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Some time ago I wrote a blog post on finding a job in public relations that was by far MarketingMel’s most re-tweeted blog post. Last week I had the opportunity to take part in a panel discussion called “Communications Expectations: Real World Perspectives from Professional Communicators” sponsored by ETSU PRSSA. The students compiled the following list of the questions for self and four other P.R. pro’s (Amanda Allman and Samara Litvack of Eastman, Ginny Crispin from the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and Jim Wozniak of Wellmont Health System.) I hope if you are a student interested in the field of public relations that you will find these answers useful. If you’re a practicing PR pro please jump in and add your own experiences!

MarketingMel with other panelists and PRSSA students.

MarketingMel with other panelists and ETSU PRSSA students.

 

  1.  How did you all get your start in this field? For me it was an internship at a TV news station (WKBW Channel 7) in Buffalo, NY. I highly recommend internships to any college student studying P.R.
  2. With a large pool of talented students to choose from, what makes a student stand out to employers? Showcase your personality and your skill set of writing and communicating. Show them that you have a willingness to learn new things and to adapt. Public Relations is all about adapting and thinking on your feet.
  3. What is the most valuable skill a student can possess? To me it’s a positive attitude. Being both an excellent communicator with both the written word and the spoken word would be a close second. 
  4. What is the best way to get the most out of an internship? A few ideas that I discussed with my young associate Sarah Kinsler are: Get involved, Be willing to learn, Listen and Soak up as much as you can. Showing a willingness to learn foreign languages and visit other countries is important too. It shows you have a spirit of adventure and that goes hand in hand with our profession. 
  5. What information on a resume is most important? One of my co-panelists answered this and mentioned that even experience that you think might not be important like waiting tables really means a lot to a future employer. It shows you know how to deal with the public and widely changing moods. The subject of crisis communications came up here and the fact that waiting tables teaches you to remain cool under pressure.
  6. What is the best advice for branding yourself in this competitive world? Personal branding is imperative because it is all about how others perceive you both online and in the real world. Remember your brand travels with you long after you’ve left a job. For more information watch the free personal branding webinar I created with Maria Peagler at www.personalbrandinghowto.com.
  7. What advice do you have for students who wish to find jobs in communication in larger areas, where they may not have established connections? My co-panelists who’ve lived and worked in larger markets mentioned the importance of networking.
  8. What can you tell us about successfully handling interviews? Be yourself. Be authentic but think about the person interviewing you. Recently I heard of a young man taking his girlfriend along with him to a job interview and allowing her to do all the talking for him. Really? Also, depending on the position you may want to leave out the eyebrow and nose rings and gages and cover the tattoos. I’m still hearing from baby boomer employers who have a hard time seeing past the gadgets and boomers are often the executives/owners. 
  9. When an employer says, ‘tell me about yourself’, what are they looking for? This is your chance to shine. Show self-confidence. Show not only that you know about the company but show how you will bring value to the employer. Remember, ultimately it is always WIIFM (what’s in it for me, the employer in this case.) 
  10. What advice can you offer to students who are anxious about finding jobs after graduation? Stick with it! My first job was a part time position. Even part time experience in your chosen profession is far better than none at all. 
  11. What is the best part about your job? I’ve reached a stage in my career where I can use my skill set to give back to others. Right now I am enjoying spreading the word to help homeless people get socks in our region. I was influenced by Kid President’s YouTube video pronouncing #Socktober as a time for local communities to gather socks and so far we’ve already gathered over 100 pairs of socks (goal of 500 pairs) and our campaign goes until Thanksgiving! 

What experiences do you have to add?

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Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Steve Hawkins, a veteran news man and host of The Steve Hawkins Show on WFHG radio, recently posed these two questions to me: How are people now using social media to get their news? How has social media become a news source?  Steve said he was prompted to ask me these questions after the recent (local) Greene County school stabbing. Do you know where I heard about that incident? Twitter. I was checking my local tweets list on my phone and saw WJHL’s post about it. I told my husband about the incident as we were walking out the door to a First Priority fund raising dinner. That evening the Christian youth group used the tragic incident to discuss the need for the work that they do with youths in our schools.

