The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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How Facebook is Like a Photo Christmas Card Every Day of the Year

If you’re like me, at this time of year you are taking down the Christmas tree and putting away the decorations. You’re also looking at all the beautiful holiday cards you received from family and friends, and wondering what to do with them. I hate to throw them away! Some of them are so beautiful that I keep them for the following year and recycle them as gift tags. Isn’t that just so Martha Stewart-esque of me?

This was my family photo for our annual Christmas card photo, which always includes our yellow lab, Carrie. From left to right: my son Craig, me, my husband Jay, and my son Jamie.

This was my family photo for our annual Christmas card photo, which always includes our yellow lab, Carrie. From left to right: my son Craig, me, my husband Jay, and my son Jamie.

Looking at the photo cards is fun, but it’s a different experience for friends who are on Facebook and those who are not. For my friends who are on Facebook, I‘ve been seeing their family photos all year long. I’m staying up to date on their news and achievements, their wins and losses, their new babies and their retirement parties. Even if I’m not seeing them in person, I feel connected to them.

For the friends who are not on Facebook, seeing their annual holiday photo card is my once-a-year chance to catch up on their news, their kids and their pets. It’s a good thing and it makes me feel connected…but not quite as connected as I feel with my Facebook friends.

Facebook is just such a great way to stay connected all year long. It allows us to quickly and easily send a quick little message saying “Congratulations,” “Happy birthday,” “Way to go, “or just “Nice to hear from you!” Personally, it makes me feel good to know what my friends are up to, even if I’m not seeing them as often as I’d like to. Professionally, I am reminded of who’s out there doing interesting work, and who I might partner with on a project.

There are so many advantages to staying connected with personal and professional friends on Facebook. Of course, Facebook is no replacement for face-to-face networking and get-togethers. I always tell people that the ultimate goal of your social networking should be to get together with people, because that’s where the real magic happens in any relationship.

The Fantasy Life that Lives in My Head

I have a fantasy about my life. The fantasy resides in my head, and it visits me from time to time when I least expect it. I have never written about it, and I rarely speak about it, perhaps because it’s not my reality, and it probably will never be. But I thought I would go out on a limb and share it with you here today. I am wondering if you have similar fantasies about your life, or if I am abnormal? (If that statement doesn’t leave me wide open, I don’t know what does!)

My inner drive to create a perfect life for myself is extinguished every day by….well…..everyday life.

My fantasy is about living a totally organized life. In my fantasy, my car would always be clean and free of old napkins and paper wrappers from the straws I get at Dunkin Donuts when I buy decaf iced coffee. I would have the things in my car that I needed for that day only, but nothing left in the car from last week or the week before, or even from yesterday.

My desktop would be mostly clear, except for the papers I am working on right now. The papers would be stored in pretty file folders marked with neatly printed file labels.  I would have lots of new #2 yellow pencils that would always be sharpened (I really love sharp number two yellow pencils.)  My email inbox would be up-to-date and sorted into logically labeled folders so I knew what I had to keep and what I had to follow up on.

I have a slight obsession with blank journal books, pink ones in particular. I have many of them. In my fantasy life, I would write in them every day.

I have a slight obsession with blank journal books, pink ones in particular. I have many of them. In my fantasy life, I would write in them every day.

In my organized life, I would exercise every morning at 5:30 a.m. and burn enough calories so I wouldn’t have to worry about gaining weight.  The exercise would be vigorous enough so I would think clearly throughout the day, and I would feel good because I had accomplished something while most people were still sleeping.

I would be caught up on all my reading, including the novels friends had recommended or loaned to me, and the marketing/PR books that keep me up-to-speed on the latest and greatest techniques in my life’s profession.

I would play cribbage with my husband on a regular basis, and once in a while we would get together with friends for a cribbage game and a couple of glasses of wine, but never more.  I would play Scrabble with my mom at her house while drinking tea and listening to her old stories about the ‘good old days’ when my Dad was still alive. I would not roll my eyes and tell her I had heard that one ten times already.

My husband and I would host elegant dinner parties once a month at our home, and invite interesting guests. I would try new recipes from the magazines I subscribe to (or from the alluring photos and recipes I regularly print out from Pinterest and Facebook), and produce beautifully presented and delicious meals to serve and share with old and new friends.  They would be so inspired by my cooking that they would post photos on Facebook and comment about how beautiful and delicious it was.

In summer, I would go to the beach on a sunny day, spread out a big towel, lie down, read a novel, and get a tan. I would also go camping in remote places, having a campfire with s’mores each evening. I would swim long distances in lakes and the ocean, keeping the same rhythm and pace I had when I competed in Triathlons when I was 23 years old.

