Building Coffee Connections: Corporate vs. Local Business

A white background with black words the say "Tender Loving

It’s hard to imagine getting through a busy weekday morning without a cup (or two) of freshly brewed coffee. Whether it’s made at home, a chain or your local cafe of choice, coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the U.S., generating $5.18 billion annually. While this industry is booming, it hasn’t always been so successful and good public relations and marketing have had a big hand in its popularity.

When I got a job as a barista at the coffee behemoth Starbucks four years ago to support myself through college, I never imagined the impact that coffee has had on both my personal and professional lives.

Tender Loving Coffee is now my client this semester. They are a small batch specialty coffee roasting company located and served locally in Chico. It has been a huge learning experience to be able to implement my own PR strategies into both of these companies.

Starbucks didn’t become a household name solely by serving up tasty coffee and friendly service. A whole lot of PR and marketing campaigns help them stay relevant. I’ve begun to pay much closer attention to the promotional materials we are sent, the company’s social media posts and how they handle crises. (Red cup situation anyone?)

I’ve seen how the corporation takes responsibility for its actions and addresses controversy when needed. They make sure to send messages out to the company’s employees or “partners” to address major changes or problems in the company.

Tender Loving Coffee is a more intimate experience, which makes the PR pretty fun. So far, there’s been a giveaway on the TLC social channels. Winners picked up their prizes at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, where the company sells their coffee in a mobile coffee cart. Being so connected to TLC customers and the Chico community as a whole is a very different experience in comparison to Starbucks.

With the rise of social media, many Starbucks stores have begun to create their own social media presence through Instagram. This helps to create connections with customers and give a more intimate look and feel to your local Starbucks.

I am the closest thing my store has to an in-house PR professional. After establishing the account, I’ve helped create content on the downtown Chico Starbucks Instagram. More recently, I have been documenting the store’s remodel, upcoming specials and developing a more recognizable aesthetic.

While the idea is to connect more with other Starbucks partners and the Chico community, there is a noticeable difference in posting for Tender Loving and Starbucks — even if they are both small accounts.

That’s a no brainer though, right? A small coffee company with less than 300 followers on Instagram versus posting for Starbucks, the multi-billion dollar coffee giant.

Posting on social media for a small, local coffee company is a more interactive experience. The customers are wholeheartedly supportive of TLC. They send direct messages to check on and communicate with Anna, the brains behind the roasting.

I think the idea behind having stores run their own Instagram is to make that connection with their customers like Tender Loving Coffee already has. Through maintaining their social media, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t for that warm, welcoming feeling Tender Loving gives off effortlessly.

Making connections with PR and coffee is about engagement, having empathy and being a part of a community. Implementing these has already made the downtown Starbucks Instagram and Tender Loving Coffee more successful and gives the companies their own personable identities.

Incorporating my passion for food into my future

A photo of an assortment of fruit and other food on a plate with a bottled drink to accompany it

With graduation six months away, my mind is being pulled in so many different directions of where I could see myself. On one end, I see myself living the glamorous city life in San Francisco. On the other end I see myself moving across the country to North Carolina living a humble life on the lake with extended family members.

Both these situations are completely different, but I want to be immersed in something I am passionate about while utilizing the skills I learned in Tehama Group Communications.

I have been surrounded by cooking and baking my whole life. My dad has always had a passion for cooking. After his career as a golf pro ended he decided to start a catering business, Fuget About It Catering, out of our tiny suburban home kitchen.

Since then it has developed into an incredible business that spread throughout our community by word of mouth. He now has a commercial kitchen and multiple catering jobs a day to prove his success. We started working for him right away as a way to make some quick cash but it soon turned into an amazing learning experience in the kitchen. Cooking is a means to express my creativity and come up with meals using ingredients I would have not thought would be good together.

So, how do I incorporate these passions into my future?

According to an article in Economy Watch, “the food industry comprises a complex network of activities pertaining to the supply, consumption, and catering of food products and services across the world.” This includes the marketing, distribution and advertising of products. That’s where I am most interested within the food industry.

Human’s basic needs will always include food and water therefore the food industry has nothing but room for growth and a profitable future. The food industry is a trillion dollar industry with is wide variety of networks.

