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Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Our personal brand is quite simply, how others perceive us. It’s what they think of when they hear our name and see our digital and in-person image.  As we move into the New Year let’s each take a quick assessment of our own personal brand and what we can do to better ourselves in 2014.

  1. Google yourself– What do you find? Is it fresh? Is it negative? Does it need a PR boost? I once advised a prospective client who was looking for start-up capital for a new venture to google himself.  A simple search produced a five year old negative news story about his business. I knew that if I saw that so would his potential investors. There are ways (creating blog posts for example) to drive the old and ugly down.
  2. Does your brand transfer to social/mobile? More and more consumers are on both social media platforms and mobile devices. According to Business News Daily, “companies will be finding new ways to target mobile devices and users.”
  3. How are you visually “showing” your personal brand? Have you made plans for a new professional head shot? If your head shot is more than a few years old it’s time for a refresh. (I’ve already made plans to see one of my favorite photographers, Tina Wilson, next week.) The article mentioned above states that Trends predictors are saying that with our short attention spans it will increasingly be a “show don’t tell” world.  How are you “showing” your personal brand?
  4. Who is your target audience? What communications channels are they using? Each year I look back at all of the new social media channels that I joined. In 2013 it was Instagram, SnapChat, WeChat (international) and Vine. I entered those channels because I’m a professional communicator eager to check out the trends, but there’s no question the “tried and true” of Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are where I connect with most of my business contacts.
  5. How do you plan to promote your brand in 2014? Through guest media appearances? Your blog? Podcasts? Social media? Your e-mail signature? Video? Civic clubs? Chamber of Commerce? Winning awards? Take time now to assess what has brought you business in the past and do more of it this year.
  6. Do you have an editorial calendar planned for 2014? Remember, social media provides a tremendous opportunity for you to be both content creator and publisher. No one knows your business like you do! Create your own content and plan ahead for the seasonality of your brand.
  7. Are you or do you expect to look for a new job or new client in 2014? If you’re reading this you are probably interested in finding new jobs or new clients. Maria Peagler and I developed a free one-hour personal branding webinar for you that includes more profit-making tips at www.personalbrandinghowto.com.

Please share what you’re doing to successfully boost your brand in the comments section below. All the best of luck to you in 2014!

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It was the year of fun with social media. The “Harlem Shake” was all the rage at my SoloPR conference and elsewhere around the country. The word “selfie” officially entered the lexicon. We made vine videos and celebrated National Ice Cream Day July 21st with an instagram video. So what do we do to conclude the year at the holiday season? Our team is closing out 2013 with some more fun. Sarah Kinsler and I will be leading the Johnson City Leadership 2015 class in a sing-along this week with a rousing rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” with a social media kick. We’ll be performing wearing Santa hats with Keith Ford on guitar and  Jason Pierce on mandolin.  What do you think of the lyrics? Would you like to share them at your office Christmas party? Enjoy and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

12 Days[2]

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Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel's Faith in the Future award.

Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel’s Faith in the Future award.

For the second year in a row the MarketingMel team took home the CenturyLink Faith in the Future Award. This year we won in the woman owned business category. My two young rock stars: associate Sarah Kinsler and intern Emma Brock were on hand to accept the award. (I was previously committed to a speaking engagement with the Tri-Cities Women’s Council of Realtors that day.)  It is truly a privilege and an honor to serve MarketingMel’s fantastic clients with their marketing, public relations and social media strategies for nearly five years.  Also, serving, teaching, working and learning from the next generation of rising young professional women is indeed a pillar of my company. One of the platforms of MarketingMel is to mentor rising young women studying in the field of public relations and marketing. According to all reports Sarah and Emma knocked it out of the ball park when they were called to the podium to accept our award. It’s great to have such confidence in the abilities of the next generation. If Sarah and Emma are any indication of the future of the public relations profession, we are in good hands!

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Some time ago I created a video and a blog post called “Ten tips to feel comfortable on camera”  I got the idea after chatting with my friend Maria Peagler of SocialMedia OnlineClasses.com. Maria mentioned that many of her students are afraid to appear on camera. She knew that I once worked in television news and she also knew I loved helping people build their personal brands. We live in a society that is more and more camera and particularly video- camera conscious. Recently Maria asked me if she could turn those video tips into an infographic to help her camera shy students. She teaches them ways to profit from YouTube videos.  I said, “absolutely!” and here is the resulting infographic. Could you or one of your colleagues benefit from this infographic? If so please share it! Which tips resonate with you?

