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“An entrepreneur would rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 hours a week for someone else.”

Dr. Andy Czuchry, ETSU

 

These pink carnations are a lovely way to celebrate 5 years in business!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day and birthday month at MarketingMel.

Those words were spoken by my beloved Entrepreneurship Professor Dr. Andy Czuchry when I was in the ETSU MBA program back in 2000.  This month, February,2014 marks my fifth year in business and now I really know how true Dr. Czuchry’s words are!

I recently presented my story “Smart Moves and Pitfalls: The MarketingMel Story” to the ETSU Entrepreneur’s Club and to our Johnson City Morning Rotary Club.

I thought you might enjoy hearing some of those tips that I’ve learned along the way.

1. Turn Lemons Into Lemonade– My father always taught me this. When life deals you what you think is a bad blow at the time, pick yourself up and keep on keeping on.

 

2. Take Advantage of New Communication Channels: Because I had been so active on twitter since 2008 the name of my company was almost a given when starting it in February 2009. The phrase “MarketingMel” shot up ahead of Mel Gibson on Google search strictly because that was my twitter handle.

 

3. Think About Your Brand. Consider carefully your name, logo and choice of colors as you get started.  I chose blue and green because I wanted to attract business professionals who use those colors and as I write this I’m working for a lawyer and a banker.

 

4. You Can’t Do It All! I have teamed with some great young interns out of ETSU and I’ve formed virtual friends through my SoloPR group. As I’ve grown I’ve taken on a sharp young ETSU graduate, Sarah Kinsler, to assist me.

 

5. Seek Counsel: I treasure my board of advisors: six highly intelligent people from our community to be a wealth of resources for me. Thank you to: Jenny Brock, Nancy Dishner, Jennifer Dixon, Stephen Marshall, Don Raines and Dave McAuley for the assistance and counsel you’ve given me along the way!

 

6. Give Back: I believe it’s important to give back to the community. Each year our team provides pro bono services to the highly successful Up and At ‘Em Turkey Trot and recently we helped United Way of Washington County with their Publicity.

 

7. Have a Daily Quiet Time: Since I started in business I have a daily quiet time with God first thing each morning. Prayer and bible reading helps me to focus on what is really important in the day and in life.

 

These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned along the path of entrepreneurship. Which one resonates with you?

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Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel’s intern, Emma Brock. My interns work with me for at least one full academic year (two semesters.)

I hardly know where to begin when people ask me what I do as MarketingMel’s intern. My mind flurries with all the research, the events and the campaigns I have gotten to work on since Mel brought me on as her intern in August. With each new day there is a new goal to conquer.

In the world of PR, the only thing you can expect is not knowing what to expect! While much of PR is a learning curve, there are certain tools that every intern should keep in mind to find success.

1. Be a complement to your employer. Every person has a different skill set. Clearly your boss has valuable skills that got them to the position they work in. However, you also should be aware of your skills that will complement those of your employer. The end goal is to be a valuable member of your team.

2. Talking is good. Listening is better. Have you ever heard that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? Well it is true! There will be opportunities where your opinion is asked for, and doing so will open you up for creative thinking. On the flip side, there is great value in listening. You will gain insight as to the needs of your clients, and people will always regard you highly for good listening skills.

3. Discretion, Discretion, Discretion. Need I say more? No one wants a reputation as a gossip. Not to mention, gabbing about your clients can land you in hot water.

4. Time is Money. In any career, timeliness is important. But as an intern, it is vital to always be timely to events and with events. Take advantage of every spare minute. It makes more of an impression than you realize.

5. Sleep is a thing of the past. There will be days where you will be utterly sleep-deprived. But when you walk out of the office knowing you accomplished a major feat, made new connections, helped clients and improved yourself, it will all be worth it.

EmmaBrockEmma Brock is currently a senior PR major at ETSU and MarketingMel’s intern. Aside from doing research and assisting with client events for the company, she can be found at the park with her beloved dog Cooper or with her nose buried in a book. Follow Brock on Instagram: @brockaleigh 

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marketingmel_logo-770x2001.jpg

Using your company logo on your press release is a point of differentiation.