O’Dwyer’s released a ranking of the top food and beverage public relations firms and amongst the top three are Edelman ($116,626,00),  Hunter PR ($16,500,000) and APCO Worldwide ($16,283,000). These are just three of a list of 48 agencies that work with the food and beverage industry. These growing numbers prove to me that I can work to incorporate my passion for food with my personal professional goals.

So, what’s next?

Network, network, network! That is the number one word I hear when I do site visits and it’s the way I plan to weasel my way into employers minds. I hope to stand out within these lucrative companies by incorporating my passion for food into my application process and researching their projects that involve food in some way.

Hopefully, in ten years when I am looking through old files I read this blog and have a smile on my face. The smile will be a result of incorporating my professional goals with my passions for cooking and baking.

By: Miranda Carpenello

The art of self-editing

An open notebook with an empty page with a pencil and glasses on it, there is also a magnifying glass, camera and pottos all laid on a map

If you want your editor to love you, turn in clean copy. It is as simple as that. Not only will you win over your editor and they will possibly buy you lunch, but it makes both you and your editor’s lives easier.

Think about it.

The cleaner the copy you turn in as a writer, the less changes you have to make later on. It also allows your editor to turn your copy around quicker. This means you avoid a grumpy, sleep deprived editor at your Monday morning meetings. And everyone wins when the case of the “Mon-daze” is avoided.

So, here are my five tips on how to write clean copy and earn a free lunch from your beloved editor:

  1. Take a Step Back
    After you have finished a new piece of writing, leave it for a few hours before making your first round of edits. This allows you to become unfamiliar with your piece allowing you to read it objectively.
  2. Read Your Writing Forward, Backward and Sideways
    Read your writing over and over again. You obviously can’t read your work sideways but reading it backward disrupts the narrative flow, which helps you catch mistakes you’d normally skim over. Read your writing starting with the last paragraph, working back up to the beginning.
  3. Read it Out LoudScream it if you want but just make sure to not get a noise complaint. Reading your work out loud allows you to keep your brain from automatically correcting mistakes.
  4. Have a Colleague Look it OverThe more eyes on a piece before it reaches your editor, the better. If you have people willing to read your work, take them up on it. There is a good chance that they will catch mistakes that you have been subconsciously skimming over.
  5. PENCIL TAP
    Take the tip of that writing utensil that is going out of style and tap on every single word. This helps slow your brain down so you don’t fill in the blanks when you edit your work. It makes your brain focus on each individual word rather than your brain trying to predict the rest of the sentence. If you follow these five tips, you will be enjoying your favorite pizza place or preferred coffee joint in no time. And all of it will be at the expense of a happy editor.Written by: Dylan Wakefield 

How to Perfect Your Instagram Brand

How to Perfect Your Instagram Brand

Instagram is an incredibly important part of maintaining a successful and modern business. I mean, look at Starbucks and their 14 million Instagram followers– that’s the same amount as Channing Tatum! Starbucks doesn’t post selfies of their six-pack so they must be doing something else right. So what exactly is it that makes a successful Instagram page and attracts followers who are genuinely interested in the products or services you are selling?

Color

First and foremost, there are 600 million monthly active Instagram users so it is important to make yours stand out on the very first click. One way to do this is by choosing a curated color palette. Take Youtuber Rachel Aust’s Instagram, for example. She sticks to four primary colors: white, black, green and light pink. This has become her brand and it is quite successful. I automatically know that it is one of her posts the second it pops up in my feed. Businesses can use this tactic by making their logo colors the primary colors in their posts.

Another way to curate your Instagram’s color palette is by sticking to a consistent filter. I personally use an app called VSCO and stick to one or two filters. Another way to do this is to use Photoshop to edit out colors that do not work with your theme. This may seem like a lot of work but having a well-thought-out Instagram will attract customers and make your business more money—which, when put in those terms, is worth a few minutes on Photoshop.

Don’t forget to keep up with the latest trends in your field for color but also try to stand out and be unique. People will remember a unique color scheme and come back looking for more.

Quality over Quantity

Alright, now that your aesthetics are on point, quality photos are a must. Even though the iPhone 7 can take better photos than some point-and-shoots, most professional businesses will use only high quality DSLR photos for their Instagram. This can include shots of models wearing a company’s clothing line, photos of the city the business is located in, inspirational quotes on top of beautiful backgrounds and more. World Market does a great job curating their Instagram because they pair high-quality photos with a consistent color scheme.

