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

 

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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.

Creating a Catalyst for Change

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Founder and Creative Director of Katalyst, Kyle Poissonnier

It is one of the most recognized quotes from Gandhi, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Kyle Poissonnier, brings the idea to fruition with the launch of his new Portland-based brand, Katalyst.

Poissonnier first garnered media attention five years ago when he took a thesis project from an entrepreneur class and made it a reality. The brand Elykssor (pronounced elixir) was formed. Essentially, Kyle says, “Someone asked me what I wanted to do. I said I liked clothes, started, and learned as I went.”

It wasn’t until his fourth year in business that the brand began to see any real traction, and so he went back to the drawing board to focus on the direction he wanted to take—enter Katalyst. Kyle says, “I’m taking all of my experiences—wins and losses—into Katalyst. With Elykssor, I found myself doing so many different things. Katalyst encompasses all of them.”

So what is Katalyst? Kyle says that it is based on the idea that “every person in the world affects us in some way,” and that this brand embodies that, by acting as a catalyst for change and enabling people to accomplish their goals as a symbol for confidence and positivity.

Katalyst is a brand that plans to pay-it-forward by developing ‘Katalyst Kollaborative’ communities. While the brand will be developing and selling a variety of clothing, ranging from fitness gear to everyday wear, they will also be providing custom-designed wear for fundraising opportunities.

Kyle says, “I remember when I was a kid the fundraiser stuff was all candy bars and magazine subscriptions—what we offer are custom shirts that are fun to wear, to sell and to bring a community together.”

For example, if a high school athletic boosters program needed to raise money, they would contact Kyle and his team, and they would design a Katalyst-branded shirt with the high school’s logo that could be sold to raise money. In return, that school is added to the Katalyst Kollaboration community.

Last year, the Skowhegan freshman class sold their custom shirts and raised more than $2,500. Kyle presented the shirts to the class, and spoke with the students about pursuing their dreams by sharing his own success story.

At 28, Kyle is the youngest inductee to his alma mater, Husson University, Hall of Fame for his professional success. He has also been featured on a TED Talk and MSNBC’s “Rediscover” for his accomplishment of launching soon to be two successful lifestyle clothing brands.

For all of his success, Poissonnier is humble stating, “I don’t feel like I have an impressive resume—I feel like I have impressive friends and people that have helped me get any type of positive recognition. All of this has happened because photographers, videographers and friends in general have wanted to help me out.”

The support from his friends and other Maine people that believe in the sense of community that encapsulates the state has been incredibly helpful in the creation of his official launch party for Katalyst: State of the State on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the State Theater in Portland.

The event will become an annual party to celebrate the “state” of Maine—the music scene, the businesses, and all that Maine has to offer.

To learn more about Kyle and the Katalyst community, visit their Facebook page today at www.facebook.com/bethekatalyst, or follow Kyle on Facebook, www.facebook.com/kylepoissonnier and Twitter, www.twitter.com/bethekatalyst and www.twitter.com/Kyle_Katalyst.

Kylie Keene: From Spokester to Tour Correspondent

Is this week’s Monday Maine Maven the next big name in entertainment media? Kylie Keene is well on her way!

You may recognize Kylie as the Young & Free Maine Spokester, an outreach program by Maine’s credit unions that allowed Keene to serve as the face and voice of the 18-25 year old crowd in Maine. In this role, Kylie helped that demographic make sense of banking and money through the use of videos and interviews, and attending events throughout the state.

Keene says, “I was so thrilled to be chosen as the Young & Free Maine Spokester. I was able to apply the skills I had learned in school, and build new ones throughout the year.”

These skills will come in handy as she embarks on a new journey as the Nabisco 1D VIP Tour Correspondent. For those of you that don’t know, 1D is short for One Direction…yes, the multi-million dollar recording artists, and every teenage girl’s dream.

How did Kylie get the gig? She says, “A friend shared the position with me on Facebook, saying I was the first person that came to mind when she read the job description. I read the details, and when I learned I could blog, make videos and share stories while enjoying live music and traveling the country, I knew I had to apply!”

In her new position, Kylie is responsible for connecting with fans and sharing the live concert experience with them, even if they can’t make it to a show—sharing stories from the concerts, delicious snack recipes, opportunities for fans to score tickets to concerts, and much more.

Keene adds, “There’s also a great mobile app fans can download that shares exclusive video content, and cool stuff like voicemails from One Direction and a cyber photo booth where fans can create images of themselves with the bands.”

