Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler. (Sarah and Mel tried out the Vine app in the lobby of  WJCW Radio last month before going on the air to talk about social media trends.)

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities PRSA awards.

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities TN/VA PRSA awards.

You can break a bull riding record, cross three state lines or experience an amazing “he’s the one” kiss. You can also post your adorable toddler’s toe-tapping hoe-down to international acclaim.

Now Twitter founders have introduced a way to capture these six second memories and share them! Vine, an app that allows users to shoot, combine and loop video is now the #1 app on iTunes. This app is quickly becoming the preferred outlet of social interaction amongst young adults and teens. However, large corporations and brands are jumping on the bandwagon as well.

But here’s the real question: Can brands tell their full story in six seconds? Maybe not the full narrative, but it is a  definite way to get a person intrigued. Including Vine in your marketing plan can increase brand awareness and add some personality to your updates and news. While a Vine video is only one-fifth of a typical commercial, it can generate buzz to a specific audience that would otherwise ignore alternative media outlets.

Which brings me to my next question: With apps such as Vine, Snapchat and Twitter, delivering information in a such a quick and effortless way is becoming the norm. What does that mean for the future of print media? Are our short attention spans going to change the process of how we get our news? What do you  think?

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(Editor’s note: This article is co-authored by Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler, a recent ETSU Public Relations graduate and assistant to MarketingMel.)

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and intern Kristen Pierce.

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and Mel’s intern Kristen Pierce, leaders in the next gen social networkers.

The once great love affair between America’s youth and Facebook  is over.  The social network, once the “craze” for teens a few years back, has slowly turned into a ghost town when it comes to high school aged kids.


Why you ask? It’s simple. Now that Facebook has become the chosen network for the middle aged and even seniors, teens are feeling a little “crowded.”  Now they aren’t sharing info, updates, jokes with just their friends, but with Grandma too! Another reason of course is teens are all about chasing new trends and being involved in the newest networks. So adios Facebook and Hello Snapchat, vine and Tumblr.


Snapchat, a mobile app sharing service, lets users take short video and photos, then allows users to send as a message.The unique thing about this app however is that once the message is seen, for a very short amount of time, it self destructs (or so teens believe). This is huge right now because teens find it fun that they can live in the moment and not worry about the consequences of a photo/video being taken for a permanent record.


Another popular app right now (number one on iTunes actually)  is called Vine. The is app was created by Twitter to take short video clips and mash it into one looping six second short video.  (Sarah and Mary Ellen created this video on Vine while waiting to be interviewed about recent youth trends at WJCW radio last week.)


Tumblr is also very big right now. This app is for photo blogging and creating fun profiles that represent the user. It provides teens with a since of creativity without the extended family watching their every move.

To listen to more of our discussion on youth and social media trends please listen to our podcast.  Prior to the podcast Mary Ellen posted on both her Facebook business and personal pages about youth leaving Facebook and got a resounding “yes” from parents who agreed. What trends are you seeing in social networking and youth communications these days?


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Ross Action ShotEditor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post written by  student, Ross Stallworthy, whom I met while I was guest teaching a marketing class at Virginia Intermont College.

I am an international student from a small town in the middle of England currently studying Sport Management at Virginia Intermont College in southwest Virginia.

Why did I find myself in this location you may ask? Well growing up in England, soccer is the dominant sport which is embedded in our culture. Having played the sport at a high level, most notably winning a national title with my school team in 2005, I had the opportunity to continue playing and earn a degree at college. At the age of 18 I thought to myself can I really do this? Was I able to pack all of my life into one luggage bag and live by myself in a country I had never visited before half way around the world? At that stage I was scared, terrified of leaving of home. Three years later I am captain of my soccer team who finished second in the conference, part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, taking on a Business Administration minor, and searching for that one chance to gain experience in the form of an internship in the sporting industry.

Along the way I have encountered many obstacles that I have to jump over, knock down, and physically run through. Adapting to a completely different culture, even though the language is somewhat the same, was a challenge that I enjoyed with the help of my teammates. As a student-athlete managing my time was essential, previously I had been given a schedule to follow; now I had to create my own and make decisions for myself. I had to find a direction and fast, luckily my love for sports have been my driving force to want to give back to something that has given me a tremendous amount of pleasure.

Throughout my sporting career and studies it has become clear that a certain mix of characteristics make the ideal future employee or intern in my case. Knowing how to talk to different people and recognizing their level of expectation is the most important thing I have learned in the past 3 years. This is how Mary Ellen Miller (Mel) gave me this opportunity to be a guest in her blog. The interaction that was present when we first met couldn’t have gone better. As she was giving her presentation on marketing I was thinking critically and asking questions to further understand how she became successful. People remember how you respond to what you say and how you say it, you never know who could be your future employer.

