Sugar rush: the chronicle of a cupcake addict

By Sarah Kennedy, Business and Alumni Relations Director

Some may credit it to my sugar problem, but I just call it good PR.
It started a few months ago when I was casually flipping through channels on my TV and I landed on a show–a show all about cupcakes.
Chocolate Birthday. Mint Cookies & Creme. Lava Fudge. Salted Carmel. PB Fudge. Chocolate2 . Chocolate3. Red Velvet. I could go on, but I’ll spare your cravings.
And just like that, 30 minutes later Georgetown Cupcake was No. 1 on my places to visit in Washington, D.C.
Though I had heard nightmare stories from people that the line would be hours long, I was determined.  Luckily the day I went I was the only person dim enough to brave the 20-degree weather (remember I’m from California, so that’s pretty cold) and the line was nonexistent.
I stayed in the store for a few minutes gawking at the menu until I finally ordered. I couldn’t decide so I walked away with four cupcakes (Red Velvet, Chocolate3, Lemon Blossom and Vanilla2).
IMG_0923-1It wasn’t until I was walking away that I realized how much power that show had on my day. I had trekked across the Potomac River, toes and fingers numb, cheeks coated with frozen tears from the wind all for some flour and sugar. That’s when the thought came to me: the bakery’s PR people are geniuses.
DC Cupcakes, a TLC show, chronicles the owner’s (two sisters) lives running the shop and inventing new flavors. While of course you have your reality show dramas that bring in the ratings, I think their true success comes from the fact that they are riding the PR train.
The social media activity is a sugar addict’s dream. They give away free cupcakes to Twitter and Facebook followers almost daily. They have branded themselves into a Georgetown icon. When people hear the word ‘Georgetown’ their minds can wander to sugary treats instead of the nationally ranked Georgetown University.
These two sisters have made people long to walk down the cobblestone streets with that pink box in hand.

Everything I need to know about PR I learned from Chinese food

By Jaclyn Percy, Senior Account Executive

As you walk past the store front nothing much stands out. Yeah, so there are some paint designs on the windows, a few cheaply printed pictures of food and a schedule of its hours. I must be frank, nothing about the place looks inviting from the outside.
Key words: from the outside.
For those daring enough to take a walk inside, however, things quickly begin to change.  As soon as you pass across the threshold, an array of delectable smells come crashing against you. Vibrant, red walls encompass the small, rectangular room with a glass food case and golden yellow cashier stand waiting patiently at the back of the room.
With orders placed, the next necessary step requires a seat at one of four tables, followed by a 10 minute waiting period.
Between shying away from the two large, bronze Buddha statues starring down at you, examining the simplistic picture frames holding images of food, and questioning the bright painting of a surfing Chinese man, time passes quickly.
And then it comes. Two steaming plates filled with a mixture of red and brown hues.
With chopsticks in hand, the pick up commences, and then it happens…
JPCFPHappiness.
The End.
JPCFP2No, I’m just kidding, its not really the end – just the end of a glimpse at a food critique, a popular extension of the food and
beverage industry. While this industry has many different aspects, one that will never change is the introduction and exposure of food. Whether it’s delicious, foreign, horrible, unhealthy or whatever, people are always wanting to hear about new restaurants and recipes.
In comes public relations, the people who make it happen. Many PR firms specialize in the food and beverage industry, exposing happenings like restaurant openings, a great new wine or that little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant.
Fleishman-Hillard, with a location in Sacramento, is one such PR agency that uses its Sac Foodies blog to highlight restaurants in and around the Sacramento area. The consultants of Fleishman-Hillard write about restaurants, even ones that are not clients, to bring exposure to these places and inform others about what lies behind the doors.
Then there are agencies like Charles Communications Associates in San Francisco that strives to gain exposure for its many wine clients. Whether it is coverage for DeLoach Vineyards in the San Francisco Chronicle or a spread in Wine Spectator for Domaine Carneros, this agency uses its PR savvy to showcase food and beverage companies.
So whether it means creating your own personal food blog, like PR specialists Emmalee Kremer and Elizabeth Ghiorso of TGC have done, working for a PR agency specializing in food and wine, or just following the work of another, those with a passion for the food and beverage industry can find some way to get involved.
And hey, restaurants and wineries are not going to complain. They’re gaining exposure in more ways than they thought possible – just like Wok ‘N’ Roll of Chico, Calif. did above.

How to snag a summer internship

By Megan McCourt, General Manager

“What are you doing after graduation?”

It’s the question I keep getting and can’t quite answer yet — the dreaded thought of what I’m going to do come May in the working world.

For the past two summers I’ve landed fantastic internships. 