If you are lacking content for your Instagram feed, simply go outside and take photos of the city for an hour and use this shoot throughout your feed to promote variety and also personalize your business. For example, if you are trying to sell sandals, good content would include photos of the beach–the perfect place to wear your sandals.

Give Your Brand A Voice

Yes, it is great to sound professional and get right to the point, but people relate to real-life stories and humor. Caption the photos with a voice that is unique to your brand. Don’t be afraid to be hilarious or respond to comments. But, be wary of controversial issues if you do not want to lose customers or followers. A dramatic example of personalized brand voice comes from Denny’s, who makes it a point to post hilarious photos with equally compelling captions.

Plan It Out

A strong Instagram brand has variety so say hello to color-coded spreadsheets! Create your brand using an Instagram content calendar. This is a great way to make sure that you are not forgetting to make content for key social media holidays. Um, hello! Are you even a reliable Instagram business if you forget about National Donut Day? Although content calendars are great to hit key points, there are apps for more visual thinkers. For example, SneakPeek is an app that allows one to plan their Instagram feed in advance and see what works and what needs to be updated.

The Wrap Up

Of course, the most important part of an Instagram brand is staying authentic to the business and what is being sold. You are selling to humans who are not only attracted to what’s beautiful, but also to what’s real. We hope you found this helpful! Comment and let us know if you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeve for curating the perfect Instagram feed.

 

Clients that seem challenging are the most fruitful experiences

In a perfect world, every client you have would be, well–perfect. Whether you’re working a summer job, a rigorous internship for school or have been with the same company for years, there are certain clients that seem to take more out of you than your time and effort.

According to the article Coping with difficult clients – three common types written by Rachel Antman from LMV Group, the main types of difficult PR clients include the “busy bee,” “authoritarian” and “scapegoat.”

The busy bee is usually a great client, but so overwhelmed with other tasks that public relations falls to the side, creating slow turnaround and challenges getting critical information to the practitioners on time.

The authoritarian likes control, so much so that the PR professional is no longer seen as a strategic asset but an assistant, making the work less successful than it could be.

Last is the scapegoat. This client tends to take all the credit for good work, then doesn’t bat an eye when blaming the PR agency for every failure.

When working with these types of clients, it’s important to remember that all of your experiences can be fruitful when you actively look for the value in them.

I. Personal Growth

Personal growth is different for everyone—it takes going through certain situations to learn how you can become a better person. Working with a difficult client is a sure way to figure out personal areas needing improvement.

The science of neuroplasticity explains how your thinking can change your brain chemistry. Staying positive can not only help you get through the work, but also rewire your brain to help you deal with it in the future. Even though during client related conflicts it can be easy to wallow in negativity, a positive attitude will be better for the situation, the client and yourself.

Learning to take your failures as opportunities for growth is beneficial in the workplace and day-to-day life.

II. Positive Change in Work Ethic

With a poor work ethic, it can be difficult to get anything done and keep the morale of your team high. Even professionals with a typically strong work ethic can struggle under pressure when dealing with tough situations. By constantly instilling a positive work ethic in yourself, those around you will most likely notice and benefit.

When dealing with a difficult client, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions rather than logically thinking the issues through. Separating your personal feelings from the situation can strengthen your work ethic and all the components that come with it.

Work ethic is a virtue that’s believed to enhance character and contains many different traits. Professionalism, humility, dedication, accountability and respect are a few key elements necessary for a strong work ethic. These qualities include:

Professionalism: Broad because it encompasses all other aspects of work ethic—not only how you dress but how you act.
Humility: By acknowledging everyone’s contributions, maintaining a sense of humor, always being open to learning and teaching with integrity and appreciation those around your will trust and listen to you.
Dedication: Being passionate about your profession and company, and not submitting work until it reaches perfection, those around you will notice.
Accountability: Set an example for other employees by taking responsibility for your mistakes, not making up excuses and not making the same mistakes twice.
Respect: By always treating your clients with respect—even the most difficult—it will show grace and the value of your personal and professional worth.

