MarketingMel speaks to ETSU's P.R.S.S.A student chapter

Last year’s blog post “How to Find a Job in Public Relations” was extremely popular, particularly with college students preparing to head out into the workforce. So I decided to turn it into a less-than-three minute video with the hope of helping even more people along the way.  For the pro’s viewing this, please share any tips you would like to add for our recent college graduates who are looking for communications jobs. Thanks!

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MarketingMel celebrating ten years of Tri-Cities TN/VA P.R.S.A. with other co-founders Bob Feagins and Dr. John King.

Working in public relations is like baseball. There is no way you can achieve a win completely on your own. Rather, it takes a group of creative people and approving clients to make it happen. I have several people to thank for their roles in helping MarketingMel capture six awards at this year’s Tri-Cities TN/VA chapter of the Public Relations Society of America awards banquet in Kingsport last week.

Throughout my career I have loved creating and starting things. It was truly an honor to be recognized for being a part of the founding board of the Tri-Cities TN/VA  P.R.S.A. Together, I served with Bob Feagins, our first president, Dr. John King and Jon Lundberg (who missed the meeting because he is serving in the legislature in Nashville.)  We were honored with a cupcake surprise and a round of “Happy Birthday.” MarketingMel, in business just over three years, captured six awards at the Tri-Cities TN/VA Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s annual awards dinner that was held April 17 in Kingsport.  The firm won two “Awards of Excellence,” the highest award given, for Collateral Specialty Item/ Financial Legal Solutions Logo developed for Blackburn, Childers & Steagall and Audio/Visual Productions for “MarketingMel’s Top 10 Tips to Feel Comfortable on camera.”

MarketingMel took top prizes for a logo and video

I teamed with designer Theresa Bellamy to create the logo for client B.C.S., that had to tie five separate companies together under one distinct brand. “The logo had to be non-specific and had to work with any of the five companies as a whole or any combination of the five,” said BCS Marketing Director Kendra Hopson.  “The MarketingMel team also worked well with a large group of business partners with distinct opinions. Each of them wanted something different, and, in the end, it was a unanimous decision.”

The second “Award of Excellence” was for a video, that I created along with Kyle Long of Digital-Fridge. I saw the increase in people using the medium of video on the web and, with my background in television news, decided to create “Top Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera.” The video, originally created as a guest vlog for Maria Peagler of Social Media Online Classes, was picked up by major P.R. services including PR Daily and has now been seen by thousands of viewers across the world.

Our team took two “Awards of Quality” for Wolfe Development’s Website (developer Jeffery Moore) and for feature writing for a Business Journal article on CapTeeVation’s owner Joy Humphreys. The company also received two “Awards of Merit” for the MarketingMel brochure (designed by Monique Carr) and the MarketingMel e-newsletter.

In the student print category, MarketingMel’s former intern Sarah Rowan, recently hired by the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, captured three awards for her writing about community activities. Sarah won the student “Award of Excellence” for her news release concerning the Johnson City Public Library board of directors, of which I am a member. Sarah received the Award of Quality for her work with the Johnson City Up and At ‘Em Turkey Trot 5K that MarketingMel helped sponsor. Sarah also received the Award of Merit for a news release about MarketingMel’s attendance at the Inbound Marketing Summit. Congratulations and thanks to all!


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"Lucky" checks for Facebook updates

Anyone watching Sunday night’s Super Bowl (and that would be 111 million of you by last count) knows that the show’s advertising went “to the dogs.” The old adage of “babes, beasts and beauties” was as prevalent in the social-media-heavy Super Bowl XLVI as it was long before twitter and Facebook were ever created. Dogs were riding in trucks, surviving the end of the world, running on treadmills, admiring themselves in mirrors, chasing cars and wearing running shoes. Clearly, man’s best friend continues to hold a high place of esteem and reverence (at least in the eyes of today’s advertising exec’s.)

All that got me thinking about tips I’ve gleaned from my own dog, “Lucky.” A 17 month old Jack Russell Terrier mix can teach us a lot about relationships. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned with you and welcome your comments.

1. Be a good listener–  I talk to my dog. His response? Mostly he just looks, listens and nods approvingly.  In addition to making me feel better,  he’s there for me to sound out ideas. Do the same for your clients. Listen, and you’ll learn a lot.

2. Bark only if you have a good reason– I’ve never been able to stand “yippy yappies.” Whether it’s a dog or a person no one likes someone who’s always barking. Too much yakking gets nothing accomplished. Remember, if you can’t say something nice about somebody don’t bark at all.

3. Show people you love and appreciate them– There’s nothing like  a wagging tail, nudge or hand lick to know you’re appreciated. Think of ways that you can do this for your customers, co-workers and family members.

4. Exercise every day- Even if it’s just a walk around the block the fresh air will do you good. Getting out in nature is invigorating.

5. Take time out to play- If you get the chance to play with your customers all the better. Whether it’s ball, golf, or simply enjoying a nice lunch together, spend some “off” time with your clients.

6. Be loyal- Show loyalty to your boss and to your customers. I always try to purchase my customers’ products, recommend them and support them in any way that I can.

7. Together we make a great team- There is no end to the things that a dog can do that you may not have thought possible. (I was astounded the first time I ever ran a race with Lucky. He was slowed only by the speed of his human!) I’ve found the collective brainpower of “we” with my clients is always so much better than either of us could do alone. Together, our creativity and knowledge can produce remarkable results.

What lessons have you learned from your pet that carry over to the business world? I’d love to hear from you.

