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Editor’s note: The following article was published in the June 2015 issue of Out N’ About magazine. June 26 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day. We set out to find local dog owners who take their dogs to work on a regular basis. Here’s the “tale” of one such pup.

Jake as a puppy

Jake as a puppy

Is taking a pet to work more likely found in Hollywood Hills than the Blue Ridge Mountains? Actually, we found plenty of four legged friends making their way into the hearts and offices of workers right here in Northeast Tennessee.

One such pet is Jake, a 6 ½ year old, 80 pound Golden Retriever with a soft, well-groomed coat. Jake is the self-appointed doorman and greeter for Stowaway Storage on Browns Mill Road in North Johnson City. As this writer entered, Jake approached carrying a soft, red child’s toy in his mouth and wagging his tail. By all appearances he is both welcoming committee and chief public relations officer.

“From the very beginning when my youngest son pushed me to get another puppy (after the family’s previous Golden passed away), I said, ‘OK he has to learn to ride in the car, he has to learn to jump in and out of the car, and he has to go to work with me every day,’” said Jake’s owner and person, Barbara Allen. “I picked him up on a Monday and he was just about 10-12 pounds. Tuesday morning at 8 AM he was in the office and Friday of that week he shot a TV commercial for the Dogwood and Cattails Ball.” Jake has been the mascot for Stowaway ever since.

“There are a lot of people who want to do business with somebody that is a dog lover,” says Allen. “Some people bring their kids and time their visit to be sure that Jake’s here.”

Barbara and Jake the puppy

Barbara and Jake the puppy

Allen says Jake considers his co-workers an extension of his family and when the tenant, who lives in an on-promise apartment, stops home for lunch, Jake believes it’s his lunch break too. “Jake rushes over to greet him and keep him company through lunch and then the tenant leaves and Jake comes back to work,” says Allen. Jake knows the UPS and FedEx truck drivers and is excited to see them because they are regular visitors at Stowaway. (Note: The well-mannered Jake does not bark at these uniformed guests.)

Allen says that taking a canine to work involves a lot of prior planning. “You always have to be thinking ahead. You can’t run errands after work and you have to adjust your timing,” she says. Thankfully, Jake feels so at home at Stowaway that he is completely at ease when Allen says “I’ll be back,” during work hours.

“He is featured in all our advertising and believe it or not, he is responsible for lots of rentals,” adds Charles Allen. “Although Barbara didn’t take him to work for that reason, it (taking a dog to work) is probably one of the better marketing moves we have made.”

Now age 6 1/2, Jake guards the front door before taking his daily nap.

Now age 6 1/2, Jake guards the front door before taking his daily nap.

Just like a small child, Jake’s regular nap time rolls around each afternoon between 3 and 5 pm. That’s when people know to step over the sleeping pooch who’s generally sprawled out in front of the door. His rest routine; look outside for a few minutes and then nod off to doggie dreamland.

“Dogs have to be at the right place at the right time and Jake’s perfect for here because he gets to interact with lots of different people,” says Barbara Allen.

Mary Ellen Miller writes, walks and works with her dog Lucky, a nearly five year old Jack Russell Terrier mix. Do you have any working dog stories to share with us?

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Those of you who’ve been following my posts know that  I was inspired by Kid President Robby Novak’s YouTube video calling on local communities to collect new socks for the homeless during “Socktober.” The results are in and it was a resounding success!  With some fantastic team work we soared past our goal of 750 pairs of new socks, actually getting 1053 pairs!

With the help of a number of  local businesses and the Johnson City Morning Rotary Club, we collected new socks in all sizes and for both genders. This week we gave the warm, new and often colorful socks, to United Way of Washington County, TN for distribution to the United Way agencies that serve the homeless.

Socktober sponsors turn in socks to United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany.

Socktober sponsors turn in socks to Washington County TN United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany.

“We would like to thank all of the coordinators and participants of this year’s Socktober campaign. The socks will be given to our agencies that provide direct services to children and homeless families in our community. This campaign is another expression of the very caring spirit that is in this great community” said United Way of Washington County’s President and CEO Lester Lattany.

Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator Bonnie White said the sock donations are vital necessities. “These new socks are very much needed,” White said. “Many children come to school with shoes that are too small or too large and they get blisters on their feet from not having any socks at all.”

United Way of Washington County TN and Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel with  over 1,000 pairs of new socks for the homeless.

