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Kellye Crane role playing a difficult conversation with a client.

Kellye Crane role playing a difficult conversation with a client.

I was fortunate to once again be able to attend the SoloPR Summit in Atlanta last week. This was the second year in a row that Kellye Crane and Karen Swim brought together Solo Public Relations professionals from across the country (including Alaska and Canada.)

While all of the sessions were very good, one of my favorites was “Managing Difficult Conversations” with Cloudspark’s Jenny Schmitt and SoloPR Founder Kellye Crane.

Whether it’s a financial issue, scope creep or tactical disagreements over strategy, all of us who are Solo Pro’s ends up occasionally being challenged with a prospective client or partner.

Here were their 7 top tips:

1. Plan – Have a script. Actually have in writing what you plan to say on the phone or in person and then practice. Kelly and Jenny had each of us turn to a partner and “play act” our parts.  Don’t just “wing it.”

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Silence – At lunch later we laughed about this favorite old journalist’s technique. Remain silent and the interviewee will look to fill the void (and often trip over both themselves and their words, much to a reporter’s delight!) Of course in any negotiations, silence is golden.

3. Stay Firm – This was really encouraging. If you stay firm our instructors said, you will ultimately win more respect.

4. Use Active Listening – This fantastic listening style was actually taught to my husband and me before we were married (and it’s worked well for nearly 19 years!) When you’re striving to understand the other person, reflect back to them what you heard. “So I hear you to say…” (Hint: If this is your spouse I’ve found it helps to hold hands as you play this out. It’s extremely hard to argue with someone when you’re holding his/her hand.)

5. Back up Your Position in Writing – Wow! There is only one time since I started my business five years ago that I did not get an agreement with a client in writing and what a huge mistake that was! A written agreement brings clarity and provides an easy reference document.

6. Make Recommendations – Here Jenny and Kellye suggested coming up with alternatives if one scenario does not work. Use “I wish” statements instead of “You’re wrong.”

7. People have their own pressures – We all are under unique stresses including our clients in their jobs. We really don’t know what they are going through so remember, be kind. You never want to burn a bridge.

 

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Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Recently I was asked to speak as part of a panel discussion on social media use and teenagers as part of a panel discussion at my church, Grace Fellowship Church. Below you will find the questions along with my answers as a parent and as someone who appreciates both the positive and the more dangerous side of social media. Of course Instagram, twitter, vine and Snapchat were named as some of the more popular platforms with today’s generation while Facebook still thrives among “old” people (read: parents.)
Introduction:
1. Before I share my interest in social media just a quick funny story about how the world is changing so rapidly. The other night I saw my 11 year old son doing what I thought was playing on the iPad and I asked him to put down the iPad and do his homework! Whoops! He said “Mom, I am doing my homework!” He absolutely was! He was  doing his vocabulary homework and looking up words on dictionary.com on the iPad. Point is: we must always be thinking in new and different ways and his version of how to do homework is quite different from mine (remember pencil and paper?)
I have worked in and around social media since 2008. As a parent I am very interested in staying on top of trends and keeping up with what is out there. I even look over his shoulder when he’s playing Minecraft just to see who else is or could be in on the game. I believe as parents we need to know who our children are communicating with online. It used to be we worried about the creep down the road at the playground but now that playground is a virtual playground and we need to be just as vigilant if not more so than before.

2. What has been the number one benefit of social media both in your
professional experience and your personal life?

My embrace particularly of twitter was a game changer in terms of getting me first interviewed by TV news when I first started my business and them actually creating a TV news series called “Social Media 101” that aired on the evening news. I have been asked to do public speaking on many occasions because of my knowledge and use of social media. I have been asked to speak at conferences and on this panel because of social media. Sarah Kinsler and I will be attending a conference in Atlanta this week strictly on the basis of colleagues I have met through the #soloPR twitter chat I’ve been involved with since founding my business. In terms of my clients I have assisted my political PR clients with gaining a presence on social media for the past five years. Currently I am assisting Lisa Rice in her political campaign for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. At first she resisted going on Facebook because she uses it against people in court. Her view has changed now because she sees the importance of this new “word of mouth.” On a personal note Facebook enables me to keep up with dear old friends and family.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

3. What has been the biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media
that you have experienced?

The biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media is probably the people who are using it for illegitimate means and who target cyber “victims.” You have to be savvy and I don’t think young children can always differentiate between good and bad. I also see how social media targets you by the demographics they have on you. If you don’t believe me, log on as someone else. I used to log on as a male client sometimes and would get completely different ads. I met a man at a conference who was considered a “god” of social media. He spoke all around the world on the subject. He had thousands of followers and “friends.” (Zuckerberg’s rewritten the meaning of the word friend) but this man tragically took his own life. The thing that absolutely makes me want to cry was the story of the young girl who had been cyber bullied and she took her own life by jumping off a tower. That was such a needless tragedy. BTW I make it my policy to never friend anyone less than 13 on Facebook. I just don’t want to have anything to do with a child that young on Facebook for many different reasons.

4. If you could communicate only one caution about social media to
parents, what would that be?

My caution about social media to parents would be that you must be vigilant. Do not bury your head in the sand. Find out who they are communicating with and what they are putting online. We all have a digital footprint that follows us from womb to beyond the grave. Make sure you know what platforms your kids are using and friend them and follow them.

Photos from our event were live streamed via Eventstagram.  We received very positive feedback from the parents who attended. What advice do you have for parents and teens concerning social media?

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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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Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel’s intern, Emma Brock. My interns work with me for at least one full academic year (two semesters.)

I hardly know where to begin when people ask me what I do as MarketingMel’s intern. My mind flurries with all the research, the events and the campaigns I have gotten to work on since Mel brought me on as her intern in August. With each new day there is a new goal to conquer.

