“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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The MarketingMel team: Intern Kristen Pierce and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client event

Since I’ve started my communications career I’ve believed in the value of internships. First, MarketingMel was a TV news intern, at my hometown television station (WKBW-TV) in Buffalo, N.Y. Ever since that great educational (and unpaid) college internship I have tried to pass on the benefits of mentorship to those who come after me. Last week I was honored and humbled to win an award sponsored by CenturyLink and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce called “Faith in the Future.” My company, MarketingMel, was one of two winners in the Entrepreneurship Category.  Here is an excerpt of the comments I presented to the illustrious group of business professionals gathered at the luncheon.

Winner in the Entrepreneurship Category: Faith in the Future Awards

Century Link and the Chamber, thank you for hosting an awards program called Faith in the Future. How honorable to reward businesses for making an investment in our community.  To me there is no finer investment than mentoring the next generation. Since starting my business nearly four years ago, I have invested in the future workforce most notably through an intensive mentoring program with rising ETSU public relations students. My former intern, Sarah Rowan, has already gone on to great success as Director of Sales for the Chamber of Commerce. My current intern, Kristen Pierce, would be with me now but she is in class. Young professionals are where we seasoned veterans need to spend our time for they are the future and I have a lot of faith in them!

I want to thank my clients for making all this possible and having faith in my communications abilities. They too have encouraged Sarah and now, Kristen.

(Here, I went on to thank my family and finally….)

MarketingMel’s strategic plan has a personal mission statement written above the company’s mission. It says, simply, “to glorify God in my work and in my family life.” Thank you for this award as it helps to fulfill that mission today. 

Do you have faith in the future? Please share your stories of lending a helping hand to the next generation.

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MarketingMel points out JC Penney's Facebook fan page

MarketingMel points out JC Penney's Facebook fan page

Since the company launch last spring MarketingMel has been extremely busy assisting clients with their public relations, social networking, marketing and media relations strategies.  The firm’s most recent endeavor was a joint venture with my former n-tara colleague Tim McLeod. Together we created a web site for Dan Eldridge, who is a candidate for Washington County TN Mayor. Please visit the site and circle back here to let me know your thoughts. Of course any web site is evolutionary and we’ll be adding more photos and new videos after the launch announcement Tuesday.

I began my career as a broadcaster and it’s strange how life goes full circle. I just signed a contract with Northeast State to do voiceover work for training videos that will be used by Eastman Chemical Company operators. This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development . Thanks to Kyle Long who asked me to audition for that project.

I’ve worked closely with former Board Chairman of the Tennessee Appraisal Commission, John Bullington, on publicizing a very specific issue pertaining to the appraisers and the Home Valuation Code of Conduct or HVCC. We got tremendous coverage, including pickups on Reuters, Fox News, Yahoo Finance, etc. 

I’ve also worked with Todd Mussard, CPA to help him with his social networking, advising him on his web site, twitter and LinkedIn strategies and I secured a speaking engagement for him in front of a targeted group of professionals.

Lots of public speaking engagements have been on the docket including the talk on social networking as seen in the photo at the Times-News Women’s Expo last week. I’ll write more about those in an upcoming post.

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create_something_remarkableMarketing guru Seth Godin likes to talk about being remarkable. He loves to show purple cows and the value of standing out from the crowd. I’ve found that in today’s social media world you don’t have to be as outlandish as a purple cow. You just need to differentiate from the pack.

As a PR person I recently needed the assistance of a major wire service. For several months now Jon Stephenson of Marketwire has kept in touch with me. He followed me from my last job at a tech firm into my new world of PR entrepreneurship. He was a salesman who had sold me nothing but had kept in touch occasionally for more than a year. Then it was time for me to use a wire service. At first I turned to the “tried and true” standard; The Big-Kid-on-the-Block whom I had used several times before in my previous job. But a few things happened. When I called the Big Kid their account rep. continually interrupted me on the phone. Then their news department told me I couldn’t run the release the way my client wanted it.  In frustration I turned back to Jon. And somewhere in the course of all this Jon subtly and quietly began following me on twitter.  It was a deal clincher. It was today’s equivalent of showing up at Starbucks at 10:30 because you know your client often goes there. He reached out to me in the place I like to frequent and he was providing useful PR information to his followers.

Jon stood out in a field of brown cows for just  being himself.  He didn’t argue with me, he didn’t interrupt me and working with his L.A.-based newsroom editor was a delight. Did Marketwire get my business? Yes. Was my client pleased with the work? Yes. Will I use Jon’s company again? Definitely!  Perhaps Seth would call this a purple cow story. I just call it old fashioned customer service in a new, social media world.

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