The Importance of Taking Time Off

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Recently, we’ve read a few interesting pieces about “vacation shaming” in the workplace. As publicists, we understand the hesitation to travel when you have a demanding job. It’s hard to take a break from work that you’re passionate about and many people worry that they don’t have enough vacation time or that their company will not approve time off. At the same time, getting outside of your comfort zone is necessary to stay inspired which in turn makes you better at your job. Our advice? TRAVEL. NOW. DO IT! Here are 4 reasons why.

1. Good for your health: Studies show that vacations are just as important as exercise. They help cure burnout and chronic stress that’s epidemic in today’s 24-7 culture. The catch, it takes two weeks to take full advantage of these recuperative benefits. If two weeks away sounds like crazy talk, consider traveling during slow periods. Our boss lady Dyan likes to travel during Thanksgiving when things tend to slow down in the media world. It’s also the perfect time to travel to Paris and Italy if you like to avoid crowds and travel on a budget like we do.

2. Refuels your work: For us, this is reason enough to travel. Our jobs depend on us staying fresh and creative. Visiting cities like Paris, Florence, or Rome and truly immersing ourselves in the culture of these cities – touring the Louvre, seeing the David and St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time, spending the day learning more about The Roman Forum and Colosseum, eating gelato, pasta and drinking wine daily – inspires us and provides a jolt of creative thinking.

3. Personal Growth: There is a saying that you can be comfortable or you can grow but you cannot do both at once. Travel forces you to get out of your comfort zone and appreciate the world through other people’s eyes. When you experience other cultures, you learn new ways of doing things and deepen your empathy for the individuals you meet. Expanding your worldview through firsthand experience strengthens decision making and interpersonal skills which are an asset in any industry, as well as your personal life.

4. You’re not alone: Don’t be a “work martyr.” It can be unnerving to let coworkers and clients know you’ll be away. You may experience (or imagine) some surprise or even resentment. But setting boundaries for your time off and trusting your team members to help you while you’re gone gets easier with time. At SPPR, it helps to build vacations into our plans at least three months in advance to be extra prepared. In the end, your teams and clients will benefit from your renewed energy and perspective post-break.

Safe travels,

Team SPPR

Food for Thought with Jami Curl

We talk a lot about food at Soda Pop PR. The team is constantly swapping restaurant recommendations and deliberations for where to order our weekly team lunch start at 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Which is why we’re excited to announce our new interview series “Food for Thought.” Each month, we’ll explore the business behind the food industry and how foodie creatives find inspiration and get through tough times.

This week we’re kicking things off with SPPR client and candy-extraordinaire Jami Curl who is the founder of QUIN Candy- a small-batch, handmade candy company headquartered in Portland. Jami has been dubbed the “new Willy Wonka” by Bon Appètit and is listed as one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business. She is currently working with Ten Speed Press on a book ‘Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes.’ For sale in March 2017, Candy is Magic will share Jami’s candy secrets and best stories. Read on to work up a creative appetite.

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1. Staying inspired is EVERYTHING for a creative and we can all feel stuck sometimes. How do you get unstuck?

I am very thankful to have many things going on at once – so, if I’m stuck on something I’m writing, I can switch over to a recipe I’m trying to work out. Or, if a recipe isn’t quite working, I can walk away from it and focus a bit on marketing or something we’re promoting at QUIN.

I do tend to have zero separation between work and home – I work on work at home and I work on home at work. I work all hours of all days – whether it’s 6am on a Saturday or 11:30pm on a Tuesday. Because of this, ahem, “variety” of types of work and working hours, I rarely find myself stuck.

That said, I never give much thought to inspiration. It might just be because of how serious I am about work – but I rarely sit back and wonder or think about what’s going to inspire me on any given day. Not to get too Psychology Today on you, but I think it has to do with the fact that I rarely seek outside “help” for inspiration or energy. I rely only on myself for that stuff. This self-reliance is threaded through my entire life, not just work life. I rarely ask for help, I don’t look to others for happiness, I know in my heart it’s my responsibility to make myself happy, fulfilled, inspired, and motivated. (Note: I am an INTJ (Myers-Briggs) – so that might explain a lot. And, if you haven’t Myers-Briggs’ed yourself, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.) Anyways, all my motivation and ideas come from the inside – not the outside. I basically just keep working and ideas keep coming. I truly hope it stays this way for the rest of my days because there’s really nothing like it.

 2. Can you share one of your first “pinch me” moments when you realized QUIN’s success was real?

“Success” is tricky because it’s a word that is generally controlled and defined by outside sources instead of the internal self. My self-defined version of success is this: that I wake up each day happy. Happy to be where I am in life, happy that my job is this job in candy. I feel successful when I’m fulfilled. When the ideas in my head tumble out and they somehow make sense to others – these moments are my successful moments.

