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Winner, Faith in the Future, woman-owned business category.

Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel, Winner, Faith in the Future, woman-owned business category.

MarketingMel won the woman-owned business category of the recent 2014 CenturyLink Faith in the Future Awards. While it’s always nice to win awards, I am much more delighted about the REASON I was selected, namely, my faith in the future of the next generation of Public Relations professionals. My intern, Alex Quillin, nominated me for this award. While Alex had class and could not attend the actual ceremony that day (my husband was kind enough to join me), here is an excerpt from her winning nomination. Thank you Alex and thank you to the four “alumni” that have gone on before you and moved into successful communications careers at Visit Knoxville, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Nestle Purina and Cumberland Marketing. Alex, you’re in great company and I know you’re going to do great things too!

I am so excited to be able to work with MarketingMel. She has provided me with hands ­on opportunities to work on events, create press releases and meet real­world public relations practitioners. Mel has introduced me to many women who own their own communications businesses or who work as PR professionals for businesses in the region. This internship is preparing me for my future career, and it is laying a foundation crucial to my success. I feel more confident than ever with my PR abilities, thanks to MarketingMel.

2012­-2013 MarketingMel Intern Kristen Pierce, now in public relations for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, said this about Mary Ellen Miller: “You have sparked and inspired a passion for the public relations profession in not just me but several other “newbies,” as well. I think it takes a special person to be able to teach and cultivate young talent. For me, your patience and understanding combined with your genuine want to help us navigate ‘real world’ PR ignited my passion for PR!”

Because Mel has been blessed with wonderful mentors in her life, she wants to give back to her community in every way possible. Since founding her business in 2009, her #1 method of giving back to the community is mentoring bright, young women who are rising public relations majors at East Tennessee State University.

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Preparing for the start of the 2014 UP & At 'Em Turkey Trot.

Preparing for the start of the 2014 UP & At ‘Em Turkey Trot.

The 9th annual Johnson City Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot 5K Road Race and Family Fun Run has come and gone like last week’s turkey leftovers. With over 4,000 participants including runners, walkers, strollers, wheelchair racers and dogs, it was deemed a huge success by everyone involved. Universally participants and all committee members have told us that the publicity for this Family 5K was the best ever. The value gained from press, media, and promotions was worth many thousands of dollars.

Here are four tips that helped the Public Relations plan work:

  1. Set a goal: Know your goals, in this case the numbers of participants you are going for at the start.
  2. Have a Team of Professionals: This year we had a total of 5 marketing/public relations professionals working together. We met weekly and followed up on our action items including lots of interface with the media. We were a subcommittee to the main race committee and operated independently concentrating only on the publicity aspect of the event. The race director was a member of both our committee and the main race committee.
  3. Press Conferences can still work – if done right: We opted to hold a press conference to launch this year’s event. We held it in an elementary school (that consistently has the most student participants). We gave it a pep rally feel, complete with hundreds of students screaming in the gym. The beloved local anchorman was emcee and covered the event live on the popular morning TV show. We brought in mascots from a variety of local businesses and held a race with the turkey (guess who won?) This was also a good opportunity to recognize our sponsors.
  4. Get a celebrity/celebrities involved: One of our team members knew last season’s Biggest Loser top five finalist Jennifer Messer. Jennifer lives nearby. She was more than eager to help us as parade grand marshal, with the press conference, with media interviews and with social media. Having the power of celebrity behind a cause can really boost an event!

When the actual day arrived, despite snow, cold and wind, the people turned out! For many it’s become a family tradition to burn off a few calories before sitting down to feast. I walked it with my dog, Lucky, and a friend. (This is one of the few races that allows dogs and this year hundreds of well-behaved canines on short leashes strolled or jogged with their handlers.)

These are just a few of the PR tips that went  into this event’s success. Do you have additional thoughts or ideas as we look to implement an even bigger and better race next year?

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MythbustersRecently I had the opportunity to speak with a class of incoming freshmen at Milligan College about careers in public relations. My presentation was called PR Mythbusters.

Myth #1– PR presents many glamorous job opportunities (a la Samantha Jones in Sex and the City.)

Reality:  PR is all about your client and making THEM look good!

Myth #2- PR is about press conferences and press releases.

Reality: While it is true that we create these kinds of events for clients there is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes planning work that goes into what you see on the visible, front end. To be good in PR students must excel at written and verbal communications.

Myth #3- Publicity is only needed when bad things happen.

Reality: Publicity is a two edged sword. Sometimes it can be used to address crises as in a well-thought out crisis communications plan. Other times it can be used for much good as in our recent Socktober campaign with Kid President that brought in over a thousand pairs of new socks for the homeless in our community.

