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Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

Soon-to-be Judge Lisa Rice and Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel.

I’m not a professional football player – in fact I’m a PR pro who recently helped a client with her first-ever political campaign. However, I can tell you that “Monday morning quarterbacks” are alive and well!

After Lisa Rice won decisively in her Northeast Tennessee primary bid for Criminal Court Judge Part 1 May 6 I have been amazed at the number of people who flippantly say, “Oh, Lisa was a shoo-in.”  Really? Has anyone seen what happened in Virginia to that “shoo-in” former house majority leader Eric Cantor?

Let me share with you three things I learned along the campaign trail that can also be applied to business success. Use these and you too can be a “shoo-in.”

1. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your whole life: Then work some more. Lisa was up at the crack of dawn every day, including weekends. She attended Saturday morning pancake breakfasts and Saturday evening spaghetti suppers. She walked neighborhoods and helped out at benefits. She met hundreds and hundreds of people. In addition she practiced law. To succeed in business or politics you have to want it and you have to work at it.

2. Never, never, ever underestimate your opponent:  One of our local races was decided by 12 votes. That is not a typo! 12 votes! Another race was decided by just 68 votes. Never look past or over the opponent you are facing. Take each race and each battle one at a time. If you’re in business always be aware of your competition.

3. Run like you’re 20 points behind: I was told that Tennessee Senator Bob Corker uses that as his campaign mantra. It works for U.S. Senators and it works for small businesses and giant corporations. Run like you’ve lost 20 stock points or that you’ve just dropped 20% market share. Run like someone is nipping at your heels. But RUN and don’t stop until after the polls close on election day.

Bonus: It pays to be nice

This bonus comes from my dear friend Nancy Williams who watched the campaign as an objective observer. As I shared my ideas for this blog post with her over lunch, Nancy commended Lisa on her “clean race.”

“No matter what if you go about it with integrity you will always be a winner in the long run,” Nancy said.

Good advice for both business and politics.

 

 

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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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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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It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

A huge shout out of thanks to Sue Painter, the Confident Marketer, for interviewing me this week on the occasion of MarketingMel’s fifth year in business. Sue is a marketing and business coach and business coach for women whom I have known for several years. We have shared a couple of social media tribes together and have been reading each others blogs for quite awhile. Sue asked me for tips that have kept me going as well as some of the “big mistakes” I’ve learned from along the way in order for us to help her listeners including other entrepreneurs. One of my main tips for Sue: the importance of creating a business plan, an annual strategic plan and goal setting.

Here is the link to the podcast along with a special gift of the first four (brief) chapters of my upcoming e-book “88 Tips from a Marketing and PR Pro.”  Enjoy!

 

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By Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

Now that we’ve all moved our clocks ahead an hour and we’re enjoying the long evening hours, Spring is on it’s way.  We think we can speak for everyone who’s endured a harsh winter and say “Bring on the warm weather.” Here are a few tips to say goodbye to the wintertime blues:

1. Read a Good Book

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “You are most like the books you read and people you associate with.” Head to your local bookstore and find a hidden treasure. Instead of reading or watching negative news before bed, indulge in something positive.

2. Try Something New

What better way to inspire yourself than stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new? You just might discover a new hidden talent. Skydiving perhaps? Find yourself in the car a lot? Listen to more audio books.

3. Get Outside

The cold weather has kept us inside all winter. Take advantage of this sunshine and go on a picnic, hike a local trail or invite a long lost neighbor to go for a walk. Everyone benefits from vitamin D!

4. Say “Bye” to Negatives

Think happy, be happy. By eliminating the negative aspects in your life, you will find it easier to simply enjoy. This means everything from your thoughts to gossip to the friends you choose. Surround yourself with positive energy.

5. Set a Goal

January isn’t the only time for setting goals. Spring is the perfect time to review your 2014 strategic plan, correct course if needed, cross off the action items you’ve taken and maybe add a few goals if needed.

6. Spruce Up Your House (whether you plan to sell or not)

Check out MarketingMel’s client, award winning Buffalo Realtor Kim Addelman’s “Prepping for the Spring Marketing” Home Staging Tips on the StagedHomes.com blog. (We helped Kim land this great blog post and can do the same for your business!)

7. Keep Hydrated and Exercise Each Day

Now’s the time to get outside and ride a bike or go for a run. Remember to drink plenty of water (we’re even giving up some of our Diet Cokes in favor of H2O!)

Sarah Kinsler is a 2012 Public Relations graduate of ETSU. She loves vine, instagram, Pinterest and Diet Coke. She is an associate with MarketingMel. Mary Ellen Miller is the Founder and president of MarketingMel, an award winning public relations firm serving business professionals. 

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Jenny Brock, one of MarketingMel's advisors and Turkey

Jenny Brock, one of MarketingMel’s advisors and Turkey

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22
Last week I celebrated five years of being in business and having my own public relations firm that provides brand-building services for business professionals. It was time for my quarterly board of advisors meeting. Each of the advisors who attended the meeting, along with associate Sarah Kinsler and intern Emma Brock, took time out to commemorate the occasion. As you can see I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by such bright, talented and capable advisors. Thanks so much board members for your guidance along the way. Let’s plan for the next five years now!

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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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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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