By that definition, I have to say that one of the “pinch me” moments has to be the first day of the QUIN cookbook photoshoot. A group of very talented women surrounding me, I explained a vision – and they set to work making it come to life in photos. On so many levels I couldn’t believe it was happening – it made the book more real, it validated my vision for the candy in the book, it solidified and made visual thoughts and ideas that previously only existed in my head. I wish I could explain how totally crazy that feels – but, let me tell you – IT FEELS TOTALLY CRAZY!

In terms of success for QUIN – I think the “pinch me” moments are smaller moments – little bits of positive news, or a great new account, or a good piece of press – all of these moments add up to this experience that is overall absolutely, definitely a “pinch me” situation. That QUIN works at all, even in our slow times, is still totally unreal to me.

3. You have a very fun, active social media presence. How do you “unplug” or turn off when you need to recharge?

Oh, thank you. I actually think I’m the worst social media person. The first problem is that I’m pretty much a conscientious objector to the use of hashtags. I can’t get over the full paragraphs of hashtags that people add to posts. I 100% understand their usefulness, but that still won’t convince me to do it. Still, I like to have fun with social media and I’m a total weirdo at home, so I share a lot of that.

I spend a lot of time every day unplugged and turned off because I love to read. When waiting for an appointment or meeting to start, for a coffee or for a table, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’m reading a book. I never, ever leave the house without the book I’m currently reading. Those minutes during the day of leaving my phone in my bag and grabbing my book instead – they’re super essential mini-breaks for me.

I also schedule a full hour of reading every night before bed – it’s my favorite part of every day because I read with my little boy – each of us in a side-by-side twin bed, reading our books. I push through each day to get to this most magic of hours, I love it and treasure the time with him so much.

One other thing – I take a long walk (about 5 miles) every morning. I’ll allow myself to listen to a Podcast or music, but I don’t allow myself to check social media during my walks. Walking is the best because it’s really easy, and it’s mindless enough to allow yourself to be mindful (I swear that makes sense if you think about it.)

4. There’s a lot of buzz around the “habits of highly effective people.” What are some of your own personal habits for productive days and helping QUIN run efficiently?

I don’t keep a calendar or a to-do list electronically. I write EVERYTHING down. On paper. I keep a physical paper calendar/planner with me – and I basically just check it often (super often) to make sure I’m on track. I’m pencil obsessed, so that helps, but writing out lists, calendars, ideas, goals – actually WRITING it (not typing it or merely thinking it) helps to keep me on target.

I don’t sleep in. I get up at 6 every day (even on weekends) and try to do at least three things right away that will make me feel like I’m on track for a productive day. This could be as simple as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry, answering emails or writing a thank you note, organizing receipts or working on book edits – just three things right away – I find it sets me up for success all day long (three things PLUS coffee, that is.)

5. As a veteran of Feast Portland, what are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m excited about the candy we’re doing for Night Market – something we’ve never done before that has our entire staff TOTALLY EXCITED. I love stuff like that – a super fun candy that we can all get behind.

I think it’s great that Feast is five this year and that they’re putting the effort into celebrating that fact. I am also so happy that QUIN is part of the celebration – we created a special candy to help Feast celebrate this milestone birthday, and I was so honored that they even asked us to do it. I think the feeling of celebration is what Feast is all about – celebrating food and creativity and the bounty of Oregon and the people who work so hard to put out great food in restaurants – it all combines and the result is this string of days that all seem like a party. It’s almost like college again – everyone in town is kind of focused on the same thing, and I love that feeling of crazy unity. I’m looking forward to that spirit settling in on the city for a few days, for sure.

Follow along with Jami’s adventures at Feast PDX and beyond here.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Camryn Jun

This week we’re excited to welcome our new intern Camryn Jun to the blog. Camryn joins Soda Pop PR with marketing experience and boundless enthusiasm for the world of PR. She also shares our company-wide Scandal obsession!

Read on to learn about Camryn’s female role models, favorite way to start the day and what being a college athlete taught her about life.

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1. We are all about girl power at SPPR, who is one of your favorite girl bosses or female role models?

As cliché as it sounds, my favorite female role model is my mom. (Pause for eye roll here). There are a lot of amazing girl bosses out there that I draw inspiration from, but I don’t know any of them well enough to say I model my life after them, not like my mom. To me, my mom is living proof that I can have it all as long as I’m willing to put in the work. She is the boss at work and the boss at home. She started working as a temp and worked her way up to Chief of Staff and Resources, all while raising three kids and maintaining a 26-year marriage. She makes me excited for the future and determined to break stereotypes, because I know I don’t have to sacrifice family for my career and vice versa, and when it gets hard and I need advice I’ll already have the best coach.