On camera do's and don'ts

On camera do’s and don’ts

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At Entrepreneurs Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry.

At Entrepreneurs’ Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry

Last evening I had the honor of returning to the classroom where I was an MBA student 13 years ago. Thanks to the magic of wimba (a college software program that  allows classroom “broadcasting” ) the Entrepreneurship Club at ETSU was seen live by students in Austria, Texas and Washington State.  Andy Czuchry, “Dr. C” as we all fondly called him, taught us many things about the real world of business. A real-life rocket scientist, he  combined theory and practice by bringing entrepreneurs to the classroom. They taught us the way things really are in the business world. One of Dr C’s favorite expressions is how I began my presentation: “An entrepreneur would rather work 80 hours a week for himself than 40 hours a week for someone else.” Anyone reading this who is an entrepreneur knows that to be true. But there is something incredibly exhilarating about the freedom that comes with being self employed that can’t be replicated. So we’re willing to tolerate the crazy hours because of that trade off.

Here are a few more tips I shared with the Entrepreneurs’ Club students:

Pitfalls:

You can’t do it all- You need to start making teams right away and joining forces with others. Work on what you do well and look for skill sets in others to compliment yours. It’s fine to start with virtual teams (for me it was twitter and some important tweet chat groups) but stay connected. No one can operate well as an island.

Don’t rely on third party hosts- Always host your own web site and put your videos on channels you host. I learned this the hard way after a multi-part series I created for WJHL-TV called “Social Media 101” literally vanished when they changed servers. I shudder when I watch some business people use Facebook as their personal web site. Facebook (and your product photos) could be gone tomorrow.

Create Systems-  I suggested the book the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to the group. This fascinating book points out the need to put systems into place no matter how small the company is. My current intern, Emma Brock, is developing the first-ever MarketingMel intern manual and Sarah Kinsler (who created the prezi and shared some of her MarketingMel experiences with the class) is creating an associates manual. I’m working on client intake systems.

Smart moves:

Know your personal mission as well as your company mission and vision and refer back to those often. They will direct your path.

Surround yourself with bright, young people (Both Sarah and Emma are a God-send to me)- They will keep you on your toes and give you energy.

Create an Advisory Board- This year I have six, sharp members of the community whom I trust to give me advice and to let me know if I have “broccoli in my teeth.”

Form business partnerships: I became a business partner with the Summit Leadership Foundation shortly after beginning my business. I give them a monthly contribution and then I am able to use their space without the overhead of a traditional office. Both organizations help each other out.

Set Goals and Plan Ahead: Throughout this month I’ll be working on my 2014 strategic plan. Some of those goals include: Following the Tennessee Performance Excellence Standards, becoming a certified “woman owned business” and publishing my E-book. My final thoughts were also words of wisdom from Dr. C. “Under-promise and over deliver” and “Be a lifelong learner.”  What’s on your Pitfalls and Smart moves lists?

 

 

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Some time ago I wrote a blog post on finding a job in public relations that was by far MarketingMel’s most re-tweeted blog post. Last week I had the opportunity to take part in a panel discussion called “Communications Expectations: Real World Perspectives from Professional Communicators” sponsored by ETSU PRSSA. The students compiled the following list of the questions for self and four other P.R. pro’s (Amanda Allman and Samara Litvack of Eastman, Ginny Crispin from the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and Jim Wozniak of Wellmont Health System.) I hope if you are a student interested in the field of public relations that you will find these answers useful. If you’re a practicing PR pro please jump in and add your own experiences!

MarketingMel with other panelists and PRSSA students.

MarketingMel with other panelists and ETSU PRSSA students.

