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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The following is a guest blog post by Maria Peagler, Founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com and my collaborator on our upoming Personal Branding Webinar.

Join us for a FREE Pump Up Your Personal Brand webinar Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1p.m. ET. (It takes less than 10 seconds to register here!)

How to Create Profitable Personal Branding?

Personal branding is a buzzword being used so frequently it’s become almost a cliche. Most of my clients are confused about what it is, how they actually go about doing it, and why it’s important. So let’s toss out a few examples.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind for:

Tom Cruise?

Charlie Sheen?


Mission Impossible or TomKat?

All of these “brands” have taken hits lately that take your eyes off their core product: for Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen, you instantly think of personal fiascos, not their body of work or their latest movie or TV show. Happy investors? Absolutely not.

Why do you think Tom & Katie’s divorce happened so quickly? He knows the longer the media talks about his personal life, the less they’re covering his latest Mission Impossible movie.

Gay Marriage or the Best Chicken Sandwich?

Chik-fil-A has come under fire recently because of one their C-suite’s stance on gay marriage. People who had never before heard of Chik-fil-A now recognize the name and their“family-friendly” culture.

Guess what? I already knew they welcomed my family, because my sons’ favorite fast-food restaurant is Chik-fil-A. They serve delicious, healthy chicken sandwiches and nuggets, offer books and educational CDs in their kids’ meals, have immaculate facilities and superior customer service.

I didn’t need to know about their gay marriage stance. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t quizzing their cashiers on the company’s political affiliations. I’ll just take the healthy, delicious food, thank you.

What Do You Want to Be Known For?

Your personal brand is essential because no longer do Americans (or most international professionals) have the luxury or desire for a single, lifetime career track. Your personal brand extends beyond your latest job position, startup company, or joint venture. Your personal brand is the entirety of you: your personal and professional reputation, tied into one big bundle.

Want a quick snapshot of your personal brand? Google your name.

Are the results professional and consistent? Could they use some improvement?

Pump Up Your Personal Brand Training

Exactly what does it take to create profitable personal branding that you can be proud of? The Personal Branding Infographic I created with Mary Ellen “Mel” Miller of MarketingMel.com details 15 action steps to creating personal branding that becomes a profit center for you.

Want to learn more? Join us for a FREE webinar Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1p.m. ET. (It takes less than 10 seconds to register here!) when we’ll be telling you exactly how to make your personal branding sticky for the right reasons, what to avoid, and how to create a long-term plan so you can develop your branding in stages.

Maria Peagler

Maria Peagler


Maria Peagler is founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com offers the World’s Largest Selection of 24/7 online classes on FacebookLinkedInPinterestYouTubeTwitterSlideshare, and WordPress. Maria is an award-winning author & publisher of eight books, a veteran technology trainer & she skyrocketed her latest book from unknown to Amazon’s top ten for two years using only social media.

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I’ve been an avid fan of social media and inbound marketing for the past four years and a news hound all of my life. But that all changed when my favorite Olympic sport of competitive swimming was being played out on the international stage all last week. Suddenly I found myself turning away from any twitter or Facebook updates after mid-day (prime time in the U.K.). Some swift radio channel changing for me throughout the day was coupled with no evening news. Why? One of my favorite parts about the once-every-four year event is piling on the couch with my family (including the dog) covering us with an enormous, plush blanket, and “swimming” every race, stroke by stroke, with these great athletes. I’m probably more fanatical than most, having swam competitively all through high school and college. I wanted to cheer and fist pump for Missy Franklin without the knowledge that she actually sealed the gold five hours before.(Granted, I did watch her fun-filled “Call Me Maybe” YouTube Video before the Olympics got underway.) I was rooting for Michael Phelps to capture gold in the 200 I.M. and 100 meter butterfly without any spoilers letting me know the final results. Clearly I was not alone. When I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal last week I felt a camaraderie of spirit. There were others of all ages out there who gently held their fingers to their ears when the conversation turned Olympian. They too wanted a shared experience in the living room rather than a solitary one at the computer.

“Don’t tell me any results if you know them,” I would gently warn anyone who started speaking to me about the the doings in London. “I want to watch swimming tonight with my family.” Now that it’s over I’ve gone to Michael Phelps’ twitter feed and seen his gorgeous girlfriend. I’ve added Missy’s photo to my Pinterest page.

Four years from now who knows how the Olympics will be broadcast to us from Rio?  TV as we know it will likely go the way of the typewriter. But for the 2012 Olympics, I still enjoyed watching Phelps and cheering on TeamUSA surrounded by my family, and perhaps being one of the few in America who didn’t already know the ending.