This opportunity serves as a great stepping stone for Kylie in a career as a multimedia journalist. She developed an interest in the field after shadowing a reporter at a Portland news station in high school. Kylie says, “After seeing the fast-paced, ever-changing environments that journalists worked in, and the new people they met on stories each day, I knew I wanted to pursue a field that would offer the same opportunities.”

Who inspires Ms. Keene? While she admires the work of Ann Curry and Barbara Walters, she says, “I am most influenced and inspired by my peers who are currently working in the field; those I graduated with, or worked with as a news intern. I am so proud of my friends who continue to work hard as journalists, and I admire their talent and drive.”

If Kylie’s job sounds like a good fit for you, or someone you know, her advice is to “find mentors and learn from their expertise,” and “to surround yourself with individuals who inspire you, support you, and motivate you to become the best version of yourself.” She adds, “If you really want to do something, and you believe you can do it, then you will.”

To follow Kylie’s summer as the Nabisco 1D VIP Tour Correspondent you can check out her blog at, http://nabisco1dvip.tumblr.com/.

 

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.

 

The Art of Brand Communication

Portland Museum of Art Brand Strategy Coordinator, Caitlin Brooke

When you think of a museum, what comes to mind? Do you envision a forward-thinking, branding machine that brings art to life on your phone, through an artist-inspired cocktail, or by offering Free Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.? That’s the exact image Portland Museum of Art (PMA) Brand Strategy Coordinator, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Caitlin Brooke, hopes to conjure when you think of PMA.

After graduating from Cony High School, Caitlin attended the University of New Hampshire where she received  dual undergraduate degrees in art history and communication, and an MBA in marketing. A summer internship with PMA’s PR department was her first taste of the career path she would choose, but not before spending three years in Boston working as an associate for an investment firm.

Brooke says, “I absolutely loved developing my professional identity in Boston and being thrown into the fast-paced and demanding world of corporate finance. My role evolved from investor relations to marketing, and I began to take the reins in redesigning the firm’s marketing materials and communications plan.”

At the PMA’s Winter Bash Brooke’s job was to sit and draw the guests as they enjoyed the evening.

By 2010 Brooke decided to leave Boston and do some soul-searching saying, “I wanted to eventually establish myself in Maine, so I took a break and traveled the country before beginning my search for jobs in Portland.” Why Maine? Her reason is simple stating, “The cultural vitality of the city had always enticed me and it’s the perfect location—access to the water for surfing and the mountains for skiing!”

This vital culture of Portland is the driving force behind the success of Brooke’s work with PMA. She says, “It’s about being in the know; having relationships with every department and PMA staffer so they think to call me when something cool is happening in the galleries, on TV, or across the street; it’s about embracing social media as a part of our roles.”

In 2012, the institution officially began to integrate social media into staffers’ professional roles. With this change came the need to create a social media policy and social media team who create content, take photos, Tweet and post on behalf of the museum covering all facets of the institution, and giving dynamic perspectives of what is happening on the PMA campus.

Stop by the PMA Café for an artist inspired cocktail created byAurora Provisions.

This new branding initiative plays a major role in Brooke’s daily routine. She starts her day by scrolling through social media feeds and emailing herself potentially relevant content. She adds, “I need to scope the scene and see what people are talking about. A big part of my job is connecting PMA’s exhibitions, programs and collections to what’s happening in the ‘real’ world, which in my opinion helps pull together the bigger picture of why art matters.”

2012 was a major year of rebranding for PMA, when they gathered national and international traction for their exhibition Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine. Brooke says, “Homer was an American artistic genius, and also a hermit with a fantastic moustache and a studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough.”

PMA used this attention as an opportunity to launch their new logo and to overhaul their brand identity. Brooke says, “Prior to 2012, the museum had an undefined strategy for social media. It was almost a marketing afterthought, but because of all the media attention, we were able to really throw our new look out into the public arena and have a lot of people see it.”

A lot of people have been seeing a new side of PMA, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is having fun. Caitlin says, “There is no other form of communication that can convey the energy of an organization like social media, so don’t take yourself too seriously!” While social media is a part of business, Brooke says that it is a part of building relationships, too, adding, “People like to see the behind-the-scenes, real parts of an organization. If something makes you and your coworkers laugh, more than likely other people will see the humor in it too.”

To learn more about the Portland Museum of Art, visit www.portlandmuseum.org, or like them on Facebook to keep up with their latest events and exhibits.

