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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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MarketingMel served as panel moderator and worked with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

MarketingMel was delighted to moderate and to work with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

 

Our #SMAC13 Social Media and Communicators Panel discussion was a success! Many thanks are in order! First, to the panelists: Becky Campbell- Johnson City Press, Josh Smith- WJHL-TV, Eric Vaughn- Wellmont Health System, Rachel Cain- Eastman, and Jennifer Clements-ETSU. Hats off to the team that pulled it off: Jim Wozniak, Rachel Cain, Drew Beamer, Deborah Lowery, Christian Schmid along with myself and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock. Thanks also to many of you loyal blog readers who helped me publicize the event on twitter.

For the first time ever in the Tri-Cities region three professional communications organizations joined together to create one fantastic communications event. Those organizations were: Public Relations Society of America (Northeast Tennessee Chapter), Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation and the Greater Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The committee’s initial goal was to gather 100 people to listen to a distinguished panel including both journalists and professional corporate communicators. We far exceeded our goal with over 150 business professionals and college students turning out to hear the pro’s. Here are some of the “tweetable highlights” of the panel discussion. I was the panel moderator and it’s hard to pare them down to just a few sentences as most of what they said was valuable. I would love to hear what comments particularly resonate with you.

  1. “Years ago we could only tell you about something that happened today, tomorrow morning…I started out with a notepad and a pen. Today I carry an iPad and shoot video… I’ve been tweeting trial updates from court since 2010.”
  2. “Every person in our newsroom has a Facebook. Every person in our newsroom has a twitter. Everyone in our newsroom is expected to contribute.”
  • Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press reporter
  1. “It was always there (our immediate desire for news.) I have found our viewers are far less patient than they ever were. We have higher expectations now. People always have wanted information. Now we have to keep up with the demands of our audience.”
  2. “You don’t get angry on social media. You don’t respond angrily. That can cause you to lose your job. And that has happened in this market.”
  • Josh Smith WJHL-TV Anchorman
  1. “In health care we deal with people in the most personal moments. The issue that we face is because of regulations we cannot point to anything personal about a patient.”
  2. “You need to have a specific strategy in place and apply to the audience you are looking for. You have to have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish.”
  • Eric Vaughn, Wellmont Health Systems
  1. “There is no one size fits all. If you are on social media you should have a strategy. Make sure everything you do is measurable. We measure leads generated, how many of those leads are qualified. As many things as you can track, how many go from social media to your web site and then convert on your web site. Something solid to start tracking on an excel spread sheet.
  2. “You have to be able and willing to fail in social media. Track lessons learned. Strategy is about what you’re saying and to whom and where they are.”
  3. “I don’t think that any business can afford to not be on social media anymore.”
  • Rachel Cain, Eastman/Perennial Wood
  1. “Social Media gives us the opportunity to listen to what’s going on on campus and it gives us the opportunity to communicate with our audience.”
  2. “When an emergency happens our students and staff turn to social media to find out what is going on.”
  3. “If you’re applying for jobs show how you’ve built a brand for yourself or for your company; not just that you’re on Facebook.”
  • Jennifer Clements, East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

To watch the #SMAC13 video to to hear all of what these distinguished panelists had to say, click on “watch the event video” on the #SMAC13 website.

 

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Tri-Cities PRSA, Ad Club, SPJ Team up for #SMAC13

I’m so excited about this upcoming event I wanted to share it with you, my dear blog readers! For the first time ever we’ve gathered three fantastic groups of communicators together to produce what’s going to be one great event!

The Tri-Cities Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, along with Greater Tri-Cities Pro Chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists and The American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee will host Social Media and Communicators, #SMAC13, a discussion on navigating the ever-changing social landscape, Thursday, September 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Venue in the King building in downtown Johnson City, 300 East Main Street, Suite 200.

This inaugural event will feature the region’s leading journalists and corporate communicators as they discuss how social media plays a role in news gathering, public relations, advertising and our everyday lives. The speakers will take part in an informative panel discussion about this sometimes controversial and often misunderstood medium.

Panelists will be Josh Smith of WJHL, Rachel Cain of Eastman Chemical Company, Becky Campbell of the Johnson City Press, Jennifer Clements of East Tennessee State University and Eric Vaughn of Wellmont Health System.  I have the honor of serving as moderator.

“#SMAC 13 will provide an excellent opportunity for communications professionals to share best practices and for the public to learn more about the rapidly growing field of social media,” said Jim Wozniak, president of Tri-Cities PRSA. “We have assembled a tremendous panel and moderator who are on the cutting edge of social media developments, we are grateful to have such wonderful partners in SPJ and AAF who have helped develop a first-rate event.”

Audience members will be encouraged to participate in the conversation and send questions before the panel starts – via Twitter using the hashtag #SMAC13. Even if you can’t join us live please tweet us some questions in advance and we’ll do our best to work them in!

The cost to attend is $15 for PRSA and SPJ members, $25 for business professionals and $10 for students with valid student ID and it includes lunch provided by Cranberries. Attendance fee and lunch is included with Ad Club membership.   RSVP is required for this event as seating will be limited.

For more information about the event or to learn how you can get involved, please visit the #SMAC 13 Facebook event page at Facebook.com/Tri-CitiesPRSA or email .

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