Last year I worked for Jones Public Affairs, a boutique health care public relations agency in Washington, D.C., and the summer before I worked as a reporter for the Chico Enterprise-Record.

The experiences I had on the job gave me knowledge I never could have acquired in a classroom.
Right now is prime time for finding a sweet gig for this summer. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve compiled to help you find your dream internship:

  • Start your hunt: First you need to find an internship to apply to. Begin by looking at the websites of places you would like to work to see if they offer summer internships. Another option is to use job hunting websites tailored to PR professionals, such as PRInternships.net, EdWeek2010.com or JournalismJobs.com.
  • Utilize your social media: Twitter might be your best bet in finding a summer internship. If you don’t have a professional Twitter account, it’s probably time to start one. Start following companies you would be interested in working for, as well at their human resources departments. Many Twitter users exclusively post jobs, such as @PRJ0bs, @Journojobs, @PRSAjobcenter, @Ed2010News, @prwork, @InternQueen and many more.
  • Do your research: Once you’ve found a company that’s hiring summer interns, find out everything you possibly can about it. Scour the company website, do a Google search and find out as much as possible. When you write your cover letter, throw in a fact you found or try to relate to the company mission statement.   Knowing a good amount about the company will also help when it comes time for the interview.
  • Fix up your resume: Make sure everything is up to date, including your contact information and current position. Tailor your resume for the job you’re applying for and include links to your social media profiles. Have at least three people proofread your resume.A great resource for Chico State students is the Career Center. The staff is incredibly helpful and can give you much more advice than I can in a blog post.
  • Nail the interview: Dress sharp, show up five minutes early and bring your portfolio (preferably with a digital copy they can keep). Think of the interview as a conversation and dazzle them with your sparkling personality, while showing you have some knowledge of the company and the field. Make sure you have a few questions to ask them at the end of the interview.
  • Get the job! If all goes well, you will have snagged a sweet summer internship to help you along your career path or get your foot in the door. If you didn’t get it, keep on applying! The right internship is out there, waiting for you.

Bién-Être

By Caitlin Wallace, Social Media Director
Translated from French, meaning to be well.
Most of my life I have been described as high strung, chatty, wound up and bubbly. I have a lot of energy, to say the least.
This information was never news to my parents during parent-teacher conferences in elementary school. I can’t tell you how many times my parents heard the words, “Caitlin is a bright girl, but we can’t get her to be quiet.”
As I have moved into my adult life, not much has changed.
Luckily, my constant need for communication has turned into a career, only now instead of passing notes, I send e-mails and instead of disturbing others during class, I tweet to my co-workers, update my Facebook status and blog about my life.
To be honest, you would be hard-pressed to find PR pros that haven’t spent their lives being told they talk too much, their term papers are too lengthy and they can’t turn off their BlackBerry.
Life as a professional communicator is fabulously rewarding, but there is a danger in being a social butterfly on high speed: burn out and over-stimulation.
It can happen to any guy or gal who has ever slept next to an AP Stylebook in the hopes that the capitalization rules fly into his or her brain, and it can creep up on any account executive who has more than five sub-folders in an inbox.
Is there hope for the busy bees of the business world?

Oui, bien sur.
Ironically enough, I discovered the joys of de-stressing while I was studying abroad in southern France last year. You would think traipsing around the French Riviera would be a year full of long nights at cafes, lazy days on the beach and baguettes three meals a day. In reality, it was nine months of language acquisition, hectic travel and cultural adjustment.
While poking around Provence, I stumbled upon an English bookstore and a book by an English author, Isabel Losada, titled, “The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment.”
The cover depicts a seated blond woman, legs crossed Indian style, with her arms out in a classic meditation pose, complete with touching pointer fingers and thumbs.
That’s exactly what I needed at the time, and most days, it’s exactly what I need living the hectic agency life back in the States.
Losada took me through her 14 phases of enlightenment, which were enriching activities that broadened her mind, expanded her horizons, cleansed her soul, and at one point, her colon.
At the end of the book, her basic premise was this: Take time for your well-being, and become the most enlightened version of yourself.
We cannot be at our best if we do not fully commit to taking care of what we have so carefully and diligently invested in: ourselves. It is too difficult to give our time and talent if we are constantly over-scheduled.
I spend most of my days with my iPhone buzzing several times an hour, my to-do list growing longer by the minute and my business casual wardrobe becoming threadbare with use, and truly, I love that lifestyle.
But like any constant communicator, I need a break from my hyper-organized Google calendar to indulge in a chai tea latte while reading “Eat, Pray, Love” and rejuvenating my soul.