I posed Steve’s questions on today’s “airwaves” and was overwhelmed by the quick response on both twitter and Facebook. Here are a few of the stories people shared with me.

Last summer (2013) Johnson City videographer Kyle Long of Digital-fridge, was shooting a tourism video for the town of Damascus, VA. Suddenly, an elderly man suffered a medical issue and plowed into a crowd with his car. No one was killed but there were several serious injuries. Kyle took and posted the photo of the car crash to twitter and Facebook. Within ten minutes of his tweet, ABC/New York called to ask permission to use the photo. He told them “sure” and his photo was blasted out to ABC news watchers around the globe. This actually poses an interesting ethical question that Kyle and I discussed. Who becomes the gatekeeper?  What if Kyle had taken a photo of “just any car” and said it was the one to plow into the crowd? In today’s rush of citizen journalists does the “first to post” win?

Apparently lots of news hounds like me monitor twitter. My intern Emma Brock said that when Soledad O’Brien visited ETSU she said she usually saw her news on twitter first- and then she would check her sources for the facts.Ted Bradford of Shop Local says that The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore retweeted his photo of downtown Johnson City flooding within 15-20 minutes of posting.

Of course there can be a downside if you don’t check the facts. My associate Sarah Kinsler says, “The way social media is used for news often reminds me of the game “telephone” … “what happened” changes as it’s being passed around person by person.” And former MSHA Vice President Ed Herbert adds, “Locally, there was the situation where MSHA was closing Indian Path Pavilion, the psych hospital, but one TV station tweeted “MSHA closing Indian Path Medical Center” and suddenly 700 team members at the hospital were fearful for their jobs, the tweet was then used as a source on other media outlets and MSHA communications and marketing spent the rest of the day correcting the erroneous tweet.”

Local WJHL-TV newsman Chris McIntosh says, “Some of the best stories I’ve covered have come from Facebook sources. I have fans and friends on Facebook that keep me up to date on what is going on in their neighborhoods and communities.”

Finally, my former intern Kristen Pierce, who is now with St. Jude’s says, “I usually get breaking news first on Twitter. I follow the Associated Press so I’m always staying up to date!”

Clearly, social media has found its place as a key influencer in our news consumption and creation.

Do you have a social media making/breaking news story to share? I would love to hear from you and publish some of those here. 

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

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The MarketingMel team at ColorMeRad

The MarketingMel team at ColorMeRad

What could be more fun for team-building with MarkeitngMel’s group of rising young public relations pro’s than “running” one of the most cleverly marketed 5K events in the world? I’m talking about ColorMeRad 5K, billed as “the best way to brighten your life.” A run/walk event that’s geared toward women, ColorMeRad offers all the fun of a run without a clock. I knew this wasn’t a usual 5K was when I stepped out of my car only to see a rotund group of co-workers wearing matching shirts and smoking cigarettes. I knew we were not in Kansas anymore but little did I know we were definitely heading for a rainbow! Who needs a watch when you can go for a stroll through five paint stations and then soak in (literally!) the Color Throw! My “team” included intern Emma Brock and Associate Sarah Kinsler along with their boyfriends, Derrek Pugh and Taylor Alexander. It was just me and all of my 20-something friends heading out to get colored corn starch splattered all over us (along with 5,000 other people!)

Here are some tips we learned from the race:

  1. Plan to have FUN: It’s a very different atmosphere from competitive races.
  2. Arrive early to get in the party mood:  We arrived over an hour before our start time and we were glad we did! We danced, did plenty of warm up exercises led by a local exercise studio and, thanks to the great party host who hosted contests and gave away free t-shirts, we generally got in the mood to have fun!
  3. Wear the sunglasses they give you! It was worth digging my contacts out of the closet to be able to wear the Rad glasses. Then I didn’t ruin any of my good glasses.
  4. If you put on the tattoo it’s on for awhile: Yup! I was RAD yesterday and still today. But hey, my tat was a great conversation starter with the bagger at the grocery store.
  5. If you bring a phone, cover it up in a plastic bag. Frankly, I didn’t take mine on the run because the girls brought and hid theirs. You will want to take photos!
  6. Realize you are not going to have a personal record time: Heck, you’re dodging small children and large adults who started walking in the wave ahead of you. But you can run, sort of.  (I did).
  7. Wear a bandana (I’m still sneezing!) Not mentioned in any of the web site, Facebook or other literature is that your nose *will* clog up from inhaling colored corn starch and you *will* get a headache.  Saline nasal solution is your friend. Some participants said their ears were also full of color (and so were their Q-tips.)
  8. When you’re a team it’s best to travel together. This race attracted 5,000 runners/walkers. Although we initially planned to ride together we ended up driving in two cars. The car that got the later start got stuck in traffic and we didn’t catch up with our teamates till after the race. My recommendation: Pile into one car and start early!
  9. Be sure to wear white to maximize your color. Then bring a change of clothes and a trash bag or at least a towel to sit on after. We were all covered in color and you don’t want to get that on your car seat.
  10. Take a shower as soon as you can. I showered right away and everything came right off (except the Rad tat, but hey, I’m still Rad!)

