Posts

As the New Year Rolls In, So Do the Prognosticators

It probably happens every year, but I cannot recall a time when so many pundits had so many opinions on how the market will perform in 2023. The funniest headline about the market’s near-term future was JP Morgan’s, “The End of the Affair.” It probably was written to catch attention, and in my opinion would have been more appropriate a year ago, referring to the bull market prior to last year’s downturn.

How do you think the market will perform in 2023?

Many of the headlines about the new year are positive and include such language as:

  • “Three Scenarios that Could Surprise Markets (on the upside) in 2023”
  • “Is a Stock Rebound in the Cards?”
  • “Inflation will Crash Much Faster than Expected”
  • “Comeback for Fixed Income”
  • “Economy will Avert Deep Recession”
  • “Fed Pivot Could Push Stocks Up by End of Year”
  • “Second Half of Year will be Up, Up and Away”
  • “S&P will Soar at Least 20%, Nasdaq at Least 30%”
  • “Fed will Pause Rate Hikes Sooner than Everyone Thinks”
  • “The Stock Market will have an Excellent Year”

But there also are naysayers:

  • “Wall Street, Meet Mud”
  • “A Strange Day is Coming to America”
  • “More rate hikes are coming”
  • “Stocks will continue their lows in 2023”
  • “Continued Volatility Ahead”
  • “Markets May Continue to Face Choppiness”
  • “Challenges Abound for Dow”
  • “A Stock Market Crash in 2023”
  • “Millionaires Predict the Market Will Get Much Worse”

With so many divergent views, what’s an investor or issuer to think, or more importantly, to do? Who should be believed?

I just counted the number of bullet points above, and there was one more positive than negative. A good sign, although I am not an analyst and my research was cursory at best. However, the sources are good and professional.

If you really want a forecast for 2023, you could always flip a coin.

Friederike Fabritius and Hans Hagemann wrote in in their book, The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, and Happier, that if you’re satisfied or relieved by a decision the coin made for you, then go with it. On the other hand, if the coin toss leaves you uneasy, then go with the other choice instead. “Your ‘gut feeling’ alerted you to the right choice,” they wrote.

So please, flip a coin if you will, but at least think positive thoughts. Good luck, and have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com

PondelWilkinson Profiles: Laurie Berman 

PondelWilkinson’s investor relations teams play an important role helping publicly traded companies position themselves to Wall Street. We caught up with Laurie Berman, the firm’s managing director, who shared more about her IR work, personal life and some of the factors that have influenced her career.  

What was your first job?  

My very first job was at a snack bar in a roller-skating rink. Professionally, my first job out of college was working at Institutional Investor magazine in their sponsored conference division.

Laurie Berman, PondelWilkinson’s managing director, pictured with her loving dog, Mishka, as they enjoy the Los Angeles sun.

How long have you been in the industry?  

I’ve been practicing investor relations for almost 30 years (I guess I started when I was still in diapers).

If you had to pick one word to describe what you do, what would it be?  

Fast-paced (that’s one word, right?).

What is your favorite part about your job?  

I love storytelling. It’s so important to be able to find the right words to describe a company and its strategy.

What is your least favorite part about your job?  

Deadlines. Although I work great under pressure, it’s sometimes tough to juggle multiple deadlines at the same time. I’m proud to say I’ve never missed an important one.

What do you like to do for fun?  

I love sports (the spectator kind).  Right now I’m very into football and I am a rabid fan for my NY Giants.  Baseball is also a love of mine, but I switched my allegiance from the NY Mets to the Los Angeles Dodgers when I moved to Los Angeles more than 20 years ago.  I still do root pretty hard the New York teams of my childhood.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?  

I allowed a very persistent relative to convince me to go on a date with someone I briefly dated five years before (it didn’t work out at the time). We’ve now been married for almost 26 years, and that relative was a flower girl at my wedding (she was in her 50s at the time).