2. What excites you most about the PR industry?

I love that it’s a female dominated industry, but I am most excited about how young it is. Social media has created a whole new job market, and PR plays an integral role in that. Technology is always advancing so strategies and trends are always changing. It definitely keeps publicists on their toes! This puts the industry in a constant state of growth because it’s directly related to the way people connect and communicate. I’m a total people-person, so I’m really inspired by the idea of being part of an industry that revolves around building relationships.

3. What is one important lesson you learned from being a college athlete that you have applied to your life?

I’ve learned a lot from playing soccer most of my life, and the lesson that was hardest to learn but most applicable to my life off the field is: mistakes are going to happen and it’s okay to fail. You can’t dwell on the mistake and allow it to take you out of the game. You have to dust yourself off, make an adjustment, and keep playing as hard as you can. The best player on the field isn’t the one who never makes a mistake, it’s the one who always recovers. Like in any game of soccer, challenges and setbacks are just a part of life and this sport has taught me how to face adversity with resilience and a positive attitude.

4. Are you a morning person or a night owl? What’s your favorite way to start or finish the day?

To be honest, my answer usually depends on what day of the week it is, but for the most part I am turning into more of a morning person! I love to start my day with the CorePower yoga sculpt class before work. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get up before the sun, but I always feel energized and ready to take on the day after I get my work out in!

5. If you were given the funds and resources to start a charity organization, what would it be?

My charity organization would focus on improving the overall wellness of our veterans and lobbying for higher pension rates for them. I would make physical rehabilitation, reemergence to civilian society, and mental health resources more accessible to the men and women who sacrifice everything for our freedom. My organization’s ultimate mission would be to eliminate the veteran percentage of America’s homeless population. They are our nation’s heroes and we need to treat them like it!

The Secret Sauce: Five Easy Ways to Up Your Company Culture Game

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Photo Credit: New Zealand Festival

The fun perks of Silicon Valley startups have been glorified and imitated by agencies looking to attract younger talent but for small companies, the idea of a “fun company culture” can seem out of reach. If you ask anyone on the SPPR team why they work here, the culture always comes up first but it isn’t because we have a conference table that doubles as a ping pong table (Respect Ban.do). While we don’t agree that work culture is overrated we do agree that there’s more to a happy workplace than free beer and game rooms. Here are five ways to add some fizz to your company culture without a balling “perks” budget.

1.  Applaud Time Off: Work/Life Balance” is the phrase that today’s young professionals live and die by and it’s a hard one to achieve in the PR industry. Publicists are notorious for being constantly on e-mail so it may come as a surprise that at SPPR we observe summer Fridays (out of the office at 1 p.m.) and take phone-free vacations. While 32% of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day in 2015, every member of SPPR took at least two weeks off to relax and recharge.

2. Offer Flexibility: One of the advantages of small company culture is the opportunity to be treated as an individual. Allowing employees to work remotely a few days a month and accommodating schedule changes for doctors’ appointments, family/friend visits and day care pickups goes a long way in reducing stress.

3. Boost Wellness: As a company with less than 10 people, SPPR makes the most of a limited perks budget by focusing on what employees really want. Our company wellness plan provides team members with a stipend toward the fitness plan of their choice as well as healthy weekly lunches and office snacks. Not that it’s all kale and post-work hikes on the SPPR team. We do have some pretty sweet clients, not to mention a shared love of donuts.

4. Have fun together: No matter how well you work with someone, you haven’t truly bonded until you’re laughing over a cocktail. The SPPR team makes it a priority to get out of the office for some much needed team bonding at happy hours, events and yearly company retreat. There’s also the occasional in-office tasting or Instagram photo shoot. Appointing a “Social Secretary” to make sure your team gets together for a fun activity at least once a quarter is an easy way to strengthen personal bounds within a small team.

5. Be Thoughtful: The most important way that companies maintain a fun and positive company culture is with small everyday decisions to do so. At SPPR our company culture is built on the thoughtful gesture of a flower delivery to a sick team member or a favorite book that gets passed around. It is a funny YouTube video email to fight the afternoon slump and a text to a late coworker prompted by genuine concern for their safety. These are the examples that come to mind when we hear the words “company culture.” Well that, and wondering if our next office upgrade should include a cold brew coffee tap.

SPPR Retreat: Celebrating 5 Years!

Every summer, the Soda Pop PR team heads out of the office for a little bit of relaxation and inspiration at our company retreat. These days are filled with good food and fun activities as we revisit the year’s highlights and our goals for the future. This year, the SPPR team was excited to celebrate five years with a Malibu getaway.

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The Malibu Beach Inn spoiled us with endless ocean views and proved the perfect escape from the hustle of Hollywood. Equipped with swag bags and custom Milk Jar Cookies we settled in to talk leadership, strengths and company growth.

