SPPR Retreat: Celebrating 4 Years

Between new team members and new clients, it’s been an exciting year at Soda Pop PR! To celebrate our 4th anniversary, we headed down the coast for a team retreat in beautiful Laguna Beach.

With friendly staff and adorable beach-chic decor, The Laguna Beach House proved a perfect location for our weekend away (and a tough place to leave)!

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It’s not a SPPR retreat without an awesome swag bag! Everyone loved arriving to find goody-filled beach totes from Wylie West Creative in their rooms.

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After check-in, husband & wife photography team Joe + Kathrina were on hand to kick things off with a laughter-filled photo shoot followed by enchiladas and margaritas at Tortilla Republic.

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Inspiration and relaxation were on the agenda Friday as Beth Penn from Bneato Bar helped us declutter our work lives and K. Mala Studio led the team through a creative watercolor workshop. Of course there were plenty of beach breaks and sunny poolside chats.

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There’s no better way to end a wonderful weekend than with friends, family and a glass of champagne. The SPPR team and guests gathered in a beachfront bungalow at Pacific Edge Hotel for a sunset feast overlooking the ocean.

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As we reflect back on 4 years, we’d like to take a moment to thank our clients, friends and families for all their support. We wouldn’t be where we are without you!

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Cheers to 4 fantastic years and many more!

Team Soda Pop PR

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Milk Jar Cookies Owner Courtney Cowan

We’re pretty serious about sweets at SPPR. Which is why we couldn’t be more excited to announce our newest client Milk Jar Cookies! The Wilshire Boulevard shop is known for fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade cookies and locally-sourced milk, ice cream and coffee.

To celebrate our newest excuse to have cookies around the office, we asked Milk Jar Cookies owner Courtney Cowan to share some of her baking secrets and business inspiration.

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1. You used to work in television, what inspired you to take the plunge and open Milk Jar Cookies?

I’ve always loved baking, and specifically baking cookies. In my teens, I came up with my own recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies, and as I perfected it over time, it became very popular with friends, family, and eventually co-workers. After several instances of people mistaking them for “bakery” cookies, I realized I might have created something special.

In 2005, I began experimenting with a variety of flavors and started an online business. I loved the fact that, with each of the deliveries I made, someone’s day got a little bit brighter, and the end goal quickly became to go brick & mortar. I wanted a shop where I could host these people and provide a place to enjoy a cookie and a glass of milk. Come 2012, I finally decided I was ready to go all-in and make it happen.

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2. Can you share a piece of advice that you are grateful to have received?

My parents always encouraged me to follow my heart and trust my gut. Both of those things have served me well.

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

Coffee, lists, Oscar Biandi dry shampoo (and our dog, Ollie)

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4. Where are you eating in Los Angeles right now?

Stout, Yuko Kitchen, and my favorite go-to: El Coyote

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5. What’s your number one tip for perfect cookies?

Make sure your measurements are exact. Every gram counts!

To keep up with Courtney, you can find Milk Jar Cookies on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

SPPR Picks for a Festive 4th of July

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We love 4th of July for its simplicity. Fire up the grill, mix up some drinks, throw on some red, white and blue and you’ve got all the ingredients for a perfect holiday weekend. Click through for our picks on what to make, what to wear, what to play and why “American cheese” isn’t going anywhere near our burgers this weekend.

Happy 4th,

Team SPPR

Top 5 Weekend Getaways

Summer may automatically kick vacation daydreams into high gear but sometimes a weekend away is all it takes for the Soda Pop PR team to reset and refresh. When a long holiday isn’t on the horizon, escape the concrete jungle with a quick trip to one of our favorite getaways.

1Zion National Park

Just a few hours from Vegas, adventurous hikes and unbelievable views await at Zion National Park. After all, you can only hike Runyon so many times.

Stay: The beautiful Cable Mountain Lodge is just steps from the park’s main entrance. Surrounded by mountains, the lodge provides grills for BBQ’ing as well as a pool and Jacuzzi to enjoy the views after a long day of hiking.

Play:  Majestic canyon walls and a shallow winding river will make hiking The Narrows a weekend highlight. Get there early to avoid the crowds and you’ll want to rent water shoes and a walking stick for this National Geographic rated stunner.

Sip: With the high temps and altitude, it is easy to get dehydrated in Zion so always have water on hand. When happy hour rolls around, the Zion Canyon Brew Pub offers inventive season brews and a convenient proximity to the Cable Mountain Lodge.

Eat: Enjoy organic, local food and gluten free options at Café Soleil. Added bonus: their delicious pizza and paninis are made with our favorite cheese: Tillamook cheddar!

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A drive up the coast from L.A. to Big Sur is the quintessential California road trip. We’ve all seen the gorgeous images on Instagram but the scenery of Big Sur cannot be done justice by photos or a secondhand account. Cell reception is spotty at best which makes it easy to disconnect, relax and begin that novel you’ve always talked about writing.