For the better part of my career as a public relations professional I have written press releases. While I don’t often think about the mechanics, I am frequently asked, “How do you write a press release?” One of my “mentees” Amanda Boone, the marketing director at Summit Leadership Foundation, was the latest to pose that question. Here’s what I shared with her as we sat down to review several successful news releases.

  1. Begin with your logo centered at the top of the news release– A logo makes your news release immediately identifiable. If you are writing for another client/organization it helps journalists reading it to differentiate the writer from the client.
  2. “For Immediate Release”: This is stated in the upper left corner. The only other option is to “embargo” a news release which is asking a reporter to hold a story; something I do not recommend.
  3. Contact Information: Place your contact information in the upper right corner.
  4. Date: Be sure today’s date (or the date of issue if different) is on the release
  5. Headline: Be sure to create a catchy and fairly short headline that aptly sums up your release. If necessary provide a more detailed sub-headline.
  6. Dateline: This is the location from which the release is issued and leads the release.
  7. Lead Paragraph: This answers the “who/what/where/when/how” in the beginning paragraph.
  8. Quote from knowledgeable source: Be sure to have a quotation from a knowledgeable and respected source in the second or third paragraph of your release.
  9. Details: Add additional details, sponsors, supporting evidence, etc. later in the release.
  10. SEO optimized: Be sure you have provided one or more links to web sites, etc. and written keyword optimized copy. This used to be much easier when Google AdWords was around. I have since used Ubersuggest and would love to hear what tools you are using for keyword optimization.
  11. Boilerplate: Always end a press release with basic information about your company. This is a mini fact sheet about your company that can be repeated from release to release.

The ultimate goal of a press release is to get it in the right hands for publicity for your company/your client. Be sure your media lists are kept up to date and that you maintain ongoing relationships with the media. Social media has definitely made that easier. Good luck and please feel free to share press release tips that have worked for you.

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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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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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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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Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Remember playing the game of telephone as a child?

Steve Hawkins, a veteran news man and host of The Steve Hawkins Show on WFHG radio, recently posed these two questions to me: How are people now using social media to get their news? How has social media become a news source?  Steve said he was prompted to ask me these questions after the recent (local) Greene County school stabbing. Do you know where I heard about that incident? Twitter. I was checking my local tweets list on my phone and saw WJHL’s post about it. I told my husband about the incident as we were walking out the door to a First Priority fund raising dinner. That evening the Christian youth group used the tragic incident to discuss the need for the work that they do with youths in our schools.

I posed Steve’s questions on today’s “airwaves” and was overwhelmed by the quick response on both twitter and Facebook. Here are a few of the stories people shared with me.

Last summer (2013) Johnson City videographer Kyle Long of Digital-fridge, was shooting a tourism video for the town of Damascus, VA. Suddenly, an elderly man suffered a medical issue and plowed into a crowd with his car. No one was killed but there were several serious injuries. Kyle took and posted the photo of the car crash to twitter and Facebook. Within ten minutes of his tweet, ABC/New York called to ask permission to use the photo. He told them “sure” and his photo was blasted out to ABC news watchers around the globe. This actually poses an interesting ethical question that Kyle and I discussed. Who becomes the gatekeeper?  What if Kyle had taken a photo of “just any car” and said it was the one to plow into the crowd? In today’s rush of citizen journalists does the “first to post” win?

Apparently lots of news hounds like me monitor twitter. My intern Emma Brock said that when Soledad O’Brien visited ETSU she said she usually saw her news on twitter first- and then she would check her sources for the facts.Ted Bradford of Shop Local says that The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore retweeted his photo of downtown Johnson City flooding within 15-20 minutes of posting.

Of course there can be a downside if you don’t check the facts. My associate Sarah Kinsler says, “The way social media is used for news often reminds me of the game “telephone” … “what happened” changes as it’s being passed around person by person.” And former MSHA Vice President Ed Herbert adds, “Locally, there was the situation where MSHA was closing Indian Path Pavilion, the psych hospital, but one TV station tweeted “MSHA closing Indian Path Medical Center” and suddenly 700 team members at the hospital were fearful for their jobs, the tweet was then used as a source on other media outlets and MSHA communications and marketing spent the rest of the day correcting the erroneous tweet.”

