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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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Happy National Small Business Week from the  MarketingMel team!

Happy National Small Business Week from the MarketingMel team!

Editor’s note: It’s National Small Business Week! If you are a small business person, take time to celebrate your success as the backbone of our country. The following is a guest blog with tips on books for small businesses from Strategic Priorities’ Consulting President (and avid reader) Rebecca Henderson. 

Marketing is the lifeblood of any business, especially small business.  Without effective marketing, the business withers and dies, like an plant without water.  Networking and superior customer service are the linchpins of effective marketing.

The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence by Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy pretty much sets the standard for customer service.   Years ago, I read Susan RoAne’s How To Work a Room.  It’s is essential for honing conversational skills for effective networking.

Another book I read years ago is What They Didn’t Teach You at Harvard Business School  by Mark McCormack;  the advice is timeless,  and teaches all sorts of things you didn’t realize you didn’t know.  Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership is a must-read for any small business; pay close attention to the chapter devoted to marketing.

Word of mouth marketing is the most effective marketing.  The Anatomy of Buzz :  How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing by Emanuel  Rosen is a great book that tells you how to do just that. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham is filled with examples that I love.

Harvey Mackay has many roles;  three of them are marketer,  networker,  and author.   One of Mackay’s books I particularly like is The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World;  it’s fabulous, as are all of his books.  Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden is filled with gems of great wisdom, which can be applied to your personal and professional life.

We don’t usually think of management and marketing as hand-in-hand, but they do .  Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic by Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman is very informative.  Pay close attention to the last half of the book.

What are some of your favorite marketing books? Please add to our list!

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson has an M.S. in Community Leadership from Duquesne University.  Rebecca loves strategic planning, organizational development, and “geeky things” like bylaws and parliamentary procedure.  Her company, Strategic Priorities Consulting, specializes in helping clients grow from where they are to where they want to go.  She is currently working on a book about being an effective leadership level community influencer. On a personal level, Rebecca is an active member of her church and Rotary Club, Vice Chair of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians,  loves to read, and is “Mom” to her five Newfoundlands.

 

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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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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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MarketingMel joined Nancy Williams' Milligan College P.R. class for mock job interviews.

MarketingMel joined Nancy Williams’ Milligan College P.R. class for mock job interviews.

With graduation just around the corner (my present intern Kristen Pierce will graduate May 11 from ETSU) many recent college graduates will be looking for that first job.  I had the opportunity to “mock interview” Milligan College upperclassmen, including one graduating senior, this week. The setting was Nancy Williams’ Public Relations class. I commend Nancy for providing these students with some fantastic real world experience. The students are fortunate to have Nancy, a veteran of FedEx P.R., who even brought the small class home-made chicken salad on their last day!

Here are a few questions you can expect from any interviewer and some that I asked these students:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This one is generally the opener of most all interviews so be prepared to show the interviewer some of your personality and goals.
  2. Tell me about your strengths? Your weaknesses? (Your strengths should be easy. If not be sure to read Now Discover Your Strengths and take the Strengths Finder internet quiz by Buckingham and Clifton. As to your weaknesses, be sure to phrase them in such a way that they can be turned into strengths. Nancy gave a great example: “I am challenged by giving out grades (and then how she works to overcome that.)
  3. Why do you want this position? This gives you an opportunity to exhibit some knowledge about the company.
  4. Why should we hire you? This is a classic. I recall one of my first boss’s pointing to a stack of other videos (our TV resumes were on videotapes back then!) and saying “All these other people want this same job. Why should I hire you?” I must have been convincing because I got the job!
  5. What do you do for fun? This is a slight inroad into your personal life without being too nosy. Be sure you have some “fun” answers ready. (You’re national shot-put champion for example. One of these capable students really was!)
  6. Why  did you leave your last job? (This may not be as applicable to college students but it will come up from your first job on. Be sure you never burn any bridges and treat your last boss/job with respect.)
  7. Do you have any questions of me? Be prepared for this one to come at the end of your interview. This is an opportunity to ask intelligent questions of your potentially future employer and show your knowledge of the business. It’s also your chance to learn about company training opportunities, etc.

MarketingMel Bonus tips:

Writing is right: Be sure you have a cover letter, resume and list of references ready for the interviewer. Customize the cover letter to the person and to the specific job (skip the “to whom this may concern.”) One of the students provided an excellent online portfolio that gave me great insights into her blog writing, video and journalism work before I met her in person.

Say thanks! Be sure to thank your interviewer afterward. Even a simple thank you email is appreciated and a hand written note will absolutely make you stand out from the crowd.

Final thought: Like many of you reading this, I graduated college during a down economy. One of the best pieces of career advice I got was “Just take a job in your field, even if it’s part time. It will become full time.” Sage words for today’s graduates as well!

 

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Kristen, Mel and Sarah

MarketingMel (center) with current intern Kristen Pierce and past intern Sarah Rowan who is now employed by the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce.

MarketingMel was honored to be featured in a recent issue of Ragan.com’s PR Daily for the post “How to Find a Job in Public Relations.”