United Way of Washington County TN and Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel with over 1,000 pairs of new socks for the homeless.

MarketingMel along with Summit Leadership Foundation, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Appearances Hair Salon and the Johnson City Morning Rotary (at Johnson City Country Club) were Socktober sponsors. This year many great drop off locations participated including: Appearances Hair Salon, Cumberland Marketing, Exalt Academy of Cosmetology, First Tennessee Bank, Johnson City Country Club, Spine & Sports Chiropractic, Summit Leadership Foundation, Tri-City Community Bank and Princeton Arts Center. Additional businesses that heard about the campaign and asked to be a part were Chick-Fil-A Crossings and Robinson’s Animal Hospital.

A great big THANK YOU to all who took part. If you’re reading this blog, did your community take part in #Socktober?

 

 

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The buzz over socks just keeps on building! Nationally, #Socktober founder Kid President has teamed with Grover on his campaign to bring socks to the homeless (and who wouldn’t want the power of Sesame Street backing their cause?)

Kid President and Grover

#Socktober founder Kid President with Grover

Locally, our efforts garnered the attention of two TV stations: WCYB-TV 5:30 News (story transcript here) and WJHL-TV’s DayTime Tri-Cities.  Many thanks to Ron Scalf of Out ‘N About Magazine for helping us spread the word in print! More and more people and businesses are jumping in to help us bring socks to the homeless. Once we gather all of the socks we will donate them to United Way of Washington County, TN so that they can give them to their agencies who work directly with the homeless in our community.

WCYB-TV videographer Tim Culbertson and Mary Ellen MIller of MarketingMel show off some of the #Socktober sock donations.

WCYB-TV videographer Tim Culbertson and Mary Ellen MIller of MarketingMel show off some of the #Socktober sock donations.

Bonnie White, Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator told us that,”These socks are so appreciated. Many of these students go to school with blisters on their feet because their shoes are too large or too small and they are wearing them with no socks.  We really appreciate and will use these new socks.”

And who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Chick-Fil-A Crossings is now on board with this great offer: Mondays in October drop off three new pair of socks and get a coupon for a free Grilled Chick-fil-A Sandwich. 

In addition to MarketingMel, the following businesses are sponsors for the second year in a row: Appearances Hair Salon, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Summit Leadership Foundation. This year the Johnson City Morning Rotary also joined as a lead sponsor.

Here are the drop off locations with links to each. We’ve expanded with drop off sites adding locations in both Kingsport and Bristol this year. Let’s hope we get LOTS of socks! Last year we got over 500 pair and this year our goal is more than 750 new pair of socks. Remember, we have over 700 homeless students in the Johnson City school system alone and they’ve got family members, so we need all sizes, all colors, all kinds of new socks. Thank you!

Appearances Hair Salon

Cumberland Marketing

Exalt Academy of Cosmetology

First Tennessee Bank– Crossings, Peoples and North Roan Street locations

Johnson City Morning Rotary at Johnson City Country Club

Spine & Sports Chiropractic

Summit Leadership Foundation

Tri-City Community Bank

Princeton Arts Center

Robinson Animal Hospital

Chick-fil-A, Crossings 

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One of more than a dozen sock baskets that will be placed around town for #Socktober collections.

One of more than a dozen sock baskets that will be placed around town for #Socktober collections. (That’s Lucky supervising!)

 

For the second year in a row, October becomes “Socktober” in order to bring new socks in all sizes to the homeless in the local community. Last year I was inspired when I saw Kid President calling on folks in local communities around the country to help the homeless in this video.

MarketingMel is teaming up with several local businesses to collect new socks in all sizes that will be given to United Way of Washington County, TN for distribution to agencies that serve the homeless.

“Now that the weather is turning cooler, everyone can relate to needing a nice, warm pair of socks,” said Miller. “YouTube’s Kid President promotes a nationwide campaign to donate socks to the homeless in local communities. Thanks to the generous support of people and businesses in our community we surpassed our goal last year of 500 pairs of new socks and this year our goal is 750 pairs. That’s enough for every homeless child in the Johnson City schools plus some extras for their family members.”

Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator Bonnie White said the sock donations are vital necessities. “With more than 700 homeless children in the Johnson City schools alone, socks of all sizes are very appreciated,” White said.