I would have time to volunteer for organizations that help those less fortunate than me. I would have enough money in the bank to comfortably pay for my two sons’ college tuition and some left over to make charitable donations to organizations I believe in.  My retirement account would be flush as well, so I wouldn’t have to continue working past 65.

Each spring I would ride my bike on the roads and trails around my house in order to stay in shape for the Trek Across Maine, which I would ride every June. I would have biking friends who I would meet up with on a weekly basis for a really long, hilly ride.

In winter, I would go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing several times a week with friends, and take photos that I would post in my scrapbooks with little stories about each of my outings.  I would go alpine skiing all over the country and enjoy the après-ski scene at the mountains and in the towns near the ski resorts.  (Confession:  sometimes I go skiing just to earn the après-ski!)

In my organized life, I would always have a freshly-done manicure and pedicure.

My house would be free of clutter and my laundry and dishes would always be clean.

My business be thriving and I would travel around the world for speaking engagements about the value of personal branding and building long-lasting relationships.

I would have a to-do list that could always be completed within a day or two, so no tasks would hang over my head and plague me.

This is my fantasy.

My actual life has remnants of these things, but I don’t think I’ll ever see the day that I will live like this one hundred percent. But when I really think about it, I can’t complain.

I am blessed. Damn blessed, as a matter of fact.

I have a wonderful husband who is attentive to what I do and say. I have two sons who are smart, caring, compassionate and athletically gifted. I have a family that cares about me.  I had a father who is gone now, but thankfully he left me with the confidence that I could do whatever I set my mind to doing. My parents provided me with a great upbringing, including a great education.

I have a business that is thriving and employees that work really hard for our wonderful clients.  I have a yellow lab and a thriving garden, and all kinds of sporting equipment so I can enjoy all the outdoor adventures that keep me healthy and fit.  I have a beautiful home and really great friends.  I am in good health and have gotten a lot healthier in the past year thanks to finding a new health care clinic in Yarmouth.

So my fantasy can be just that: a fantasy.  But I am thankful for my reality, and I will continue to count my blessings every day.

Melanie Randall: Inspiring Others to Live and Dance Strong

Founder of Live and Dance Strong, and Owner of Dancewear House, Melanie Randall.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with a loss, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Melanie Randall, decided to take one of the most difficult times in her life, and turn it into something beautiful as a way to process her grief.

Five years ago, Melanie’s father, Richard J. Randall, passed away and she set out to start an event that would help in her healing process. The result was Live and Dance Strong, a fundraiser that serves as a wonderful opportunity for choreographers and dancers alike to come together and deliver a unique dance experience.

Randall says, “Each year the show is different, and we have begun to touch on other people’s pain and grieving process. Cancer has affected so many people. I never dreamed that by starting Live and Dance Strong I would bring hope and empowerment to so many other young women who have lost someone—it’s been very special.”

This year, the event brought their total donations to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to more than $30,000 since its inception and for the first time, they paid a special tribute to cancer survivors.

Planning for Live and Dance Strong starts in early winter, and around March Melanie begins to send letters to local businesses, requesting sponsorships and donations for the show. In May, she sends out choreographer applications to studios in the area.

They recently added a concert element to the planning process, by hosting a concert at their home on the lake in an effort to raise awareness and funding within the community. Melanie adds that social media has also made the event easier to put together, saying, “Facebook has made it easy for us to have an online presence, enabling us to connect with choreographers and sponsors we may not have met any other way.”

Even after growing up dancing for Keltie Collins, Andrei Bossov and Genie O’Brien, she never imagined that she would have a career in dance. It wasn’t until she was getting ready to graduate with a degree in English that she considered buying Dancewear House in Hallowell, but after six and a half years, it was clearly the right choice. She says, “I wasn’t really sure that an English degree would prepare me for running a business, but my years in college certainly did.”

Melanie (center) with her Mom, Mary Elizabeth Randall (left), and her fiancé, Scott Lowery (right) following this year’s Live and Dance Strong event.

Most days, you will find Melanie helping young girls find their way on a similar career path. She says, “I spend most of my days with dancers’ feet in my face,” as the primary person that handles Pointe shoe fittings.

So what is her secret to happiness and success?

Randall says, “Follow your dreams—find something in life that you’re passionate about, and keep it close to you, especially when life gets hard. We all have the ability to take a negative situation and make it into a positive one, so don’t ever give up! One person has all of the potential in the world to touch someone’s life and change their own.”

To learn how you can get involved with Live and Dance Strong, please visit, liveanddancestrong.org, or like the Dancewear House on Facebook.

