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Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Steve Hawkins, a veteran news man and host of The Steve Hawkins Show on WFHG radio, recently posed these two questions to me: How are people now using social media to get their news? How has social media become a news source?  Steve said he was prompted to ask me these questions after the recent (local) Greene County school stabbing. Do you know where I heard about that incident? Twitter. I was checking my local tweets list on my phone and saw WJHL’s post about it. I told my husband about the incident as we were walking out the door to a First Priority fund raising dinner. That evening the Christian youth group used the tragic incident to discuss the need for the work that they do with youths in our schools.

I posed Steve’s questions on today’s “airwaves” and was overwhelmed by the quick response on both twitter and Facebook. Here are a few of the stories people shared with me.

Last summer (2013) Johnson City videographer Kyle Long of Digital-fridge, was shooting a tourism video for the town of Damascus, VA. Suddenly, an elderly man suffered a medical issue and plowed into a crowd with his car. No one was killed but there were several serious injuries. Kyle took and posted the photo of the car crash to twitter and Facebook. Within ten minutes of his tweet, ABC/New York called to ask permission to use the photo. He told them “sure” and his photo was blasted out to ABC news watchers around the globe. This actually poses an interesting ethical question that Kyle and I discussed. Who becomes the gatekeeper?  What if Kyle had taken a photo of “just any car” and said it was the one to plow into the crowd? In today’s rush of citizen journalists does the “first to post” win?

Apparently lots of news hounds like me monitor twitter. My intern Emma Brock said that when Soledad O’Brien visited ETSU she said she usually saw her news on twitter first- and then she would check her sources for the facts.Ted Bradford of Shop Local says that The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore retweeted his photo of downtown Johnson City flooding within 15-20 minutes of posting.

Of course there can be a downside if you don’t check the facts. My associate Sarah Kinsler says, “The way social media is used for news often reminds me of the game “telephone” … “what happened” changes as it’s being passed around person by person.” And former MSHA Vice President Ed Herbert adds, “Locally, there was the situation where MSHA was closing Indian Path Pavilion, the psych hospital, but one TV station tweeted “MSHA closing Indian Path Medical Center” and suddenly 700 team members at the hospital were fearful for their jobs, the tweet was then used as a source on other media outlets and MSHA communications and marketing spent the rest of the day correcting the erroneous tweet.”

Local WJHL-TV newsman Chris McIntosh says, “Some of the best stories I’ve covered have come from Facebook sources. I have fans and friends on Facebook that keep me up to date on what is going on in their neighborhoods and communities.”

Finally, my former intern Kristen Pierce, who is now with St. Jude’s says, “I usually get breaking news first on Twitter. I follow the Associated Press so I’m always staying up to date!”

Clearly, social media has found its place as a key influencer in our news consumption and creation.

Do you have a social media making/breaking news story to share? I would love to hear from you and publish some of those here. 

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

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Editor’s note: This is a guest blog post written by MarketingMel associate and recent ETSU public relations graduate Sarah Kinsler. 

College graduates: MarketingMel's 2012-2013 intern Kristen Pierce with MarketingMel associate Sarah Kinsler.

College graduates: MarketingMel’s 2012-2013 intern Kristen Pierce with MarketingMel associate Sarah Kinsler.

As a recent public relations graduate, I entered the workforce excited and eager to take on the PR world by storm. However I soon realized there is much more to Public Relations than what is taught in the classroom.  During one of my first official client meetings I found myself at a rush to write an on the spot release and pitch it to the local media. I remember thinking, “Wait, this isn’t how I learned PR.” I soon came to the realization that the “due dates” for a release and planned timelines, were no longer part of my PR ways.

While I do think I learned some valuable skills during my college career, I feel you cannot fully comprehend applied public relations without being thrown into the real deal. I have narrowed down my top three tips in adapting to the “real” world of PR.

1.   Sharpen your Writing:

Train yourself to write quickly, yet effectively and clearly.  Many times you will be caught in situations that forces you to write on the spot. Make sure you have the ability to provide sufficient details in a timely manner.