Tips to make you that desirable employee or intern:

1. Be organized, plan ahead, and be flexible

2. Recognize your goal and be determined to make it a reality

3. Build positive relationships

4. Go the extra mile to get what you want

5. Identify your strengths and utilize them

6. Always be willing to learn

I think that many employers are looking for that individual who stands out in a crowd and has something interesting about them to add to their workforce. As I continue my search for the right internship, which has been going on for a while now, I am as determined as ever to be successful. You are going to get knock backs and a lot of ‘No’ answers, but it is how you respond that separates you from the crowd.

Once again I cannot thank Mel enough for giving me this chance to share my experience of being in the U.S. and trying to start my career here, for that I am extremely grateful. 

Ross Stallworthy

Ross Stallworthy


Ross Stallworthy is a student at Virginia Intermont College studying Marketing.

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Pizza1Editor’s note: This week’s post is from Part 1 of 2 from guest blogger Aundrea Y. Wilcox, a professional business consultant and author of the bookStartup Savvy: Strategies for Optimizing Small Business Survival and Success.

I think that I’m a pretty easy going person.  I’m open-minded to most ideas and willing to try new things even if it’s outside of my comfort zone.  But my daughter says that once I get stuck on something, it’s hard to get me off of it.  I admit it’s hard for me to let go of something when I’m really ticked off, which takes some doing by the way.  Right now, I’m stuck on something that I witnessed yesterday that was mind-blowing to me.

KnockknockYour pizza is here. 

When my husband received his pizza order from a local pizza store last night, a bright pink flyer was glued to the box top.  The flyer advertised a new nail salon a mile or two down the road.  There is an existing nail salon right next door to the pizza store, which has been in business for at least a couple of years as far as I know.  I was surprised by the flyer for two reasons.  First, the pizza store was a major chain.  You would think there would be a lot of red tape involved in getting the required permission to attach a local flyer to each box.  Second, the pizza store was promoting another nail shop located in another retail center.  Would this not be an act of negligence of tenant?

Being the person that I am, it was impossible for me not to immediately look up the chain’s Values and Philosophy.  They say that their mission statement and guiding principles make up the core commitments that govern their business decisions.  They say they are committed to an inclusive culture which values the contributions of their customers, team members, suppliers and neighbors.  If that is true, then why would they treat their next door neighbor so poorly (as in this case)?  Not only is this un-neighborly and in bad taste, it’s setting a fellow small business owner up for failure.

Sadly, 80% of small businesses fail before they ever reach the five-year mark.

Common reasons for failure include: lack of money; lack of experience or education related to their business endeavor; lack of a written business plan; and lack of passion.  If you are a small business owner, how enthusiastic would you be about your neighbor helping one of your competitors promote their business across town?  Even if you are not a business owner, how would you feel about anyone sabotaging your progress?

Instead, wouldn’t it be nice if someone shared with you what has worked for them and what has not worked— ultimately saving you money, time and frustration? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all followed mom’s advice to love thy neighbor as we love ourselves, or as the GOLDEN RULE says: treat others as we would have them treat us?

If you’ve been in business for more than five years, someone out there has undoubtedly helped you grow your business into what it is at the moment.  Every day is an opportunity for you to return the favor to someone else.  Small business owners should be looking for ways to help their neighbors not hurt them.

Next week: Four things that you can do right now to help your neighbor rather than hurt them.

Aundrea Wilcox Beating the Odds Other PromoAundrea Y. Wilcox is a professional business consultant and the author of the bookStartup Savvy: Strategies for Optimizing Small Business Survival and Success.  To connect with Aundrea, follow her on Twitter @StartupSavvy, and “Like” her Facebook Author Page, StartupSavvy.  Visit startupsavvy.biz for more insights and tips about small business ownership and management.

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Nancy Dishner

  “Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Dave McAuley

Dave McAuley


Don Raines


Jenny Brock


Steve Marshall

Sarah Headshot

Sarah Rowan












What better way to launch the 2013 business year than with the counsel of six, smart business professionals? I’m honored to introduce the MarketingMel Advisory Board. Members of the board include: Don Raines, Senior Affiliate Partner, R; Dave McAuley, Founder and President, Summit Leadership Foundation; Dr. Stephen Marshall, Associate Professor and Mass Communication Program Head Department of Communication East Tennessee State University; Jenny Brock, Chairman of the Johnson City Power Board; Dr. Nancy Dishner Vice President of the Niswonger Foundation and Sarah Rowan, Director of Sales, Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau and former MarketingMel intern.

