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MarketingMel's Mary Ellen Miller at a recent public speaking engagement along with Sarah Kinsler in the background.

MarketingMel’s Mary Ellen Miller at a recent public speaking engagement along with Sarah Kinsler in the background.

The Holston River Regional Library has invited me to train regional librarians from throughout the Northeast Tennessee region in the importance of “Public Relations in the 21st Century” during a half day workshop session in August. As a result I’ve reviewed several public relations plan templates and compiled this list of top PR Plan ideas. A shout out of thanks to Debbie Leven who offers a free downloadable template and to PR for Dummies. I’ve compiled some of those PR ideas along with my own thoughts from years of experience as a professional communicator, to come up with this list.

  1. Overview – What is your current Public Relations challenge?
  2. Goals/Objectives – What do you want to achieve? Why?
  3. Target Audience – Who do you want to reach? What do you know about them?
  4. Messages – What are your key messages? (No more than three at any one time! The human mind can’t keep up with more.)
  5. Strategies – What are the methods to achieve your goals and objectives?
  6. Tools – What methods will you use to support your PR? Example: email blast, Social Media Outreach, etc.
  7. Media – What publications/broadcast/blogs will you target? Do you have an up-to-date “media list”?
  8. Designated Spokesperson- Every company needs to speak with one or no more than two voices. Who is your designated company spokesperson? (This is particularly important should a crisis arise.)
  9. Evaluation – How will you measure and monitor your success?
  10. Action Steps – What are your next steps? Timeline? (In the case of the librarians they are expected to issue a minimum of quarterly news releases.)

I plan to have the librarians actually create a news release so that when they leave the workshop they will have something “ready to roll.”

Do you have other steps to add that you would add to this plan? What are some of your best PR practices for your company? I would love to hear from you!

 

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MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW's Thinking Out Loud

MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW’s Thinking Out Loud

What are some examples of customer service you’ve seen in connection with social media that have worked well and worked effectively? That’s one of the topics we address on this  WJCW AM910 podcast of “Thinking Out Loud” with Carl and Bob (normally Carl N’ Dave but Dave was on vacation.)

I share a story of twitter being used to effectively manage customer service and a story of Facebook being used effectively on a political campaign.

Dave mentions Referral Key connecting him with potential voice talent work. We also discuss my “Three Ways to be a Shoo-in in Business and Politics.”

Enjoy this 12 minute podcast and please share with us some of your favorite customer service via social media stories.

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Election night victory! Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, and future Judge Lisa Rice.

Election night: Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, and future Judge Lisa Rice.

To those who regularly read my blog posts you know I am enamored with the subject of personal branding. Perhaps there is no greater personal branding challenge than working with an aspiring political office holder. MarketingMel was given a tremendous opportunity to work for highly successful and popular former prosecutor, turned private practice attorney, Lisa Nidiffer Rice for the past six months as campaign manager. After nearly six months of long, grueling days, Lisa Rice, candidate for Criminal Court Judge Part 1 in the first judicial district of Tennessee, emerged with a decisive victory Tuesday, May 6 in the Republican primary. Lisa Rice will become the first ever female Criminal Court Judge in Northeast Tennessee when she wins the general election in August. (She has no competitor in that election so the primary was the deciding election.)

The campaign encompassed three counties, a huge geographic area. Even though people around here love to have candidates campaign door to door, and she did some of that, there is no way Lisa could reach everyone door to door, particularly in the rural areas. We had to rely on ways to target more voters in a wide swath. We used traditional media; billboards, some radio, television and print. We took a gamble and bucked popular politicians opinion and did not use direct mail. Just too many voters told us they tossed direct mail in the trash. The exception was a highly customized, hand written postcard featuring Lisa and her family that was mailed from personal supporters and friends to their supporters and friends.

Social media however, played a key role in the campaign.

1- The Candidate MUST have a Facebook- You could say I dragged Lisa kicking and screaming into Facebook. You see as a successful trial lawyer, Lisa used Facebook against people in court on a regular basis. I assured her that if you want to run for office you MUST have a presence on the world’s largest social network with over 1.3 billion users. Facebook is today’s word of mouth marketing.

2- Facebook really does translate to real life. People LOVED Lisa on Facebook. They eagerly wrote unsolicited testimonials about how she as an attorney helped them out of a jam. This may sound crazy but it’s true: When people like you on Facebook it does tend to translate liking you at the polls. This isn’t scientific but it is proven. I even studied it during the Obama/Romney campaign and went out on a limb “calling” the election for Obama based strictly upon his social media presence and popularity. At a local campaign level, I’ve also seen the reverse happen; if people don’t like you on Facebook, they don’t like you at the polls. I guess my MBA stat’s professor might say that Facebook is a bit of a statistical sample.