What’s something that recently made you smile?  

A few months ago, we rescued an 8-year-old dog with vision problems. She makes me smile all of the time because she’s such a goofball.

What’s next on your bucket list?  

Aside from winning the lottery? I’d love to take an extended vacation through Europe.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?  

Not so much advice, but something I try to take to heart. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

— Shannon Clemons, sclemons@pondel.com

Hitting The Ground Running: An Intern’s Perspective

When I first interviewed for PondelWilkinson’s internship program earlier this summer, I was told that it would be a hands-on and immersive experience. I nodded politely and expressed my interest. I laid out what I had done at school, which I thought made me capable. While I was not completely wrong in my “qualifications,” I learned fast that the real world cannot be taught.

On one of my first days, I was tasked with writing a pitch letter for a client’s new product launch. Easy enough, I did this in class, I thought to myself. So, I found my old professor’s template and went ahead to write an email pitch. I polished it up and sent it along to my supervisor expecting minor feedback. I was not expecting the entire letter to be edited and rewritten. Oh, this is not like school.

As the internship went on, I was tasked with more pitch letters, calls to reporters, and updates for clients. I was not getting the perfect latte ready or organizing file cabinets (although the internship was virtual so that would have been hard to do). I was acting as an associate on client accounts, working behind the scenes.

One element that took some time adjusting was the virtual format. While there are many positives for working remotely, including the flexibility of making my own schedule, there are downsides as well, particularly learning each other’s “schedule” when there is no real office. I am happy to report that the teamwork aspect was not lost. I also got to work alongside my fellow intern where we helped each other on projects and still felt connected, even if she lives in Pennsylvania and I in Maine.

Below are a few tips for new interns on what I found to be successful when transitioning from class to an internship:

Organization. In school I always had a planner where I would write down what I had to do, and then cross it off as it got done. This worked well for my internship, too. I would write down client activities planned for the week and then begin by checking them off once completed. This made me feel productive and helped keep what I was doing organized. What differs from school is there might be urgent items that come in at random times. While school and class have a schedule, the business world does not. What I think I might do during the day could completely change. You must stay on your toes but keep organized while doing so.

Communication. I admit it. I am the student who annoys the professor with emails to make sure I am doing the right thing. I have learned that communication looks a little different in the workplace. A lot of the time management responsibility is left up to me. I must take ownership and trust myself and my work. The good news is there are no grades, and things can always be changed and edited. Communication is still important, but its purpose is to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Work hard, play hard. This is the mantra at my university. Students are expected to produce high quality work, but also relish their college experience. I think this phrase can still be applied to an internship but tweaked just a little. Working hard does not change. I always want to put my best foot forward and exceed expectations. To play hard in an internship, however, means taking a step back and enjoying the experience. I have been able to work with some cool clients who are doing eye-opening things, and also become friends with Lauren O’Neill who was not just “the other intern.”

While an internship is certainly not like school, there are qualities that can be applied to both. I have learned so much more about public relations, even if I have had great classes about it. George was not lying when he said this internship would be immersive, and I am so glad it has been.

Rachel Peterson


Rachel Peterson interned remotely at PondelWilkinson for the firm’s 2022 summer program. She is a student at Wake Forest University studying communication, integrated strategies, and film. When she’s not working or studying, Rachel enjoys going to the beach, watching the sunset, and dancing. After graduation, she hopes to put her skills to use in Vancouver or New York.

Investor Relations in a Bear Market

Every great story deserves an engaged audience.

It’s a philosophy we deeply believe in at PondelWilkinson – So much so it’s splashed across our website banner and written on the back of our business cards.

And it rings true regardless of market conditions, even in bear markets, when the value of equities or other investments dip 20 percent or more from recent highs.

That happened around mid-June on the S&P 500, and while there’s little companies specifically can do to calm market forces, taking a proactive, non-promotional stance is the best course, according to PondelWilkinson CEO Roger Pondel.