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MarketingMel with firm intern ETSU PR student Sarah Williams Rowan

College students and recent college grad’s connect with me on a regular basis. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from a rising public relations/communications graduate who wants to learn how to get a job in my chosen profession of communications and public relations.  I always try to make time for them. (I think it goes back to my days as an intern at WKBW-TV in Buffalo. I learned so much from my wonderful mentor there that I’ve wanted to give back ever since.) As proof, I’ve generally had an intern throughout most of my career and one of my most popular blog posts ever was “How to get a job in Public Relations: Eleven tips from a PR pro“.

This generation of 20-somethings calls themselves Generation R for Recession. They say that unlike what their baby-boomer parents had, the world is no longer a guaranteed place of hope for a brighter future. Times are tough out there. I hear it at church and as I walk my dog in my neighborhood. Just last evening a neighbor told me of his daughter, her husband and their two young children who have all been forced to move back home with him and his wife. However graduates should not despair. Just like cream quality candidates will rise to the top.

Here are a few job-seeking tips I’m providing to Generation R to help recent grad’s get there. Please share this post with others who may benefit from it.

  1. A picture really IS worth 1,000 words! Have a professional photo made ( head/head and shoulders shot) and use it when connecting with others through social media channels. (If you can’t afford a photographer didn’t you have a friend who was a photography major who’s also looking for work now and who might trade services with you? They probably need a news release about themselves/their latest show.) Recently I spoke with a young female graduate whom I originally thought to be a hoax! Why? She had a man’s name and her photo showcased her in an alluring red, strapless dress…perfect for college formals but not so perfect for the hardened former journalist casting a suspicious eye upon it! When my current intern (seen in the photo above) first connected with me she had a polished, professional photo accompanying her resume. Bravo for people who recall that P.R. is arguably an image business!
  2. Your name is your brand: If you have a man’s first name and you are female be sure to incorporate your middle name into your presence so that people can determine your gender. This is important because often we see men hiding behind revealing photos of women online.
  3. Be there: By that I mean, meet the professional communicators in the spaces we inhabit. For example, we welcome new college PR grad’s to our #soloPR chat ever Wednesday at 1 PM eastern. Stop in, you may learn something and make some great connections. Visit and comment on our blogs and talk with us on twitter.
  4. Connect with the thought leaders in your field (both online and “IRL”): Where are the thought leaders in your field? No doubt they’re online and they’re involved with various social media channels. Be sure to connect with them. Learn the fine art of impressing them with your savvy and know-how while simultaneously listening to and responding to them/ their concerns. Also, be present at business networking events in your community. Don’t bemoan and whine about where your live. Make the most of it (or move!)
  5. Create Content Now! One recent Gen R grad whom I’ve advised from time to time moved to Nashville to find his fame and fortune. David Lyle Ford has done several things right along the way. 1- He connected with me and other thought leaders and gained our friendship and trust. 2- He recently started writing as a means to create his personal brand while providing a social networking service to others with his blog The Social Drifter. This also showcases his writing skills, key to any professional communicator.
  6. Stay educated! Just because school’s over doesn’t mean your education is. Sign up for free webinars in your field to stay on top of the latest happenings in your profession. Read, read, read to keep up with what’s going on.  Use your library to read free books (You can even check out a Kindle at ours!) Read what the thought leaders are talking about online and then read the books they reference.
  7. What’s new? Be aware of the news. Meeting people in marketing/PR who don’t keep up with current events is always a bit of a surprise to me. Know what’s going on around you and in the world.

What tips do you have to add for Generation R? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a Gen R member yourself I’d love to hear from you!

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Tips for finding PR jobs

How to find a job in PR

It seems like every week I field a call from a desperate college student seeking my advice about how to break into public relations. I’ve answered their questions so often that I thought I would jot down a few tips that I’ve learned over my more than 20-year career in public relations.

  1. Think strategically: What is your end goal? How can you get there? Have a plan. Write it down just as you would a business plan and then work it.
  2. Seek internships: Be sure to have one; they often lead to jobs. Furthermore, they’ll help you to understand if this business is really for you. (It can be very stressful at times!) 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. Play up your accomplishments. Example: MarketingMel’s intern Sarah Williams was the top PR student at her community college.  That impressed me.

    MarketingMel with intern Sarah Williams

    MarketingMel with intern Sarah Williams

  4. Communicate with communicators: Communicate on their terms through their channels (and be sure to identify yourself.) Since founding MarketingMel there was only one time that a college student reached out to me in such an engaging way that I asked for a meeting with him. Yet that was how impressed I was with the abilities of David Ford. (Remember that name. I think he will go far in the advertising business!) If you want to see what the pro’s are doing listen to tweetchats like # soloPR and #journchat and say “Hello.”
  5. Study the thought leaders: Look who’s leading the way in your chosen field, in your community, and in the world. (I treasure my virtual friendships with my international friends. Judy Gombita in Toronto with PR Conversations is a great example.)
  6. Innovate: Use the latest tools and learn about new ones. The field of communications changes daily. Be sure you are running at all times to keep up with it. Is your Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn up to date? (Yes, I said LinkedIn. More than 80 percent of all headhunters are there so you need to be there as well.) Use YouTube to present yourself on video to a future employer. Skype is a 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 pick up and 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 share some real (not virtual) Facetime with your teachers and friends. This goes for our 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 our local morning news anchor, Josh Smith via twitter. He and I are both early risers and our friendship has deepened with our regular tweet banter.
  10. Know your strengths and weaknesses and focus on your strengths: (Now Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton is a book well worth reading with an easy-to-take online quiz that will help you determine your top strengths.)
  11. Create your Personal Brand: Put some thought into this one and again there are some great books available (see Tom Peters and Brand You.) Remember your personal brand will follow you from job to job throughout the rest of your life.

What suggestions do you have to add to this list? Please post your comments here. I’d love to hear from you!

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