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MythbustersRecently I had the opportunity to speak with a class of incoming freshmen at Milligan College about careers in public relations. My presentation was called PR Mythbusters.

Myth #1– PR presents many glamorous job opportunities (a la Samantha Jones in Sex and the City.)

Reality:  PR is all about your client and making THEM look good!

Myth #2- PR is about press conferences and press releases.

Reality: While it is true that we create these kinds of events for clients there is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes planning work that goes into what you see on the visible, front end. To be good in PR students must excel at written and verbal communications.

Myth #3- Publicity is only needed when bad things happen.

Reality: Publicity is a two edged sword. Sometimes it can be used to address crises as in a well-thought out crisis communications plan. Other times it can be used for much good as in our recent Socktober campaign with Kid President that brought in over a thousand pairs of new socks for the homeless in our community.

Myth #4– Any publicity is good publicity

Reality: Although Hollywood stars may ascribe to this,  there are times when some of the greatest accomplishments of a public relations professional include keeping a client out of the limelight.

Myth #5– Anyone can do it

Reality: It takes a well trained, well thought out team to execute a top PR plan including strategy and tactics. Our current Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot PR committee incorporated last season’s Biggest Loser top five finalist Jennifer Messer as grand marshal. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher (and Science Hill High School grad) Daniel Norris is also helping spread the word of the popular Thanksgiving Day Family Fun Run/walk.

Myth #6– Social Media is just for fun

Reality: Social Media, particularly LinkedIn, can be a great connecting tool that will build professional bridges now and in the future. Futhermore using social media well can help build clients personal and professional brands.

What are some PR Myths or reality questions that you may have?

Here is the SlideShare Presentation

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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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The following is a guest blog post by Curt Henry, an executive coach and friend who’s supported me in my business since I started MarketingMel over five years ago.

As business owners, we often fall into the trap of doing tasks ourselves rather than delegating to our team. What I hear most often from my clients is “I can do it faster myself” or “no one can do it as well as I can.” Though perhaps both may be true, you are missing an opportunity to grow your business and empower your team members.

CurtHenryReview the pie chart above which shows an average work week for a sample business owner or manager. Now fill in your own information. Most owners for example would be working much more than the 54 hour work week shown. If this is your life today what would it look like if you had a 20% increase in sales? What would that do to your pie chart of activities? You may not have to increase all items in proportion to the increase in sales but let’s say you go from 54 to 60 hours.(less than a 20% increase)

Add hours to our pie chart. (OK, but how long can you keep this up?)We really have three choices when faced with the enviable increase in our business:

  1. Don’t add hours but continue to “do it” ourselves. This means we will short change our customers, employees or others. (Also not a good idea.)
  2. Take a section of your pie chart and give it to someone else. (Put it into their pie chart of responsibilities.)

This really gets back to the question from Mr. Stanley’s wife but which I will rephrase;

As you increase your business what will you NOT do?

The business will have to do more; more invoicing, more shipping/delivering, more lots of things. But, what will you now delegate to others? At what point in the growth of the business will you recognize the need to get help from the folks you hired to provide services?

Consider the impact of rebalancing your role in the business. Planning or working “on” vs. “in” the business will multiply how quickly the business expands and improves. Sean Covey in his book The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the conflict between the “whirlwind” and the “Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)”. He defines the whirlwind as those many urgent activities that demand our immediate attention. All things being equal, the whirlwind will win against the goals every time. As the business owner, we need to maintain our focus on the goals which move the business to new and higher levels or we stagnate. Even worse, if we are so focused on the immediate we may be passed by our competition and end up losing market share or profit potential. (More on goal setting and execution in a future BSF Update.)

I was the Vice President and General Manager for a manufacturing firm. While understanding the need to delegate, I always tried to make myself available for the workers on the production floor. My willingness to “get my hands dirty” by getting in and helping them made them feel more important. It was not that I was doing their job, but rather that I was willing to do what was needed to help them.

You may be able to do whatever “it” is faster and better than team members now. However, with a little training, the team may be able to do it just as well and allow you to focus on expanding the business or even getting to take a day off with the family every now and then. Do you remember back when you were able to take a vacation and really enjoy it?