“Retreating or staying purposely quiet is not a strategy that works,” he asserts. “Astute investors have their antennae up now, looking for good companies.”

In a bear market, investors go into safer stocks, explains PondelWilkinson Vice President Judy Lin Sfetcu, who adds some historical context to highlight her point.

During the dark months of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, when the S&P sank nearly 52%, investors flocked to companies with solid financials and established track records, abandoning companies teetering on insolvency.

“If a company has a good balance sheet, they should be messaging that to investors and Wall Street,” Sfetcu says.

Managing Director Laurie Berman views this bear market more as a reflection of investor sentiment, than company specifics, and a recent tally by FactSet provides some data points to back that up.

Through July 22, 2022, 68 percent of S&P companies in Q2 reported a positive EPS surprise, while 65 percent of S&P companies reported a positive revenue surprise.

Granted it was a small sample size (21 percent of total company results), but undoubtedly good quarterly metrics by several publicly traded companies.

Yet, as of press time, the S&P was down just over 13 percent for the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, down 21 percent this year, closed with the worst six month start on record, losing nearly 30 percent of its value through June, according to Yahoo Finance.

“If a company is being negatively impacted by macro issues, that company should be honest about what that means for its future, and importantly, what steps are being taken to try to insulate it, or use the macro issues to their advantage,” Berman suggests. “Highlighting certain areas that may give investors more confidence can be helpful.”

Analysts and other finance experts contend bear markets typically last between nine months and a year, so settle in for some continued volatility, especially as inflation, pandemic-led labor shortages, related supply chain constraints, and rising interest rates present ongoing challenges.

In the interim, here are a few more dos and don’ts to ponder:

  • Think responsiveness and transparency.
  • Message the company’s strengths: cash flow and balance sheet; client/customer relationships; resilience and history in prior down markets.
  • Message if and how current economic conditions are creating change for the company, positive or negative, including decision-making.
  • Be certain that investors hear regularly from c-suite executives, sometimes more than the CEO and CFO, on conference calls, non-deal roadshows (NDRs) and conference presentations.
  • Court and know key investors and their concerns, not just about your company, but about their portfolios.
  • Give investors reasons to hold your shares, or buy more.
  • Don’t feel defensive about a falling stock price, particularly if the company is still performing well. Investors know the reason.

“Resist the temptation to over-promise about the future,” says Pondel. “Be proactive about reaching out to new investors and participating in NDRs and conferences. They are not a waste of time, even in a bear market.”

Consider this blog entry a primer to a larger discussion on investor sentiment, a key topic we’re aiming to further develop into a whitepaper this fall, with insightful take-aways to help public companies improve communication and messaging during volatile times.

Chris Casacchia, ccasacchia@pondel.com

How PR Can Support Micro Cap and Small Cap Companies

How-PR-Can-Support-MicroCap-and-SmallCap-Companies-Roger-Pondel-and-Shelly-Kraft-article-MCR-Q2-2022

Market Volatility Got You Stressed? Try Laughing … And That’s No Joke

Remember Henny Youngman? He was an American comedian, famous for his mastery of the one-liner, whose best-known quip was “Take my wife … please.”

Here’s another one-liner, not Youngman’s, but not bad, at a time when so many investors these days recalibrate their portfolios: My trusted wealth manager just started working on a retirement plan. He doesn’t know it yet, but unfortunately, it is his!

While having a good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments or make the stock market go up, a good laugh during stressful times can do positive things.

Take my wife, Fay, please. No! I mean listen to my wife, Fay, a psychotherapist who knows a thing or two about laughter and the positive things it can do.

“Laughing has great short-term effects on one’s mood, as well as on one’s body,” Fay told me over dinner the other night, on the day that the Dow dove more than 1,100 points. “Laughter stimulates the heart and lungs and increases endorphins. It decreases blood pressure, creates relaxed feelings and even improves the immune system.”

