MarketingMel with Sarah Rowan

Internships are near and dear to my heart. I guess that’s because I was mentored by a crusty cameraman by the name of Bill Nailos at WKBW-TV Channel 7 Buffalo the summer between my junior and senior year in college. That time spent tagging along with reporters and videographers as an unpaid intern launched my communications career. Bill taught me about the business of broadcasting but he also taught me about life. Ever since then, perhaps my personal variation on “paying it forward,” there has generally been a young, enthusiastic person close at hand as I go about my work.

My last intern, Sarah Rowan, was with me for a year and a half. I attended her wedding and was delighted to see her  land her first job even before she graduated in early May. She is now Director of Sales for the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce.

Here’s Sarah talking about the value of an internship and her observations of a P.R. pro at work. By the way I’m looking for my next “rock star intern.” Send me a note on the WordPress Submission form if you are interested.

Continue Reading


Editor’s note: I am now a regular monthly columnist for Out N’ About Magazine, writing on the topic of social networking for business.  The following is excerpted from my May 2012 post.

Image by Martin Canchola

One of the first tips that anyone, with even a small amount of experience in social networking learns, is the karma effect of it. The more you give the more that comes back around to you.  I’ve come to the conclusion that personalities and true colors really shine when people are online.

When I give my social networking for business talks I always compare social media to a cocktail party. Everyone has seen the loud, obnoxious guy who shows up at every after-hours event.  You know the one wearing too much cologne and talks in your face? A thought comes to mind:  Your posts have the same look and feel you do. If you’re loud, obnoxious and pushy….well, enough said. Contrast that with the helpful guy. When you ask a question, need a referral or some other assistance, that guy is always there. We all know folks like this too.

Just last week I was chatting with a friend “IRL” (in real life ) at our church café about that pit we get in our stomach when we allow someone in to be our “friend” on Facebook or other channels only to instantly be asked to take part in their fundraisers, event, survey, etc. Ugh. I’m thinking, “I’ve just been used to get your numbers up!”  To make that old baseball/dating analogy I haven’t walked over to home plate and you’re envisioning a home run!  Hold your horses friend. I’m still on deck!

Is there a lesson to be learned?  When it comes to social networking, please, oh please engage the person and connect with them as a human being. Don’t make them feel used. Be sure to chat with them a bit and show them that you care about them. The business will come later. On Facebook make comments on their photos and videos and show them you are interested in what they have to say. After all, you have cared enough about them to ask them to be your friend, so be one! Be sure to @ reply to people on twitter in order to speak directly to them and to gain their attention. (For more twitter tips including my one-minute twitter tutorial videos, enter search phrase “Twitter 101” at www.marketingmel.com.)

Last year I had the occasion to create a vlog (video blog) for my friend Maria Peagler of Social Media Online Classes. She asked me to help out her audience comprised of camera-shy small business owners who were mostly women. As a former TV anchorwoman it was easy for me to come up with some simple tips to help folks out on camera now that we live in more of a visual and video oriented society. My topic was: Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera. Well that video first appeared on her vlog but then “took off” after it was picked up by PR Daily and others.  Later, I entered that video in the Tri-Cities Public Relations Society Awards and it ended up taking top prize in its category. It won an “Award of Excellence” in the Audio Visual category.  Kudos to videographer/producer Kyle Long for his work on the video. We started out trying to provide a helpful service to others who are camera shy and through “social media karma” ended up with an award. Sometimes extending a hand to care about others whether it’s “IRL” or online has its rewards. Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera may be found at http://www.marketingmel.com/2011/07/06/ten-tips-to-feel-comfortable-on-camera/

By the way, I have already created a follow up video on Finding a Job In Public Relations. Stay tuned!

Continue Reading


Photo by Jon Sullivan

With one in nine people on Earth now on Facebook I’m sure you are considering the best ways to keep a positive business presence out on the social networking giant. If you’re like me, you sometimes get “stuck” looking for content for your Facebook Business page. Well here are three great content creation ideas that I learned from Jodi Santangelo at a Fred Pryor Facebook training session yesterday.  By the way I have no business interest with Jodi or Fred Pryor I was just very impressed with Jodi as a speaker and the Facebook information she presented was very easy to digest with some great take aways.