MarketingMel along with Summit Leadership Foundation, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Appearances Hair Salon and the Johnson City Morning Rotary (at Johnson City Country Club) are Socktober sponsors. This year many great drop off locations are participating including: Appearances Hair Salon, Cumberland Marketing, Exalt Academy of Cosmetology, First Tennessee Bank, Johnson City Country Club, Spine & Sports Chiropractic, Summit Leadership Foundation, Tri-City Community Bank and Princeton Arts Center.

Even if you don’t live in our area you could help start a #Socktober drive in your local community! When you do, be sure to stay connected on social media by using the hashtag #Socktober. Thank you!

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Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel, and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new scholarship to Alex Quillin.

Mary Ellen Miller and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new MarketingMel PR scholarship to Alex Quillin.

As any of you who reads this blog regularly knows I am a HUGE believer in supporting the next generation of Public Relations professionals. Last week I had the opportunity to take that support to the next level by teaming with the newly created Mass Communications department at ETSU to establish and award its first scholarship: The MarketingMel Public Relations Scholarship. I am delighted to announce that my new intern, Alex Quillin, is the first recipient of this award! Alex is one of the most level headed 19 year olds I have ever met with a strong entrepreneurial bent and a bright future ahead of her. She is as smart as she is beautiful, carrying a 3.8 GPA and already a junior in semester hours. Dr. Stephen Marshall, one of MarketingMel’s advisory board members, is the newly named department chair. He joined me on campus for the ceremony announcing Alex’s scholarship. To read the full story on the ETSU web site and to see what great jobs the previous four interns have moved on to, please click here.

 

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rotarypic

Johnson City Morning Rotary Club members present a check to the Salvation Army.

One of the best things I have done since going into business five years ago, was to join Rotary International. Specifically, I joined the Johnson City Morning Rotary in January at the invitation of my strategic planning consultant, Rebecca Henderson. While I have been a part of other civic clubs in the past, with its motto of “service above self” Rotary stands alone as a top-notch service organization. Just last week we presented our club’s quarterly donation to the Johnson City Salvation Army, one of many fine charities that benefit from the hard work and fundraising abilities of our members.

 

When my friend Vivian Crymble heard that I was now a Rotarian she and Dick Ray asked me to provide some Facebook communications tips for the club at the district level. Vivian is the district governor for Rotary 7570 (She’s over 85 Clubs from Roanoke, Virginia through Northeast Tennessee.) Both she and associate district governor Dick Ray have found these tips useful and I hope you will too!

  1. Each of the 61 admins of the unit pages needs to “like” the district 7570 page.
  1. The district page needs to “like” all the other unit pages and interact with the. Example: I posted a photo of Vivian on the Johnson City Morning Rotary page. It would be great if the district page could comment on that.
  1. Keep up to date cover shots; comment on other page’s cover shots.
  1. Be sure to tag people (the more people you tag, the more exposure the photo gets)
  1. Play off a theme. Example: This year’s Rotary conference theme at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia is “The Faces of Rotary.” Start X number of days before the annual conference and feature a “face” on a weekly basis.  Event-related posts gets people excited for the upcoming event and will get them “talking” online.
  1. Sharing posts from The District page as well as the District sharing posts from the unit pages will connect the two and should result in new “likes” for both parties.
  1. The more interaction the page has, the more exposure the page gets.  Get more interaction by posting photos, questions, event details, etc.)

 

I hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have others to add? What’s worked in terms of social media for your favorite club or organization, particularly when planning an event?

 

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“An entrepreneur would rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 hours a week for someone else.”

Dr. Andy Czuchry, ETSU

 

These pink carnations are a lovely way to celebrate 5 years in business!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day and birthday month at MarketingMel.

Those words were spoken by my beloved Entrepreneurship Professor Dr. Andy Czuchry when I was in the ETSU MBA program back in 2000.  This month, February,2014 marks my fifth year in business and now I really know how true Dr. Czuchry’s words are!

I recently presented my story “Smart Moves and Pitfalls: The MarketingMel Story” to the ETSU Entrepreneur’s Club and to our Johnson City Morning Rotary Club.

I thought you might enjoy hearing some of those tips that I’ve learned along the way.

1. Turn Lemons Into Lemonade– My father always taught me this. When life deals you what you think is a bad blow at the time, pick yourself up and keep on keeping on.

 

2. Take Advantage of New Communication Channels: Because I had been so active on twitter since 2008 the name of my company was almost a given when starting it in February 2009. The phrase “MarketingMel” shot up ahead of Mel Gibson on Google search strictly because that was my twitter handle.