Thank you, Fay. While the stock market these days is no joke, there are many jokes to be found about it. These below may not be quite as funny as Youngman’s one-liners, and certainly rank very high on the cheesy factor, but hopefully will ease a little tension among those that follow the market as we all plow through these tenuous times:

  • How do you find a small-cap fund manager? You find a large-cap fund manager … and wait.
  • Enduring the current stock market decline is worse than a divorce. You lose half your money, but your spouse is still around.
  • Why are nudists bad for stocks? They are associated with bare markets.
  • I figured out the secret of how to make a million bucks in the stock market. Invest $2 million.
  • Recently, I started to invest heavily in penny stocks. It seemed to make a lot of cents.
  • My friend is smart, honorable, and exudes old-school charm and chivalry, but he hates the stock market. When I asked him why, he said, “Gentlemen prefer bonds.”
  • Why was a stock trader recently electrocuted? He shorted Tesla.
  • In the stock market today, Procter & Gamble, maker of Charmin tissue, touched a new bottom, and millions of investors were wiped clean

Gallup’s 2022 Economy and Personal Finance Survey, conducted in April, found that 58 percent of all Americans own stock. With the market declines we have been experiencing lately, that’s no laughing matter. But it does pay to laugh, at least a little.

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com

Ignorance is No Excuse: The Importance of Reg FD Training

You may remember that Martha Stewart spent time in prison.

She served five months behind bars and another five months of house confinement at her 153-acre estate in New York, wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, for selling 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems before news of the FDA’s rejection of one of ImClone’s cancer drugs was made public.

ImClone’s former CEO, Samuel Waskal, a friend of Stewart’s who presumably gave her the stock tip, served a seven-year prison term after pleading guilty to orchestrating stock trades, as well as to other corporate misdeeds.

How much insider trading is going on in U.S. stock markets based on material, non-public information? At least four times more than regulators actually catch and prosecute, according to research from the University of Technology Sydney. 

Could Reg FD training have helped either of them avoid prison sentences? 

We’d certainly like to think so. For Waskal, of course, he definitely knew better as CEO of a publicly traded company. Stewart may have never heard of Reg FD, but she should have known better as well, based on plain old common sense.

Whether you’re working at a public company for the first time, or you’re a seasoned pro, being aware of Reg FD (Regulation Fair Disclosure) and how to avoid missteps is vitally important. Many companies provide periodic formal Reg FD refresher training even for public company veterans. Not only does such training help prevent employees from disclosure pitfalls, but it also serves as a record that your company takes disclosure seriously.

Starting with the basics, Reg FD became effective more than two decades ago to help the SEC prevent selective disclosure of material, non-public information, remedying the perception of unfairness in communications throughout the investment community. One of the key principles of Reg FD is that information must be broadly distributed, not selectively disseminated. A good rule of thumb is to provide full disclosure to all … all the time.

What constitutes materiality? If there is a substantial likelihood that an investor would consider the subject important in the total mix of information when making an investment decision, and if it is reasonable to expect that the information could have an effect – up or down – on a stock’s price, it’s probably material.

Things to consider include receipt of a big contract, M&A, a stock buy-back program, a director or officer resignation, among many others. Materiality can be somewhat subjective though, so it’s important to communicate with your attorneys if there is any doubt.

There are two simple rules to follow to ensure you’re not running afoul of the SEC (and that you don’t wind up like Martha Stewart):

  • Never buy stock in your company, or encourage others to do so, when you are in possession of material, non-public information.
  • If you ever have questions about whether, and when, you, as an insider, can buy or sell your company’s stock, contact your CEO, CFO or legal counsel.

