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Lovely stationary inspires great letter writing.

Lovely stationary inspires great letter writing.

The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler, a millennial who still loves to write letters the old fashioned way. 

Last month, according to my cell phone bill, I received over 900 text messages. Everything from funny photos, to sweet good morning messages, to reminders for work. Funny though. If you asked me to remember the best text I received in December, I couldn’t tell you. I could however tell you about the two letters I received in the mail over the last few weeks. One being a card from one of my closest friends who recently moved to another state. She included a adorable picture of her dog and a short note about her recent ventures.  While this friend and I talk daily via text, social media and calls, the letter meant so much more because she took the time to write it.

In honor of National Letter Writing Month and the fact that I was gifted that CUTEST Kate Spade stationary for Christmas, I am supporting an old fashion, but effective form of communication. Maybe I’m an old soul, but I enjoy letter writing, always have. When my best friend in the entire world moved away in middle school, we turned to writing letters. (This was before “texting” became the social norm.) I started writing letters in middle school and continue to send notes, postcards and letters whenever I feel the need to say “hello”.

Here are a few reasons why Letter Writing is important:

1. Adds a Personal Touch
A text is great for saying, “Hey, we’re out of bread” or “Running five minutes behind” but doesn’t really work when you are expressing thanks or showing a person gratitude. A letter makes your message stand out. It lets the person see a different side of you.
2. Keep in Touch with Friends
Social media is a great way to get a glance at a person’s current happenings. However, people are only sharing their public news. Writing letters is a great way to stay in touch without all 759 friends looking at your post online.
3. Improves your Writing
Writing a letter is a great way to improve your written communication skills. What better way to improve your writing skills than expressing your thoughts in a card and making someone’s day.
What have been some of your finest memories of writing or getting hand written letters?
MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

 

Sarah Kinsler is a December 2012 ETSU Public Relations graduate. An avid Vine, Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat aficionado, she works with MarketingMel to provide clients with innovative marketing, public relations and social media strategies. Find her on twitter @sarah_kinsler. 

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It was the year of fun with social media. The “Harlem Shake” was all the rage at my SoloPR conference and elsewhere around the country. The word “selfie” officially entered the lexicon. We made vine videos and celebrated National Ice Cream Day July 21st with an instagram video. So what do we do to conclude the year at the holiday season? Our team is closing out 2013 with some more fun. Sarah Kinsler and I will be leading the Johnson City Leadership 2015 class in a sing-along this week with a rousing rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” with a social media kick. We’ll be performing wearing Santa hats with Keith Ford on guitar and  Jason Pierce on mandolin.  What do you think of the lyrics? Would you like to share them at your office Christmas party? Enjoy and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

12 Days[2]

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REMOVEEditor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post by the very talented and always amusing MarketingMel associate Sarah Kinsler.

1. It’s a status, not a soapbox.

When emotions are running high, step away from the keyboard. The last thing anyone wants to see in their news feed is a public rant. Hey, maybe you should create a blog? 😉  But seriously, social media is not the place to advertise your political views or other controversial topics.

2.TMI!

Oh you have had awful diarrhea for the past three days? Thanks, thanks for sharing. Some things are better left unsaid. Remember content posted on the internet is forever.  If you wouldn’t mention it on a first date, you shouldn’t mention it on Facebook.

3. Fishing for Compliments.

If you are sharing a photo on your social sites, you obviously approve of the image. Posting a “selfie” then hash-tagging it #SoUgly or #awfulPhoto is just silly. We all know you like the photo, or you would not have posted it.

4. Game Invites

It really doesn’t matter how many requests you send, NEVER have I, nor will I ever play Farmville.

5. Vague Updates

Nothing screams, “I want attention!” like a vague status that hints something awful. “I can’t believe that happened,” or, “I received really awful news today.” What’s worse than posting one of these? Posting, then automatically ignoring your Facebook while your friends comment/freak out over your “situation. ” If it was a big deal, you would have told us what happened. If it was something you need to keep private, you wouldn’t have posted it.

And there you have it folks. These are my top five Social Media Pet Peeves. What are some of yours?

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler

Sarah Kinsler is a 2012 ETSU  Public Relations graduate and  an associate with MarketingMel. She helps MarketingMel’s clients build their social media and public relations strategies. She is a former champion cheerleader and still coaches cheerleading in her spare time. 

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Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel's Faith in the Future award.

Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock accepting MarketingMel’s Faith in the Future award.

For the second year in a row the MarketingMel team took home the CenturyLink Faith in the Future Award. This year we won in the woman owned business category. My two young rock stars: associate Sarah Kinsler and intern Emma Brock were on hand to accept the award. (I was previously committed to a speaking engagement with the Tri-Cities Women’s Council of Realtors that day.)  It is truly a privilege and an honor to serve MarketingMel’s fantastic clients with their marketing, public relations and social media strategies for nearly five years.  Also, serving, teaching, working and learning from the next generation of rising young professional women is indeed a pillar of my company. One of the platforms of MarketingMel is to mentor rising young women studying in the field of public relations and marketing. According to all reports Sarah and Emma knocked it out of the ball park when they were called to the podium to accept our award. It’s great to have such confidence in the abilities of the next generation. If Sarah and Emma are any indication of the future of the public relations profession, we are in good hands!

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At Entrepreneurs Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry.