2.   Stay Calm in Stressful Circumstances

PR can be very stressful, don’t allow yourself to get frazzled. Use your youth as a positive and keep your cool.

 3.   Be Open to Learning New Things and Getting Advice

Lets face it, you are a newbie, but the good news is there are lots of people that want to help you succeed! Be open to their advice and ask questions. Some of your best resources are closer than you think!

4.   Network Network Network

Being in the PR world means meeting lots of people. Between events, meetings, and clients you will have a plethora of opportunities to establish new professional relationships. Take advantage of this and be sure to follow up with new contacts! You never know who can help you in the future.

5.   Always Present your Best Work

You will often find yourself working on unsupervised projects. Don’t freak, you can do this! Just remember that you should always present quality work because it’s a reflection on you and your company. If your boss assigns you to a solo project, they trust that you can do it. Make sure to put forth your best effort and meet deadline!

Sarah Kinsler is a member of the MarketingMel team and creates marketing, public relations and social media strategies for clients. She is a December 2012 graduate of ETSU where she studied public relations. Her dream job would be to work in Nashville in country music PR.

Sarah Kinsler

Sarah Kinsler

 

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MarketingMel joined Nancy Williams' Milligan College P.R. class for mock job interviews.

MarketingMel joined Nancy Williams’ Milligan College P.R. class for mock job interviews.

With graduation just around the corner (my present intern Kristen Pierce will graduate May 11 from ETSU) many recent college graduates will be looking for that first job.  I had the opportunity to “mock interview” Milligan College upperclassmen, including one graduating senior, this week. The setting was Nancy Williams’ Public Relations class. I commend Nancy for providing these students with some fantastic real world experience. The students are fortunate to have Nancy, a veteran of FedEx P.R., who even brought the small class home-made chicken salad on their last day!

Here are a few questions you can expect from any interviewer and some that I asked these students:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This one is generally the opener of most all interviews so be prepared to show the interviewer some of your personality and goals.
  2. Tell me about your strengths? Your weaknesses? (Your strengths should be easy. If not be sure to read Now Discover Your Strengths and take the Strengths Finder internet quiz by Buckingham and Clifton. As to your weaknesses, be sure to phrase them in such a way that they can be turned into strengths. Nancy gave a great example: “I am challenged by giving out grades (and then how she works to overcome that.)
  3. Why do you want this position? This gives you an opportunity to exhibit some knowledge about the company.
  4. Why should we hire you? This is a classic. I recall one of my first boss’s pointing to a stack of other videos (our TV resumes were on videotapes back then!) and saying “All these other people want this same job. Why should I hire you?” I must have been convincing because I got the job!
  5. What do you do for fun? This is a slight inroad into your personal life without being too nosy. Be sure you have some “fun” answers ready. (You’re national shot-put champion for example. One of these capable students really was!)
  6. Why  did you leave your last job? (This may not be as applicable to college students but it will come up from your first job on. Be sure you never burn any bridges and treat your last boss/job with respect.)
  7. Do you have any questions of me? Be prepared for this one to come at the end of your interview. This is an opportunity to ask intelligent questions of your potentially future employer and show your knowledge of the business. It’s also your chance to learn about company training opportunities, etc.

MarketingMel Bonus tips:

Writing is right: Be sure you have a cover letter, resume and list of references ready for the interviewer. Customize the cover letter to the person and to the specific job (skip the “to whom this may concern.”) One of the students provided an excellent online portfolio that gave me great insights into her blog writing, video and journalism work before I met her in person.

Say thanks! Be sure to thank your interviewer afterward. Even a simple thank you email is appreciated and a hand written note will absolutely make you stand out from the crowd.

Final thought: Like many of you reading this, I graduated college during a down economy. One of the best pieces of career advice I got was “Just take a job in your field, even if it’s part time. It will become full time.” Sage words for today’s graduates as well!

 

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Editor’s note: Copied below is the news release from last week’s Tri-Cities PRSA Awards. Once again MarketingMel was competing against large industries  and public relations firms throughout the Tri-Cities region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 

MarketingMel team at PRSA awards: Mary Ellen Miller, Kristen Pierce and Sarah Kinsler.