 

  1.  How did you all get your start in this field? For me it was an internship at a TV news station (WKBW Channel 7) in Buffalo, NY. I highly recommend internships to any college student studying P.R.
  2. With a large pool of talented students to choose from, what makes a student stand out to employers? Showcase your personality and your skill set of writing and communicating. Show them that you have a willingness to learn new things and to adapt. Public Relations is all about adapting and thinking on your feet.
  3. What is the most valuable skill a student can possess? To me it’s a positive attitude. Being both an excellent communicator with both the written word and the spoken word would be a close second. 
  4. What is the best way to get the most out of an internship? A few ideas that I discussed with my young associate Sarah Kinsler are: Get involved, Be willing to learn, Listen and Soak up as much as you can. Showing a willingness to learn foreign languages and visit other countries is important too. It shows you have a spirit of adventure and that goes hand in hand with our profession. 
  5. What information on a resume is most important? One of my co-panelists answered this and mentioned that even experience that you think might not be important like waiting tables really means a lot to a future employer. It shows you know how to deal with the public and widely changing moods. The subject of crisis communications came up here and the fact that waiting tables teaches you to remain cool under pressure.
  6. What is the best advice for branding yourself in this competitive world? Personal branding is imperative because it is all about how others perceive you both online and in the real world. Remember your brand travels with you long after you’ve left a job. For more information watch the free personal branding webinar I created with Maria Peagler at www.personalbrandinghowto.com.
  7. What advice do you have for students who wish to find jobs in communication in larger areas, where they may not have established connections? My co-panelists who’ve lived and worked in larger markets mentioned the importance of networking.
  8. What can you tell us about successfully handling interviews? Be yourself. Be authentic but think about the person interviewing you. Recently I heard of a young man taking his girlfriend along with him to a job interview and allowing her to do all the talking for him. Really? Also, depending on the position you may want to leave out the eyebrow and nose rings and gages and cover the tattoos. I’m still hearing from baby boomer employers who have a hard time seeing past the gadgets and boomers are often the executives/owners. 
  9. When an employer says, ‘tell me about yourself’, what are they looking for? This is your chance to shine. Show self-confidence. Show not only that you know about the company but show how you will bring value to the employer. Remember, ultimately it is always WIIFM (what’s in it for me, the employer in this case.) 
  10. What advice can you offer to students who are anxious about finding jobs after graduation? Stick with it! My first job was a part time position. Even part time experience in your chosen profession is far better than none at all. 
  11. What is the best part about your job? I’ve reached a stage in my career where I can use my skill set to give back to others. Right now I am enjoying spreading the word to help homeless people get socks in our region. I was influenced by Kid President’s YouTube video pronouncing #Socktober as a time for local communities to gather socks and so far we’ve already gathered over 100 pairs of socks (goal of 500 pairs) and our campaign goes until Thanksgiving! 

What experiences do you have to add?

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Editor’s note: I am often approached by guest bloggers but Emma-Julie Fox gets an A+ for her perseverance! I find her guest blog piece as a fit for this space because I often write about the power of personal brands and the need to protect them.  She provides some tips here that are good for both individuals and businesses who face the inevitable online naysayers. 

Social networking sites have become so popular that they’re almost an integral part of every person’s waking hours. They have even become one of the most important tools being used by any effective SEO company.

 

In fact, Internet marketers have recently coined the term, “social media marketing” as an indication that social media has indeed become essential to an effective marketing campaign. Among the reasons why people are so fond of using social networking sites are the freedom and anonymity that they offer. You can say practically anything you want on these sites.

 

Social media platforms, however, can be a double-edged sword. The freedom to express opinions on social networking sites has given rise to what is known as cyberbullying, both on the personal and business front.

 

Cyberbullying is often a lot worse than bullying in the real world because the bullies can easily hide behind the anonymity offered by the Internet. Here are a few tips on how to manage cyberbullying so as to prevent it from causing irreparable damage to your reputation or that of your business:

 

1.     Channel Your Sense of Humor

If, after you’ve sent a private message and politely reacted in the comments section, someone still keeps on attacking you, give him a dose of the world’s best medicine—laughter!  Channel your creativity and find an inventive way of laughing at your attacker or his comments about you.

 

For example, you could create a meme reflecting what the attacker has said about you or your business. Just be careful not to make your jokes too sarcastic, as that might reflect badly on you. Light humor should do the trick.