Curt Henry Curt Henry is a seasoned business executive with seven years general management       experience and over 20 years in domestic and international marketing and sales. In 2000, Curt was chosen to lead the turnaround of a local manufacturing company with struggling product lines. Over the next six years, Curt and his team increased revenues from $9.3 to $16.2 million, improved both profit margins and cashflow significantly, and increased both productivity and product quality. Curt’s leadership resulted in improved employee morale and a significant reduction in personnel turnover.

 

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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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Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Last week I attended a day-long workshop titled “Communications Skills for Women.” Put on by Fred Pryor it was a great brush-up on tips we all know but need to be reminded of from time to time. Although the workshop was billed “for women” these tips will also resonate with my male blog readers. Some of these tips I actually gleaned from my classmates over lunch that day (the great part of workshops and seminars is often the people you meet there!) Which do you agree with and what would you add to this list?

  1. Phone Interview Tip: When on the phone with an employee ask them to repeat back what you have said. Do not just ask “Do you have any questions” because of course their answer will be know. Asking them to repeat bak what you have said engages them.
  2. Ask for what you want/Be specific: Assertiveness is about gaining a sense of self control.  It is a choice that you and you alone can make. We need to ask for what we want and to be specific in our requests.
  3. Put a time limit on interrupters: In my case this would be social media. If I don’t limit myself when I’m working on social media the next thing I know a half hour has gone by. What are your interrupters? Are they people in the office or habits that you have?
  4. Let go: Wow! I had my own personal nirvana with this just recently. I found out that a person whom I had given business to had said some negative things about me. I stewed about that for far too long. Finally at the suggestion of a friend I “let it go.” Boy, did I feel better! I will know not to do business with that person again but I can certainly be cordial to him.
  5. We need to respect ourselves and others: We teach people how to treat us. Do you allow people to interrupt you? We actually practiced this as a class exercise. Best to challenge interruptions by setting boundaries. “I know you have so much to contrite. When I’m through in five minutes I will give you the floor.”   And finally:
  6. Saying “no” is saying yes to myself! How many of us have gritted our teeth and said “yes” to something only to regret it later. I really like the concept of all of us having to make some “me” time. “No” can be a difficult word  to use but it can be learned!
  7. Bonus tip – Check your “BRA” : Whenever you get angry, check your “BRA.” B – Breathing; breathe through your diaphragm and count to three. R- Relax, and A – Attitude. Just thinking about checking my bra is bound to diffuse the tension!

Which of these tips resonates with you and why?

 

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The following is a guest blog post from Peter LaMotte at Levick. 

shutterstock_134128511

CEOs typically understand that cultivating an active social media presence is good for business. Social media can expand a company’s influence, connect with a target audience, and boost brand awareness. What may be less commonly understood is how a few critical social media faux pas can alienate prospective customers and damage the reputation of a business.

Here are some of the most egregious mistakes business leaders and executives make through their approach to social media:

Too much “about me”

The onslaught of celebrity activity on social media conveys the impression that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., are all about self-promotion. Though this might be true for rock stars and movie actors, the same principle does not apply to CEOs and other executives. In fact, an abundance of posts and tweets exclusively about yourself or your business will likely drive potential followers away.

Social media focuses on engagement, creating conversations and connections across the blogosphere and elsewhere. It is not the venue for a hard sell.

“Social media is all about making connections and, just like in the real (rather than virtual) world, people will be more drawn to you if you actually listen to what they’re saying than if you try to force your message upon them,” says Jessica Routier, head of social media at IAC-EZ.

Not paying attention to content

An indiscriminate approach to content is another social media faux pas. Deluging your followers with posts and tweets of little value won’t achieve your business objectives. Quality content that addresses customer concerns or offers valuable “how-to” information (either about your product, service, or your industry in general) will generate followers and encourage people to come back for more.

“[Businesses] need to ask questions, share some humor, provide motivational quotes and ask for their opinions about products or services in your industry,” says Michelle Hummer, CEO of WebMediaExpert.com. “I do a random, ‘fun question of the day’ to get [people] involved.”

The most effective strategy is consistently posting valuable content and interacting with others online.

Failure to engage

 Whether you know it or not, people are talking about your business online. Failing to monitor and promptly respond to those questions, complaints, and comments is another critical social media faux pas.

“All too many companies still fail to realize that most customers, especially Millennials, look at social media channels as valid a form of interaction as a physical trip into a brick and mortar store,” notes social media columnist John Boitnott. “If you fail to engage, you’re missing a valuable chance to shape your image. Don’t let other people shape your reputation when you could be shaping it yourself.”

