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rotarypic

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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Tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

MarketingMel’s tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

Seeing the Rolling Stones prancing on stage this summer reminded me of a favorite song from my youth. “You can’t always get what you want,” croons Mick Jagger who still looks good despite the years on his craggy face. The next line, “But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need” was indeed true as I used twitter to resolve an issue with Budget Rent A Car.

How, you might ask, did I get from the Stones, to twitter, to a rental car?

Well, it all starts out with a girls’ mini-vacation in Florida.

My BFF since age 5, Kim, and her friend Laurie, invited me for a few days of sun and fun in Sarasota. Their timing was perfect since I had just wrapped up campaign management for the grueling Lisa Rice for Criminal Court Judge campaign. (Lisa, who worked very hard, took a decisive primary victory and now moves on unopposed in the August general election.)

When we arrived at Tampa airport the SUV that we scheduled was not available. Instead we were offered a “Mom van.” (No thanks, we were three moms on vacation!)  The agent “upsold” us a Lincoln Navigator at about twice the original price. None of us was happy so I took to the twitter “airwaves.” The great thing about twitter is it affords each of us an opportunity to have our voice heard. We are no longer just a number.

In a series of tweets, I gently nudged @Budget about the upsell and asked why our first car wasn’t available. It took them a couple of days to get me the response I needed but I will give Budget full credit for what they did right. Here was their response, four tips we can all learn from:

1-    They took the conversation offline ­­– Instead of letting this play out in front of everyone on twitter Budget asked me to send an email direct to their social media help desk.

2-    They apologized – Yes, in private direct messages they apologized!

3-    They made it right – At first they promised a rebate of one-half of the upsell but…

4-    They delighted the customer –In the end, Budget gave us the “upsell” vehicle at the original vehicle’s price. Thank you Budget and now I am writing a column and blogging about you in a positive way. I know my two friends are also thrilled and “singing” Budget’s praises. Wonder what the value of that word of mouth is?  As you head out on summer vacation remember, knowing how to use twitter effectively can help you “get what you need.”  Do you have some vacation/communications best practices you would like to share?

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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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Veteran Broadcaster Steve Hawkins and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller.

Veteran Broadcaster Steve Hawkins and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller.

Last week my young associate Sarah Kinsler and I were invited to speak to Steve Hawkins’ Radio/TV broadcast class at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Steve is a veteran of both radio and television news so the students are learning from an expert. It was a great, interactive experience with the students sharing some of their “zone of genius moments” with us and we shared our personal branding stories with them.  One of the students talked about how great it felt to recently direct a student performance at the Kennedy Center (Great example!) Sarah and I will be presenting “Powerful Personal Branding: The New Economic Imperative” this Wednesday at the PRSA Southeast District Conference in Charlotte. Here are some of our tips about how social media can help you in building your brand:

IceCream1. Showcase Your Personality– My new intern Alex Quillin, joined us today. We immediately began following each other on twitter and I quickly picked up that she loves ice cream. It was great fun seeing her photos of her favorite ice cream in the twitterverse and gave us an immediate common bond. I mean, who doesn’t love ice cream?

2. Help You Network with Peers– I can’t begin to count the friendships and business relationships I have built using social media. Using groups like #SoloPR or #journchat or one of the many other chat groups out there you can zone in on finding people with common interests.

3. Differentiate You from Others – Your social media presence can make you stand out in the crowd. In Sarah’s case it’s her witty sense of humor that shines through, particularly when she’s making fun of selflies on her instagram and vine videos.

4. Help You Promote Your Blog– You mean you don’t blog? Both Sarah and I were astounded that the radio/TV majors in that class who didn’t blog! Blogging is a free and easy way to hone the discipline of regularly writing and posting. Social media is a great platform for spreading your writing success. By the way, Sarah said in her PR classes everyone blogged. Hurray for Public Relations and the emphasis on the importance of the written word!

5. Give You “Google Juice”–  Social Networking can help you Build Your Personal Brand and help you to be found organically in search. The power of social networking and personal branding are becoming synonymous. Make it count!

What are some ways that you build your personal brand through social networking?

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Kellye Crane role playing a difficult conversation with a client.

Kellye Crane role playing a difficult conversation with a client.

I was fortunate to once again be able to attend the SoloPR Summit in Atlanta last week. This was the second year in a row that Kellye Crane and Karen Swim brought together Solo Public Relations professionals from across the country (including Alaska and Canada.)

While all of the sessions were very good, one of my favorites was “Managing Difficult Conversations” with Cloudspark’s Jenny Schmitt and SoloPR Founder Kellye Crane.

Whether it’s a financial issue, scope creep or tactical disagreements over strategy, all of us who are Solo Pro’s ends up occasionally being challenged with a prospective client or partner.

