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.


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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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:


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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Joe Grenny with Mary Ellen of MarketingMel along with Roan Scholars Lucas Hitechew and Matthew Pencarinha.

Joe Grenny with Mary Ellen of MarketingMel and Roan Scholars Lucas Hitechew and Matthew Pencarinha.

I recently had the good fortune to hear best-selling author Joe Grenny speak on his latest book: Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. Grenny said that “the most important capacity you possess is the ability to influence behavior- that of yourself or others.” He and his team studied top influencers around the world. He said what makes them stand apart from the rest of us comes down to three things:

1- They start with results. They ask the question: How will I measure success?

2- They look for the vital behaviors- What one or two behaviors will cause the greatest change?  Key influencers only want to change one, two or at most three behaviors.

3- They exert intentional influence- Influencers never see another person as having moral defects, being lazy or self-centered. Instead they see them in a moment of “moral slumber.” “Individual humans are capable of profoundly transforming their experience of almost any behavior by anchoring it to deeply held values,” said Grenny. “Put a face on it.”

He said that we hold meetings to influence behavior and he talked about the power of starting a meeting with this phrase” “Can I share an experience I recently had?”  and then telling a story that creates a vicarious experience for the listeners.

Interestingly he said that if you lead with incentives you undermine because people quickly learn to game the system. Grenny said leaders rehearse and invest in ability first through “deliberate practice.” First- become a teacher- then be a movtivator second. He used this video of a 10 year old girl heading down her first long ski jump.

Now that’s an inspiration! I bought the book Influencer and am already half way through it. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in change and influence. The Executive Briefing on “The New Science of Leading Change” was sponsored by Eastman Chemical Company and ETSU College of Business & Technology.

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MarketingMel served as panel moderator and worked with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

MarketingMel was delighted to moderate and to work with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.


Our #SMAC13 Social Media and Communicators Panel discussion was a success! Many thanks are in order! First, to the panelists: Becky Campbell- Johnson City Press, Josh Smith- WJHL-TV, Eric Vaughn- Wellmont Health System, Rachel Cain- Eastman, and Jennifer Clements-ETSU. Hats off to the team that pulled it off: Jim Wozniak, Rachel Cain, Drew Beamer, Deborah Lowery, Christian Schmid along with myself and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock. Thanks also to many of you loyal blog readers who helped me publicize the event on twitter.

For the first time ever in the Tri-Cities region three professional communications organizations joined together to create one fantastic communications event. Those organizations were: Public Relations Society of America (Northeast Tennessee Chapter), Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation and the Greater Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The committee’s initial goal was to gather 100 people to listen to a distinguished panel including both journalists and professional corporate communicators. We far exceeded our goal with over 150 business professionals and college students turning out to hear the pro’s. Here are some of the “tweetable highlights” of the panel discussion. I was the panel moderator and it’s hard to pare them down to just a few sentences as most of what they said was valuable. I would love to hear what comments particularly resonate with you.

  1. “Years ago we could only tell you about something that happened today, tomorrow morning…I started out with a notepad and a pen. Today I carry an iPad and shoot video… I’ve been tweeting trial updates from court since 2010.”
  2. “Every person in our newsroom has a Facebook. Every person in our newsroom has a twitter. Everyone in our newsroom is expected to contribute.”
  • Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press reporter
  1. “It was always there (our immediate desire for news.) I have found our viewers are far less patient than they ever were. We have higher expectations now. People always have wanted information. Now we have to keep up with the demands of our audience.”
  2. “You don’t get angry on social media. You don’t respond angrily. That can cause you to lose your job. And that has happened in this market.”
  • Josh Smith WJHL-TV Anchorman
  1. “In health care we deal with people in the most personal moments. The issue that we face is because of regulations we cannot point to anything personal about a patient.”
  2. “You need to have a specific strategy in place and apply to the audience you are looking for. You have to have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish.”
  • Eric Vaughn, Wellmont Health Systems
  1. “There is no one size fits all. If you are on social media you should have a strategy. Make sure everything you do is measurable. We measure leads generated, how many of those leads are qualified. As many things as you can track, how many go from social media to your web site and then convert on your web site. Something solid to start tracking on an excel spread sheet.
  2. “You have to be able and willing to fail in social media. Track lessons learned. Strategy is about what you’re saying and to whom and where they are.”
  3. “I don’t think that any business can afford to not be on social media anymore.”
  • Rachel Cain, Eastman/Perennial Wood
  1. “Social Media gives us the opportunity to listen to what’s going on on campus and it gives us the opportunity to communicate with our audience.”
  2. “When an emergency happens our students and staff turn to social media to find out what is going on.”
  3. “If you’re applying for jobs show how you’ve built a brand for yourself or for your company; not just that you’re on Facebook.”
  • Jennifer Clements, East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

To watch the #SMAC13 video to to hear all of what these distinguished panelists had to say, click on “watch the event video” on the #SMAC13 website.


