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Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel, and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new scholarship to Alex Quillin.

Mary Ellen Miller and Dr. Stephen Marshall of ETSU award the new MarketingMel PR scholarship to Alex Quillin.

As any of you who reads this blog regularly knows I am a HUGE believer in supporting the next generation of Public Relations professionals. Last week I had the opportunity to take that support to the next level by teaming with the newly created Mass Communications department at ETSU to establish and award its first scholarship: The MarketingMel Public Relations Scholarship. I am delighted to announce that my new intern, Alex Quillin, is the first recipient of this award! Alex is one of the most level headed 19 year olds I have ever met with a strong entrepreneurial bent and a bright future ahead of her. She is as smart as she is beautiful, carrying a 3.8 GPA and already a junior in semester hours. Dr. Stephen Marshall, one of MarketingMel’s advisory board members, is the newly named department chair. He joined me on campus for the ceremony announcing Alex’s scholarship. To read the full story on the ETSU web site and to see what great jobs the previous four interns have moved on to, please click here.

 

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Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Amanda Boone from Summit Leadership Foundation joined me for the Communications seminar.

Last week I attended a day-long workshop titled “Communications Skills for Women.” Put on by Fred Pryor it was a great brush-up on tips we all know but need to be reminded of from time to time. Although the workshop was billed “for women” these tips will also resonate with my male blog readers. Some of these tips I actually gleaned from my classmates over lunch that day (the great part of workshops and seminars is often the people you meet there!) Which do you agree with and what would you add to this list?

  1. Phone Interview Tip: When on the phone with an employee ask them to repeat back what you have said. Do not just ask “Do you have any questions” because of course their answer will be know. Asking them to repeat bak what you have said engages them.
  2. Ask for what you want/Be specific: Assertiveness is about gaining a sense of self control.  It is a choice that you and you alone can make. We need to ask for what we want and to be specific in our requests.
  3. Put a time limit on interrupters: In my case this would be social media. If I don’t limit myself when I’m working on social media the next thing I know a half hour has gone by. What are your interrupters? Are they people in the office or habits that you have?
  4. Let go: Wow! I had my own personal nirvana with this just recently. I found out that a person whom I had given business to had said some negative things about me. I stewed about that for far too long. Finally at the suggestion of a friend I “let it go.” Boy, did I feel better! I will know not to do business with that person again but I can certainly be cordial to him.
  5. We need to respect ourselves and others: We teach people how to treat us. Do you allow people to interrupt you? We actually practiced this as a class exercise. Best to challenge interruptions by setting boundaries. “I know you have so much to contrite. When I’m through in five minutes I will give you the floor.”   And finally:
  6. Saying “no” is saying yes to myself! How many of us have gritted our teeth and said “yes” to something only to regret it later. I really like the concept of all of us having to make some “me” time. “No” can be a difficult word  to use but it can be learned!
  7. Bonus tip – Check your “BRA” : Whenever you get angry, check your “BRA.” B – Breathing; breathe through your diaphragm and count to three. R- Relax, and A – Attitude. Just thinking about checking my bra is bound to diffuse the tension!

Which of these tips resonates with you and why?

 

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The following is a guest blog post from Peter LaMotte at Levick. 

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CEOs typically understand that cultivating an active social media presence is good for business. Social media can expand a company’s influence, connect with a target audience, and boost brand awareness. What may be less commonly understood is how a few critical social media faux pas can alienate prospective customers and damage the reputation of a business.

Here are some of the most egregious mistakes business leaders and executives make through their approach to social media:

Too much “about me”

The onslaught of celebrity activity on social media conveys the impression that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., are all about self-promotion. Though this might be true for rock stars and movie actors, the same principle does not apply to CEOs and other executives. In fact, an abundance of posts and tweets exclusively about yourself or your business will likely drive potential followers away.

Social media focuses on engagement, creating conversations and connections across the blogosphere and elsewhere. It is not the venue for a hard sell.

“Social media is all about making connections and, just like in the real (rather than virtual) world, people will be more drawn to you if you actually listen to what they’re saying than if you try to force your message upon them,” says Jessica Routier, head of social media at IAC-EZ.

Not paying attention to content

An indiscriminate approach to content is another social media faux pas. Deluging your followers with posts and tweets of little value won’t achieve your business objectives. Quality content that addresses customer concerns or offers valuable “how-to” information (either about your product, service, or your industry in general) will generate followers and encourage people to come back for more.

“[Businesses] need to ask questions, share some humor, provide motivational quotes and ask for their opinions about products or services in your industry,” says Michelle Hummer, CEO of WebMediaExpert.com. “I do a random, ‘fun question of the day’ to get [people] involved.”

