique experiences at InternFest.
Maggie went to the Creative Digital and Public Affairs session. As a Government & Legal Studies major in college, Maggie thoroughly enjoyed her Public Affairs session, held by the Global Strategy Group. While she may not have interest in working for a Super PAC, Maggie found it interesting to hear the do’s and don’ts of political PR. She does wish that she ended up in the Corporate PR session, but it never hurts to get a little taste of the other side. On top of the learning experiences, Maggie was also a big fan of the hot dogs they served at the end of the two sessions, describing them as a “10 out of 10”. In fact, they were so good that Maggie went back for seconds, only for the line to be too long. Hang in there, Maggie.
Lauren had the privilege to experience the Corporate session and the Digital session. The Corporate PR session discussed and analyzed what exactly falls under the corporate PR umbrella and how every role in a PR agency plays a part in corporate communications. The Digital discussion focused on bringing PR tactics to life via creative digital. Out of the whole experience, Lauren’s favorite part was the bonding experience she had with her fellow interns, along with learning about a side of PR that she doesn’t get to see every day.
Michelle was placed in the Digital Strategy and Trendspotting sessions. The highlight of InternFest for her was hearing the CEO of Havas PR, Marian Salzman, speak about her PR journey – from her trendspotting skills, to her unforgettable clients, to her key survival tips in the industry. Marian’s down-to-earth personality and overall approachability really stuck with Michelle, and the CEO’s stories of jet-setting around the world 150 out of 365 days a year and waking up at 4 a.m. to answer emails regularly were stories of inspiration. Hearing Marian’s two cents on being a PR extraordinaire and how she handles her career every day with such grace and confidence motivated Michelle to make the most of her time here at Peppercomm, knowing that this whole journey starts with the first step.
Like Michelle, Ragarsh was also sent to the Digital Strategy and Trendspotting sessions. Of the trendspotting session, Salzman’s revelation of the perks of working in the BRIC countries, along with the exposure to different market’s structure stuck with Ragarsh the most. The Digital Strategy session allowed Ragarsh to achieve an understanding on how the insights companies obtain for its clients can be used by different teams in the organization. However, out of all of these lessons and interactions, what stood out most to Ragarsh was that of the aesthetic kind. The office balcony, with its sheer size and beauty, remains a vivid picture in his head.
Aaron ended up in the Public Affairs and Corporate sessions. Through InternFest, he gained some insight from professionals who have excelled in the world of PR. He does wish that the breakout sessions lasted longer, and that maybe next time an icebreaker event would be added so that every intern didn’t just stay with their associates the entire time. He did like the variety of topics that InternFest had to offer, and one of his biggest takeaways was the differentiation between public affairs and other forms of interpersonal relationships. Overall, Aaron thought it was a fantastic learning experience.
Molly was pointed in the direction of the Consumer and Trendspotting sessions. Molly particularly enjoyed learning about trend spotting and how it plays an imperative role in the PR industry. In fact, last summer Molly first learned about trendspotting while attending the Conde Nast College of Fashion in London. Molly explained that trendspotting plays an imperative role in the fashion industry both in a PR/ branding sense as well as a product development sense. She found it riveting to hear how trendspotting applies to all areas of PR while tying in a sociological/ psychological component. But for Molly, it didn’t just end at the importance of trendspotting and how it is shaping the future of PR. She also ran into a long-lost best friend from elementary school at this very conference! Move over Disneyland, InternFest is the new “Happiest Place on Earth”!
Caleb found himself in the Trendspotting and Corporate session, and had a standout experience, as he was put into a group of about 20 girls and one Caleb. While listening to the CEO of Havas PR North America, Caleb was asked by the speaker how being the lone male made him feel, to which he responded, “I think it’s pretty great!” Caleb’s joke/confession was met with hearty laughter from the entire room. Despite the positive response to Caleb’s answer, he believes that Salzman wanted him to go more in-depth, and days later he still thinks about the question that she proposed. Caleb believes that InternFest was meant to make one think about what they are doing in public relations, and for him it did just that.
Early on in the conference, everyone in the room was asked to place their names in a bucket for a raffle to win one-on-one time with an executive from a top PR firm. After the second session, the winners were announced and lo-and-behold: Maggie won. Clearly the PR gods heard her cries, after cheating her out of the Corporate session and a second hotdog.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their experience at InternFest. It showed them a glimpse of the other branches of PR, inspired them to plan for the future while enjoying their stay at Peppercomm, and even allowed for some bonding time in the process.
Today’s post is contributed by NYC intern Rachael Collins.
For our fourth installment of PeppTalks, Ted Birkhahn, Partner and President at Peppercomm, shared his views on work and life and shed light on the experiences which have made him who he is today. Ted, who is in charge of client services and managing agency operations, has a diverse background in political public relations, journalism and production.
RC: Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?
TB: I grew up in a mixture of New York and Connecticut and attended the University of Vermont.
RC: What was your first concert?
TB: I saw Air Supply at Radio City Music Hall when I was 10 years old. You probably haven’t heard of them but they are an 80’s rock n’ roll style band.
RC: What would your last meal on earth be?
TB: Steak tartare which is prepared tableside, with the freshest possible French bread and butter.
(For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Parisian dish, it is a meat dish made from finely chopped raw beef. It is often served with onions, capers and seasonings and often served with a raw egg yolk. It is said that the key to a successful steak tartare is fresh beef, freshly hand-chopped at the very last minute and mixed tableside).
RC: Which TV show is your guilty pleasure?
TB: Right now? Homeland, Billions and a family favorite is Modern Family. Also, Seinfeld.
RC: What is your favorite episode?
TB: The Marine Biologist episode has got to be my favorite.
RC: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
TB: I was a camp counselor. I learnt that I hated kids and spent all the money I earned on beer.
RC: What was your most memorable job?
TB: Working for the mayor of New York. It was both terrifying and stressful but it was an incredible learning experience.
RC: What drew you to Peppercomm?
TB: Honestly, I needed a career change from working for the Government. It was a great time to get into PR because of the economic climate and Peppercomm was offering something different with an entrepreneurial spirit and a clear positive work culture. I took the risk and it payed off.
RC: What’s an activity you do in your spare time?
TB: When I’m not playing parent taxi, Hockey, hockey and hockey. Whether it is being played, watched or attended, my family and I are crazy for it. It is something the whole family is keen on. Other than that, I enjoy fishing and have a huge interest in airplanes.
RC: What are your teams?
TB: The NY Rangers and University of Vermont.
RC: If you could do PR for any client, who would it be?
TB: I would love access to a presidential candidate or a sports team like the New York Rangers.
RC: Do you have a piece of advice you live by?
TB: I have two: Trust building with clients and in your job is crucial, and never stop building your network and learning. These two things go hand in hand. Oh and I am also a big believer in the theory behind karma.
RC: What is Your Definition of Success?
TB: To do a job where you feel like you’re making a difference and knowing that people value your work.
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.