WGAN’s Mike Violette Gives the Inside Scoop on Social Media

WGAN Talk Host, Mike Violette

Politics are dicey in the world of public relations, so it’s probably a good thing that this week’s Monday Maine Maven, WGAN’s Mike Violette, would rather talk about himself and how his love of Maine and social media keeps him fresh.

Violette says, “Politics aside, I just try to listen to what people are talking about when I’m not behind the microphone. Whether it’s in Mardens or Hannaford, I make mental notes and who knows? It might just make it on the next day’s show.”

He adds that he is lucky that the management at WGAN, the Portland Radio Group and Saga Communications are supportive of his leanings, whether they’re political or not, and credits this for his transparency on social media. Mike says, “My job is to have an opinion on the WGAN Morning News, so I take that same approach with Facebook.”

For Violette, Facebook simply feels like an extension of what he has been doing for the past 30 years on radio. He says that even before social networking came about, he was already sharing his life with listeners each day. He says, “You have to connect with your listeners, and there is no better way to do that than to talk about the same things they do—your kids, your families, your dog.”

A recent example of that relationship comes from Mike’s family beagle, Hope. After 14 years his family had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye. His daughter, Jessica, had created a Facebook page for Hope, and when he mentioned on air what the family was going through he says, “The outpouring of support and love from people I had never met was amazing. Even though I had never met them, they had met me, my family and our dog because they’re loyal listeners, and I love them for it.”

Hope Violette aka “Hope the famous beagle”

The responses he receives on Facebook are generally positive, but he encourages the other side to voice their opinion because “it makes for a spirited debate.” He adds that, “No one gets whacked by me for having an opposing view, I encourage that!”

However, you might get whacked if you try to talk smack about fresh scallops and fresh Shipyard brews, two of the items Violette credits for his staying in Maine all these years, but he also says that “in February I could be convinced to move to Key West.” All joking aside, Mike says, “I’m a Mainer and I just love the state and the people.”

When he’s not on air, Violette is a movie fan listing the following as his top 5:

You can connect with Mike on Facebook, or by tuning into the WGAN Morning News weekdays from 5-9am on 560AM.

 

 

The Value of a Strategic Marketing Communications Plan

Marketing can be expensive, especially if you have no idea where it’s taking you or what you are getting in return for your investment.

I’ve seen way too many companies and organizations flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to their marketing. They tend to do the same things they’ve always done, like advertise in the Yellow Pages or sponsor the local Little League team, in the hopes that these things will get them the results they’re after.

You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right?  It’s doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get a different result. Does your company’s marketing program fit this definition? I hope not.

When it comes to nailing down specific, measurable goals that will direct a marketing effort, most organizations don’t even know what kind of results they want. Just hoping to create more business is not specific enough. For the past 14 years, my agency has been developing strategic marketing communications plans, branded The Marshall Plan™, to help our clients develop attainable marketing goals and the tools needed to successfully achieve them. Over the years, we have developed plans for many different industry sectors, including non-profit, information technology, banking, government, legal, tourism, academia, economic development, and more.

We’ve witnessed some amazing results with these plans for numerous reasons, namely:

  • The three-month process brings together the key stakeholders of an organization (management team, board of directors, front-line staff people) to work together with NMC to carefully define their goals, determine their realistic marketing budget and decide what resources can be allocated to achieving the goals. For many organizations, having an outside agency impose this process is exactly what they need to make crucial decisions that will guide the organization into the future.
  • The process starts with a three-hour Discovery Meeting during which the NMC team guides stakeholders through a thoughtful discussion about goals, strategy, tactics and resources.
  • Having goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely is just plain SMART.  The Marshall Plan™ process includes SMART goal setting.
  • The process also includes a thorough competitive analysis, SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), and analysis of what has and has not worked in the past.
  • A detailed list of tactics (social media, website restructuring, media relations, marketing, advertising, public outreach, sales, and more) designed to reach specific goals is created and vetted by the group during a mid-term review meeting.
  • During the final four to six weeks of the process, NMC finalizes the tactics based on feedback received at the mid-term meeting and develops a timeline, budget, measurement dashboards and a variety of marketing tools such as media lists, press release templates, and stakeholder contact lists that will enable our client to hit the ground running when it comes to implementation.
  • The final meeting is a time to review the plan, celebrate the accomplishments and make some big decisions about next steps. Every plan is designed so it can be either implemented by NMC, the organization itself, or another agency.

