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LisaRiceWritingA column about Lisa Rice’s successful judicial campaign, the Socktober campaign to help the homeless and the Johnson City Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot were all winning entries for the MarketingMel public relations team at the Tri-Cities Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) awards banquet April 21 in Kingsport. Two awards were “Awards of Excellence,” the highest honor given.

Mary Ellen Miller, founder of MarketingMel, received the 2015 Award of Excellence in Column Writing, for a column titled “Three Ways to be a “Shoo-in” in Business and Politics.” MarketingMel was the only winner, in the writing category, to receive a perfect score from one of the judges on a writing entry. The column, first published in Out ‘N About Magazine, and later on MarketingMel’s blog, offers tips to success in the world of business and politics.

Miller was the campaign manager for Criminal Court Judge Part 1 Lisa Rice’s campaign. After watching then-candidate Rice’s hard work and determination, Miller was inspired to write the column. “It was an honor to work with, and learn from, the professionalism of then Candidate (now Judge) Rice,” said Miller.

“This is a wonderful and well deserved award. Congratulations to Mary Ellen Miller and the MarketingMel team,” said Judge Rice.

Additionally, MarketingMel received a second Award of Excellence at the ceremony. This was given for the Socktober campaign that saw numerous organizations come together to support the cause of socks for the homeless, first initiated by YouTube sensation Kid President. During this campaign, MarketingMel, with the assistance of Johnson City Schools’ homeless coordinator, Bonnie White, set a goal of obtaining 750 pairs of new socks. With the help of Johnson City Morning Rotary, Spine & Sports Chiropractic, Appearances Hair Salon, Exalt Academy of Cosmetology and numerous other businesses, more than 1,100 pairs were collected and given to the Johnson City/Washington County Area United Way for distribution through its agencies that serve the homeless. “The judges loved your measurable objectives and your clear goals for the project” said Brad Belote, Tri-Cities PRSA president.

The final award, the Award of Merit, was given to MarketingMel and the public relations team of Jenny Brock, Karen Hubbs, Keisha Shoun and MarketingMel Intern Alex Quillin, for their work on the 2014 Johnson City Up and At ‘Em Turkey Trot 5k. The race featured a first-ever press conference at Fairmont Elementary School. The event, which received widespread coverage from regional media, included a mascot race along with Biggest Loser Season 15 top five finalist and Grand Marshal Jennifer Messer.

“It is a tribute to the giving nature of our region that projects like Socktober and Turkey Trot have been so successful,” said Miller.

MarketingMelTeam

Elyse Batista, Mary Ellen Miller and Alex Quillin

Miller was accompanied to the event by her newest intern, Elyse Batista, and her outgoing intern, Alex Quillin, both ETSU PR/Advertising majors. Mentoring the next generation of PR professionals, including Batista and Quillin, is a pillar of MarketingMel’s mission.  “It is so incredible to get awarded for all of the work we put into these campaigns. Mel has taught me so much during my year with her and this ceremony was the cherry on top!” said Quillin.

MarketingMel, now in its sixth year in business, is a communications-consulting firm offering marketing, public relations and social media strategies to business professionals. For more information visit www.marketingmel.com

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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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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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Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

I’m not a professional football player – in fact I’m a PR pro who recently helped a client with her first-ever political campaign. However, I can tell you that “Monday morning quarterbacks” are alive and well!

After Lisa Rice won decisively in her Northeast Tennessee primary bid for Criminal Court Judge Part 1 May 6 I have been amazed at the number of people who flippantly say, “Oh, Lisa was a shoo-in.”  Really? Has anyone seen what happened in Virginia to that “shoo-in” former house majority leader Eric Cantor?

Let me share with you three things I learned along the campaign trail that can also be applied to business success. Use these and you too can be a “shoo-in.”

1. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your whole life: Then work some more. Lisa was up at the crack of dawn every day, including weekends. She attended Saturday morning pancake breakfasts and Saturday evening spaghetti suppers. She walked neighborhoods and helped out at benefits. She met hundreds and hundreds of people. In addition she practiced law. To succeed in business or politics you have to want it and you have to work at it.

2. Never, never, ever underestimate your opponent:  One of our local races was decided by 12 votes. That is not a typo! 12 votes! Another race was decided by just 68 votes. Never look past or over the opponent you are facing. Take each race and each battle one at a time. If you’re in business always be aware of your competition.

3. Run like you’re 20 points behind: I was told that Tennessee Senator Bob Corker uses that as his campaign mantra. It works for U.S. Senators and it works for small businesses and giant corporations. Run like you’ve lost 20 stock points or that you’ve just dropped 20% market share. Run like someone is nipping at your heels. But RUN and don’t stop until after the polls close on election day.

Bonus: It pays to be nice

This bonus comes from my dear friend Nancy Williams who watched the campaign as an objective observer. As I shared my ideas for this blog post with her over lunch, Nancy commended Lisa on her “clean race.”

“No matter what if you go about it with integrity you will always be a winner in the long run,” Nancy said.

Good advice for both business and politics.

 

 

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