Mel and Mike WJHLAs twitter gains in popularity more and more people are both using the social media site and impersonating others there. Recently I received a phone call from WJHL-TV reporter Mike Lamia  asking my professional assessment of the twitter hoax that was committed on Sullivan County Schools ‘Director Dr. Jubal Yennie. It seems that just for fun an 18 year old student set up a false account and started making amusing tweets about snow days under Dr. Yennie’s name. The Sullivan County Sheriff’s department got wind of the case and  arrested the young man for identity theft.

As I sat at WJHL waiting for the interview, I pulled up ‘Dr. Yennie’s’ twitter accounts on my iPad. I noticed two things: The “real” Dr. Yennie (it appeared to be tweets from educational conferences several months ago) and the “fake” Dr. Yennie (one that was laced with profanity.)The fake Dr. Yennie even had his photo attached to the account. What struck me as puzzling was that the Sullivan County Sheriff’s department said the first fake account had already been taken down. So it appeared to us that there was now a second Dr. Yennie “Impersonator” once again pretending to be someone who is the face of education in Sullivan County. Several days later I saw this reported by the local newspapers. At this writing I do not yet know what happened to the impersonator behind the second , more caustic, “Dr. Yennie.”

What lessons can we as “average” citizens learn from all of this?

  1. It’s important to protect and monitor our personal brands. Google provides a free tool called “Google Alerts” that is one way to catch news of you or others like you.
  2. Each of us can also simply Google our name or our “brand” identity to see what is being said online about us. With so much of our lives now being lived online we need to be vigilant in protecting our personal brands.
  3. Just as in password protection and phishing scams that I’ve written about in this column previously, some of the burden of safe computing falls on us. Remember to change your passwords often.

Finally, was this or was this not identity theft? Does the first guy, who was apparently more of a prankster, deserve lighter punishment than the profanity-laced second suspect? What would you have done if this was your name and your brand? Now that schools are in the forefront of safety questions are we a bit touchier about “cyber” safety issues there than in the past? A final thought: Remember to practice safe tweeting!

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Happy New Year 2013Happy New Year! A New Year is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over; or is it? In today’s society everything we do online is “out there” and will follow us for the rest of our lives and sometimes into the afterlife. (I know of two men who are widowed whose wives’ Facebook pages are still up. Legacy management will become a bigger part of personal brand management in the future.)

If you’re reading this blog post you may be wondering: Why do I need a personal brand? Let’s listen to personal brand guru Gary Vaynerchuk as he talks about the power of personal brand. I love his comments on “selling” and on the need to Google yourself. This video is well worth the four minutes it takes to listen.

If you’re an independent P.R. or Marketing Pro, be sure to join Amanda Littlejohn and me as we talk about the Power of Personal Branding at Solo PR Summit in Atlanta February 20th.
photo credit: —petpave— via photopin cc

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Casey Knox, Area 203

Casey Knox knows the power of personal branding. One of the featured speakers during last month’s Southeastern Public Relations Society 12 conference in Chattanooga, Casey led her presentation by talking about the power of personal branding. (If you want to see some phenomenal tips check out her SlideShare presentation: Digital PR, Toolkits, Reputation, and Search Matter More than Ever Before.) After her talk, two college students desiring careers in public relations, gathered around Casey, asking her for advice. The communications director of Area 203, a Chattanooga agency, gave this advice to the soon-to-be graduates: build your personal brand. I had the opportunity to interview Casey during SEPRSA#12. This week I’ll share the first part of that interview with you.

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This week I will be honored to take part in a “P.R. of Politics” panel discussion that includes ETSU Public Relations Professor Dr. John King, Johnson City Press Opinion Page Editor Robert Houk, Ron Scalf, Publisher of Out N’About Magazine and myself. (Scalf previously worked on Tennessee Senator Bob Corker’s senatorial campaign.) My portion of the discussion deals with the social media strategies of the two candidates who are running for president of the United States. Here are some of the fascinating things I uncovered in my research with credit to USA Today, Al Jazeera, Economic Times, Huffington Post and The Today Show.