Keep in mind that while there are remedies for inadvertently disclosing material, non-public information, you should strive never to have to use those remedies. But, just in case, here are the steps to take should someone slip:

  • Let an authorized company spokesperson know as soon as possible, so that that person can work to promptly determine the nature and materiality of the selective disclosure. (Authorized spokespersons are required to determine the cause of the selective disclosure and take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of recurrence.)
  • Within 24 hours of the inadvertent disclosure, or at the next opening of market session, a company may issue a press release or file Form 8-K with the SEC containing the material information that was deemed to be selective disclosure.

If it happened to Martha Stewart, is can happen to anyone. “It was horrifying, and no one — no one — should have to go through that kind of indignity, really, except for murderers, and there are a few other categories,” Stewart told Katie Couric during a 2017 interview on the Today Show.

Aside from providing Reg FD training to pre-IPO and newly public companies, along with refresher sessions, PondelWilkinson has been approved by the California Bar Association to provide one-hour Reg FD training sessions to attorneys for CLE credits. While we have to know the ins and outs to be effective trainers, we’d love to hear about your Reg FD experiences.

Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com

­10 Tips to Best Prepare for New SEC Universal Proxy Rule Change to Shareholder Voting

For boards and senior management teams of publicly traded companies, a major law change by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will soon go into effect for what some pundits believe could be a period of renewed activism ahead.

The new rule states that for annual shareholder meetings held after August 31, 2022, parties in a contested election must use universal proxy cards that include all director nominees presented for election.

Without going into all of the details, the rule gives shareholders the ability to vote by proxy for their preferred combination of board candidates, similar to voting in person. It addresses longstanding concerns that shareholders voting by proxy were not able to vote for a mix of dissident and registrant nominees in an election contest, as they could if they voted in person.  And very few shareholders, even before COVID, attend annual meetings in person.

The SEC’s new rule on shareholder voting will go into effect on August 31, 2022. Photo credit: Roger Pondel

As Gary Gensler, chairman of the SEC, said in a press release late last year, “Today’s amendments will put (all) candidates on the same ballot. They will put investors voting in person and by proxy on equal footing. This is an important aspect of shareholder democracy.”

No one knows for sure what will happen, and maybe nothing, but major law firms around the nation, proxy advisors, the National Institute of Investor Relations, and others have been talking it up big time in articles, webinars and conference panels.

On one hand, many smart minds – including our friend and long-time proxy campaign strategist Keith Gottfried, who recently addressed a PondelWilkinson staff meeting – believe that because it will be easier and less costly to run election contests, this hotly debated issue will “change the playing field dramatically” and foster greater shareholder activism. Gottfried, who just launched Washington, D.C.-based Gottfried Shareholder Advisory LLC, a boutique strategic advisory firm focused on shareholder activism preparedness and defense, said companies in the $300 million to $1 billion+ market cap range could be particularly vulnerable.

On the other hand, there is the thought that the new rule will stimulate a seismic shift in how activism is carried out. Rather than causing tumult at the annual meeting, there could even be increased engagement between issuers and activists that may foster cooperation and settlements.  

Our overview advice is for corporate boards, CEOs and CFOs to be armed with information and get ahead of the matter now to eliminate a potential sting and be prepared so there will not be an issue later. Consider the following:

  • Take a fresh look at your shareholder activist preparedness and defenses in order to react quickly, sans panic, for potential increased shareholder activism. With the help of a professional, revisit advance notice bylaws, corporate disclosure policies regarding director elections and determine whether changes are needed
  • Keep an eye on your peers. If there’s increased activism there, it may be coming your way as well.
  • Don’t get complacent in thinking that because your larger shareholders may have been quiet, they are not paying attention to your company. Periodically reach out pro-actively to them for updates.
  • Deploy best communications practices day-to-day, including transparency on quarterly conference calls and in press releases.
  • Think about conducting a Reg FD refresher training session for your senior staff and board. Having such a session “on the record” is a healthy omen that the company is sensitive to this important governance matter. 
  • Consider providing shareholders with an in-depth look at your company by hosting an investor day that showcases the operating tier of management, not just the senior-most corporate staff.
  • Know what your shareholders are thinking, even to the extent of conducting a third-party perceptions survey. The shareholders will appreciate that you are having an objective party ask candid questions. As the issuer, you may learn a thing or two and ward off a problem you may not even know existed.
  • Pay close attention to ESG matters, which are top-of-mind these days throughout the investment community in both large and small companies.
  • Be mindful of board composition, including diversity, experience and tenure.
  • Be alert, listen and do not be afraid of “well-wishing” shareholders who like to give advice on corporate growth, valuation and other board and management matters. Embrace them and pay attention to what they are saying. Often their biggest demand is for a company’s sale, not necessarily to “fix” anything or for a board seat.