III. Reaching Common Ground

One of the most beneficial skills to have when working with clients is communication. Establishing control of the account in the beginning will help you understand not only what the client wants, but will give you the creative freedom you need to do the work.

“I learned you have to say what you want and what the client wants up front,” said Kasey Perez, community manager at TGC, “it won’t happen later if it doesn’t happen in the beginning.”

Taking control from the start will garner respect from the client and allow you to steer negotiations in the right direction. Sometimes, conflicting ideas between PR practitioners and their clients can get ugly and defensive. Manipulating the situation to your advantage won’t solve the issue and the real reason for some conflicts may lie below the surface.

Reaching common ground takes mutual effort between you and your client. Being able to quickly realize the conflict, take control of the situation and find a resolution that works for both parties is a skill that will be beneficial throughout your entire career.

By: Josey Lonzo

Tattoos in the workplace

Tattoos or “taboos,” depending how you view them, have always been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to the workplace. Questions of their professionalism and whether they belong in the workplace are constantly circling.

I think tattoos are beneficial to the workplace for these reasons:

  •     Tackle social norms and challenge the changing industry of public relations.
  •      Address a social change that is congruent with the shift in generations.
  •      Teach people to not judge a person by their appearance.
  •      Teases people to ask questions and engage with their coworkers.
  •     Offer another perspective.
  •     Open a door to imagination and interpretation from others
  •      Shows creativity and expression.

Shaming the presence of tattoos in the workplace stifles the creativity and expression of employees in an industry that needs those qualities.

Now more than ever, public relations firms need inventive individuals in order to make an impact in the growing industry. I think ownership of tattoos demonstrates  risk taking ability, and that can translate to a positive work environment.

I have two tattoos, one of which rests on my left forearm just below my elbow bone. It consists of three evenly spaced, black lines that represent my two siblings and me. All three of us got the tattoo together but in different regions of our bodies, and mine got the most flack from our parents because my location is the most prominent of the three.

Prior to getting this tattoo, my parents felt the need to reinforce the idea of damaging my future chances at getting a job. I was conscious of the severity of my decision and that I could potentially be limiting myself of future jobs but I decided that I would never want to work for a company that stumps creativity in the workplace by not allowing tattoos. I also figured that most professional attire would cover my tattoos, but there was still risk involved.

Just like most anything else, there is a time and a place for tattoos as well. At the end of the day, companies have to protect the workplace, so not all tattoos may be acceptable depending on whether they contain vulgar or offensive content. But more importantly than vulgar tattoos, I think tattoos should be covered when meeting with a new client for the first time. With varying opinions on tattoos it is always best to err on the side of caution when you are trying to make a great first impression. No one wants to damage a relationship or lose a client because of something that could have easily been avoided.

As a send off tip, I think a good rule of thumb to follow is the saying, “In the streets dress your best but at work be comfy at your desk.” Simply, just cover up your tattoos if you could be client facing.

Alumni Update- From TGC to Copernio

The Tehama Group Communications staff this semester consists of about 90 percent seniors. So at this time in the semester all of us are scrambling, sweating and seriously panicking about the fact that we will be graduating in less than five weeks.

Where will we live? Who is going to hire us? Was this is right choice?! All of these questions will keep us awake at night, but when we start to have these thoughts, we need to remember the success stories that come out of TGC year after year.

We have seen these successes from guest speakers who come talk us every semester and on our LinkedIn alumni groups.If you still don’t believe me, an alumna who was in our shoes exactly a year ago has a great story of how she has been able to find great success in the professional world of PR post-graduation.

Allison Hahn was in TGC the entire school year of 2015-16 and held the position of Account Executive, being responsible for multiple clients. After graduation Allie was quickly hired by a Copernio, an agency that specializes in Consumer Tech PR, and has been there for almost a year. Below is a Q and A conducted with Allie regarding her life after graduation and some good tips and knowledge for us graduating seniors.

Allie Hahn at the airport on her way to the trade show, “ Get Geeked,” in San Francisco.

  • Question: What did you find most rewarding and most challenging about being in TGC?  Is there anything you learned that helped you with the job search process?  

Answer: I think the most rewarding and challenging thing was one in the same – working with clients and trying to communicate their PR needs with them. When it worked, it was so satisfying, even though it can be difficult to get to that point. It’s something that I experience now in my job everyday.  TGC showed me what my strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of work environment I should seek.

