SMAC headerHow do you feel about Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn? In control or overwhelmed? Either way and whether you’re in a small business or a large corporation, if you’re interested in today’s digital media we’ve got an event for you! WJHL-TV news anchorman Josh Smith will be one of the five great panelists who will take part in the inaugural #SMAC13 social media event featuring the Tri-Cities’ region’s leading journalists and communicators. They’ll be discussing how they use social media in their day to day life as professional communicators and the trends they are seeing. Josh will join ETSU’s Jennifer Clements, Wellmont’s Eric Vaughn, Johnson City Press journalist Becky Campbell and Eastman’s Rachel Cain in a panel discussion that I will moderate. If you haven’t already made plans to be at the Venue in downtown Johnson City, Thursday, September 19 from 11:30 AM- 1 PM our numbers are growing rapidly so please RSVP on the PRSA Facebook page now. This has been an amazing collaboration between three great groups of communicators in our region: The Northeast Tennessee Chapters of Ad Club, Society of Professional Journalists and PRSA. Please see this short video (less than a minute) interview I had with Josh Smith (a natural ham.) Josh was kind enough to do this promotion for #SMAC13! Please pass this along to friends who may be interested. Will you be joining us?

Continue Reading



SMAC header

Tri-Cities PRSA, Ad Club, SPJ Team up for #SMAC13

I’m so excited about this upcoming event I wanted to share it with you, my dear blog readers! For the first time ever we’ve gathered three fantastic groups of communicators together to produce what’s going to be one great event!

The Tri-Cities Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, along with Greater Tri-Cities Pro Chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists and The American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee will host Social Media and Communicators, #SMAC13, a discussion on navigating the ever-changing social landscape, Thursday, September 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Venue in the King building in downtown Johnson City, 300 East Main Street, Suite 200.

This inaugural event will feature the region’s leading journalists and corporate communicators as they discuss how social media plays a role in news gathering, public relations, advertising and our everyday lives. The speakers will take part in an informative panel discussion about this sometimes controversial and often misunderstood medium.

Panelists will be Josh Smith of WJHL, Rachel Cain of Eastman Chemical Company, Becky Campbell of the Johnson City Press, Jennifer Clements of East Tennessee State University and Eric Vaughn of Wellmont Health System.  I have the honor of serving as moderator.

“#SMAC 13 will provide an excellent opportunity for communications professionals to share best practices and for the public to learn more about the rapidly growing field of social media,” said Jim Wozniak, president of Tri-Cities PRSA. “We have assembled a tremendous panel and moderator who are on the cutting edge of social media developments, we are grateful to have such wonderful partners in SPJ and AAF who have helped develop a first-rate event.”

Audience members will be encouraged to participate in the conversation and send questions before the panel starts – via Twitter using the hashtag #SMAC13. Even if you can’t join us live please tweet us some questions in advance and we’ll do our best to work them in!

The cost to attend is $15 for PRSA and SPJ members, $25 for business professionals and $10 for students with valid student ID and it includes lunch provided by Cranberries. Attendance fee and lunch is included with Ad Club membership.   RSVP is required for this event as seating will be limited.

For more information about the event or to learn how you can get involved, please visit the #SMAC 13 Facebook event page at Facebook.com/Tri-CitiesPRSA or email .



Continue Reading



MarketingMel team of Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler meet Gene De Libero of Digital Mindshare

The MarketingMel team of Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler meet Gene De Libero of Digital Mindshare

(The following blog post is co-authored by Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler.)

“In marketing the primary objective is remarkable customer experiences.” That’s what Gene DeLibrio of Digital Mindshare said during a recent presentation to the Ad Club of Northeast Tennessee recently. Gene admitted we all sometimes feel “overwhelmed by the digital space.”  He added, “Remember, the user is always in control. We freely give out our information.”

“Sometimes we have trouble keeping up,” said Gene as he pointed to a visual graphic of the adoption cycles of well known brands. The adoption cycle of a telephone was 75 years. Angry Birds? 35 days! That’s how long it took to get to 50 million users; the same amount of time it took the phone to get to that number of users in 75 years! He said that Smart plasma screens that “know” who you are and recognize your attributes are replacing old fashioned poster kiosks at movie theaters. “Music is smart, they get it. They adapt to users preferences,” he said using Pandora as an example.
Here are five takeaways from this marketing technology expert.