It’s not only in politics, where voting rights issues are surfacing. The SEC’s new universal proxy rule is something to at least start thinking about seriously. If nothing else, it should prompt action for companies to take an inner look and be certain that best governance and communications practices are fully in place.

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com

Cutting Through the Clutter in 2022: 5 Tips for Better Listening

Another year into the pandemic demonstrated yet again that more people are online.

According to Statista, 3.6 billion people worldwide were using social media last year, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. In the U.S., 82 percent of the populace have a social profile, up from 2 percent last year.

It’s also very crowded on social. About 500 million tweets are posted each day on Twitter. That’s about 200 billion tweets a year. And every day, 400+ hours of content are added to YouTube, which already has well over a billion videos.

The numbers are staggering. A recent blog post from SocialPilot titled “367 Social Media Statistics You Must Know in 2022” puts important social media usage trends into perspective.

Are brands and companies really listening to what people think and want?

All this may seem overwhelming for any brand or organization looking to develop an online social presence. A common mistake we find is that these companies usually do not do the necessary preliminary research: listening.

There’s a difference between social monitoring and social listening, although they work hand-in-hand. Data is pulled and analyzed to better understand a target audience so that effective messaging is used to help a company or brand stand out from what has become what seems like an infinite-amount of social posting.

But how does an organization get started? It’s not that complicated, really. There are lots of options. Here are a few suggestions:

Surveys. Any organization can use polling to glean key trends relevant to a company or brand. Surveys vary in cost depending on size, scope and the audience of respondents, whether they are consumers or CEOs. Asking insightful questions will produce even better results.

Media audits. Knowing a specific reporter won’t necessarily get a story published, but having good relationships with journalists may be used to get unbiased insight into a company, brand or trend. Obviously, this takes time but something to consider when developing press contacts. 

Investor perceptions audits. If a company is publicly traded, perception studies are a great way to learn what Wall Street really thinks about an equity. Interviews with shareholders and financial analysts, along with a review of press coverage and social media can yield valuable insights that create stronger narratives that can help address concerns and enhance valuations.

Google. There are other search engines, but all roads still lead to Google. Heck, it’s the Internet. There is an infinite amount of data that can be searched, categorized and indexed on practically any topic or subject matter. That said, it’s the Web, so proceed with caution.

Social media. To follow or be followed, that is the question. Perhaps in the context of this blog it may be the former. Social platforms are where brands engage with key audiences. A lot can be learned by just “sitting back” and listening to learn more about what people are saying about current issues. There are lots of social media tracking and monitoring software programs on the market. Be advised, however, that while many people are on social media, take into consideration silent majorities that may alter broad consensus.

There are many other tactics for obtaining important feedback. The key is to be creative, and most undertakings can be done under the proverbial radar with minimal cost. Adopting listening campaigns before the launch of any major marketing or communications campaign is a great first step to align proper messaging with goals and objectives.

And it’s not just for larger campaigns and initiatives, but for day-to-day communications as well.. Know thy customer, otherwise communicating may be an exercise in futility, especially in the super noisy world of social media. Better connect with consumers, investors, businesses, customers and partners by knowing what they want and what’s important to them, so that more on-point messaging can be crafted and implemented.

