The community came together to give socks to the homeless.

The community came together to give socks to the homeless.

It’s a bitter cold night and my feet are propped up by the fire as I write this. A snowstorm is heading our way. I’ve often heard it’s the little things that count in life and tonight I won’t take my socks for granted. Let me share why.

While many of us may have a stereotype of a homeless person as an unshaven man on a park bench, every preconceived idea I had was shattered when I heard a woman and her young daughter speak at our United Way report luncheon last week. She had lost her job, fallen on hard times and, together with her young daughter, was the beneficiary of a United Way agency that serves the homeless. Suddenly I was looking at the face of homelessness: a working mom, not that unlike me. Tears welled in my eyes as I knew what our team along with several friends and clients was doing: seeking 500 brand new pairs of socks to give to United Way to distribute to their agencies that serve the homeless.

About a month ago I saw nine-year-old YouTube sensation Kid President making an impassioned plea for local communities to gather up new socks for the homeless in his #Socktober campaign. I was inspired. Why not do that here in our town? I interviewed our schools’ homeless coordinator and found out that we have over 700 homeless students in our school system. Our team set a goal of 500 brand new pairs of socks by Thanksgiving. We jokingly called it “Toe-vember.” Then we asked friends and clients to help us.

A huge thanks to Spine & Sports Chiro, Appearances Hair Salon and Summit Leadership Foundation which served as drop off sites for the new socks. Thanks to our friends in the media:  Steve Hawkins at WFHG, Amy Lynn at DayTime Tri-Cities and Ron Scalf at Out ‘N About magazine who let us share our story through the media.We took to social media channels too, tweeting, Facebooking and instagramming our donated socks.  The Tri-Cities Women’s Council of Realtors and the ETSU Public Relations Student Society all pitched in socks as did friends from my church group and some of my other clients. Today we gave United Way’s executive director Lester Lattany more than 500 pairs of new socks.

It’s bitter cold tonight but thanks to our community’s generosity over 500 homeless people will now have warm feet. At this time of thanksgiving I am grateful for wonderful, generous friends with big, giving hearts- and of course, for socks. (Note: here is link to Johnson City Press coverage of our sock drive.)


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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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The MarketingMel team supports #Socktober: the drive for new socks for the homeless.

The MarketingMel team supports #Socktober: Kid President’s drive for new socks for the homeless.

MarketingMel, is teaming up with YouTube sensation “Kid President” in a nationwide campaign to donate socks to the homeless. “Socktober”, stamped by Kid President himself, is a movement to motivate one-million people to donate socks to the homeless in their communities. The campaign was launched by a YouTube video declaring the month of October, “Socktober.” Our goal is to to get 500 pairs of socks donated to United Way of Washington County, TN for distribution by Thanksgiving! It’s ambitious but we live in a generous community with many wonderful small businesses and non-profits who have already jumped in to help.

“In Johnson City alone we have 718 homeless students,” said Bonnie White who coordinates work with the homeless for the Johnson City school system. “We need socks in all sizes from Kindergarten through adults sizes for boys and girls.”

Donations are being accepted now through Thanksgiving. Drop-off stations are located at Summit Leadership Foundation, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Appearances Hair Salon. As an extra incentive to donate new socks, Spine & Sports is offering one half off kinesio taping for anyone donating new socks to their office at 215 East Watauga, Suite 100. That is a $10 savings from the normal price of $20 for tapings.

If you don’t live in the Tri-Cities region I hope you’ll be inspired to purchase new socks for the homeless in your area. Please drop us a note and let us know how you are doing in the comments section. By the way do you like the socks Sarah and Emma and i are modeling? Nothing says #Socktober like orange!





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