  • Question: When you were hired at Copernio, what was your starting title and what is your current title?

Answer: I started as an intern and am now an Account Coordinator, but since my agency is so small, I have a lot of opportunities to do tasks related to Account Management.

  • Question: Can you give a brief summary of Copernio?

Answer: Copernio is an agency in Orange County that specializes in Consumer Tech PR. It’s a boutique firm with only seven employees. Before I started working there, I always assumed a boutique agency was a young agency that was growing. That’s not the case here. We’re just a small but tight-knit team, but our business model is developed. Copernio is actually the oldest PR agency in Orange County. Within the umbrella of tech PR, we have a rather diverse client base. The clients range in needs and how integrated we are in their company.

  • Question: After being employed for almost a year now, how would you describe your work/life balance as an entry level employee?

Answer: I’m really lucky to be where I’m at because they really promote a good balance. I feel like I’ve been able to establish a life for myself post-grad outside of work. There’s some nights where I’ll have to work late or when I travel, I’ll lose a weekend, but overall my employer is flexible and I am able to take time for myself. I’ve also learned to avoid checking my work email on the weekends and after 7 p.m. so I have some time to actually unwind.

  • Question: What have you found to be the most rewarding and most challenging?

Answer:  The most rewarding is that I feel like my ideas are valued. They aren’t all good, but everyone in the office will listen to me will always listen and help me improve them so I can present them to the client and see them through to completion.

As for most challenging, my agency has a big policy of self-management. No one is going to be breathing down your neck reminding you what needs to get done or checking in on your progress for a project. Overall it’s been a good thing, but it’s an adjustment from college and TGC where there’s a lot of check-ins while you’re working towards a deadline. At my agency, you have to take the initiative yourself to make sure something gets done.

  • Question: Did TGC prepare you well for your entry level job?

Answer: TGC prepared me very well for my job! Some skills you can’t be prepared for and you will have to learn depending on the job you’re doing regardless, but TGC did a great job giving me an understanding of what a PR agency does and how to be adaptable to the needs of clients.

  • Question: What do you wish TGC or the J&PR department would have prepared you for more?

Answer: In college, we talk a lot about planning and preparation, which are very important in PR. However, clients will often throw you curveballs and it can be hard to stay on task with your original plan, so sometimes knowing how to adapt is more important than knowing how to prepare.

  • Can you give some brief descriptions of your biggest accomplishments thus far in your career?

Answer: I’ve had my clients get some really good National Media coverage which is always exciting, including pieces in Good Housekeeping, Refinery 29, USA Today and The Huffington Post. One of the coolest things that’s happened was I got interviewed on camera on behalf of a client at CES and it ended up on Wired. Wired is one of the biggest tech publications out there and sparked my interest in working in technology a few years ago. It was a very cool, full circle moment.   

  • Question: I know you have attended two huge trade shows for your company, in San Francisco and Chicago, can you explain how those experiences were and the major things that you got out of it?

Answer: I’ve been to three press/trade shows so far – Get Geeked in San Francisco, CES in Vegas, and The International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago. All three have been different and have been really good learning experiences.

The best thing about these shows is that you get to work with your client face-to-face, an opportunity that doesn’t happen often, and you get to meet members of the press that you’re constantly pitching. The shows are very crazy though and you lose a lot of sleep. CES was the most intense. It’s right after the holidays and the biggest tech trade show in North America. One of my days started at a TV station at 6 a.m. and ended at a press event around midnight. I was on my feet and talking the entire time. It was very fun, but one of the most exhausting days my life.

  • Question: Do you have any advice to give to J&PR seniors that are graduating this May? 

Answer: My biggest advice for seniors would be to relax and enjoy your last weeks of college! You will find a job and you will make the transition from the college life to adult life successfully. I loved Chico with my whole heart and moving back to So Cal was scary. I was dreading graduation and the unknowns that followed it. I wish I would’ve spent that time being happy and enjoying myself. You’ll never get that time back, so don’t spend it worrying about the future.

As scared as we are and will continue to be until walk down that field, I hope we can take a step back and breath. This internship and program has instilled in us the necessary skills and abilities to get out there and find a way to be successful and #Employeed! Good luck seniors.