Local WJHL-TV newsman Chris McIntosh says, “Some of the best stories I’ve covered have come from Facebook sources. I have fans and friends on Facebook that keep me up to date on what is going on in their neighborhoods and communities.”

Finally, my former intern Kristen Pierce, who is now with St. Jude’s says, “I usually get breaking news first on Twitter. I follow the Associated Press so I’m always staying up to date!”

Clearly, social media has found its place as a key influencer in our news consumption and creation.

Do you have a social media making/breaking news story to share? I would love to hear from you and publish some of those here. 

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

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MarketingMel served as panel moderator and worked with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

MarketingMel was delighted to moderate and to work with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

 

Our #SMAC13 Social Media and Communicators Panel discussion was a success! Many thanks are in order! First, to the panelists: Becky Campbell- Johnson City Press, Josh Smith- WJHL-TV, Eric Vaughn- Wellmont Health System, Rachel Cain- Eastman, and Jennifer Clements-ETSU. Hats off to the team that pulled it off: Jim Wozniak, Rachel Cain, Drew Beamer, Deborah Lowery, Christian Schmid along with myself and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock. Thanks also to many of you loyal blog readers who helped me publicize the event on twitter.

For the first time ever in the Tri-Cities region three professional communications organizations joined together to create one fantastic communications event. Those organizations were: Public Relations Society of America (Northeast Tennessee Chapter), Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation and the Greater Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The committee’s initial goal was to gather 100 people to listen to a distinguished panel including both journalists and professional corporate communicators. We far exceeded our goal with over 150 business professionals and college students turning out to hear the pro’s. Here are some of the “tweetable highlights” of the panel discussion. I was the panel moderator and it’s hard to pare them down to just a few sentences as most of what they said was valuable. I would love to hear what comments particularly resonate with you.

  1. “Years ago we could only tell you about something that happened today, tomorrow morning…I started out with a notepad and a pen. Today I carry an iPad and shoot video… I’ve been tweeting trial updates from court since 2010.”
  2. “Every person in our newsroom has a Facebook. Every person in our newsroom has a twitter. Everyone in our newsroom is expected to contribute.”
  • Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press reporter
  1. “It was always there (our immediate desire for news.) I have found our viewers are far less patient than they ever were. We have higher expectations now. People always have wanted information. Now we have to keep up with the demands of our audience.”
  2. “You don’t get angry on social media. You don’t respond angrily. That can cause you to lose your job. And that has happened in this market.”
  • Josh Smith WJHL-TV Anchorman
  1. “In health care we deal with people in the most personal moments. The issue that we face is because of regulations we cannot point to anything personal about a patient.”
  2. “You need to have a specific strategy in place and apply to the audience you are looking for. You have to have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish.”
  • Eric Vaughn, Wellmont Health Systems
  1. “There is no one size fits all. If you are on social media you should have a strategy. Make sure everything you do is measurable. We measure leads generated, how many of those leads are qualified. As many things as you can track, how many go from social media to your web site and then convert on your web site. Something solid to start tracking on an excel spread sheet.
  2. “You have to be able and willing to fail in social media. Track lessons learned. Strategy is about what you’re saying and to whom and where they are.”
  3. “I don’t think that any business can afford to not be on social media anymore.”
  • Rachel Cain, Eastman/Perennial Wood
  1. “Social Media gives us the opportunity to listen to what’s going on on campus and it gives us the opportunity to communicate with our audience.”
  2. “When an emergency happens our students and staff turn to social media to find out what is going on.”
  3. “If you’re applying for jobs show how you’ve built a brand for yourself or for your company; not just that you’re on Facebook.”
  • Jennifer Clements, East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

To watch the #SMAC13 video to to hear all of what these distinguished panelists had to say, click on “watch the event video” on the #SMAC13 website.

 

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