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In the ranks of new social sites Pinterest has taken the world by storm. With well over 100 million users, Pinterest now ranks #3 in popularity behind Facebook and twitter. The visual pinning site has captured the imaginations of American women like nothing I ever recall seeing. If you’re not on Pinterest picture the pin-boards that you used to have in your college dorm room. Take those boards, pump them up on steroids and add in some breathtaking collages and you’ve got Pinterest!

Today I was at the dentist’s office busily pinning as I sat captive in the chair. The girls in the office noticed me pinning and that began a conversation about our mutual enjoyment of the site. I asked them what they liked about it and one immediately said “recipes.” The other said she doesn’t pin, rather she just looks at what others do there. That got me pondering some of the things that I like about Pinterest.

1. It’s eye candy: Pinterest reminds me of scrap booking or perhaps the old fashioned quilting bees. I can talk with friends at the same time I’m doing this. It’s relaxing and relatively mindless and yet I get something beautiful to look at when I’m done.

2. It’s a source for great ideas: Whether it’s food and recipes or thoughts for a child’s birthday party, someone is willing to visually share their ideas with you here.

3. You get to follow cool people: I have “met” people on Pinterest that I really wish I knew “IRL.” At least I feel I know them through the beautiful images they post. Right now I often head straight to one woman’s page and look at her lovely “pins” and every time I discover more commonalities that we share. (And oh, by the way I have never met her.)

4. It’s a great thing to do when you’re killing time: Those dog eared magazines at the hairdresser and doctor’s office may take a beating but Pinterest is a fascinating way to “pass the time” while waiting for others. The opposite of this, that it can potentially be *very* addictive holds true as well. Be careful with your time and maybe just allot yourself the time spent in waiting rooms and under hairdryers as Pinterest time.

5. It’s super easy! It’s so easy to pin and to re-pin content. It’s also easy to search for people or for topics of interest. Visual sharing is now just a pin away.

What are some of the things you love about Pinterest? Please let me know what you enjoy about it via the comments section. I’d also like to hear how and if you are using Pinterest for business.

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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!

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Photo: BryceCanyon.com

Sunday our minister referenced that breathtaking financial company ad where the woman climbs a summit and a gigantic panorama unfolds in front of her. His sermon analogy was that the year 2012 lies before each of us as a panaroma right now.

With that in mind, this is the year to create or work on your personal brand. Tom Peters pioneered the concept with “The Brand Called You”. The points he makes in the article still ring some 15 years later (only the brand names have changed!)  As we move into another New Year let’s each take a quick assessment of our own personal brand and what we can do to better ourselves in 2012. Here are some tips I’ve provided to my clients in customized one-on-one sessions and am glad to share here with you.

  1. Google yourself– What do you find? Is it fresh? Is it negative? Does it need a PR boost?
  2. Does your image/Web site transfer to mobile? The growth of smart phones and other mobile devices will continue to explode in 2012.
  3. Who is your target audience? What communications channels are they using? Be sure you are present on them. Example: My clients are business professionals. Most all of them are on LinkedIn and there is an excellent LinkedIn Personal Branding group.
  4. Do you have an elevator speech? The next time you bump into Future Big Client X do you have a quick description ready for the business you have and the products and services your provide?
  5. How do you plan to promote your brand in 2012? How are you using your social media channels? Do they show you constantly complaining about life’s mundane things? Remember, it’s your image that’s coming through (as if you were broadcasting!) Do you have guest media appearances and public speaking engagements planned? Do you have a blog? (It’s one of the best ways to kick start your web site’s SEO!) How about podcasts? Your e-mail signature? Videos?
  6. Do you have an editorial calendar planned for 2012? Remember, you are a publisher. Now is the time to think seasonal and timely in your future writing and publishing.
  7. Are you building your brand on twitter? I’ve formed so many great relationships thanks to the magic of twitter. It’s hard for me to believe that some people still think twitter is just about celebrities and what you had for lunch. If you haven’t done so already, try a twitter chat (look for the hashtags) for a field of your interest. Neal Schaeffer provides this excellent tutorial on twitter chats. Your positive contributions on tweetchats will help build your brand in your industry group or field of interest.
  8. Dive in! Experiment with some new social media channel and meet some new friends along the way! In 2011 it was Google+ and Pinterest for me. What were some of your favorite new social media channels?

With an 8.6 percent nationwide unemployment rate more people than ever need to be sure they are building their personal brand both at in-person networking events and online.  The business atmosphere is in a state of constant change (just look at what’s happened to some of the stalwart brands.) These tips will help you be in control of the message broadcast by your personal brand, no matter what hand economic conditions may deal to you. All the best of luck to you in 2012 and remember, your personal brand is always with you!



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