Stay:  The rustic yet modern boutique motor lodge Glen Oaks Big Sur is a great alternative to high-end properties, like Ventana Inn and Post Ranch Inn, or the various local camping sites. You’ll love all of the charming details such as fireplaces, heated bathroom floors, Pendleton blankets, and complimentary yoga cards and mats.

Play:  Big Sur is packed with hiking trails for all skill levels. A few favorites include: Andrew Molera State Park, McWay Falls (easy) and Ewoldsen Trail (moderate-difficult) at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Sip: You can’t leave Big Sur without watching the sunset at Nepenthe with a glass of wine or a Nepenthe Bloody Mary, made with their house-made mix, in hand.

Eat:  Big Sur Bakery deserves a post of its own. If possible, go with a group so you can order half of the menu and not feel guilty. Don’t leave without trying their famous Breakfast Pizza or grabbing some addicting granola for the trip home.

3San Diego

San Diego may be known for beaches and beer but the laid back locale has a growing food and cocktail scene that refuses to be written off.

Stay: The pool parties are legend at the retro LaFayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows and its North Park location puts you walking distance from trendy stores, coffee shops, and microbreweries.

Play: Watch your favorite flicks poolside at The Pearl Hotel‘s free “Dive-in Theater.” Food and cocktails are available throughout the weekly showings with films ranging from Weekend at Bernies to Sex and the City.

Sip: For tropical drinks and Instagram-worthy design head to Fairweather, a vacation inspired bar that overlooks the ballpark.

Eat: Old books and clever signage line the walls of gastropub Craft & Commerce which offers bites like bone marrow or mini corn dogs along with off-the-menu mixologist masterpieces.

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We won’t blame you if you sneak in a couple Instagrams as you “unplug” and unwind with a wine weekend away from the city.

Stay: For storybook architecture that feels worlds away, stay in the Danish Village of Solvang. Wine Valley Inn and Hotel Corque are comfortable options with plenty of charm.

Play: If you occasionally dream about lavender fields, you’re not alone. The flower fields at Clairmont Farms usually hit full bloom in July and are open to the public from 10am to 4pm.

Sip: For a unique tasting experience, visit Saarloos & Sons’ tasting room in idyllic Los Olivos where you can pair your wine with a cupcake flights from Enjoy Cupcakes.

Eat: Treat yourself to cocktails and fresh fare at S.Y. Kitchen or go casual with beer, BBQ and bikers at Cold Spring Tavern which began as a stagecoach shop in 1886.

5Lake Arrowhead

Detox on crisp mountain air and lakeside views at peaceful Lake Arrowhead, a getaway that goes heavy on the rustic-charm.

Stay: Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa is located in the San Bernardino National Forest, thousands of feet above the city. You’ll come for the cozy rooms and stay for s’mores on the beach.

Play: Get up close and personal with California wildlife at Wild Haven Ranch, a grown-up zoo featuring snakes, hawks, raccoons and even bears.

Sip: If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that ice cream is always a good decision. Stop by Cedar Glen Malt Shop for one of their infamous malts, a perfect pairing to the shop’s Nomad burger: a bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter!

Eat: Authentic deli sandwiches and friendly service make the Hungry Bear Sandwich Shack the ideal stop to pack your basket for a lakeside picnic.

The Secret Sauce: Interview Do’s & Don’ts

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You graduated college and have had successful internships but landing your first full-time job is proving to be harder than any college class. I’ve had the pleasure (and very rarely the pain) of interviewing many young PR professionals in my career. Here are a few of my real world interview Do’s and Don’ts that will hopefully help you land your first job!

Do read the job description before sending your resume. Aside from a cover letter, writing samples and references, some companies (like us!) will ask specific questions in their job post. You’d be surprised how many candidates fail to read the entire post.

Do clean up your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. I know it’s annoying to have to think professionally when posting about your day-to-day personal life, but most hiring managers check out ALL of these sites before bringing you in for an interview. Ask yourself “Would I want my boyfriend/girlfriend’s mom to see this picture?”

Do research the company. It’s your job as an interviewee to know what clients the company represents and current projects they are working on. Helpful hint: all of this information can be found on their website and social media sites. Don’t be afraid to do a little pre-interview stalking.

Do have follow up questions to ask.  Nothing is worse than spending 30 minutes interviewing a potential employee and hearing “No. I think you covered everything.”  to the question “Do you have any questions for me?” Oh, and don’t only ask about the salary. That’s no bueno.

Do remember charm goes a long way. Smile, show your real personality. Be yourself.

Do send a thank you email. Bonus points for a handwritten thank you card.

Don’t be late. Period.

Don’t bad mouth your former boss or co-workers. Keep it classy.