In addition to shaking hands, giving speeches and kissing babies, Economic Times says politicians must now have a “complimentary online strategy.” This is invaluable for the one third of American adults under 30 who get their news from social networks. As an example of how social networking is revolutionizing the way we communicate in politics, there were 10 million tweets during the first presidential debate which has been called called “the most tweeted about event in U.S. Politics.”

According to USA Today those who embrace changes in the media and communications technologies generally end up victorious. Examples cited by Al Jazeera include FDR embracing the medium of radio, JFK understanding TV and Reagan, the former professional actor,  was the first to embrace the “look and feel” of a campaign. In 2008 Obama capitalized on “the new media.”  And how does that look in 2012? If an election were held on social media “likes” and “tweets” alone Obama would be the easy winner. The President’s Facebook likes (30.8 million to Romney’s 9.3 million) or twitter followers (20.8 million to 1.4 million). However, given the weight that the “old fashioned” televised first debate had for the Romney campaign (70 percent of those polled said Romney won) we have to ask ourselves: Will “likes” and “tweets” convert to votes on November 6?

Al Jazeera points out that neither candidate is using social media in its truly social form. with candidates responding directly to citizens and citizens able to post content etc. The new media is still being used to raise money for the old media of TV advertising. Will this be the last time around for the power of traditional TV ads that already are losing their hold on the next generation?

Even the candidate’s wives are jumping in with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney’s Pinterest pages showcasing their favorite recipes. The candidates’ have YouTube videos and quirky Tumbler graphics with their moving gif heads.  The Obama team created share-able graphics following the “big bird” comment from the first debate and the “empty chair” Clint Eastwood monologue while the Romneys tend to showcase behind-the-scenes family photos.

The Today Show reported that data mining experts break down Obama and Romney followers into two distinct camps and they even know whether their supporters like smooth jazz or Samuel Adams beer! Who would have thought that four years ago?

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

photo credit: sandcastlematt via photopin cc

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Personal Branding on Facebook: Are your friends driving you crazy?

Recently I conducted a poll on my MarketingMel Facebook business page called “What do your friends do that drives you Crazy on Facebook?” It was a fun exercise with many of the questions provided by WFHG Radio Talk Show Host Steve Hawkins and others provided by myself and the MarketingMel Facebook business page users (thanks everyone!) including those who follow my social media for business column in Out N’ About Magazine. I then shared the results on air in a lively three-way conversation with Steve and Jennifer Hayes (you can listen to the podcast here.)

Please note, we are not saying that people shouldn’t do any of these things, all we’re pointing out is that too much of any one thing can drive your friends crazy! Just as we wouldn’t want to eat too much rich food; just remember to post in moderation.

The results of the poll were as follows (in order of items that received the most votes for driving other people crazy on Facebook.)

1. “Fishing for a compliment: sexy photo, lost weight, etc.: You know the kind! That friend who’s always posting the super sexy photos of themselves or giving us the play by play (or pound by pound and photo by photo) on their recent weight loss!

2. Complainers that whine about everything:(Let’s remember the power of personal branding here. If you’re always complaining, it shines through on your digital footprint. If you need help with your personal brand be sure to check out the free webinar I co-created with Maria Peagler of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com. You can view it at www.personalbrandinghowto.com

3. Political commentaries: (This one is really hard to avoid this time of year but I have friends on both sides of the political fence and want to keep them after the election is over!) My advice: Be kind.

4. Intolerance toward opinions: This was added by a user and I’d love to hear more about what they were thinking with this one!

Other categories that  received NO negative votes; Cute cat and cute baby photos. Awww….guess my friends are like me on this one and enjoy the babies and kittens. There must be a reason Keyboard cat’s been around all this time!

What about you? What do your Facebook friends do to drive you crazy? Feel free to vote in the poll and add your own categories, or comment on this blog post!
photo credit: pepe50 via photopin cc

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Women control or influence 85% of all consumer brand purchases.