 

3. Think About Your Brand. Consider carefully your name, logo and choice of colors as you get started.  I chose blue and green because I wanted to attract business professionals who use those colors and as I write this I’m working for a lawyer and a banker.

 

4. You Can’t Do It All! I have teamed with some great young interns out of ETSU and I’ve formed virtual friends through my SoloPR group. As I’ve grown I’ve taken on a sharp young ETSU graduate, Sarah Kinsler, to assist me.

 

5. Seek Counsel: I treasure my board of advisors: six highly intelligent people from our community to be a wealth of resources for me. Thank you to: Jenny Brock, Nancy Dishner, Jennifer Dixon, Stephen Marshall, Don Raines and Dave McAuley for the assistance and counsel you’ve given me along the way!

 

6. Give Back: I believe it’s important to give back to the community. Each year our team provides pro bono services to the highly successful Up and At ‘Em Turkey Trot and recently we helped United Way of Washington County with their Publicity.

 

7. Have a Daily Quiet Time: Since I started in business I have a daily quiet time with God first thing each morning. Prayer and bible reading helps me to focus on what is really important in the day and in life.

 

These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned along the path of entrepreneurship. Which one resonates with you?

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Mary Ellen Miller, center with Jenny Brock, right and MarketingMel intern Emma Brock (no relation.)

Mary Ellen Miller, center with Jenny Brock, right and MarketingMel intern Emma Brock (no relation) and Cooper.

By East Tennessee standards, last Thursday was a frigid morning! Nonethless, thousands of Johnson City runners, walkers and wheel chair racers as well as people with dogs and strollers ran, walked and wheeled through downtown Johnson City early Thanksgiving morning, November 28th in what was the coldest Turkey Trot 5K to date. Temperatures hovered around the 18-degree mark but the atmosphere was festive as families and friends, many in costumes, gathered around the Legion Street starting line along with the more serious runners in preparation for the 8:30 AM start.

“The success and growth of Turkey Trot continues because of the people who support it,” said Race co-chair and co-founder Jenny Brock. “I would like to thank our community for their continued loyalty and the vitality they bring to Turkey Trot.”

Tanner Cook of Abingdon won the race in a time of 16:25.2 while Lanni Marchant of Nashville was the first-place female finisher in a record time of 17:10.1. Fain Grogg won the wheel chair division.

Jenny said about 3,700 people showed up, despite the frigid temperatures, to take part in the pre-Thanksgiving calorie burn.  In addition more than 200 volunteers came out to man the course and help out at the race.

“The loyalty of our sponsors is really incredible,” added Jenny. “We’ve gotten tremendous feedback from them and from the families who take part in this each year and tell us what it means to them.”

This year Blue Lizard, the flagship product of Crown Laboratories, stepped up as the headline sponsor of the event, inserting Blue Lizard sunscreen samples into each of the thousands of race packets.  Panera Bread was also a lead sponsor and runners were lined up after the race for some Panera Bread hot coffee and bagels.

“We were really honored to participate again and inspired by all who showed up Thanksgiving morning,” said Crown Laboratories Founder & CEO Jeff Bedard. “Health and wellness and taking control of your own health is part of Crown’s philosophy with regards to employees and employee health so this event is a great fit for us.”

Jenny also thanked the other event sponsors and said sponsor logos, race results and many great race photos are available at www.jcturkeytrot.org.

Jenny said Congressman Phil Roe, who has never missed a Turkey Trot and always leads the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, “challenged us to think about ‘10 for 10.’“

‘”In two years it will be the 10th Annual Turkey Trot.  Let’s have 10,000 participants,” said Roe.  Jenny adds, “That’s a big challenge, but I think we can do that.  I guess our battle cry going forward is now ‘10 for 10’.  Thanks Congressman Roe!”

Proceeds from the race will be given to the Tweetsie Trail development.  Runners and walkers trotted past the future trail site as they rounded into the home stretch. Jenny said the physical fitness aspect of the Trail is a natural tie-in to the Turkey Trot.

“We’re already looking forward to next year,” she said.

Note: For the third year in a row, MarketingMel was an event sponsor and assisted in spreading the word for the 5K. MarketingMel coordinates the Turkey Trot’s pre-event, event day and post-event public relations including media interface and race packet flyers. In addition we assisted Jenny Brock and her team with social media and sponsor line up. 

 

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