Don’t under prepare. I try to ask a few untraditional questions when interviewing but the standard “What are your strengths or weaknesses?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” usually rear their ugly head. It’s always a safe bet to prepare answers to the usual suspect questions.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re interviewing for your first job out of college. It’s intimidating. Make sure you are prepared, breathe, and remember the hiring manager might be a little nervous too.

Don’t go to the dark place if you do not land the job. 9 times out of 10, it’s not personal.  Sometimes it comes down to experience and sometimes it comes down to chemistry.

I wish you the best of luck. Go get ‘em!

Dyan

Lollipop Pies

Memorial Day – and the start of summer – is nearly here, and with the glorious three-day weekend comes barbecues and potlucks galore. We think these Lollipop Pies are the perfect accompaniment to your next party – they’re bite size, sweet, and just plain adorable. You can make them any flavor you like, but we suggest cherry or blueberry jam inside a flakey pie crust topped with a generous sprinkling of sugar!

Lollipop Pies | SodaPop PR
Lollipop Pies | SodaPop PR

Ingredients:

Pie Crust:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

½ cup jam or jelly (we suggest cherry or blueberry)

Topping:

1 egg, beaten
turbinado sugar for dusting

Lollipop Pies | SodaPop PR

Directions:

1. Make your pie crust: combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Cut half the butter into pea-sized pieces and work quickly into flour mixture.
3. Cut in the remaining butter, this time in larger pieces (a little smaller than dime-sized)
4. Sprinkle about three tablespoons of of the ice water over the flour/butter mixture and mix just until the dough begins to mass. You may need to add additional tablespoons of ice water for this to occur.
5. Remove the dough mass to a flat surface, divide into two equal portion and flatten into rounds. Cover in plastic wrap and let chill for at least 1/2 hour before rolling out and creating your crust.
6. When dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then, roll out your dough into a rectangle, starting with half the dough. Using a 2-inch circle cookie cutter, make roughly 16 circles out of your dough.
7. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out half your dough circles. Fill each one with a scant teaspoon of jam or jelly.
8. Place a lollipop stick directly in the center of each circle and top with the other piece of dough. Crimp each edge using a fork, making sure to seal all sides.
9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 with the other piece of dough, making roughly 16-20 lollipop pies.
10. Brush the top of each pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
11. Place the pies into the oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving on a platter or in a jar.

Lollipop Pies | SodaPop PR
Lollipop Pies | SodaPop PR

Enjoy – we hope you have a wonderful three day weekend!

 

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Allison Ritter

We recently welcomed Account Manager Allison Ritter to the Soda Pop family. With extensive beauty, food and lifestyle PR experience, Allison is witty and media savvy with a unique talent for making maternity wear look hip and stylish.

Check out our interview with Allison below to learn more about her early career as a child actor and how she balances being a working mom.

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1. You’re a mother to an adorable little boy and also have another on the way. How do you balance being a mom, wife and publicist? 

Being a wife and a mom is a hard balance because of the vast difference in what your life was like before kids and respective priorities and what it is like once you have kids. When you add work into the mix, and a job with the high intensity of an industry like ours, things get shaky to say the least. The concept of ‘wearing many hats’ takes on a new meaning, but I have learned to be okay with that. Flexibility is a key word for me. I have learned to be flexible with what I can control and what I can’t. Some days there is a balance, and some days there isn’t, but it’s all a ride and that’s what makes life interesting.

2. What were you like as a child? Rumor has it, you were quite the performer.

I was a very outgoing, dramatic kid, participating in every sport or activity you could imagine. The film industry was and still is a big part of our family culture – trading movie quotes at the dinner table and having a resident spot at the local video store. I loved to act out my favorite scenes and play dress up which led to a short-lived career as a child actor. I was also a great tap dancer and spent a lot of my time at dance competitions and tapping down the isles of the local grocery store while my mom shopped.

3. We love planning events and parties of all sizes here at Soda Pop. Can you share your go-to planning tips and resources?

It is so important to start the process with organization and a clear vision. Once that is in place, maintaining open and honest communication is the next piece of the puzzle.  Logistics can be ironed out, but the creative is the heart of the event so establishing and staying consistent throughout the process is also vital to the event’s success. This is what will make your party stand out and be memorable.

4. What advice do you have for recent college graduates who are looking to break into the competitive (and sometimes grueling) world of public relations?

Explore what PR really means to you and what type of story you want to tell. It’s much harder to define Public Relations these days because of the vast pool of services and types of clients. With this variety, there may be some positions that you haven’t heard of, so do your homework. I am a firm believer that if you don’t like or believe in the work and clients, then you won’t be successful in this industry.

5. You have unlimited funds and two-weeks off, where would you go?

Italy. When I travel I like to visit places and do things that residents of that area do, so I don’t know if there would be much planning but more of a “see what we see” type of adventure. I would love to eat my way through Italy, incorporating some culinary instruction or tours and wine tastings, ending in pure relaxation along the Amalfi Coast. Heaven.