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

Culture Club

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.

Six Ways To Travel The World This Summer Without Spending A Dime

Our resident wordsmith Colleen Dunn uses her powers for more than just pitching prowess, she’s also a freelance writer for Uproxx. This week she rounded up six ways to travel the world with spending a dime. With the Memorial Day holiday officially kicking off summer, we know your wanderlust struggle is real this week. Read on for travel inspiration.

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People offer a lot of reasons for not traveling more often, with lack of funds usually topping every list. At Uproxx, our basic argument is that traveling is more worthwhile than most of the other crap we spend our money on. Still, even though we firmly believe that travel is cheaper than most people realize, we have to admit it isn’t free. Usually.

This summer there are some sneaky ways to snag yourself a one of a kind travel experience without having to tag along on your parents’ annual cruise. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type, an eco-warrior, or a potential au pair, here are six ways to choose your own FREE (!) travel adventure this summer.

Be a Wildsam Fellow

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Hip guidebook company Wildsam is looking for travelers to take a 10-day research trip this summer as “Travel Fellows.” The goal of the program is “1) to discover and document the broad and diverse narrative of the US; and 2) to inspire a deep sense of curiosity in our Travel Fellows.” The WildSam fellowship was inspired by The Federal Writers’ Project, commissioned by the U.S. government during the Great Depression to send writers, artists, photographers, and journalists out to share the American story.

Last year’s Wildsam Travel Fellows documented the cultural heritage of New England and the Desert Southwest with interviews from locals, explorations of tiny back roads, and hundreds of photographs. Each of the two travelers selected for the program receives a stipend to fully cover travel expenses.

Apply for the program here before May 25.

Find Your Park

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In celebration of their 100th anniversary, The National Park Service is offering free admission on 16 days in 2016. Which means you can hike through caves made of lava tubes, experience the hottest area in North America and go sound bathing at no cost this summer. And that’s just in California.

Check out one of the 127 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee for free on August 25-28, September 24 or November 11. We’re betting you can track down a friend with a tent for the more camping friendly park options like Joshua Tree and Yosemite but if not, there’s alwaysCouchSurfing.com.

 

Work Work Work Work Work

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Work for trade opportunities abound for the traveler who isn’t afraid to use a little elbow grease. WWOOF offers young vagabonds the chance to work on organic farms around the world in exchange for free housing and food, making you a friend to the environment as well as a savvy penny saver. Opportunities usually require around four to six hours of work per day, at least two days a week. So it’s not insane.

If farm life isn’t for you, there are plenty of other volunteer and cultural exchange opportunities on Workaway or HelpX. Experiences vary from working at a hostel and teaching yoga, to helping build a house, splitting coconuts, and walking dogs at a South American animal sanctuary.

Be A Summer Au Pair

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Put those neighborhood babysitting skills to good use as an international au pair. Websites like Au Pair World connect you with families looking for live-in childcare that will give you the opportunity to improve your language skills and get to know a new culture while living with a host family. Not only will your room and board be covered, you actually get paid for this one. You’ll have more luck looking for a family in the Northern Hemisphere right now — in the Southern Hemisphere summer is not until January and they’ll be more likely to want a long-term au pair placement right now rather than a few months of relief from their out of school and under-foot children.

 

Home Exchange

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If you’re a pet lover, TrustedHouseSitters.com is about to rock your world. The website will connect you with a place to stay for free in return for caring for someone’s pets while they’re out of town. It’s basically Airbnb but you have to walk the dog in the morning. If you own your own place, trading homes with someone is another way to score yourself a free place to stay while traveling. Yes, like Kate Winslet in The Holiday and yes, you’ll totally fall in love with the person you house trade with. Use HomeExhange.com to browse options in 150 countries.

Get In Touch With Your Roots

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You’ve probably heard about Birthright Israel trips. What you may not have heard of is Birthright Armenia, a volunteer internship program which reimburses travel expenses to people of Armenian descent who commit to two months interning or volunteering at approved organizations including hospitals, news agencies, government offices, and environmental NGOs. Meaning this travel opportunity is also a cultural goldmine, not bad on your resume, and will probably make your grandparents really, really proud. Win-win-win.

Similar programs include Heritage Greece, ReConnect Hungary, or the Love Boat Study Program for youth of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.

 

Article originally appeared on Uproxx.

We’re Hiring: Account Executive

We’re looking for an awesome Account Executive to join our growing team! Candidates need to be hard-working, creative, confident, and have a love for the food and beverage industry. If that sounds like you, read on.

Responsibilities include:

  • Assist account team in client management
  • Assist account team in day-to-day client work
  • Assist account team on client events, openings, launches, etc.
  • Prepare agendas, briefs, and event recaps
  • Research trends, pitching
  • Researching, writing, editing and distributing press materials
  • Tracking print, online, broadcast and social media for ideas and coverage
  • Assist in updating SPPR’s social media pages and blog
  • Building and cultivating relationships with media and influencers
  • General office duties – we’re a small but might team and all pitch in!

What we are looking for…

  • Candidates should have 1-3 years at a PR agency or in-house
  • Candidate should enjoy working as part of (an awesome!) team
  • Experience in event production/management
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
  • PC proficient, particularly in the Microsoft Suite, including Word, Excel,  PPT and Outlook
  • 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 food, 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.

Candidate must be based in Los Angeles.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Kali Mungovan

This week we’re excited to welcome our new intern Kali Mungovan to the Soda Pop PR team. With experience in government and agency PR, Kali looks forward to continuing to learn and grow in an agency setting. Read on to find out about her surprising experience post-grad and what her not so hidden talent is.

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1. As a California native, what did you miss about your home state while going to school in Oregon?

SUN! I didn’t realize how much I took the LA sunshine for granted until I left the Golden State. While I’m a big fan of changing seasons and yes, even the rain, I couldn’t help but miss that Vitamin D. When 55 and partly cloudy becomes the new 75 and sunny, you know you’ve become a true Oregonian.

 

2. After majoring in Public Relations, what did you find most surprising about your first real world experience in the industry?

I think the most surprising thing for me was grasping just how big the PR industry really is. In school I was taught the basis of traditional PR and while I did have the opportunity to work with clients through my classes, stepping out into the real world was a little overwhelming. The options seemed endless. Although all experience is good experience, I believe it is important to understand your interests and stay true to what you enjoy doing as you work to find your niche.

 

3. We love talking about food at SPPR! From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

For breakfast I’d have to get chocolate chip pancakes and home fries with extra ketchup from Studio One Cafe in Eugene, OR. I’d then take it south for a pitaya bowl with extra granola from Swami’s in San Diego. For dinner I’d go back to my hometown of Torrance, CA for Gaetano’s Tagliatelle and Chianti Short Ribs (with a glass of wine of course). And because no good day is complete without dessert, Salt & Straw on NW 23rd in Portland would end my ideal food day (they have locations in LA now but there’s just nothing like the original).

 

4. If you had unlimited funds and two weeks off, where would you go?

The list is endless but first on my list would have to be Ireland. I fell in love with the country after studying abroad in Galway and have been wanting to go back since the second I got on my plane back to the States. I would spend the two weeks road tripping to each end of the island and visit all of the unique cities and towns that I may have missed my first time there. I would also have to drink my weight in Bulmer’s cider because as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, it just doesn’t taste the same here in America.

 

5. You were the captain of your dance team in college, do you have any signature moves on the dance floor?

Technique wise, turns are definitely my strong suit but if I were to ever find myself in a dance battle I would have to bring out the worm. It’s one of my better talents and I am proud to admit that I can do it going backwards AND forwards.

(For more from Kali, you can find her on Instagram @kalimungovan)