May all your dreams be colorful and your runs be happy!

Did I mention….have fun with it?!

Have you ever participated in a ColorMeRad or Color Run? If so, what’s been your experience? If you haven’t please tell us why you haven’t or if you’re secretly jealous of our Rad shirts?

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Tri-Cities PRSA, Ad Club, SPJ Team up for #SMAC13

I’m so excited about this upcoming event I wanted to share it with you, my dear blog readers! For the first time ever we’ve gathered three fantastic groups of communicators together to produce what’s going to be one great event!

The Tri-Cities Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, along with Greater Tri-Cities Pro Chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists and The American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee will host Social Media and Communicators, #SMAC13, a discussion on navigating the ever-changing social landscape, Thursday, September 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Venue in the King building in downtown Johnson City, 300 East Main Street, Suite 200.

This inaugural event will feature the region’s leading journalists and corporate communicators as they discuss how social media plays a role in news gathering, public relations, advertising and our everyday lives. The speakers will take part in an informative panel discussion about this sometimes controversial and often misunderstood medium.

Panelists will be Josh Smith of WJHL, Rachel Cain of Eastman Chemical Company, Becky Campbell of the Johnson City Press, Jennifer Clements of East Tennessee State University and Eric Vaughn of Wellmont Health System.  I have the honor of serving as moderator.

“#SMAC 13 will provide an excellent opportunity for communications professionals to share best practices and for the public to learn more about the rapidly growing field of social media,” said Jim Wozniak, president of Tri-Cities PRSA. “We have assembled a tremendous panel and moderator who are on the cutting edge of social media developments, we are grateful to have such wonderful partners in SPJ and AAF who have helped develop a first-rate event.”

Audience members will be encouraged to participate in the conversation and send questions before the panel starts – via Twitter using the hashtag #SMAC13. Even if you can’t join us live please tweet us some questions in advance and we’ll do our best to work them in!

The cost to attend is $15 for PRSA and SPJ members, $25 for business professionals and $10 for students with valid student ID and it includes lunch provided by Cranberries. Attendance fee and lunch is included with Ad Club membership.   RSVP is required for this event as seating will be limited.

For more information about the event or to learn how you can get involved, please visit the #SMAC 13 Facebook event page at Facebook.com/Tri-CitiesPRSA or email .

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MarketingMel team of Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler meet Gene De Libero of Digital Mindshare

The MarketingMel team of Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler meet Gene De Libero of Digital Mindshare

(The following blog post is co-authored by Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler.)

“In marketing the primary objective is remarkable customer experiences.” That’s what Gene DeLibrio of Digital Mindshare said during a recent presentation to the Ad Club of Northeast Tennessee recently. Gene admitted we all sometimes feel “overwhelmed by the digital space.”  He added, “Remember, the user is always in control. We freely give out our information.”

“Sometimes we have trouble keeping up,” said Gene as he pointed to a visual graphic of the adoption cycles of well known brands. The adoption cycle of a telephone was 75 years. Angry Birds? 35 days! That’s how long it took to get to 50 million users; the same amount of time it took the phone to get to that number of users in 75 years! He said that Smart plasma screens that “know” who you are and recognize your attributes are replacing old fashioned poster kiosks at movie theaters. “Music is smart, they get it. They adapt to users preferences,” he said using Pandora as an example.
Here are five takeaways from this marketing technology expert.