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Retreat activities included a wild time at Malibu Wine Safari, complete with flower crowns and the famous celebrity giraffe Stanley as well as a photoshoot on the pier with photographer Courtney Paige.

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It’s not an SPPR trip without some amazing food! With locally sourced food and Pacific Ocean views, Malibu Farm became a mainstay for the team while in the ‘bu. We’re still talking about their quinoa oatmeal and many laughs were had over their yummy cocktails at our team dinner.

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Five years is a milestone for a small business and we are proud to be doing thoughtful, inspired work for a roster of incredible clients. We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported us along the way, and continues to support us as we grow. Looking forward to another five years of fun, creative work and all of the exciting milestones yet to come. We’ve only just begun!

Cheers to the next 5!

Team Soda Pop PR

We’re Hiring: Intern (Paid)

We’re hiring again! SPPR is looking for a rock star intern to join our team. Candidates must be hard-working, creative and quick-learning college students/recent grads with a passion for the food & beverage industry. If that sounds like you, read on.

Responsibilities include:

  • Assisting with general daily office and administrative duties
  • Creating media lists and event/campaign recaps
  • Researching, writing, editing and distributing press materials
  • Working as part of an account team to implement media plans
  • Tracking print, online, broadcast and social media for ideas and coverage
  • Preparing client bios, fact sheets, press clips and images
  • Drafting social media content and managing a content calendar

What we are looking for…

  • Organized, self-starter, takes initiative, is resourceful and likes a challenge
  • Strong interest in public relations
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
  • PC proficient, particularly in the Microsoft Suite, including Word, Excel,  PPT and Outlook
  • Internet research and social media savvy
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Experience in handling routine office tasks
  • Excellent people skills, attention to detail and amazing follow through
  • Preferably some experience working in the culinary, wine or travel industries
  • Someone who wants to learn a lot, have fun and grow with us!

Please send résumé, cover letter, 2-3 writing samples & a brief overview of why you want to join the SPPR team to sayhi@sodapop-pr.com.

This is a full-time (35-40 hours per week) paid internship. Candidate must be based in Los Angeles.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Deidre Weight

This week, we are excited to introduce our newest addition to the Soda Pop PR family: Account Executive Deidre Weight. With years of PR experience and event planning chops, Deidre is smart, media savvy and rarely without sunglasses.

Check out our interview with Deidre below to learn more about her networking tips and most embarrassing work moment.

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1. There are many types of industries to focus on in PR – beauty, entertainment, fashion, etc. What made you choose hospitality & lifestyle PR?

Growing up in LA, it was hard not to be exposed to this industry – especially hospitality and tourism.  It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego and began my coursework that I really understood the different industries I can pursue. You know, the realization that “PR” isn’t all red carpets and glamour! I’ve always been interested in entertainment and hospitality, and my first internship in college was at a hospitality group, naturally. I LOVED it!

As a senior at SDSU, I was required to take a PR occupation course which hosted a professional across different industries each week, and I was so fascinated by this field. I later worked with several lifestyle, food and hospitality brands during my time in San Diego. The path I took prepared me for SPPR where I’m able to showcase my expertise with hospitality and lifestyle brands, while still ‘biting’ into the food space.

2. You’re a natural at networking. What advice or tips do you have to share for young professionals looking to up their networking game?

  • Sign up for internships. Many of my post-college job opportunities have been referrals from prior jobs or internships in college. If you’re unable to take part in an internship, set up an informative interview with a local agency or in-house company to get your questions answered and learn about a “day in the life.”
  • Attend local networking events in your area. Whether it is through school or the community, it’s important (and useful) to meet people in your field.
  • Get involved. PRSSA is a great program for undergrads!
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to network on your free time. You never know who you might run into, or better yet who they might know!
  • Social media is your friend. If you’re not on LinkedIn, sign up today. If you don’t utilize Twitter to seek new media relationships, get tweeting!

3. If you could eat any meal in the world right now, what and where would it be?

Tortilla Soup from La Cocina, a family-owned restaurant in Santa Clarita. The restaurant is walking distance from my childhood home. It’s so good, my family still eats there every Friday night!

4. What are three things you can’t live without?

  • Hair-ties – I always end my day with a good messy bun.
  • Sunglasses  – you’ll rarely see me out without them!
  • Hot sauce – I self-admittedly collect hot sauces, but they never stay on the shelf for long!

5. Can you share an embarrassing work moment? 

During my first week as an intern I called the Food Network and asked to speak to Bobby Flay, in which I hoped to pitch a segment idea for a new product. He was listed in our database as a producer, and I was still green when it came to knowing the big names in food. I’ll never forget the look on my colleagues’ faces or the confusion in the receptionist’s voice. I’ve come a long way since.