Summit Natural Gas of Maine to Debut Green Team at Old Hallowell Day Parade

This Saturday, July 20, Summit Natural Gas of Maine will be participating in the Old Hallowell Day parade. NMC staff has been prepping lots of candy and stickers for parade swag. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and runs along Water Street downtown, and features a variety of local businesses.

Smarties everywhere! The NMC conference room is packed with parade supplies for Summit Natural Gas. Join us in downtown Hallowell on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Join Summit Natural Gas of Maine as they debut their Green Team this Saturday. The Green Team is a group of Augusta-based employees who will represent the company by serving as volunteers at community-based projects in the individual towns Summit serves in the Kennebec Valley.

 See you there!

The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of previewing the Lunder Collection at the Colby Museum of Art. The space is awe inspiring. I am so proud of my alma mater for having a museum of this significance right on the campus, which is already a beautiful place. This museum makes it even more beautiful and appealing to students, families, visitors and Maine people.

The Lunder Collection makes its public debut Saturday, June 13, 2013 and will be on display through June 8, 2014.

The addition of this collection to the Colby College Museum of Art in July 2013, represents the largest selection of the Lunder Collection since the announcement of the promised gift in 2007. Widely acknowledged as one of the most important holdings of American art ever assembled by private collectors, the Lunder Collection comprises more than 500 objects including works by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and James McNeill Whistler.

The debut of the collection will be open to the public on Sunday, July 14, 2013 from noon to 5 p.m.

 

Social Networking Does Not Replace In-Person Networking

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

From time to time, I meet with young professionals who are starting out in their careers and need to make connections. Some of them have the idea that they can use LinkedIn and Facebook exclusively to make connections without actually meeting people face to face.  I discourage them from relying solely on their computers for networking. Instead, I advise them to join chambers of commerce, boards of trustees, and other civic groups to meet people in person.

Online social networking is a great way to initially connect with people, but it’s no substitute for developing relationships over the long term. I recommend that you always seek out opportunities to meet with people face-to-face. It’s great to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks before, during, or after your in-person interaction but the goal should always be to get together and do something in person. Social networks are a great way to keep track of people in between your in-person meetings.

You can’t truly get to know a person when both of you are behind your computer or smart phone screen. The best (and the worst) of people comes out during face-to-face interactions. I worry about young people who think they have ‘friends’ based on the number of connections they have on Facebook. These might be people who know your name and know what you look like, but until you’ve spent time with a person, you can’t really decide whether they are your friend or not.

My advice is to seek out the people you want to get to know either for personal or professional reasons, and invite them to lunch, or for drinks, or to a baseball game, or to go skiing or biking or hiking.  You may meet these people in a variety of settings but professional networking groups such as chambers of commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis and even BNI (Business Networking International) are good places to start.

There’s nothing like a campfire to pull together a group of people as
true friends. In May, we had a group of French students who were
visiting my son Jamie’s school over to our house a potluck dinner and
a campfire. We sang, told stories, and had a wonderful time together.
This is where true friendships are made.

There are so many fun things to do with old and new friends that will strengthen your relationship, but you need to make an effort to get these things on your calendar and extend your circle of influence.  Once you get together and enjoy these times together, you can post photos of yourselves on Facebook and other social networks, and share stories about what you did.

It’s easy to spend most of your time with your family and old friends, but for professional growth and development, you should make an effort to make new contacts and expand your circle of friends.

 

Blogger with a Knack for Content Development and Innovative Marketing

Alex Steed of Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics.
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

A recent study by Vocus shows that bloggers rank highly with consumers for trust, popularity, and influence, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven is a blogger who has gained popularity in Maine for his quips, anecdotal humor and overall blunt approach to even the most controversial topics. Alex Steed is the man behind the Bangor Daily News Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. blog, where no topic is off-limits.

In a recent post, Steed took on the new Portland slogan, which sparked a Facebook frenzy of opinions and rants. You know it’s going to be great when he starts with a note: My bosses get bummed out if I don’t warn you when my posts contain swears, so there’s your warning.

In the article he states:

Speaking of Las Vegas, stop bringing up the Vegas slogan as an example of an awesome slogan….You know what else happens in Vegas and stays in Vegas more than anywhere else in the country? Suicide. Their rate is double the average, and that’s something that a snappy slogan just can’t solve because, again, slogans, good or bad, don’t really mean anything.”

Does Alex worry about scaring people off? No.  In fact, he embraces it saying, “A long time ago, because television shows were only shown on networks, the shows took fewer risks because they had to retain a large audience—as channels increased in number, shows were able to take more risks because they were reliant on a base of fewer viewers. For this reason, one of today’s most lauded television shows is about a meth kingpin who boils people in baths of acid.”