1. Change is Happening, Be Proactive 

The way we communicate and gather information is forever changing. Make sure you are adapting to these changes by engaging in the new technologies. You don’t want to get left behind!

2. Don’t Underestimate Data
While most of us only think of analytics when studying data, there are many functions of this sometimes stuffy information. Data can uncover ideas for new opportunities and help transform customer experience. Utilize these findings to your advantage.
3. Marketing is FAST, Sometimes too fast
While technology is great, it can hinder you in certain situations. When dealing with the public, things such as “Auto Tweet” need to be watched carefully. Ex. Boston Marathon/ Tweet Disaster when some companies were using pre-scheduled tweets rather than empathizing with the victims, thus making them look cold and uncaring. Gene said some of the companies tweeting that day are still cleaning up from their P.R. disaster.
4. Don’t be Greedy, Share Your Information
Although contrary to the popular belief, it’s actually a positive to give away your information. Helping others by volunteering your expertise will make you more valuable.

5. Use (and Be) T-shaped Talent

Understand your business end to end.”Be fluent in business strategy and technology as at least one language and be literate in many,” said Gene. He also said we must employ agile marketing in a world of constant change. “Testing and data is the new normal of modern marketing.”

Which tip resonates with you and why?

 

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The following is a guest blog post by  ETSU associate professor in the Department of Communication and MarketingMel board member, Dr. Stephen Marshall. 

Delivering value to clients is the ultimate brand challenge.

Delivering value to clients is the ultimate brand challenge.

As an Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University I am blessed to teach some of the best and brightest in our region. In the professional and academic world, learning is a continuous process. The speed of communication technology demands constant learning and adapting.

Part of my continuous learning formula is to engage with clients and organizations; applying my knowledge and skills to stay sharp while providing value. I do this because I strive to deliver value to my students and professionally grow. My work with professionals moves me from academic armchair quarterbacking directly into the game. Working at Creative Energy as well as with great professionals like MarketingMel keeps me fresh and keeps ideas flowing. Whether it is in the classroom or in the boardroom, I am always focused on delivering value. But what is value?

Merriam-Webster defines value in numerous ways but the particularly applicable Merriam-Webster value definition states value is “relative worth, utility, or importance.” In marketing terms, there are numerous theories supported by hundreds of analyses of value. (I won’t bore you with them.) The most basic theme in marketing is value = benefit/cost.

Benefit examples = information, entertainment, utility, status

Cost examples = time, effort, financial

In terms of interpersonal communication, we deliver value during conversation quite naturally. (In fact, value is the sole reason you engage in any exchange!) For example, when you have a conversation with someone, you want to engage her or him in the discussion. You do so by finding the voice and content that will create the right engaging message. The right choices enable you to deliver communication value in the exchange. To illustrate… would you speak with your mother the same way you speak with your best friend? Further, the more value exchanged, the longer the conversation. Conversations end when the cost of continuing is higher than the benefit.

The key to any successful communication is to deliver value to the receiver. My students know “create value with your communication” as my classroom mantra. Successful businesses create value for their customers through their products or services. The center of any brand (product, service, idea or individual as you have learned from Marketing Mel) is the value promise of the brand. In today’s digital communication space, brands are able to deliver additional value (continuing the value promise) in their communication and measure impact more accurately.

For businesses, defining value in communication can be complex. Strategy is the key to defining, creating and evaluating. Creating value strategy means significantly understanding objectives, audience(s) and creating content that will deliver value. Delivering value should be the core of your communication strategy. How does this happen for a brand?

  1. Know your business goal and objectives
  2. Understand your audience (know your key influencers)
  3. Create digital content that will deliver on the brand promise (extend brand value)
  4. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) enabling evaluation of progress

The key to swimming in “big data” is to define the KPIs in your planning. This allows you to benchmark, set goals, understand audience flow, evaluate, and optimize. From an organizational standpoint, determining the influential KPIs aligned with organizational outcomes is the only way to move from descriptive data to data providing inference.

Extending brand value in communication efforts often means utilizing social media. All too often I hear folks, even professionals say, “let’s make a Facebook page.” While social media is important, it is often used inappropriately. Social media efforts must be aligned with brand value.