How should advertisers market to women? Stephanie Holland of the “She-econonomy” blog was one of several fantastic speakers at the recent Southeastern P.R.S.A. 12, who spoke about the changing role of women consumers, particularly since the recession.  “Women have changed and we’re not getting put back in the box,” said Holland who used as one example the need for “life stage”s rather than ages of women in characterizing them.  “A 40 year old female might be the mother of a toddler or she might have a child in college.” Advertising has changed forever thanks to social media, women and money she said. “We no longer trust the government, corporations or big business but we trust each other, ” said Holland. “The consumer is in control.”

Some other interesting facts presented by Holland:

83% of women are busier than ever but they are not willing to give up anything

36% of women hold a bachelor’s degree

28% of men hold a bachelor’s degree

70% of all new businesses are started by women

4 out of 5 stages of the purchasing process are led by women

85% of all consumer brand purchases are controlled or influenced by women

BUT 91% of women do not feel advertisers connect with them. Holland says brands need to “listen and engage with women for success.”  Holland showed this amusing video to illustrate the big disconnect between what advertisers think and women’s real consumer behavior. What are your thoughts? If you are female, do you relate to the woman in this video? (I know I do!)

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Maria Peagler and Mary Ellen Miller at the Southeastern P.R.S.A. conference

“Show don’t tell,” was the primary message that I took away from last week’s Southeastern Public Relations Society of America conference in Chattanooga. The conference, appropriately named “Creating Authentic Relationships in the Age of Me,” featured several speakers who talked about the short attention spans we now have and our states of “constant distraction.” A fascinating presentation by Amanda Mauck and Nellann Mettee of LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis reinforced the message of our ever shortening attention spans. In fact they called their presentation, “Nobody’s Going to Read That: Telling your story in a world short on time and attention span.” The two communications professionals apparently hit home with that title as it was the most crowded of all of the sessions I attended!  They shared how their hospital physicians told them there is “no time to read” anymore.  Here are some of the changes the communicators implemented as a result of their research:

1- Tripled their professional photography budget.

2- Targeted physicians by creating 5 x 8 postcards instead of traditional newsletters. The postcards feature four, quick briefs and multi-color photos.

3- Created short (1:30-2:00) video interviews with physicians and posted them on YouTube.  The two said that people love to see their physician on video, particularly when he or she has helped to save their child’s life.

4- Increased their use of  digital cameras and iPhone cameras and they posted daily albums to Facebook.

Realizing the power of images, Mauck and Mettee, along with their on-staff videographer and a fabulous nursing crew, created an award winning music video to tell the LeBonheur story. If you have any interest in positive employee communications, take less than 5 minutes and watch this exceptionally creative video. They managed to get all of their key messages across and showcase every group of hospital employees all in one rappin’ video! The “stars” are real nurses who tried out for the parts! How have you seen the use of images change over the past few years? Do you have examples of great images that you’ve used with success?

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If you’re trying to find a job in today’s job market take time to Google yourself! This advice was given on CNN Monday morning after an NFL referee found himself set to ref. a New Orleans Saints game when whoops! There were New Orleans Saints photos all over his Facebook page. (Wonder which way the close calls would have gone in that game?) CNN Anchorwoman Christine Romans talks about someone who lost out on a $200,000 per year job because he wasn’t aware of his personal brand. Don’t get caught losing out on great employment opportunities because you’re not aware of your personal brand!

Coincidentally, this is the *exact* advice Maria Peagler of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com and I recommended to our Personal Branding webinar listeners during two live sessions last week. The action item, “Google Yourself” is one of 15 bricks in a pyramid of action steps we created with advice on polishing personal brands. You can still watch our free personal branding webinar here. You can also join those who’ve tried and loved our personal branding  toolkit that Maria and I have created.  Just Monday I used one of the tools in the tool kit in a brainstorming session with a client and he loved it!  Follow our easy steps to personal branding success so you don’t miss out on a $200,000 job opportunity!

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