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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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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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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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“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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