Myth #4– Any publicity is good publicity

Reality: Although Hollywood stars may ascribe to this,  there are times when some of the greatest accomplishments of a public relations professional include keeping a client out of the limelight.

Myth #5– Anyone can do it

Reality: It takes a well trained, well thought out team to execute a top PR plan including strategy and tactics. Our current Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot PR committee incorporated last season’s Biggest Loser top five finalist Jennifer Messer as grand marshal. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher (and Science Hill High School grad) Daniel Norris is also helping spread the word of the popular Thanksgiving Day Family Fun Run/walk.

Myth #6– Social Media is just for fun

Reality: Social Media, particularly LinkedIn, can be a great connecting tool that will build professional bridges now and in the future. Futhermore using social media well can help build clients personal and professional brands.

What are some PR Myths or reality questions that you may have?

Here is the SlideShare Presentation

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Those of you who’ve been following my posts know that  I was inspired by Kid President Robby Novak’s YouTube video calling on local communities to collect new socks for the homeless during “Socktober.” The results are in and it was a resounding success!  With some fantastic team work we soared past our goal of 750 pairs of new socks, actually getting 1053 pairs!

With the help of a number of  local businesses and the Johnson City Morning Rotary Club, we collected new socks in all sizes and for both genders. This week we gave the warm, new and often colorful socks, to United Way of Washington County, TN for distribution to the United Way agencies that serve the homeless.

Socktober sponsors turn in socks to United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany.

Socktober sponsors turn in socks to Washington County TN United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany.

“We would like to thank all of the coordinators and participants of this year’s Socktober campaign. The socks will be given to our agencies that provide direct services to children and homeless families in our community. This campaign is another expression of the very caring spirit that is in this great community” said United Way of Washington County’s President and CEO Lester Lattany.

Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator Bonnie White said the sock donations are vital necessities. “These new socks are very much needed,” White said. “Many children come to school with shoes that are too small or too large and they get blisters on their feet from not having any socks at all.”

United Way of Washington County TN and Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel with  over 1,000 pairs of new socks for the homeless.

United Way of Washington County TN and Mary Ellen Miller of MarketingMel with over 1,000 pairs of new socks for the homeless.

MarketingMel along with Summit Leadership Foundation, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Appearances Hair Salon and the Johnson City Morning Rotary (at Johnson City Country Club) were Socktober sponsors. This year many great drop off locations participated including: Appearances Hair Salon, Cumberland Marketing, Exalt Academy of Cosmetology, First Tennessee Bank, Johnson City Country Club, Spine & Sports Chiropractic, Summit Leadership Foundation, Tri-City Community Bank and Princeton Arts Center. Additional businesses that heard about the campaign and asked to be a part were Chick-Fil-A Crossings and Robinson’s Animal Hospital.

A great big THANK YOU to all who took part. If you’re reading this blog, did your community take part in #Socktober?

 

 

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Students in MarketingMel's "Gettting Professional With LinkedIn" workshop at Milligan College.

Students in MarketingMel’s “Gettting Professional With LinkedIn” workshop at Milligan College.

LinkedIn is one social media platform woefully underused by college students. Recently I was invited to present a LinkedIn workshop to a group of Milligan College Juniors and Seniors. The students who attended came on their own time so the classroom was full of soon-to-be graduates who were eager to learn.  It was a two-part session with the first hour sharing information and questions about LinkedIn and the second being hands-on creation of individual student profiles. Students brought their laptops.  Each student brought their resume to class in order to have it handy for the LinkedIn profile creation. First we extensively reviewed the demographics of LinkedIn which leans heavily male 25-54. Income levels skew $100,000+ and the typical LinkedIn user checks in around 8 AM and 5pm, before and after work. Clearly, these are the business professionals who will be making the hiring decisions for these students in the future. Here are a few of the tips I shared with the college students.

  1. Professional Photo: Probably one of the most critical elements of LinkedIn is the good, professional head shot. The school provided a professional photographer. Then each student had a professional head shot made to upload for their profile creation during the hands-on portion.
  2. Professional attire: All students were advised to look professional for the photo. In other words wear clothes appropriate for a job interview.
  3. Use LinkedIn to find potential job leads: LinkedIn has an excellent internal search engine specifically for jobs. We used this as an example in class to look for “marketing jobs in Johnson City, TN” as an example.
  4. Join Groups and ask pertinent questions: I showed the students how I used an actual LinkedIn group, the Public Relations and Communications Job Community, to crowdsource in helping me prepare for the talk with them. We received 25 very helpful comments on using LinkedIn to find a job that I shared with the class.
  5. Updates: Post regular updates on LinkedIn that will be of use to your business audience.
  6. Get references: When we went to the hands-on portion of the workshop I invited students to connect with ten people, then seek out a written reference and  give someone they know a written reference. (In LinkedIn as in life, what goes around comes around.)