Here are the three content creation tips along with the amount of time that should be spent in each area on your Facebook business page.

1- Educate (40 percent): Let people know about your business. Check out your trade associations on Facebook to see what they are doing and share their valuable content. Be sure to search and like their pages. Create strategic partners. Share and personalize the information. (I have two wonderful strategic partners, Maria Peagler of Social Media Online Classes and Cathy Conder Rogers of Seven Waves Marketing who’ve been guest bloggers and master minders with me since the start of my business.)

2- Engage (40 percent): Interaction is key. What’s the best way to find out about people? Ask questions! Don’t be boring. Remember that Facebook is actually ranking your pages. To learn more check out EdgeRank. Also, Jodi recommended having a QR code connected to your business’ Facebook url located at the cash register of retail establishments. This will engage people direct from their mobile devices. Here’s a link to a free QR code site that I’ve used.

3- Entice (20 percent): It’s OK to promote yourself and your product (sometimes) but don’t do any hard selling or you’ll drive people away. The example Jodi used (and coincidentally one I also use in public speaking) is that you wouldn’t walk up to someone at a cocktail party and say, “Hi I’m ___ buy from me!” One positive example she used was a company that had a once a week Facebook coupon and promoted that. That’s actually a great use of enticement on Facebook because your audience is getting something in return for their engagement.

Bonus Facebook Business Tip: Jodi suggested creating a social media calendar for all of your postings and using the social media scheduling tool HootSuite to help you plan your posts. She also said to be sure to personalize your posts.

What content creation tips have you found useful on your Facebook business page? I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to connect with me on my Facebook business page for daily social networking tips please join me!


Continue Reading


My sister, Ann Marie Plubell, holds pandas at Wolong Reserve, Sichuan China in 2000

My sister, Ann Marie Plubell,  is in China preparing to give a presentation at IPv6  and she’s asking her family members for last minute advice.  Now, speaking in the United States, generally before peers and fellow English speakers can bring about its own case of the butterflies. But the thought of presenting in English while simultaneously being translated into Chinese could make even the most confident of speakers downright queasy!

My brother and I both jumped in to assist her, making a few comments on her slides and passing along a couple of  our favorite presentation videos. I shared one from Guy Kawasaki. The social marketing guru has become synonymous with the 10-20-30 rule. I got to hear him present this information live when I met him at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston last fall. He is so “enchanting” when he presents, he keeps the audience mesmerized.

My brother, Phil Plubell, a veteran teacher, provided the following outstanding suggestions:

  1. “Take notes when the other panelists are talking and refer to some of their points in your presentation, if possible.  “As Mr. X pointed out …”  That shows respect for your fellow panelists.  It also demonstrates to the audience that this is a “live” performance, and that you are not just “reading the slides.”
  2. Never appear to be rushed.  The impression is bad.There is a tendency to “rush through” a slide show when the time limit approaches.  If it looks like you are going to run long, right-click for the shortcut menu, then “Go to slide” and jump ahead a few slides if necessary.  This is more elegant than rushing through the slides.
  3. Have a strong opening and a strong close.  
  4. Don’t worry about “flop sweat” or “opening night jitters.”  All speakers experience it. My brother has taught thousands of classes.  Yet he still wrestles with; “Will the audience finally figure out I’m a fraud, and I’ve been in the wrong field all my life?” anxiety every time he teaches a new class. His answer to the self-doubt “Am I good enough?” is “I might not be the best, but I’m the best available to do this particular presentation right now.  It’s showtime!”

Then my brother suggested the “Ba-Da-Bing” video where the instructor illustrates her example by using the simple method she designed to help children craft sentences and stories. Love that teaching concept and it may prove helpful to my sister as she visualizes her presentation.

What are some of your favorite presentation tips? I don’t know if my sister will be able to read your comments in time for her speech in China, but surely we can help her (and others) for the next time! Thanks for participating. I’d love to hear your stories of what works for you.

Continue Reading


Editor’s Note: This launches the first in a month long series  on Relationship Marketing.

`Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ (asked Alice.)
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. 
`I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice. 
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

Ryan Sauers, MarketingMel and two Milligan students, Lauren and Brittany

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Ryan Sauers speak to the Knoxville Social Media Club. Ryan, a consultant who’s an excellent communicator and speaker, gave us the highlights from his new book, Everyone’s in Sales. He began by discussing the era of “transformational change” that we live in and the fact that, “We are all communicators. Right now there are 23 ways to communicate with me.”

Did all of this technology cause us to gain more hours in the week? No.

“168 is the great equalizer,” says Ryan. “That’s how many hours we all have. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or how old you are. It’s not that you didn’t have time, it’s that you didn’t make time. You have a choice. ”

“Be unique and be authentic it all comes back to real world relationships,” says Ryan. ” You are not filtered anymore. The world is so wide and yet more connected than ever.”

Here are some more great comments that Ryan made during his talk:

  • Don’t become complacent! In life you are either going forward or backwards.
  • Your brand is what people think about when your name comes up. Tell me about your company, engage me!
  • Reputation, attributes, name and distinctiveness Be purposeful deliberate and intentional in all your communications. Think it through.
  • The longer a problem sits the worse it gets. Decision by indecision is bad. Paralysis by analysis is bad. Sometimes it’s ok to get a B plus.
  • As the Cheshire cat said to Alice (above) when she asked, If you don’t know where you’re going then any road will do

Ryan reviewed the 5 Cs of effective communications

1. Clarity: Are you clear in using clarity on every post? In what you are trying to communicate?

2. Consistency: Are you consistent in what you do day after day? Can people count on you and your message and tone?

3. Content: It’s  what you’re writing about, your core

4.Connections: Do you work hard to connect others?

5. Creativity: Allows you or me to be you or me.

Reframing communications as sales as he discusses in this short video that I conducted with him.

Ryan concluded there are three types of communicators: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and  those who wonder what happened.”


Continue Reading


Just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Erik Proulx, the creator of Lemonade on a Google Hang-out. Lemonade was a 35 minute documentary that came out three years ago. With its theme “is it a pink slip or a blank page?” the film featured creatives who had lost their jobs and gone on to far greater things. I loved the movie and thrived on its message. It was just what my late father, an entrepreneur himself, always taught me: “When life gives you lemons, honey, make lemonade.” Now Erik is shooting a new documentary called Lemonade Detroit and I am celebrating three years as a marketing entrepreneur. In reflecting on the past three years, things have changed quite a bit. Now we have iPads and Pinterest  and I get to “meet” cool people like Erik in a Google hang-out. My once indispensable Blackberry has been replaced with an iPhone. And, I find the general public doesn’t find my fondness for twitter quite so odd anymore. It’s been a journey.

This is my lemonade story.

Three years ago my former co-worker Tim Story and I sat at Panera Bread sipping coffee and planning our futures. Both of us had recently been laid off from an interactive agency that was hit hard by the recession. I did not even own my own laptop yet and Tim was using a borrowed one. Tim knew I was an entrepreneur at heart who wanted to start my own marketing and public relations firm, so he volunteered to register my domain name. In betweeen sips, he looked up from his machine and asked for the name of my new company. I said without hesitating, “MarketingMel.” I had already established the name on twitter and when you googled “MarketingMel” it soared to the top of the page, far ahead of a well known actor whose first name I share. Who could argue with that? A company was born.

Tim has gone onto success in his new career and he has helped me as a freelancer with SEO work for some of my clients. For three years I’ve had the privilege of working with fantastic business professionals, guiding them with their communications and awareness efforts including marketing, public relations and social media strategies. Together with my “virtual ad agency team” we’ve collaborated to create award winning web sites, logos,videos and more.

When I tell people I’ve been in business three years they generally congratulate me and comment that many entrepreneurs don’t make it past the first year.  Shortly after that groundbreaking cup of coffee I attended two workshops at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at ETSU including one on writing a business plan.  For those of you who may be thinking of starting your own business, here are some pitfalls to avoid and tips on starting a small business. Chief among those, writing and then working your business plan.  I would add to that be sure to have an annual strategic planning session for your company (even if you’re a solo) and refer back to it often throughout the year. And as for your business’ name, well, I recommend something with staying power. I am MarketingMel and I’ve been in business three years. Let’s have some lemonade to celebrate!