In the world of PR, the only thing you can expect is not knowing what to expect! While much of PR is a learning curve, there are certain tools that every intern should keep in mind to find success.

1. Be a complement to your employer. Every person has a different skill set. Clearly your boss has valuable skills that got them to the position they work in. However, you also should be aware of your skills that will complement those of your employer. The end goal is to be a valuable member of your team.

2. Talking is good. Listening is better. Have you ever heard that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? Well it is true! There will be opportunities where your opinion is asked for, and doing so will open you up for creative thinking. On the flip side, there is great value in listening. You will gain insight as to the needs of your clients, and people will always regard you highly for good listening skills.

3. Discretion, Discretion, Discretion. Need I say more? No one wants a reputation as a gossip. Not to mention, gabbing about your clients can land you in hot water.

4. Time is Money. In any career, timeliness is important. But as an intern, it is vital to always be timely to events and with events. Take advantage of every spare minute. It makes more of an impression than you realize.

5. Sleep is a thing of the past. There will be days where you will be utterly sleep-deprived. But when you walk out of the office knowing you accomplished a major feat, made new connections, helped clients and improved yourself, it will all be worth it.

EmmaBrockEmma Brock is currently a senior PR major at ETSU and MarketingMel’s intern. Aside from doing research and assisting with client events for the company, she can be found at the park with her beloved dog Cooper or with her nose buried in a book. Follow Brock on Instagram: @brockaleigh 

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Lovely stationary inspires great letter writing.

Lovely stationary inspires great letter writing.

The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler, a millennial who still loves to write letters the old fashioned way. 

Last month, according to my cell phone bill, I received over 900 text messages. Everything from funny photos, to sweet good morning messages, to reminders for work. Funny though. If you asked me to remember the best text I received in December, I couldn’t tell you. I could however tell you about the two letters I received in the mail over the last few weeks. One being a card from one of my closest friends who recently moved to another state. She included a adorable picture of her dog and a short note about her recent ventures.  While this friend and I talk daily via text, social media and calls, the letter meant so much more because she took the time to write it.

In honor of National Letter Writing Month and the fact that I was gifted that CUTEST Kate Spade stationary for Christmas, I am supporting an old fashion, but effective form of communication. Maybe I’m an old soul, but I enjoy letter writing, always have. When my best friend in the entire world moved away in middle school, we turned to writing letters. (This was before “texting” became the social norm.) I started writing letters in middle school and continue to send notes, postcards and letters whenever I feel the need to say “hello”.

Here are a few reasons why Letter Writing is important:

1. Adds a Personal Touch
A text is great for saying, “Hey, we’re out of bread” or “Running five minutes behind” but doesn’t really work when you are expressing thanks or showing a person gratitude. A letter makes your message stand out. It lets the person see a different side of you.
2. Keep in Touch with Friends
Social media is a great way to get a glance at a person’s current happenings. However, people are only sharing their public news. Writing letters is a great way to stay in touch without all 759 friends looking at your post online.
3. Improves your Writing
Writing a letter is a great way to improve your written communication skills. What better way to improve your writing skills than expressing your thoughts in a card and making someone’s day.
What have been some of your finest memories of writing or getting hand written letters?
MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

 

Sarah Kinsler is a December 2012 ETSU Public Relations graduate. An avid Vine, Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat aficionado, she works with MarketingMel to provide clients with innovative marketing, public relations and social media strategies. Find her on twitter @sarah_kinsler. 

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It was the year of fun with social media. The “Harlem Shake” was all the rage at my SoloPR conference and elsewhere around the country. The word “selfie” officially entered the lexicon. We made vine videos and celebrated National Ice Cream Day July 21st with an instagram video. So what do we do to conclude the year at the holiday season? Our team is closing out 2013 with some more fun. Sarah Kinsler and I will be leading the Johnson City Leadership 2015 class in a sing-along this week with a rousing rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” with a social media kick. We’ll be performing wearing Santa hats with Keith Ford on guitar and  Jason Pierce on mandolin.  What do you think of the lyrics? Would you like to share them at your office Christmas party? Enjoy and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

12 Days[2]

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Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel's Faith in the Future award.

Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel’s Faith in the Future award.

For the second year in a row the MarketingMel team took home the CenturyLink Faith in the Future Award. This year we won in the woman owned business category. My two young rock stars: associate Sarah Kinsler and intern Emma Brock were on hand to accept the award. (I was previously committed to a speaking engagement with the Tri-Cities Women’s Council of Realtors that day.)  It is truly a privilege and an honor to serve MarketingMel’s fantastic clients with their marketing, public relations and social media strategies for nearly five years.  Also, serving, teaching, working and learning from the next generation of rising young professional women is indeed a pillar of my company. One of the platforms of MarketingMel is to mentor rising young women studying in the field of public relations and marketing. According to all reports Sarah and Emma knocked it out of the ball park when they were called to the podium to accept our award. It’s great to have such confidence in the abilities of the next generation. If Sarah and Emma are any indication of the future of the public relations profession, we are in good hands!

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Some time ago I created a video and a blog post called “Ten tips to feel comfortable on camera”  I got the idea after chatting with my friend Maria Peagler of SocialMedia OnlineClasses.com. Maria mentioned that many of her students are afraid to appear on camera. She knew that I once worked in television news and she also knew I loved helping people build their personal brands. We live in a society that is more and more camera and particularly video- camera conscious. Recently Maria asked me if she could turn those video tips into an infographic to help her camera shy students. She teaches them ways to profit from YouTube videos.  I said, “absolutely!” and here is the resulting infographic. Could you or one of your colleagues benefit from this infographic? If so please share it! Which tips resonate with you?

On camera do's and don'ts

On camera do’s and don’ts

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