1. Change is Happening, Be Proactive 

The way we communicate and gather information is forever changing. Make sure you are adapting to these changes by engaging in the new technologies. You don’t want to get left behind!

2. Don’t Underestimate Data
While most of us only think of analytics when studying data, there are many functions of this sometimes stuffy information. Data can uncover ideas for new opportunities and help transform customer experience. Utilize these findings to your advantage.
3. Marketing is FAST, Sometimes too fast
While technology is great, it can hinder you in certain situations. When dealing with the public, things such as “Auto Tweet” need to be watched carefully. Ex. Boston Marathon/ Tweet Disaster when some companies were using pre-scheduled tweets rather than empathizing with the victims, thus making them look cold and uncaring. Gene said some of the companies tweeting that day are still cleaning up from their P.R. disaster.
4. Don’t be Greedy, Share Your Information
Although contrary to the popular belief, it’s actually a positive to give away your information. Helping others by volunteering your expertise will make you more valuable.

5. Use (and Be) T-shaped Talent

Understand your business end to end.”Be fluent in business strategy and technology as at least one language and be literate in many,” said Gene. He also said we must employ agile marketing in a world of constant change. “Testing and data is the new normal of modern marketing.”

Which tip resonates with you and why?


Continue Reading


The following is a guest blog post by  ETSU associate professor in the Department of Communication and MarketingMel board member, Dr. Stephen Marshall. 

Delivering value to clients is the ultimate brand challenge.

Delivering value to clients is the ultimate brand challenge.

As an Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University I am blessed to teach some of the best and brightest in our region. In the professional and academic world, learning is a continuous process. The speed of communication technology demands constant learning and adapting.

Part of my continuous learning formula is to engage with clients and organizations; applying my knowledge and skills to stay sharp while providing value. I do this because I strive to deliver value to my students and professionally grow. My work with professionals moves me from academic armchair quarterbacking directly into the game. Working at Creative Energy as well as with great professionals like MarketingMel keeps me fresh and keeps ideas flowing. Whether it is in the classroom or in the boardroom, I am always focused on delivering value. But what is value?

Merriam-Webster defines value in numerous ways but the particularly applicable Merriam-Webster value definition states value is “relative worth, utility, or importance.” In marketing terms, there are numerous theories supported by hundreds of analyses of value. (I won’t bore you with them.) The most basic theme in marketing is value = benefit/cost.

Benefit examples = information, entertainment, utility, status

Cost examples = time, effort, financial

In terms of interpersonal communication, we deliver value during conversation quite naturally. (In fact, value is the sole reason you engage in any exchange!) For example, when you have a conversation with someone, you want to engage her or him in the discussion. You do so by finding the voice and content that will create the right engaging message. The right choices enable you to deliver communication value in the exchange. To illustrate… would you speak with your mother the same way you speak with your best friend? Further, the more value exchanged, the longer the conversation. Conversations end when the cost of continuing is higher than the benefit.

The key to any successful communication is to deliver value to the receiver. My students know “create value with your communication” as my classroom mantra. Successful businesses create value for their customers through their products or services. The center of any brand (product, service, idea or individual as you have learned from Marketing Mel) is the value promise of the brand. In today’s digital communication space, brands are able to deliver additional value (continuing the value promise) in their communication and measure impact more accurately.

For businesses, defining value in communication can be complex. Strategy is the key to defining, creating and evaluating. Creating value strategy means significantly understanding objectives, audience(s) and creating content that will deliver value. Delivering value should be the core of your communication strategy. How does this happen for a brand?

  1. Know your business goal and objectives
  2. Understand your audience (know your key influencers)
  3. Create digital content that will deliver on the brand promise (extend brand value)
  4. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) enabling evaluation of progress

The key to swimming in “big data” is to define the KPIs in your planning. This allows you to benchmark, set goals, understand audience flow, evaluate, and optimize. From an organizational standpoint, determining the influential KPIs aligned with organizational outcomes is the only way to move from descriptive data to data providing inference.