Here is the link to that post in case you missed it and I have re-printed it below. It was my most popular blog post ever and I refreshed it when PR Daily asked if they could publish it.

It seems like every week I field a call from a desperate college student seeking advice on how to break into public relations. I’ve answered their questions so often that I thought I would jot down a few tips I’ve learned during my more than 25-year career.

1. Think strategically. What is your goal, and how can you accomplish it? Have a plan. Write it down as you would a business plan, and then work it.

2. Seek internships. Be sure to have one; they often lead to jobs. Furthermore, internships help you understand if this business is really for you. (It can be stressful!)

Treat an internship as if it’s a job. Be ready with a professional resume and photo. Be prepared with questions and skill sets you to have offer.

3. Set yourself up for success. Have an outlet after your internship. Look for opportunities, volunteer and play up your accomplishments. For example, my recent intern Sarah Rowan, was the top PR student at her community college. That impressed me.

4. Communicate with communicators. Communicate on their terms through their channels, and be sure to identify yourself. Since I founded my firm, there was only one time a college student reached out to me in such an engaging way that I asked to meet with him. If you want to see what the pros are doing, listen to Twitter chats like #soloPR and #journchat, and say hello.

5. Study the thought leaders. Look who’s leading the way in your chosen field, your community and the world. I treasure my virtual friendships with my international friends.

6. Innovate. Use the latest tools and learn about new ones. The communications field changes daily. Be sure you keep up with it. (My assistant and I recently used Vine to create a video message, and have fun, too.)

Are your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles up to date? Ninety-five percent of all headhunters are on LinkedIn, so you need to be there. Use YouTube to present yourself on video to a future employer. Skype is another handy tool.

7. Learn something new. Do you know a foreign language? Spend time abroad. Be open to opportunities elsewhere. There will never be a better time in your life to move somewhere and do something different. It will expose you to a new way of thinking.

8. Show kindness. Put the phone away in class and have some real face time with your teachers and friends. This goes for online behavior as well. Others can tell when you genuinely care about them.

9. Follow journalists. Media relations is part of public relations. Follow your favorite journalists and engage with them. I often chat on Twitter with my local news anchor, Josh Smith. We are both early risers, and our friendship has deepened with our regular Twitter banter.

10. Know your strengths and weaknesses, but focus on your strengths. Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Buckingham and Clifton is a book worth reading. It includes an easy-to-take online quiz that will help you determine your strengths.

11. Create your personal brand. Put some thought into this one. Again, there are some great books available (see Tom Peters’ article, The Brand Called You). Remember, your personal brand will follow you from job to job for the rest of your life.

What suggestions would you add to this list?

Mary Ellen Miller, “MarketingMel,” mentors a rising, young PR pro each year as part of her firm’s mission. Connect with her @MarketingMel. A version of this article originally appeared on MarketingMel.com.

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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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Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog post by attorney, friend (and former colleague from my law firm marketing days) Laura Steel Woods. She wrote this article in response to several well publicized social media identity theft cases.

Anyone remember prank phone calls?

Remember these?

Many years ago, before phones were used to update your Facebook status and check-in on Foursquare, they were used to call people. Sometimes, those calls included prank calls, which were intended to be a joke, for the most part. The thought that it might be “stealing” someone’s identity probably never crossed a prank caller’s mind. Now, with ready-made access to accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, or creation of a Facebook fan page, the implications of what used to amount to prank calling have ramped up significantly.

Think about it—most phone calls are directed to one person/location, where you consciously select a contact from your electronic phone book or pull the number from your head and individually enter the digits. Deliberate. Calculated. Intentional. Controlled.

Social media is different. The reach is intended to be broad. Control is relinquished, while not always thoughtful at least knowingly, once you post your status update. As with so many other parts of our lives, social media has certainly changed the landscape, or at least raised the stakes, of identity theft. Consider the mass in which we communicate. The “victims” in the SM setting, just like a prank call, go beyond the person whose identity was compromised and can include those who relied upon the prank information. The breadth of victims in the SM setting is vastly different. Whose identity is stolen does, in part, determine whether there are legal consequences, just like IRL (example: impersonating a police officer versus impersonating me. One will get you jail time, the other will get you a lot of student loan debt.).

The legal system faces a huge challenge as it attempts to keep up with a medium that can’t even keep up with itself. How do you handcuff wireless communications, the internet, the Web or avatars? The remarkable resiliency of the justice system will probably find a solution, just like it has in all other advances along the timeline of history. Another interesting watch will be how much push-back the legal system receives given how protective the public is over the “right” to do anything and everything it wants with social media.

What I’m pretty confident won’t change is the need for us to be ever-conscious of our social media presence. It may seem like a small inconvenience or, at worst, momentary embarrassment if your identity is pranked on social media. The speed at which information travels, though, can cause the fallout to balloon beyond your world before you know it.

Laura Steel Woods

Laura Steel Woods

 

Laura Woods is Vice President of Legal Affairs for a local consulting company. In a previous life, she was a labor/employment partner with a regional law firm where she started the firm’s social media program with a Twitter account and a blog. You can find her on Twitter as @LauraSWoods.

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