 Written By: Kasey Perez

An Agency that Stands Out Among the Rest

Image courtesy of Finn Partners

There are countless impressive public relations agencies out there, but one stands out among the rest—Finn Partners. Headquartered in New York, NY, Finn Partners is a global marketing communications firm that was founded in 2011. They have 13 offices all across the globe—two of them located right here in California.

Named “Midsize Agency of the Year” in 2015 and “Best PR Agency to Work For in North America” in 2013 by the Holmes Report, it is no secret that this agency is killing the game.

Finn Partners has a mission to amaze clients with “the best of everything” through their commitment to collaboration and to “work hard and play nice”. The agency values creating a best-place-to-work environment, which builds a strong company culture—an important aspect of agency setting that is too often overlooked.

Nashville Public Relations Parent Firm Lobby, image courtesy of dvlseigenthaer

Finn Partners covers a large scope of industry sectors including: arts, consumer, creative, crisis communications, CSR and social impact, digital, education, health, mobile, public affairs, research, technology, travel and lifestyle and numerous intersections between.

Finn Partner clients have access to a full spectrum of expertise combined with collaborative and diverse solutions. Their website includes descriptions of each industry they provide service for along with detailed case studies and compelling metrics attached.

I have had the chance to develop a vast appreciation for PR work in an agency setting while spending the past two semesters interning with Tehama Group Communications. As I am graduating later this year, I have been constantly scanning through the websites of different PR agencies for inspiration and industry news. Reading through case studies and blogs—among other research—has been a typical activity throughout my job search, and I can always count on being engaged and informed about the PR industry when viewing this agency’s many platforms.

Written by: Cassie Porter

How Musical Theatre Has Made Me Successful in PR

Photo of me as light board operator for the musical Reefer Madness in 2015.

A Little Bit of Background

When I started attending Chico State four and half years ago, I was declared as a musical theatre major. I was involved in theatre growing up and participated in my schools choir program, but there was one day in particular when I fell in love with theatre. I was a junior in high school and our choir class took a trip to New York City. I saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway as a 16-year-old and decided that night that I would pursue musical theatre.

Little did I know what I was getting myself in to. Theatre is an extremely tough industry. You are constantly being given constructive criticism, and sometimes it’s not constructive, you’re just being told that you’re not good enough. As much as it is hard, it is rewarding and makes me feel free and full of passion.

Adding Public Relations As My Major

After three years of studying as a musical theatre major, I decided to add a second major that would pave a more stable career path for me since the world of theatre can be so hit or miss. I started thinking about what I enjoy and do well.

Through many conversations with my friends and family and some great advice from Tehama Group Communications alum, Alek Irvin, I decided to major in public relations.

I soon began realizing how much musical theatre had prepared me for PR. I also had no idea when I first began that I would absolutely fall in love with it and decide to pursue PR instead of theatre.

Photo of me as Granny in Stephen Sondeim’s Into the Woods- Fall 2016. Courtesy of Mallory Maria Prucha.

How Musical Theatre Prepared Me For PR

Public speaking

Understanding even the smallest detail

Building relationships

Learning quickly

Independence

Constructive criticism

Resume building

Energy (keeping it high!)

Likeability

Active listening

Time management

Innovative ways to stand out

Objectives

Never giving up

Seamless delivery

All of the skills listed above I learned and practiced as a musical theatre major and have implemented all of them in regards to PR.

During my interview for Tehama Group Communications, I was asked how I would handle being constructively evaluated multiple times in the semester by other agency members. I instantly thought about how theatre had trained me for this. I was so used to constantly receiving feedback about my work, the thought of enduring that in TGC did not intimidate me.

Musical theatre also taught me how to feel confident in my public speaking skills and forced me to learn time management. When you’re in a theatre production at Chico State, most rehearsals run from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. I would go to school all day, attend rehearsal at night, and then start on my homework some time after 10 p.m.

Now being a part of TGC, it has been easier for me to figure out how to efficiently manage my time between work and meetings.

Looking forward to graduation in May, I feel lucky to be a double major. I have learned so much about myself and have been able to transfer my skills from one major to the other more than I ever expected.