Studies suggest how effective talking points can increase positive responses. Better messaging means better results. A little listing can go a long away in 2022 and certainly beyond.

George Medici, gmedici@pondel.com

Interning from My Bedroom: Lessons Learned While Working Virtually

By Maisey McGinnis

Pre-pandemic, I always pictured what my first internship experience might look like: commuting to a fancy office building in downtown Los Angeles or Century City, sitting around a big conference room table at company staff meetings, and maybe even attending a lunch or two with local reporters, investors or clients. My vision never included working from the comfort of my apartment, sometimes even from my bed.

Instead of commuting during the morning rush hour, I get to sleep in a little longer. The big conference room idea now is me at my desk joining meetings via Zoom. And although I do sit in on meetings with reporters, investors and clients, it is always behind a phone or computer screen.

My experience working remotely will likely continue, at least for the time being. Interning from my bedroom during the last seven months has not come without its challenges, so I thought I would share a few lessons learned:

PondelWilkinson’s Maisey McGinnis at home with her dog Crosby.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you need to clarify three or four times.

For me, the most nerve-wracking part about working remotely was being on my own without anyone at my side to guide or direct me. In my previous in-person jobs, I always had a boss or co-worker in the same room or close by that I could easily ask questions if I was confused or unsure of something. Working virtually eliminates that, so having clear communication becomes even more important. Asking questions – and lots of them – has been crucial in my understanding of what I need to do and how I need to do it. Virtual communication, whether that be phone calls, emails or texts, can often cloud meaning and intent, so making sure you fully understand what you are doing before you start is the key to avoiding unnecessary work.    

2. Check your email often. More often than you think you will need to.

Working virtually takes away from the natural connection people have with each other in person. A co-worker can no longer come to your office or desk and ask if you got their email. Even as an intern, I receive and send what seems like hundreds of emails a day (a few dozen is more likely). With all the work activity, it is easy to glance over and forget to reply to an important email, check the spam folder or hit send on a draft. When email (aside from the occasional Zoom meeting or phone call) is the primary method of communication with co-workers and clients, I don’t think we can check it enough. Refreshing the inbox every 10 minutes or so seems to work well for me.

3. Try to take a lunch break away from the computer.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have invested in several pairs of blue light glasses. Whether they actually make a difference is still unclear (no pun intended), but the amount of daily screen time from remote classes, remote work and general phone usage was concerning enough for me to take action. One of the most important lessons I have learned throughout this experience is the importance of taking lunch – or a break – away from the computer and the blue light. This may include eating lunch on my balcony or taking my dog Crosby on a walk. Breaking away from the computer has been a huge part of maintaining my well-being while working and attending school remotely.

4. Don’t put off your work just because you can.

Since I am not in the office, I can work on various projects at my leisure unless they have specific deadlines. I can start at 8 a.m. on Monday and noon on Tuesday depending on what I need to accomplish for the day. This flexibility is great when running an errand or attending to an appointment. The flexibility, however, also can have a negative impact, especially when I put off updating a calendar or media list and realize it’s 7 p.m. Not having the office space to distinguish between work and home blurs the lines for knowing when to be working. Just because we can do our work at unconventional hours doesn’t always mean we should. Maintaining a work-life balance has been one of the harder lessons learned.

Despite my initial expectations, I have learned more than I could have ever anticipated and believe my experience at PondelWilkinson is allowing me to grow professionally in my public relations and investor relations career. Interning from my bedroom may not seem like the most glamorous experience, but I guarantee I have learned just as much, if not more than I would have in one of the fancy office buildings I originally pictured. 

Maisey McGinnis is currently interning remotely at PondelWilkinson. She is a student at the University of Southern California studying communications, public relations and advertising. When she’s not working or studying, Maisey enjoys hiking, traveling, reading a good book, and taking her Maltese, Crosby, on walks at the park. After graduation, she hopes to put her new found skills to use in Los Angeles or New York.