Businesses sometimes err by “venting” a grievance with a competitor or an unhappy customer on social media. They forget that once something is posted, it’s there forever – and their negative comments can resurface at any time and come back to haunt them.

Maintaining incomplete or poorly written social media profiles

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your online CEO or business profiles go unread. Not only are these often the first thing people new to your business check out, but a properly constructed profile (complete with industry-rich keywords) can help with your company’s SEO rankings — another way to elevate your social media presence.

At the very least, each profile you maintain on different social networks should include your physical address, a link to your business website, and some concise but user-friendly information about who you are and what you have to offer.shutterstock_162075236

Lack of comprehensive social media strategy

 As should be clear by now, a hit-or-miss approach to social media is typically a waste of time and does not benefit your business. Avoid these common mistakes when developing a strategy:

No coordination with other departments. Your C-suite social media efforts are most effective when they’re aligned with what other departments are doing (i.e. marketing, public relations, branding team, etc.). Leads generated by your compelling content can be converted to sales when they drive traffic to your business’ website. Don’t let these valuable opportunities slip away.

Failure to identify social media influencers. In every industry, certain groups or individuals wield significant influence over their followers and can significantly help or harm a business. Know who these influencers are and focus on becoming part of their community.

Neglecting to measure ROI. With tools such as Facebook analytics and Google Analytics, it’s a big mistake not to explore and understand what customers and followers enjoy (and don’t enjoy) about the content you provide. How can you hope to extend the scope of your social media activity and generate more likes and clicks without a sense of what’s working and a strategy to build on those insights and get more bang for your buck?

The real magic happens when you have a strategy,” says Brooke Howell of Reputation Capital. “If you’re running a social media program but you don’t know what you’re going to accomplish next month, you’re doing it wrong.”

Taking steps to avoid these faux pas will sharpen your social media marketing efforts and pave the way toward making more connections with prospective customers.

 

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

 

Peter LaMotte is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK and Chair of the firm’s Digital Communications Practice. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post by one of MarketingMel’s six advisors, Dave McAuley. Dave, who’s been both an entrepreneur and pastor, is the founder of the Summit Leadership Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 with a heart for connecting, caring and consulting.

 

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.”  ~ Rev. Billy Graham

 

Building a legacy begins with keeping the next generation in mind.  Many leaders are shortsighted in setting goals.  Their expectations for having a lasting impact are very limited.  However, visionary leaders can see their influence extending well into the future.

Team MarketingMel: Mary Ellen Miller welcomes new ETSU intern Alex Quillin. Mentoring the next generation is a tenet of MarketingMel's PR firm.

Mary Ellen Miller welcomes new ETSU intern Alex Quillin. Mentoring the next generation is a tenet of MarketingMel’s PR firm.

 

Leaders who train themselves to think “next generation”, gain influence well beyond their lifetime.  They build a legacy with lasting impact. I saw this lived out in my Grandfather who was a true servant leader in his investment in the lives of others.  His legacy lives on today through the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those he influenced during his lifetime.

 

We can learn a lot from the history of the Jewish people who had the mindset of generational leadership instilled in them through the repeating of the Shema which is central to their faith:

 

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

 

Some generations fulfilled the commitment to effectively pass this on to the next generation and some did not, but there was always a “remnant” in each generation who would pass this on to their children.  They knew this truth was timeless and they were building a legacy by pouring themselves into the next generation.

 

Do you lead with the next generation in mind?  What would acting on that perspective look like in your organization and with your team? As a leader, you can extend your influence by pouring yourself into this generation in such a way that prepares them to influence the next generation through what they learned from you.  Generational influence is essential in building a lasting legacy.  What beliefs, values and principles would you like to see passed on as part of your legacy in the next generation?

 

Are you being intentional about building a lasting legacy through those you lead today?  Simply invest in the lives of others.  You don’t have to fill them, just take time to pour a little into them each day and building your legacy will begin to take shape.

 

DaveMcAuley]

 

Dave McAuley is the Founder, President and CEO of Summit Leadership Foundation as well as a Founding Member and an Independent Certified Coach, Speaker and Trainer of the John Maxwell Team. Summit Leadership Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit Christian ministry located in Johnson City, TN.  Summit serves as a relational hub for “Connecting, Consulting, Coaching and Caring” for leaders.   www.summitlife.org

 

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