Continue Reading


"Lucky" checks for Facebook updates

Anyone watching Sunday night’s Super Bowl (and that would be 111 million of you by last count) knows that the show’s advertising went “to the dogs.” The old adage of “babes, beasts and beauties” was as prevalent in the social-media-heavy Super Bowl XLVI as it was long before twitter and Facebook were ever created. Dogs were riding in trucks, surviving the end of the world, running on treadmills, admiring themselves in mirrors, chasing cars and wearing running shoes. Clearly, man’s best friend continues to hold a high place of esteem and reverence (at least in the eyes of today’s advertising exec’s.)

All that got me thinking about tips I’ve gleaned from my own dog, “Lucky.” A 17 month old Jack Russell Terrier mix can teach us a lot about relationships. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned with you and welcome your comments.

1. Be a good listener–  I talk to my dog. His response? Mostly he just looks, listens and nods approvingly.  In addition to making me feel better,  he’s there for me to sound out ideas. Do the same for your clients. Listen, and you’ll learn a lot.

2. Bark only if you have a good reason– I’ve never been able to stand “yippy yappies.” Whether it’s a dog or a person no one likes someone who’s always barking. Too much yakking gets nothing accomplished. Remember, if you can’t say something nice about somebody don’t bark at all.

3. Show people you love and appreciate them– There’s nothing like  a wagging tail, nudge or hand lick to know you’re appreciated. Think of ways that you can do this for your customers, co-workers and family members.

4. Exercise every day- Even if it’s just a walk around the block the fresh air will do you good. Getting out in nature is invigorating.

5. Take time out to play- If you get the chance to play with your customers all the better. Whether it’s ball, golf, or simply enjoying a nice lunch together, spend some “off” time with your clients.

6. Be loyal- Show loyalty to your boss and to your customers. I always try to purchase my customers’ products, recommend them and support them in any way that I can.

7. Together we make a great team- There is no end to the things that a dog can do that you may not have thought possible. (I was astounded the first time I ever ran a race with Lucky. He was slowed only by the speed of his human!) I’ve found the collective brainpower of “we” with my clients is always so much better than either of us could do alone. Together, our creativity and knowledge can produce remarkable results.

What lessons have you learned from your pet that carry over to the business world? I’d love to hear from you.

Continue Reading


050423-F-7203T-185.JPGEditor’s note: While on the subject of personal branding this month I thought I would re-purpose one of my all-time most searched for blog posts that first ran in April 2009. Guess it showed me how much people love Dolly Parton! I’ll be hosting a talk on personal branding on Product Management Talk blog radio and #http://www.twitter.com/prodmgmttalk on twitter Monday, January 23 at 8 PM Eastern.

All professional marketers can learn a lot from Dolly Parton. The rags to riches singer  is an icon. Her personal marketing and branding skills should be required study for those of us in the marketing business. Why? Let’s just look at the past 24 hours.

While my husband and I were watching the basketball tourney on CBS Saturday we saw an ad for Dolly’s interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday night.  Earlier on Saturday we bumped into some family friends. Where were they heading for Easter break?  Dollywood. Then Sunday morning my husband began channel surfing only to land on an Arts and Entertainment special on Dolly.

Later, after church we stopped by Cracker Barrel for lunch. Who was on the sign out front smiling at me as I entered the restaurant?   And whose music was playing in the background as we shopped and played checkers while waiting for our table? And who could be heard advertising her special music offer  just for Cracker Barrels?  One word answers all these questions: Dolly. No doubt the publicity blitz is a tie-in to the opening of her new Broadway musical 9 to 5 based on the  movie of the same name in which she starred some 30 years ago.

I admire Dolly Parton for many reasons. She single handedly formed and funded the Imagination Library program which provides free monthly books to all Tennessee children ages 5 and under. Mostly though I love and admire her marketing genius when it comes to personal branding.

“Here you come again” Dolly.

Continue Reading