I’m fondly calling this “The Year of 10X Thinking.” My company is soon to turn four years old and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with the counsel of these wise people. I fondly call them “The Broccoli Board” because as advisor Dave McAuley suggested, “Ask them to tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth.”  Initially, I’ve met with everyone one one one but I plan to get this illustrious group together to share ideas soon. Now that will be a brainstorming session!

Rebecca Henderson of so helped me create the idea to create a board of advisers during our annual strategic planning sessions. Rebecca helped me move toward broader and bigger picture thinking.

Part of the 10X thinking includes speaking on Personal Branding, at the first-ever SoloPR Summit in Atlanta February 20th. The topic of personal branding is really resonating with people in today’s competitive work environment. They want to know how to present themselves both online, in social networks and in person. Another action step we’re taking this year is growing the tactical social media management side of the business because of the great demand for that.

Winning the 2012 Century Link Faith in the Future Award for Entrepreneurship for mentoring  the next generation of communications professionals was also part of the overall strategic plan for MarketingMel’s business.  I enjoy working with college students like my current intern Kristen Pierce (who was my guest blogger last week) and I believe in the importance of lending a helping hand to those who come along after us. I look forward to sharing these and many exciting new ideas with you and with the board over the next 10+ months.


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Happy New Year 2013Happy New Year! A New Year is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over; or is it? In today’s society everything we do online is “out there” and will follow us for the rest of our lives and sometimes into the afterlife. (I know of two men who are widowed whose wives’ Facebook pages are still up. Legacy management will become a bigger part of personal brand management in the future.)

If you’re reading this blog post you may be wondering: Why do I need a personal brand? Let’s listen to personal brand guru Gary Vaynerchuk as he talks about the power of personal brand. I love his comments on “selling” and on the need to Google yourself. This video is well worth the four minutes it takes to listen.

If you’re an independent P.R. or Marketing Pro, be sure to join Amanda Littlejohn and me as we talk about the Power of Personal Branding at Solo PR Summit in Atlanta February 20th.
photo credit: —petpave— via photopin cc

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Editor’s note: This story and TV newscast first appeared in 2011. The reporter, George Jackson, now works in Washington, D.C. However, my “predictions” of Thanksgiving becoming more like a Sunday shopping experience appear to be proving true. This year stores are “jumping the gun” on Black Friday with an even earlier Thursday start. Will you be in the throng of bargain hunters? Do you agree with retailers working on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you whatever your choice is.

Stores opened earlier than ever this year for Black Friday and a record $52.4 billion was spent over the long, four day weekend. 11 Connects News’ George Jackson caught up with MarketingMel the night before Thanksgiving, ironically in the parking lot at the local Mall where I was doing some shopping. George and I discussed the newest holiday shopping trends including the earliest shopping starts yet. Without a crystal ball but having read and watched some of the forecasted trends, I predicted that people will come to view the early start to Black Friday (or early end to Thanksgiving, depending on how you look at it) as consumers once viewed Sundays. What was at one time a sacred day to be home from work enjoying family will become just another day to shop (albeit with huge bargains!) With Cyber Monday coming on the heels of such a record breaking weekend we can only expect the spending trend to continue and that’s bound to put some zing into our economy.

I took an informal poll of my Facebook friends Wednesday evening prior to the interview and while the majority said they would not shop Black Friday several said they would be out there and early. One Facebook friend even posted a photo of herself camping out in order to take advantage of the specials. Did you shop Black Friday? Did you frequent a local establishment on Small Business Saturday or will you shop from the comfort of your office on Cyber Monday? Maybe you’re wondering what all the fuss is about since your shopping generally doesn’t start for several more weeks? Whatever your shopping habits, I’d love to have you share your stories with us here!


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Casey Knox

This week is the second in my video series on personal branding with Casey Knox, communications director for Area 203, a Chattanooga agency. Casey knows the power of personal branding and spoke about it during her presentation at the Southeastern Public Relations Society 12 conference in Chattanooga.  (If you want to see some phenomenal tips check out her SlideShare presentation: Digital PR, Toolkits, Reputation, and Search Matter More than Ever Before.) After her talk, two college students desiring careers in public relations, gathered around Casey, asking her for advice. Casey told the soon-to-be graduates: build your personal brand. This week she highlights a useful tool for all of us interested in personal branding, particularly job seekers.

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