The most effective strategy is consistently posting valuable content and interacting with others online.

Failure to engage

 Whether you know it or not, people are talking about your business online. Failing to monitor and promptly respond to those questions, complaints, and comments is another critical social media faux pas.

“All too many companies still fail to realize that most customers, especially Millennials, look at social media channels as valid a form of interaction as a physical trip into a brick and mortar store,” notes social media columnist John Boitnott. “If you fail to engage, you’re missing a valuable chance to shape your image. Don’t let other people shape your reputation when you could be shaping it yourself.”

Businesses sometimes err by “venting” a grievance with a competitor or an unhappy customer on social media. They forget that once something is posted, it’s there forever – and their negative comments can resurface at any time and come back to haunt them.

Maintaining incomplete or poorly written social media profiles

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your online CEO or business profiles go unread. Not only are these often the first thing people new to your business check out, but a properly constructed profile (complete with industry-rich keywords) can help with your company’s SEO rankings — another way to elevate your social media presence.

At the very least, each profile you maintain on different social networks should include your physical address, a link to your business website, and some concise but user-friendly information about who you are and what you have to offer.shutterstock_162075236

Lack of comprehensive social media strategy

 As should be clear by now, a hit-or-miss approach to social media is typically a waste of time and does not benefit your business. Avoid these common mistakes when developing a strategy:

No coordination with other departments. Your C-suite social media efforts are most effective when they’re aligned with what other departments are doing (i.e. marketing, public relations, branding team, etc.). Leads generated by your compelling content can be converted to sales when they drive traffic to your business’ website. Don’t let these valuable opportunities slip away.

Failure to identify social media influencers. In every industry, certain groups or individuals wield significant influence over their followers and can significantly help or harm a business. Know who these influencers are and focus on becoming part of their community.

Neglecting to measure ROI. With tools such as Facebook analytics and Google Analytics, it’s a big mistake not to explore and understand what customers and followers enjoy (and don’t enjoy) about the content you provide. How can you hope to extend the scope of your social media activity and generate more likes and clicks without a sense of what’s working and a strategy to build on those insights and get more bang for your buck?

The real magic happens when you have a strategy,” says Brooke Howell of Reputation Capital. “If you’re running a social media program but you don’t know what you’re going to accomplish next month, you’re doing it wrong.”

Taking steps to avoid these faux pas will sharpen your social media marketing efforts and pave the way toward making more connections with prospective customers.

 

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

 

Peter LaMotte is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK and Chair of the firm’s Digital Communications Practice. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.

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Recently elected Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice and Washington County Commissioner Katie Baker at an ETSU event.

Recently elected to Criminal Court Judge Part 1, Lisa Nidiffer Rice,  and Washington County Commissioner-elect Katie Baker at an ETSU event.

Our closely watched Tennessee Republican primary and in some cases, general election, is now past. The candidate I supported and worked for, Lisa Nidiffer Rice, won the winner-take-all Republican primary May 6 and was uncontested in the August election for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. Lisa had signed me to an exclusive agreement with her so I (gladly!) got to watch this August race from the sidelines. Here is my “outsider’s perspective” on the public relations that went into winning and losing our local races.

1. Y’all come! That’s NorthEast Tennessee to the core. When some people decided to exclude others, including their current state representatives, from a shindig featuring the governor, it didn’t sit well with the voters. Instead the voters made those “excluded” feel welcome where it counted: at the polls. My husband, a native of Erwin, Tennessee, is as down-home as they come. I recall him saying last week (in reference to a certain candidate) “Candidate ___ is a member of the cucumber-sandwich-and-white-wine-for-lunch-crowd.”  Ouch! A pollster couldn’t have hit it more squarely on the head.

2. Hard work and planning pays off: Congratulations Katie Baker, a newcomer to the field of Washington County commissioners who was truly omnipresent! Katie knocked on doors and went to every event she possibly could. I had coffee with Katie and my advisory board member Nancy Dishner when Katie first decided to run and was very impressed with her intellect and her genuine willingness to work for the people.

3. Communications skills are HUGE: I watched one of the winning candidates masterfully use his opponent’s campaign to his own advantage. He created a #noinvitationrequired hashtag when he was snubbed from the aforementioned party and regularly used his opponent’s own words to his advantage on Facebook.

4. Money doesn’t always win: Untold thousands of dollars from outside interests were poured into a campaign to unseat three Tennessee Supreme Court justices, alleging they weren’t’ “conservative” enough for the Volunteer State. In the end the judges, who were ethically restrained from advertising for themselves, prevailed. The big money lost.

Carter County electioneers during the May primary.

Carter County electioneers during the May primary.