This means the social channel and content must match the proper audience. Further, content and channel must be maintained appropriately. Huge mistakes will be made if you think of media without considering all the other previously discussed steps.

In summary, knowing your audience and delivering brand value on a continuous basis is the key to brand loyalty. The digital space allows brands to extend their value into their communication. Brands should use the digital space to extend and measure their brand value.

About the Author:

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Stephen W. Marshall PhD, was educated at the University of Florida. He is a former employee of Nielsen. Dr. Marshall focuses on opportunities bridging academics and industry. His research interests include qualitative and quantitative audience measurement, branding and mass communication in a digital space. He is an Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University, a Research Analyst at Creative Energy and a member of MarketingMel’s board of advisors. Connect with him via Linkedin or by email at marshalls [at} etsu.edu.

 

 

 

 

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The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel associate Sarah Kinsler.

Twitter Hashtags and TV

Twitter Hashtags and TV

Last year CBS reported more than 108.4 million people tuned in for the Super Bowl. Of those viewers, many were chatting it up on Twitter.  Over 24 million game day related tweets were posted during the event. Between Beyonce’s performance with a surprise visit by the other members of Destiny’s Child and the 35-minute blackout, users had LOTS to talk, or should I say Tweet about.

The Super Bowl is a prime example of how social media is changing how we watch television. We are no longer just watching, we are communicating. Social sites such as Twitter makes it possible to share your insights, opinions and questions with others across the world. We aren’t just sharing our thoughts with those in our living room anymore.

The development of hashtags (a way for users to organize and search tweets by marking them with a #) has made it possible for users to collaborate their views and engage in conversation with others about popular shows.  Every week millions of people tune in to their favorite shows and login on to Twitter. Shows like The Bachelor, Lost and numerous sporting events gain so much social media attention, their hashtags often are the top ones on Twitter. (This is known as trending)

The presence of social media is forever changing our communication habits. While the technology is fascinating, I can only help but what wonder about the future of interpersonal communication. What do you think? Are you a “Tweet-a-holic” or like to keep your conversations face to face?

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

 

Sarah Kinsler is a member of the MarketingMel team. She creates marketing, public relations and social media strategies for Mel’s diverse group of business clients. 

 

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Digital Strategist Crawford Miller shared great tips and free resources with Ad Club.

Digital Strategist Crawford Miller shared great tips and free resources with Ad Club.

Crawford Miller, Digital Strategist for Centro in Birmingham, recently spoke to our Northeast Tennessee Ad Club luncheon. Crawford has worked with high-profile clients such as FedEx, Regions Bank, State Farm, and Indiana Tourism. Not only did I enjoy his presentation and learn a lot from Crawford, but I corresponded with him afterward to glean “the best of” from his talk in order to share those resources with you.

  1. Here are some of his favorite sites for advertising content and marketing. One of the most interesting concepts is that of  “native advertising,” a term used to describe content that behaves more like what we public relations pro’s once called “advertorials.” It is generally the content that is selected for us (based on our profiles) and fed to us in our news feeds, etc. (Anyone on Facebook or twitter is familiar with this concept, perhaps without knowing the exact terminology.) You can learn more at this great advertising related podcast resource: http://www.thebeancast.com/
  2. A terrifically fun web site for looking up advertising on any major brand is moat.com. Just plug in your favorite big brand and a plethora of advertising appears. http://www.moat.com/  The best part is it shows you where and when the ad was last displayed. (Frankly a search on “Starbucks” made me crave a passion tea!) Three other of Crawford’s favorite resources are: (quotes are his descriptions):
  3. http://www.ghostery.com/ – Who’s tracking your online data and why? (Aside from the NSA of course!) Crawford says this site “allows you to see tracking pixels on web pages.”
  4. http://www.digiday.com/ – Crawford calls this the “best natural digital new resource – covers all sides.”
  5. http://www.lumapartners.com/resource-center/- A great “big picture” resource for consumer, advertising and media landscape. According to Luma, they map “the digital media ecosystem — how it works and where it’s going.” Nice graphic displays.

What are some of your favorite free resources and tools for advertising and marketing? Please share them with us here.

 

 

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