3- The Candidate becomes her own media/publishing house – During the final weekend of the campaign my candidate had to endure attacks from the opponent that were both personal and untrue. She had to respond, but how? We chose to use her own web site and her own social media channels to make our rebuttals and the information immediately had nearly 60 shares within just minutes of posting. Our message was carried out and we didn’t need the traditional press to tell it.

4- Video rules! We created a :30 video for Lisa that literally “took off” on Facebook, receiving numerous shares. The commercial was well received both on TV and via social channels.

 

5- Use other digital channels too: We created a web site, LinkedIn account, E-newsletter and YouTube Channel for Lisa.  For a candidate who is fond of saying she “repels technology” (even though she’s never without her iPad) her campaign video received over 1,000 views on YouTube alone, but we drove people to a web site link with the video where it was seen many more times. I shared out Lisa’s information with the hashtag #votelisarice to my instagram and twitter accounts and asked our campaign volunteers to do the same.

6- Digital advertising is powerful: Now that Facebook has gone to a “pay to play” model some well placed “boosts” on popular posts and paid Facebook ads, timed correctly, can bring a very cost effective “shot in the arm” to a political campaign.

 

Have you worked on or observed a successful political campaign? What were some of the communications platforms used?

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It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

A huge shout out of thanks to Sue Painter, the Confident Marketer, for interviewing me this week on the occasion of MarketingMel’s fifth year in business. Sue is a marketing and business coach and business coach for women whom I have known for several years. We have shared a couple of social media tribes together and have been reading each others blogs for quite awhile. Sue asked me for tips that have kept me going as well as some of the “big mistakes” I’ve learned from along the way in order for us to help her listeners including other entrepreneurs. One of my main tips for Sue: the importance of creating a business plan, an annual strategic plan and goal setting.

Here is the link to the podcast along with a special gift of the first four (brief) chapters of my upcoming e-book “88 Tips from a Marketing and PR Pro.”  Enjoy!

 

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MarketingMel’s advisory board members Jenny Brock, Nancy Dishner, Dave McAuley and Jennifer Dixon join with intern Emma Brock and associate Sarah Kinsler to celebrate the PR firm’s five year anniversary. Watch as they talk about Mary Ellen Miller as a person, a professional communicator, and a mentor to the next generation.


[…]

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By Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

Now that we’ve all moved our clocks ahead an hour and we’re enjoying the long evening hours, Spring is on it’s way.  We think we can speak for everyone who’s endured a harsh winter and say “Bring on the warm weather.” Here are a few tips to say goodbye to the wintertime blues:

1. Read a Good Book

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “You are most like the books you read and people you associate with.” Head to your local bookstore and find a hidden treasure. Instead of reading or watching negative news before bed, indulge in something positive.

2. Try Something New

What better way to inspire yourself than stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new? You just might discover a new hidden talent. Skydiving perhaps? Find yourself in the car a lot? Listen to more audio books.

3. Get Outside

The cold weather has kept us inside all winter. Take advantage of this sunshine and go on a picnic, hike a local trail or invite a long lost neighbor to go for a walk. Everyone benefits from vitamin D!

4. Say “Bye” to Negatives

Think happy, be happy. By eliminating the negative aspects in your life, you will find it easier to simply enjoy. This means everything from your thoughts to gossip to the friends you choose. Surround yourself with positive energy.

5. Set a Goal

January isn’t the only time for setting goals. Spring is the perfect time to review your 2014 strategic plan, correct course if needed, cross off the action items you’ve taken and maybe add a few goals if needed.

6. Spruce Up Your House (whether you plan to sell or not)

Check out MarketingMel’s client, award winning Buffalo Realtor Kim Addelman’s “Prepping for the Spring Marketing” Home Staging Tips on the StagedHomes.com blog. (We helped Kim land this great blog post and can do the same for your business!)

7. Keep Hydrated and Exercise Each Day

Now’s the time to get outside and ride a bike or go for a run. Remember to drink plenty of water (we’re even giving up some of our Diet Cokes in favor of H2O!)

Sarah Kinsler is a 2012 Public Relations graduate of ETSU. She loves vine, instagram, Pinterest and Diet Coke. She is an associate with MarketingMel. Mary Ellen Miller is the Founder and president of MarketingMel, an award winning public relations firm serving business professionals. 

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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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