5. Do not ever overlook Carter County! Carter County is pivotal in any local election. Carter County folks hold voting up with motherhood, apple pie and Friday night football. There just isn’t anything more important than going to the polls. The day I voted early in Carter County,  I drove my mother (a native of New York State) through the gauntlet of Carter County electioneers. She was stunned. Never had she seen anything like the encampments of eager, sign-waving campaign supporters. In examining poll results it appears at least one highly contested multi-county race was made/broken by Carter County voters.

6. Name recognition goes a long way: In two consecutive elections I have watched someone with tremendous name recognition (because they  or a relative had previously held office,) win. It’s simple: In politics and in life, you build a personal brand.

Do you have comments to add about what you’ve seen work effectively in campaigns, particularly at the local level?

 

 

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Johnson City Morning Rotary Club members present a check to the Salvation Army.

One of the best things I have done since going into business five years ago, was to join Rotary International. Specifically, I joined the Johnson City Morning Rotary in January at the invitation of my strategic planning consultant, Rebecca Henderson. While I have been a part of other civic clubs in the past, with its motto of “service above self” Rotary stands alone as a top-notch service organization. Just last week we presented our club’s quarterly donation to the Johnson City Salvation Army, one of many fine charities that benefit from the hard work and fundraising abilities of our members.

 

When my friend Vivian Crymble heard that I was now a Rotarian she and Dick Ray asked me to provide some Facebook communications tips for the club at the district level. Vivian is the district governor for Rotary 7570 (She’s over 85 Clubs from Roanoke, Virginia through Northeast Tennessee.) Both she and associate district governor Dick Ray have found these tips useful and I hope you will too!

  1. Each of the 61 admins of the unit pages needs to “like” the district 7570 page.
  1. The district page needs to “like” all the other unit pages and interact with the. Example: I posted a photo of Vivian on the Johnson City Morning Rotary page. It would be great if the district page could comment on that.
  1. Keep up to date cover shots; comment on other page’s cover shots.
  1. Be sure to tag people (the more people you tag, the more exposure the photo gets)
  1. Play off a theme. Example: This year’s Rotary conference theme at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia is “The Faces of Rotary.” Start X number of days before the annual conference and feature a “face” on a weekly basis.  Event-related posts gets people excited for the upcoming event and will get them “talking” online.
  1. Sharing posts from The District page as well as the District sharing posts from the unit pages will connect the two and should result in new “likes” for both parties.
  1. The more interaction the page has, the more exposure the page gets.  Get more interaction by posting photos, questions, event details, etc.)

 

I hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have others to add? What’s worked in terms of social media for your favorite club or organization, particularly when planning an event?

 

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Dr. Stephen Marshall, Chair ETSU Mass Communications, MarketingMel advisory board member

Dr. Stephen Marshall, Chair ETSU Mass Communications, MarketingMel advisory board member

When it comes to flying solo as an entrepreneur, always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are! One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is through the creation of an advisory board.

Now that MarketingMel is celebrating five years in business there is one thing I can point to that was a *really smart” move.- Forming an advisory board. Imagine my delight when I opened this month’s issue of Success Magazine, and found an article by Emma Johnson titled, “How to Form an Advisory Board.” Ms. Johnson asks several insightful questions and interviews three entrepreneurs about their advisory boards. Well, Ms. Johnson, since we didn’t get to speak, here’s the MarketingMel story!

I formed the MarketingMel advisory board in January 2013. It’s comprised of three men and three women, all very successful in their fields. When I’ve mentioned having a MarketingMel board at public speaking engagements people always are interested in how I went about forming the board, who I asked and what they do. Here are five tips:

1. Invite people who complement your skill set: One of my board members, Dr. Stephen Marshall, was recently promoted to the position of Chair of the newly created Mass Communications Department. Just yesterday we got together at Starbucks and brainstormed with one another. He says I help him keep in touch with the real world (he also consults with a large ad agency) and he helps me keep the pipeline open to fresh, young talented PR majors!

2. Seek board members who will tell you the truth (not your  friends!) Do I have broccoli in my teeth? As one of my other board members describes it, you need people who will tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth. Honesty and candor are important in this role. Since then I have affectionately referred to my board as “the broccoli board.”

3. Listen to these business leaders’ advice: When your board members make suggestions, heed their advice. The whole reason you invited them to your board is that they are smart. I actually have a “to do” list from by last board meeting that I’m working through.

4. Connect your board members with one another: In addition to helping you/your business, make it so that your board members can connect with one another. We’ve all learned so much sitting around the table together and sharing.

5. Vary your meetings: I find that a combination of phone calls, Starbucks one-on-one sessions and full board meetings work well. I like to keep in touch with my board members in some form on at least a quarterly basis.

Do you have an advisory board? What has worked well for 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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