MarketingMel team at PRSA awards: Mary Ellen Miller, Kristen Pierce and Sarah Kinsler.

(Johnson City, Tenn.) MarketingMel, an innovative marketing, public relations, and social media strategies firm led by professional communicator Mary Ellen Miller, recently received top honors at the annual PRSA of TriCities TN/VA awards. The awards recognize excellence in media campaigns and products. Work is judged by a panel that evaluates winners based on impact, creativity and visibility. The MarketingMel team, including ETSU intern, Kristen Pierce was recognized for successful campaigns during the 2012 year.

Miller took home two Awards of Excellence in two different column writing categories Her award winning article “How to Get a Job in PR: 11 tips from a P.R. Pro” was first published in Out N’ About Magazine and recently featured in Ragan Communications’ PR Daily. Her other winning article was published in Out N’ About Magazine and featured her dog Lucky. It was called “Lucky Lends Us His Life Lessons.”  A similar article had also been published in Happy Tails.

Jenny Brock and Turkey

Jenny Brock and Turkey

Pierce, an ETSU Senior public relations major, was honored in the student category for her work on the Johnson City Turkey Trot campaign with an Award of Quality. Pierce, Jenny Brock and Mary Ellen Miller received the Community Relations Award for the Johnson City Turkey Trot and Pierce, Phil Scharfstein of One Stop Wines and Liquors, and Miller received the Award of Quality for Public Service for the “Spirits of the Season Gala” benefit for the American Cancer Society of Northeast Tennessee. In addition, former MarketingMel intern Sarah Rowan’s video about her experience working with MarketingMel captured an Award of Merit.

“I am really grateful to have such superb clients and business professionals to work with and for,” said Miller. “Being honored as a boutique Public Relations agency alongside some of the major institutions and P.R. agencies in our region is very exciting.”

Headquartered in Johnson City, Tenn., MarketingMel assists business professionals with their marketing, public relations, and social media needs. The firm works across the political, lifestyle, entertainment and manufacturing industries in launching their brands to the top.

Miller blogs regularly about social networking for business, public relations, leadership and marketing at http://marketingmel.com. Her thoughts on these topics can also be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/MarketingMel.

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(Editor’s note: This article is co-authored by Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler, a recent ETSU Public Relations graduate and assistant to MarketingMel.)

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and intern Kristen Pierce.

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and Mel’s intern Kristen Pierce, leaders in the next gen social networkers.

The once great love affair between America’s youth and Facebook  is over.  The social network, once the “craze” for teens a few years back, has slowly turned into a ghost town when it comes to high school aged kids.

 

Why you ask? It’s simple. Now that Facebook has become the chosen network for the middle aged and even seniors, teens are feeling a little “crowded.”  Now they aren’t sharing info, updates, jokes with just their friends, but with Grandma too! Another reason of course is teens are all about chasing new trends and being involved in the newest networks. So adios Facebook and Hello Snapchat, vine and Tumblr.

 

Snapchat, a mobile app sharing service, lets users take short video and photos, then allows users to send as a message.The unique thing about this app however is that once the message is seen, for a very short amount of time, it self destructs (or so teens believe). This is huge right now because teens find it fun that they can live in the moment and not worry about the consequences of a photo/video being taken for a permanent record.

 

Another popular app right now (number one on iTunes actually)  is called Vine. The is app was created by Twitter to take short video clips and mash it into one looping six second short video.  (Sarah and Mary Ellen created this video on Vine while waiting to be interviewed about recent youth trends at WJCW radio last week.)

 

Tumblr is also very big right now. This app is for photo blogging and creating fun profiles that represent the user. It provides teens with a since of creativity without the extended family watching their every move.

To listen to more of our discussion on youth and social media trends please listen to our podcast.  Prior to the podcast Mary Ellen posted on both her Facebook business and personal pages about youth leaving Facebook and got a resounding “yes” from parents who agreed. What trends are you seeing in social networking and youth communications these days?

 

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