What tips would you share from your LinkedIn experiences? What recommendations would you make to help seniors in college as they prepare to enter the workforce? Do you have a need for a similar workshop at your college, university or place of business? If so, please contact me via this web site.

View the prezi created by MarketingMel intern Alex Quillin for the workshop:

 

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The buzz over socks just keeps on building! Nationally, #Socktober founder Kid President has teamed with Grover on his campaign to bring socks to the homeless (and who wouldn’t want the power of Sesame Street backing their cause?)

Kid President and Grover

#Socktober founder Kid President with Grover

Locally, our efforts garnered the attention of two TV stations: WCYB-TV 5:30 News (story transcript here) and WJHL-TV’s DayTime Tri-Cities.  Many thanks to Ron Scalf of Out ‘N About Magazine for helping us spread the word in print! More and more people and businesses are jumping in to help us bring socks to the homeless. Once we gather all of the socks we will donate them to United Way of Washington County, TN so that they can give them to their agencies who work directly with the homeless in our community.

WCYB-TV videographer Tim Culbertson and Mary Ellen MIller of MarketingMel show off some of the #Socktober sock donations.

WCYB-TV videographer Tim Culbertson and Mary Ellen MIller of MarketingMel show off some of the #Socktober sock donations.

Bonnie White, Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator told us that,”These socks are so appreciated. Many of these students go to school with blisters on their feet because their shoes are too large or too small and they are wearing them with no socks.  We really appreciate and will use these new socks.”

And who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Chick-Fil-A Crossings is now on board with this great offer: Mondays in October drop off three new pair of socks and get a coupon for a free Grilled Chick-fil-A Sandwich. 

In addition to MarketingMel, the following businesses are sponsors for the second year in a row: Appearances Hair Salon, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Summit Leadership Foundation. This year the Johnson City Morning Rotary also joined as a lead sponsor.

Here are the drop off locations with links to each. We’ve expanded with drop off sites adding locations in both Kingsport and Bristol this year. Let’s hope we get LOTS of socks! Last year we got over 500 pair and this year our goal is more than 750 new pair of socks. Remember, we have over 700 homeless students in the Johnson City school system alone and they’ve got family members, so we need all sizes, all colors, all kinds of new socks. Thank you!

Appearances Hair Salon

Cumberland Marketing

Exalt Academy of Cosmetology

First Tennessee Bank– Crossings, Peoples and North Roan Street locations

Johnson City Morning Rotary at Johnson City Country Club

Spine & Sports Chiropractic

Summit Leadership Foundation

Tri-City Community Bank

Princeton Arts Center

Robinson Animal Hospital

Chick-fil-A, Crossings 

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One of more than a dozen sock baskets that will be placed around town for #Socktober collections.

One of more than a dozen sock baskets that will be placed around town for #Socktober collections. (That’s Lucky supervising!)

 

For the second year in a row, October becomes “Socktober” in order to bring new socks in all sizes to the homeless in the local community. Last year I was inspired when I saw Kid President calling on folks in local communities around the country to help the homeless in this video.

MarketingMel is teaming up with several local businesses to collect new socks in all sizes that will be given to United Way of Washington County, TN for distribution to agencies that serve the homeless.

“Now that the weather is turning cooler, everyone can relate to needing a nice, warm pair of socks,” said Miller. “YouTube’s Kid President promotes a nationwide campaign to donate socks to the homeless in local communities. Thanks to the generous support of people and businesses in our community we surpassed our goal last year of 500 pairs of new socks and this year our goal is 750 pairs. That’s enough for every homeless child in the Johnson City schools plus some extras for their family members.”

Johnson City Schools Homeless coordinator Bonnie White said the sock donations are vital necessities. “With more than 700 homeless children in the Johnson City schools alone, socks of all sizes are very appreciated,” White said.

MarketingMel along with Summit Leadership Foundation, Spine & Sports Chiropractic and Appearances Hair Salon and the Johnson City Morning Rotary (at Johnson City Country Club) are Socktober sponsors. This year many great drop off locations are participating including: Appearances Hair Salon, Cumberland Marketing, Exalt Academy of Cosmetology, First Tennessee Bank, Johnson City Country Club, Spine & Sports Chiropractic, Summit Leadership Foundation, Tri-City Community Bank and Princeton Arts Center.

Even if you don’t live in our area you could help start a #Socktober drive in your local community! When you do, be sure to stay connected on social media by using the hashtag #Socktober. Thank you!

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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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