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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?


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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. 



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An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777.

If you don’t think a crisis could happen to you let’s look at two very different cases that both involved crisis management and a dire need for public relations/reputation management. Last week I touched on Paula Deen and her horrendous interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show after skipping out of her previously scheduled first interview. This week we have a more tragic example of a company in need of crisis communications, with the Asiana airplane crash in San Francisco.

Social media enables each of us to become citizen journalists. Any company that ignores that fact, is truly sticking their head in the sand in today’s society.Let’s look in-depth at the reaction to the Asiana airplane crash at SFO. A huge shout out of thanks to Jeff Domansky, the PR Coach, for connecting me with this superb SlideShare slide show from SimpliFlying, an aviation marketing firm.  This is a must-see for anyone interested in social media or in crisis communications.


According to the SimpliFlying timeline of the air crash,the first reaction was a tweet from a Google employee who saw the crash and sent her tweet one minute after the plane crash landed at San Francisco at 11:28 AM, Saturday, July 6, 2013. Journalists across the country clambered to interview that first tweeter. SimpliFlying credits the NTSB with staying on top of social media throughout the day, posting regular updates. (They’ve since had their own PR woes.) However, Asiana airlines did not respond with a press release until 8:43 PM that evening. In this case silence did in fact speak louder than words. The company was roundly criticized for not quickly making a statement to the media through Facebook or twitter.  The most interesting slide of all shows the stock price of Asiana Airlines plummeting as rumors were running rampant about their pilots lack of experience. So for those who don’t think social media matters, look at the bottom line.

Some takeaway tips from MarketingMel:

Whether you are Asiana Airlines or a business professional in East Tennessee,

1. Be prepared: Have a crisis communications plan in place. Incorporate a social media strategy as part of your crisis communications plan.

2. Always show empathy and concern for those involved. Tragically, school children lost their lives in this crash. Getting the CEO to San Francisco was a great start on that road.

3. Prepare three key messages: Remember that we humans think and remember in threes. Assess the situation, prepare your talking points and stay on message.

4. Tell the truth: Never fudge the facts. If you don’t yet know an answer find it out and then get back to your audience.

Remember that in today’s age of instant communications, timing is everything. The conversation will go on whether you are there or not so make sure your crisis communications plan is in place as part of your overall strategic planning. If you need help with your company’s crisis communications plan please contact me. I “cut my teeth” practicing for crises when I worked in public relations at a nuclear defense company. I have since helped attorneys and their clients as well as private corporations and public officials prepare for the unexpected.

What are your thoughts about the air crash and the way in which it was handled? How would you have handled it better?



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Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 9.07.30 AMWhen The Food Network’s Southern cooking guru Paula Deen fell on her own sword during The Today Show I was actually on a family vacation at the beach. (Although I was basking in the sunshine and not near a TV  I began getting tweets saying the rotund Savannah, Georgia chef needed MarketingMel’s Crisis Communications help!)  So I popped up The Today Show interview on my laptop, watched with horror, and came up with the following hints for any client in crisis. Here’s what I would have urged Paula to do if she had been my client:

1- Have three (3) talking points and stick with them: People remember in threes. It’s an old writing and public speaking trick and it works. Example: I’m here to apologize, I’m here to make things right and I’m here to move forward. Then elaborate briefly on these.

2- Do NOT let the interviewer get you off track: Wow! Matt Lauer came out with guns ablaze but Paula should have been ready. After all she blew him off the week prior (see Bonus Tip.) However, you Paula, already have your three talking points prepared ahead and you will stick with them. Remember, the main thing’s the main thing! Stick with your key messages.

3- Show empathy: This is huge in any crisis. Someone or something is obviously hurt. Therefore show empathy to the one who has been “done wrong.” Example: “Years ago I made a mistake. Since that time I have ______ (fill in the blank to show how you have righted the wrong and you are now moving forward.) We’ve recently seen some politicians do this but guess what? At least two of them are back and running in New York City elections. If done right, the American people are pretty willing to accept a sincere apology. Last time I checked we all make mistakes.

Bonus Tip for Paula: Don’t blow off The Today Show the first time! You are a celebrity so your moves will be watched closely. Don’t arouse curiosity.

If you need help with your company’s crisis communications plan please contact me! I have years of experience, including my start in public relations in the nuclear industry, and would be glad to help you. 

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