 

2.     Monitor Your Brand 

There are instances where a competitor keeps leaving negative comments about your business or hires people to do so on his behalf. There are plenty of social media marketing tools you can take advantage of and you shouldn’t hesitate to do so.

 

Monitor your brand mentions and regularly check what people have to say about you and your business. This allows you to handle negative feedback properly before it escalates into something you can no longer control.

 

If you are sure that the negative comments are meant only to cause damage to your business and aren’t really from legitimate customers, but from competitors, contact site administrators so they can remove or mark the false feedback.

Respond to all legit comments (negative or positive) with grace and humility. For instance, if someone writes a snarky review about your blog post on a Linkedin group, you could respond to the comment saying something like, “ I understand you didn’t like the post and I respect your opinion. Thank you for taking the time to read though.”

3.     Reach Out to Customers

If there’s no way for you to prove that negative comments are the workings of a competitor, then you need to show your other customers that you care about their experience with your business. Respond politely to the person making the negative comments and directly address the issue he presents.

 

Start by apologizing for whatever it is he is complaining about. If the unfortunate incident really is your fault, then you should also offer to make amends. This shows customers that you’re willing to take responsibility whenever necessary. If the negative comments are just part of trolling by your competitors, delete them and then block the offending users.

 

The best strategy of course would be to steer the conversation offline. You could share your email id, request the person to  share their contact details, and assure them that you would be happy to call at their conveniece to resolve the issue.

 

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Address legitimate customer complaints by apologizing and offering solutions.

Cyberbullying can indeed ruin your reputation and cause some irreparable damage to your business, especially when it isn’t handled properly. At this time when the economy is slow, you certainly need to do everything you can to build a good reputation for your business and keep it that way.

 

This makes it even more important for you to learn how to manage social media bullying properly. Don’t let it control the fate of your business or worse, your life. Think carefully before you react to a negative comment about you or your business on social networking sites.

 

Always remember that when customers read your comments, they will view it as a reflection on you, not on the person who originally made the negative comment.

 

A positive reputation and credibility takes a lot of time and effort to build for your business. Don’t waste all of those efforts by thoughtlessly reacting to online bullies. You are no longer a child. You are an adult with a business to protect and you should act accordingly, both in person and online.

 

Try to avoid difficult situations as much as you can so you can keep your business’ reputation positive. In some instances, when you feel offended to such an extent that you know you can no longer respond positively to a particular attacker, take a break. Log off from social media and spend some time relaxing with friends. You should be better equipped to handle the situation when you get back online.

 

 

Emma-Julie Fox

Emma-Julie Fox

 

Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com

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Joe Grenny with Mary Ellen of MarketingMel along with Roan Scholars Lucas Hitechew and Matthew Pencarinha.

Joe Grenny with Mary Ellen of MarketingMel and Roan Scholars Lucas Hitechew and Matthew Pencarinha.

I recently had the good fortune to hear best-selling author Joe Grenny speak on his latest book: Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. Grenny said that “the most important capacity you possess is the ability to influence behavior- that of yourself or others.” He and his team studied top influencers around the world. He said what makes them stand apart from the rest of us comes down to three things:

1- They start with results. They ask the question: How will I measure success?

2- They look for the vital behaviors- What one or two behaviors will cause the greatest change?  Key influencers only want to change one, two or at most three behaviors.

3- They exert intentional influence- Influencers never see another person as having moral defects, being lazy or self-centered. Instead they see them in a moment of “moral slumber.” “Individual humans are capable of profoundly transforming their experience of almost any behavior by anchoring it to deeply held values,” said Grenny. “Put a face on it.”

He said that we hold meetings to influence behavior and he talked about the power of starting a meeting with this phrase” “Can I share an experience I recently had?”  and then telling a story that creates a vicarious experience for the listeners.

Interestingly he said that if you lead with incentives you undermine because people quickly learn to game the system. Grenny said leaders rehearse and invest in ability first through “deliberate practice.” First- become a teacher- then be a movtivator second. He used this video of a 10 year old girl heading down her first long ski jump.

Now that’s an inspiration! I bought the book Influencer and am already half way through it. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in change and influence. The Executive Briefing on “The New Science of Leading Change” was sponsored by Eastman Chemical Company and ETSU College of Business & Technology.

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