At Entrepreneurs’ Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry

Last evening I had the honor of returning to the classroom where I was an MBA student 13 years ago. Thanks to the magic of wimba (a college software program that  allows classroom “broadcasting” ) the Entrepreneurship Club at ETSU was seen live by students in Austria, Texas and Washington State.  Andy Czuchry, “Dr. C” as we all fondly called him, taught us many things about the real world of business. A real-life rocket scientist, he  combined theory and practice by bringing entrepreneurs to the classroom. They taught us the way things really are in the business world. One of Dr C’s favorite expressions is how I began my presentation: “An entrepreneur would rather work 80 hours a week for himself than 40 hours a week for someone else.” Anyone reading this who is an entrepreneur knows that to be true. But there is something incredibly exhilarating about the freedom that comes with being self employed that can’t be replicated. So we’re willing to tolerate the crazy hours because of that trade off.

Here are a few more tips I shared with the Entrepreneurs’ Club students:

Pitfalls:

You can’t do it all- You need to start making teams right away and joining forces with others. Work on what you do well and look for skill sets in others to compliment yours. It’s fine to start with virtual teams (for me it was twitter and some important tweet chat groups) but stay connected. No one can operate well as an island.

Don’t rely on third party hosts- Always host your own web site and put your videos on channels you host. I learned this the hard way after a multi-part series I created for WJHL-TV called “Social Media 101” literally vanished when they changed servers. I shudder when I watch some business people use Facebook as their personal web site. Facebook (and your product photos) could be gone tomorrow.

Create Systems-  I suggested the book the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to the group. This fascinating book points out the need to put systems into place no matter how small the company is. My current intern, Emma Brock, is developing the first-ever MarketingMel intern manual and Sarah Kinsler (who created the prezi and shared some of her MarketingMel experiences with the class) is creating an associates manual. I’m working on client intake systems.

Smart moves:

Know your personal mission as well as your company mission and vision and refer back to those often. They will direct your path.

Surround yourself with bright, young people (Both Sarah and Emma are a God-send to me)- They will keep you on your toes and give you energy.

Create an Advisory Board- This year I have six, sharp members of the community whom I trust to give me advice and to let me know if I have “broccoli in my teeth.”

Form business partnerships: I became a business partner with the Summit Leadership Foundation shortly after beginning my business. I give them a monthly contribution and then I am able to use their space without the overhead of a traditional office. Both organizations help each other out.

Set Goals and Plan Ahead: Throughout this month I’ll be working on my 2014 strategic plan. Some of those goals include: Following the Tennessee Performance Excellence Standards, becoming a certified “woman owned business” and publishing my E-book. My final thoughts were also words of wisdom from Dr. C. “Under-promise and over deliver” and “Be a lifelong learner.”  What’s on your Pitfalls and Smart moves lists?

 

 

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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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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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The MarketingMel team at ColorMeRad

The MarketingMel team at ColorMeRad

What could be more fun for team-building with MarkeitngMel’s group of rising young public relations pro’s than “running” one of the most cleverly marketed 5K events in the world? I’m talking about ColorMeRad 5K, billed as “the best way to brighten your life.” A run/walk event that’s geared toward women, ColorMeRad offers all the fun of a run without a clock. I knew this wasn’t a usual 5K was when I stepped out of my car only to see a rotund group of co-workers wearing matching shirts and smoking cigarettes. I knew we were not in Kansas anymore but little did I know we were definitely heading for a rainbow! Who needs a watch when you can go for a stroll through five paint stations and then soak in (literally!) the Color Throw! My “team” included intern Emma Brock and Associate Sarah Kinsler along with their boyfriends, Derrek Pugh and Taylor Alexander. It was just me and all of my 20-something friends heading out to get colored corn starch splattered all over us (along with 5,000 other people!)

Here are some tips we learned from the race:

  1. Plan to have FUN: It’s a very different atmosphere from competitive races.
  2. Arrive early to get in the party mood:  We arrived over an hour before our start time and we were glad we did! We danced, did plenty of warm up exercises led by a local exercise studio and, thanks to the great party host who hosted contests and gave away free t-shirts, we generally got in the mood to have fun!
  3. Wear the sunglasses they give you! It was worth digging my contacts out of the closet to be able to wear the Rad glasses. Then I didn’t ruin any of my good glasses.
  4. If you put on the tattoo it’s on for awhile: Yup! I was RAD yesterday and still today. But hey, my tat was a great conversation starter with the bagger at the grocery store.
  5. If you bring a phone, cover it up in a plastic bag. Frankly, I didn’t take mine on the run because the girls brought and hid theirs. You will want to take photos!
  6. Realize you are not going to have a personal record time: Heck, you’re dodging small children and large adults who started walking in the wave ahead of you. But you can run, sort of.  (I did).
  7. Wear a bandana (I’m still sneezing!) Not mentioned in any of the web site, Facebook or other literature is that your nose *will* clog up from inhaling colored corn starch and you *will* get a headache.  Saline nasal solution is your friend. Some participants said their ears were also full of color (and so were their Q-tips.)
  8. When you’re a team it’s best to travel together. This race attracted 5,000 runners/walkers. Although we initially planned to ride together we ended up driving in two cars. The car that got the later start got stuck in traffic and we didn’t catch up with our teamates till after the race. My recommendation: Pile into one car and start early!
  9. Be sure to wear white to maximize your color. Then bring a change of clothes and a trash bag or at least a towel to sit on after. We were all covered in color and you don’t want to get that on your car seat.
  10. Take a shower as soon as you can. I showered right away and everything came right off (except the Rad tat, but hey, I’m still Rad!)

May all your dreams be colorful and your runs be happy!

Did I mention….have fun with it?!

Have you ever participated in a ColorMeRad or Color Run? If so, what’s been your experience? If you haven’t please tell us why you haven’t or if you’re secretly jealous of our Rad shirts?

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