“Sometimes the posts write themselves in the forms of discussions or arguments. Then I go and write a sort of idealized version of my take on the argument, while trying as much as possible to illustrate the other side or sides.”
Image courtesy of his wife, Jaime Steed

No, Alex does not plan on using this method on anyone who disagrees with his opinions, but he has realized that he doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, and that understanding his audience and readers, and developing content that appeals to them, is the key to the success of his blog and business.

Steed says that what does worry him most is “do people see me as consistent, or willing to take risks, or bold, or thoughtful? I work hard, reading everything over and over to make sure that even the most questionable assertions can be backed up with facts. That way the only thing someone can disagree on is the point of view, and not with the content itself.”

Content is incredibly valuable and Alex says, “These days folks are expected to write for free—I think it’s important not to accept this. Good content creators bring traffic, and traffic equates to increased usage, or advertisers, or whatever the bottom line is for whoever is hosting the blogger.”

For Steed, it all began with curiosity. He says, “I was very excited about the prospect of seeing the world and I knew that I had a voice.” He encourages young writers to “Be open to being influenced and inspired—take in input at a significantly higher rate than you put out words, content or whatever you are creating. Live your life; read everything; watch everything; and learn how to listen, absorb and process.”

Alex adds that success comes from taking risks, and that “you have to be a consumer of content that is greater than what you are creating.”

” I love living in Maine, and I also love my peers in the creative community here. There is a lot of good work being done in Maine.”
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

So what influences Alex’s work? Here’s his top 5 list:

Might & Main—“They do great work and are very cool without being pretentious. In a few short years, they have built an empire. Their impact on me and the work I do has been substantial.”

Change.org—“They’ve built a way of compounding digital influence and amplifying collective voices.”

The Feast—“I admire them because they’re working toward continuing conversations about how we approach business, culture and activism in a compelling way.”

Love + Radio—“It’s decidedly one of the most riveting and entertaining podcast series being produced today.”

POCKET BRUNCH—“They are blowing up the way we think of food, socializing, parties and everything in between…and they’re locals!”

To check out Alex’s work for yourself, you can read his latest posts at Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. Like what you see? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out his podcast here.

Almost Home Rescue: Where Volunteers Make A Difference

Almost Home Rescue Director/President, Bonnie Martinolich with her three dogs at home.

Just about everyone in the NMC office has a pet that they brag about, posting pictures on their office walls, desks and more! As animal lovers, we can appreciate the work of nonprofit organizations such as Almost Home Rescue and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Bonnie Martinolich.

Martinolich serves as the director and president of Almost Home Rescue (AHR). AHR is unique in that they are a nonprofit corporation, made up entirely of volunteers without a single paid staff member. A part of her work includes managing their Facebook page and she says, “We only have one very basic rule: we never post negative stories about cruelty and neglect.”

In a world filled with violence and negative images surrounding animal cruelty, it is important to AHR that they emphasize the passion of volunteers for positive outcomes and as Bonnie adds, “We want parents to feel comfortable with having their children view our Facebook page, and for people to understand the good that comes from volunteers and adopters working with AHR.”

On June 15, 2013, hundreds of people showed up for Amy Buxton’s Underdog Jog. Almost Home Rescue was a benefactor of the race and volunteered as course marshals.

The passion of volunteers displayed on their social media sites is what brings in most of their new volunteers. Bonnie says, “They are a friend who had a friend who adopted an AHR dog, or is a foster parent, and they want to do the same.”

With mobile accessibility to online sites increasing daily, it is only natural that they would look there first when they begin a search for new four-legged family members. This is why sites like Facebook, Petfinder and AHR’s website are essential for AHR.

Another key element to the success of AHR is volunteers. The rescue organization doesn’t have a shelter of their own; they simply transport dogs to foster families and partner rescue organizations, so visibility of their program is critical.  Bonnie adds, “Our foster program is the heart of what we do, and allows us to continue our rescue effort.”

This past weekend, they were one of the benefactors of the Underdog Jog, a fundraiser 5K held in memory of their late volunteer, Amy Buxton.  AHR not only had multiple volunteers that donated their time as course marshals, but they also brought their rescue van, full of adoptable dogs to the race, mingling with the crowd and talking about what they do within the community.

AHR relies on volunteers to raise awareness of their program.

To join their community of animal lovers you can contact them by emailing, info_ahr@yahoo.com, or donate on their website, www.almosthomerescue.net.

 

Trek Across Maine 2013

With friends, family members and employees participating in the Trek Across Maine this weekend, we are saddened by the tragic accident this morning. We wish everyone a safe ride on the remainder of the Trek.