Extending brand value in communication efforts often means utilizing social media. All too often I hear folks, even professionals say, “let’s make a Facebook page.” While social media is important, it is often used inappropriately. Social media efforts must be aligned with brand value.

This means the social channel and content must match the proper audience. Further, content and channel must be maintained appropriately. Huge mistakes will be made if you think of media without considering all the other previously discussed steps.

In summary, knowing your audience and delivering brand value on a continuous basis is the key to brand loyalty. The digital space allows brands to extend their value into their communication. Brands should use the digital space to extend and measure their brand value.

About the Author:

swm blackwhite

Stephen W. Marshall PhD, was educated at the University of Florida. He is a former employee of Nielsen. Dr. Marshall focuses on opportunities bridging academics and industry. His research interests include qualitative and quantitative audience measurement, branding and mass communication in a digital space. He is an Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University, a Research Analyst at Creative Energy and a member of MarketingMel’s board of advisors. Connect with him via Linkedin or by email at marshalls [at} etsu.edu.





Continue Reading


The following is a guest blog post from Ed Jenkins of Confab Marketing. I first met Ed at SocialSlam in 2012 and we’ve kept in touch via twitter. You can find Ed @ConfabMarketing.



Athletes are engaging in social media at a record pace. While leagues like the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are taking steps to monitor use of social media by athletes, there are no rules, policies or otherwise prohibiting such activity. Like A-List Hollywood celebrities, athletes feel empowered to share or express personal feelings and often times don’t think about how it will dilute their brand. Here are five rules of engagement athletes can use to build their brand through social media.

  1. Be a “cause” Champion: Advocate for a cause that’s close to your heart either through personal experience or something close to your situation. Pro football Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden spent his entire playing career with the Baltimore Ravens, but his passion is the Jonathan Ogden Foundation established in 1996 to help youth gain self confidence through education and athletics. Ogden is effectively spreading his message using twitter as the primary social media platform to champion his cause.
  2. If you need to think about it, it’s not a good idea: Mama always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (and she was right!) Also, if you need to think about whether or not a tweet may be appropriate, IT’S NOT! These age old lessons hold true in the world of social media too! One mistake or misguided tweet by an athlete can completely destroy what they’ve spent years working to create.
  3. Be content conscious: Have a content plan that is current, relevant and action driven. Meaningless tweets are a turn off to fans and make it more difficult to maintain an effective following. Those who make best use of twitter call followers to action and create synergy among their overall digital profile. A good example may be…”It’s game day, stop by my website wxyz.com to catch my interview live from the locker room at 11 am.” This call to action influences fans to stay within your digital brand web and provides a teaser for exciting content.
  4. Post positively: Nobody likes negativity…stay positive in your post. Followers and fans look forward to reading tweets or Facebook posts that are helpful, informative and inspirational in nature. Constant negative posts will characterize your brand and ultimately define your brand attitude.
  5. Don’t dilute the brand: NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson once said, “As long as your brand is strong, you’ll always be able to make money.” Athletes must be brand conscious at all times. Be careful of the pictures you post, what you say and who of course you say it to. Simply put…don’t do anything to dilute the brand.As athletes strive to understand brand value, many search for effective ways to build and promote that brand through social media. Developing an action oriented plan for twitter and Facebook will keep athletes focused and out of harm’s way when it comes to brand integrity.

Jenkins[1]Ed Jenkins is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based social media strategist and managing partner of Confab Marketing & Design, a boutique style marketing agency focusing on brand building for small to mid-sized businesses and individuals. After attending Johnson & Wales University (Providence, RI) where he studied marketing and advertising, Jenkins went to work in the advertising sales industry. Jenkins has spend the past decade in marketing working with for profit education institutions and non-profits including the United Way of Southeastern New England and NEED, a Pittsburgh based educational non-profit. Jenkins also has an extensive background in sports management and administration having served as a general manager with sports franchises including the Roanoke Steam (Roanoke, VA) of the Arena Football League. 