TGC in NYC

Megan McCourtAccount Supervisor, PPR Worldwide

Former Tehama Group Communications Editorial Director and General Manager, 2010-2011

It’s nearing that time of the year where graduating students frantically polish their resumes, spend hours online searching for that dream first job and, if others are like me, practice interviewing for hours in front of the bathroom mirror.

Wanting to move to New York, I reached out to two Tehama Group Communications alumnae to learn about their current experiences in public relations and the Big Apple.

 

After TGC

As an Account Supervisor at PPR Worldwide, Dell’s agency of record, McCourt supports a number of executives by managing their speaking opportunities, writing their contributed content and drafting most of their remarks, from social media to speeches. She also heads the global brand team, which embodies Dell’s efforts around entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and diversity/inclusion.

One of the main components of her job is advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs.

I’m helping to change government policy, raise awareness, get more capital into the hands of female entrepreneurs, and provide women with the networks and resources they need to be successful,” McCourt said.

One of her achievements is helping launch an open letter to the presidential candidates a week before the 2016 election. Since the letter launch, she is now working with the new administration and the Small Business Administration to see their ideas put into action.

New York: Rodents, rejection and beauty

McCourt is approaching her four-year anniversary of living in New York and her insight on the city is one that TV does not portray.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it: life in New York is not always easy, but it’s worth it,” McCourt said. “Unless you’re backed by the bank of mom and dad, you’re probably going to live in a tiny, shared apartment; have to deal with bugs and rodents; face numerous rejections (for jobs, dates, apartments); and deal with the weather (sweltering in the summer, freezing in the winter).”

Although that seems far from ideal, New York has much more to offer– a variety of entertainment, a diverse global culture and architecture one would only think about in their dreams. Not only that, but even those on a budget can enjoy big city luxuries on a small town budget.

“There’s always cheap eats and free activities, which is why so many people can skirt by on internships and low-paying gigs,” McCourt said.

Graduating? Start networking

McCourt’s advice to students looking to get their start in PR was simple– leverage your network.

“Almost every job I’ve had came through my extended network,” McCourt said.

McCourt recommends informational interviews for companies you want to work for, buying coffee for those you know who work in communications and not being afraid to ask someone you know to set you up with someone who can be beneficial for you.

Your network is the best tool you’ll have for the rest of your life– start growing it now!”

Stephanie BurkeSenior Account Executive, Highwire PR

Former Tehama Group Communications Account Executive and Social Media Assistant, 2012

Intern to full-time

Burke began her public relations career by accepting an internship at Highwire PR in San Francisco after graduation in 2013. After completion of her six-month internship she was hired on as an account associate.

“The transition from an intern to an account associate is one of the most exciting transitions you can make,” Burke recalls.

Burke explained that interns at Highwire are fully integrated into teams and have client-facing roles. Moving forward as an account associate offered more media, content and planning opportunities. One of the new roles and challenges Burke faced was mentoring interns.

It’s a great time to think about the mentorship you valued as an intern and pass it on to the next generation,” Burke said.

Promotions

Since her first promotion at Highwire in 2013, she has been promoted two other times. She moved to New York in 2014 and was promoted to account executive and in 2015 was promoted to senior account executive. Today her job roles include media relations, client management, different PR writing and general agency operations such as writing for the company blog.

“You can think of an SAE as the account management’s right hand, always there to help guide the team and execute on key initiatives for the client,” Burke said.

City by the Bay vs. City of Dreams

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates New York employs 21,740 people in the public relations field, whereas San Francisco employs 3,640 public relations specialists. However, Burke believes more media is flocking to San Francisco due to tech. Regardless of the new media scene in San Francisco, New Yorkers still have an advantage to those in San Francisco.

“The news breaks in EST. New York PR professionals have the advantage of seeing the news first versus our San Francisco friends who have to wake up a bit earlier to catch the first headline,” Burke said.


Get reading graduates!

A major aspect of public relations is media relations. Reading and watching the news can differentiate you from the crowd. Burkes advice to graduating students is to do such.

Clients want to know how to be on the cover of Forbes and what it takes to join the Good Morning America crew for a segment,” Burke said. “It’s important to understand what makes a good story for these outlets and who their audience is.”

Photos courtesy of Megan McCourt and Stephanie Burke

Written  by Benjamin Liwanag