Here were their 7 top tips:

1. Plan – Have a script. Actually have in writing what you plan to say on the phone or in person and then practice. Kelly and Jenny had each of us turn to a partner and “play act” our parts.  Don’t just “wing it.”

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Silence – At lunch later we laughed about this favorite old journalist’s technique. Remain silent and the interviewee will look to fill the void (and often trip over both themselves and their words, much to a reporter’s delight!) Of course in any negotiations, silence is golden.

3. Stay Firm – This was really encouraging. If you stay firm our instructors said, you will ultimately win more respect.

4. Use Active Listening – This fantastic listening style was actually taught to my husband and me before we were married (and it’s worked well for nearly 19 years!) When you’re striving to understand the other person, reflect back to them what you heard. “So I hear you to say…” (Hint: If this is your spouse I’ve found it helps to hold hands as you play this out. It’s extremely hard to argue with someone when you’re holding his/her hand.)

5. Back up Your Position in Writing – Wow! There is only one time since I started my business five years ago that I did not get an agreement with a client in writing and what a huge mistake that was! A written agreement brings clarity and provides an easy reference document.

6. Make Recommendations – Here Jenny and Kellye suggested coming up with alternatives if one scenario does not work. Use “I wish” statements instead of “You’re wrong.”

7. People have their own pressures – We all are under unique stresses including our clients in their jobs. We really don’t know what they are going through so remember, be kind. You never want to burn a bridge.

 

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Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Recently I was asked to speak as part of a panel discussion on social media use and teenagers as part of a panel discussion at my church, Grace Fellowship Church. Below you will find the questions along with my answers as a parent and as someone who appreciates both the positive and the more dangerous side of social media. Of course Instagram, twitter, vine and Snapchat were named as some of the more popular platforms with today’s generation while Facebook still thrives among “old” people (read: parents.)
Introduction:
1. Before I share my interest in social media just a quick funny story about how the world is changing so rapidly. The other night I saw my 11 year old son doing what I thought was playing on the iPad and I asked him to put down the iPad and do his homework! Whoops! He said “Mom, I am doing my homework!” He absolutely was! He was  doing his vocabulary homework and looking up words on dictionary.com on the iPad. Point is: we must always be thinking in new and different ways and his version of how to do homework is quite different from mine (remember pencil and paper?)
I have worked in and around social media since 2008. As a parent I am very interested in staying on top of trends and keeping up with what is out there. I even look over his shoulder when he’s playing Minecraft just to see who else is or could be in on the game. I believe as parents we need to know who our children are communicating with online. It used to be we worried about the creep down the road at the playground but now that playground is a virtual playground and we need to be just as vigilant if not more so than before.

2. What has been the number one benefit of social media both in your
professional experience and your personal life?

My embrace particularly of twitter was a game changer in terms of getting me first interviewed by TV news when I first started my business and them actually creating a TV news series called “Social Media 101” that aired on the evening news. I have been asked to do public speaking on many occasions because of my knowledge and use of social media. I have been asked to speak at conferences and on this panel because of social media. Sarah Kinsler and I will be attending a conference in Atlanta this week strictly on the basis of colleagues I have met through the #soloPR twitter chat I’ve been involved with since founding my business. In terms of my clients I have assisted my political PR clients with gaining a presence on social media for the past five years. Currently I am assisting Lisa Rice in her political campaign for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. At first she resisted going on Facebook because she uses it against people in court. Her view has changed now because she sees the importance of this new “word of mouth.” On a personal note Facebook enables me to keep up with dear old friends and family.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

3. What has been the biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media
that you have experienced?

The biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media is probably the people who are using it for illegitimate means and who target cyber “victims.” You have to be savvy and I don’t think young children can always differentiate between good and bad. I also see how social media targets you by the demographics they have on you. If you don’t believe me, log on as someone else. I used to log on as a male client sometimes and would get completely different ads. I met a man at a conference who was considered a “god” of social media. He spoke all around the world on the subject. He had thousands of followers and “friends.” (Zuckerberg’s rewritten the meaning of the word friend) but this man tragically took his own life. The thing that absolutely makes me want to cry was the story of the young girl who had been cyber bullied and she took her own life by jumping off a tower. That was such a needless tragedy. BTW I make it my policy to never friend anyone less than 13 on Facebook. I just don’t want to have anything to do with a child that young on Facebook for many different reasons.

4. If you could communicate only one caution about social media to
parents, what would that be?

My caution about social media to parents would be that you must be vigilant. Do not bury your head in the sand. Find out who they are communicating with and what they are putting online. We all have a digital footprint that follows us from womb to beyond the grave. Make sure you know what platforms your kids are using and friend them and follow them.

Photos from our event were live streamed via Eventstagram.  We received very positive feedback from the parents who attended. What advice do you have for parents and teens concerning social media?

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