Continue Reading

MarketingMel speaks on personal branding to the Elite Strategic Partners.

MarketingMel speaks on personal branding to the Elite Strategic Partners.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Warren Buffet

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the Elite Strategic Partners group last Tuesday in Johnson City.  This group of business and community leaders gets together for lunch three times per month to share referral sources and hear from guest speakers. The ESP group is already gaining a great reputation for its members (way to build that brand!) WHile I was there they contributed a $500 check to Rise Up, an organization that mentors young people.

My topic was “Powerful Personal Branding” which I define quite simply as the sum total of your online and your offline reputation.  It is how others perceive you! Here are a few other tips from my talk.

  1. Focus on Your Strengths– There is a great book called Strengthfinders by Clifton and Buckingham that urges us to focus on our five core strengths. I enjoyed joking with a CPA in the crowd that people like her will always find employment when there are people like me around! The point is, hire someone who’s really good in your weak area so you can focus on what you do best (in my case it’s strategy, not accounting!)
  2. Get Media Exposure-I love to say that “media begets media” and it is really true. Once you appear TV or radio or you’re quoted in the newspaper you are seen as an “expert” and a go-to personality.
  3. Blog Your Expertise- Blogging is a great way to keep your web site fresh and push you up in the search engine rankings. You are bound to have a keen knowledge of something that others want to know more about. Share it regularly on your blog. And if you can’t think of ideas, invite a guest blogger to come on board from time to time. It’s great exposure for them and for you.

These are just three of the 15 tips that can be found in the Personal Branding Tool Kit, created by Maria Peagler and me, that is now on a back to school sale! We’ve reduced our price by $50 to a great rate of just $47 for an easy to follow infographic and tips, action plans, an mp3 of our webinar, transcript and a “ready-set-go” plan to carry out the 15 steps to building your personal brand. Just click this link and use the promo code “school.”

Do you have your own personal branding success tips? Please share them here.

Continue Reading

Image: My Clever Agency

Image: My Clever Agency

Are you a perfectionist like me? (Hey, I’m a Virgo, what can I say.) Well, I ran across this excellent infographic from “my clever agency” (don’t you love that name?) that tells us how to create a perfect social media post. Thanks to Mark Ragan at PR Daily for drawing my attention to it. I thought it was really terrific and would be worthwhile for my readers.

mycleveragency Social Media Perfect Post Infographic
Social Media Perfect Posts Infographic is an infographic that was produced by mycleveragency

Read more from How To Create The Perfect Pinterest, Google+, Facebook & Twitter Posts [Infographic] – mycleveragency – Full Service Social http://www.mycleveragency.com/2013/06/how-to-create-the-perfect-social-media-posts/#ixzz2a4zIdXKI

Continue Reading


The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel associate Sarah Kinsler.

Twitter Hashtags and TV

Twitter Hashtags and TV

Last year CBS reported more than 108.4 million people tuned in for the Super Bowl. Of those viewers, many were chatting it up on Twitter.  Over 24 million game day related tweets were posted during the event. Between Beyonce’s performance with a surprise visit by the other members of Destiny’s Child and the 35-minute blackout, users had LOTS to talk, or should I say Tweet about.

The Super Bowl is a prime example of how social media is changing how we watch television. We are no longer just watching, we are communicating. Social sites such as Twitter makes it possible to share your insights, opinions and questions with others across the world. We aren’t just sharing our thoughts with those in our living room anymore.

The development of hashtags (a way for users to organize and search tweets by marking them with a #) has made it possible for users to collaborate their views and engage in conversation with others about popular shows.  Every week millions of people tune in to their favorite shows and login on to Twitter. Shows like The Bachelor, Lost and numerous sporting events gain so much social media attention, their hashtags often are the top ones on Twitter. (This is known as trending)

The presence of social media is forever changing our communication habits. While the technology is fascinating, I can only help but what wonder about the future of interpersonal communication. What do you think? Are you a “Tweet-a-holic” or like to keep your conversations face to face?

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler


Sarah Kinsler is a member of the MarketingMel team. She creates marketing, public relations and social media strategies for Mel’s diverse group of business clients. 


Continue Reading