 

Nancy Marshall, principal of Nancy Marshall Communications

The Marshall Plan™ ensures your marketing dollars will be well invested rather than just spent. It serves as a highly detailed road map toward successful growth for any business or nonprofit.  In the 14 years we’ve been creating Marshall Plans™, we have seen organizations totally embrace the process and the opportunity to improve their marketing and communications.

It is extremely rewarding for me as an agency owner to work with a client on one of these plans which, if fully utilized, offer guaranteed success in helping an organization grow and prosper.

Lunder-Dineen Sponsors Successful Theater of War Production

On Monday night NMC’s Renée Black and Erika Bush traveled to Orono to support our client Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine.

Lunder-Dineen sponsored a performance of Theater of War, produced by Outside the Wire. The performance used a dramatic reading of Sophocles’ Ajax as a way to spark conversation among the audience in a panel discussion about the psychological impact of war on veterans, their families and communities.

The Lunder-Dineen team hosted a successful Theater of War production on Monday evening at The University of Maine at Orono.

The performance featured David Strathairn (Lincoln; The Bourne UltimatumGood Night, and Good Luck) who expressed, “From the beginning, we knew we had something special. Anyone who has ever been in the room can testify to that.”

Other actors included Erik Moody, Dustin Tucker, Patricia Buckley and Rob Cameron. The panel discussion was facilitated by retired Brigadier General Loree Sutton.

To learn more about Lunder-Dineen and about programs they’re bringing to a community near you, please visit www.mainehealtheducation.org.

 

 

Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, CME/CE-certified, evidence-based health education to the citizens of Maine using needs assessments, innovative learning methodologies and expert faculty from within and outside of Maine. www.mainehealtheducation.org

Julia Clukey Honored by Maine Legislature

Olympian Julia Clukey was recognized on April 30 by the Maine Legislature as part of Alcohol Awareness Month for her work across the state to promote the importance of responsibility and good decision making with our client the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association.

Julia Clukey (center) with members of the Maine Legislature. Clukey was honored for her work as the spokespeson for Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association’s responsibility initiative.

To acknowledge her work, she was presented with a customized license plate by Senator Roger Katz, Rep. Matt Pouliot, and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. She also received a Legislative Sentiment from Rep. Matt Pouliot as well as a standing ovation from members of the legislature.

Since 2010, Olympian Julia Clukey has been the spokesperson for the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association’s ongoing responsibility initiative. She has presented at 27 high schools across the state, reaching more than 6,000 Maine high school students. Julia’s presentations are made possible by the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association as part of their ongoing responsibility initiative and are provided at no cost to the school. To schedule a presentation, visit www.clukeyluge.com/responsibility.

This month, Julia was also named to the Fall 2013 National Team and recently announced plans for the second year of her 10-day summer camp this summer in Readfield, Maine.

Complete list of people in the photo:

L to R: Mike Runser of Valley Distributors, Jim Bourque of Nappi Distributors, Mike Barriault of Central Distributors, Elmer Alcott of Nappi Distributors, Cheryl Timberlake Executive VP of MBWDA, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, Olympian Julia Clukey, Senator Roger Katz, Representative Matt Pouliot, Scott Solman of Maine Distributors, Nick Alberding of Pine State Trading Co., Peter Briggs of Aroostook Beverage Co., and Jeff Kane of National Distributors

 

Empowering Young Women at 18 Years Young

Founder of Girls Above Society, Lauren Galley

The quest for perfection is one that young people face each and every day. We all went through middle school and know about the pressures that come with growing into your own skin. This week’s Monday Maine Maven Lauren Galley, at 18 years young, has developed a successful career as a working model/actress, radio show host, blogger and, most importantly, a mentor for young women through the nonprofit she founded, Girls Above Society.

Girls Above Society provides mentorship and awareness surrounding the pressures girls face on a daily basis, and works to promote strong leadership skills. Lauren says she was inspired by her own experiences in middle school and high school to start the organization. She adds, “I want to empower girls to accept who they are—to be their best, be healthy, and have the confidence to go after their dreams!”

Lauren has pursued her dream as an actress and model. She grew up in theater with her mother working as a director, and transitioned into film beginning as an extra. Since then, she has been on ABC Family’s “The Lying Game,” and NBC’s “CHASE” as well as national commercials such as Fox Sports and Jarritos. Currently, she has two films in post-production, “Matt Mercury Movie” directed by Bill Hughes and “The Making of a Serial Killer” directed by Russell Miller.

An additional creative outlet for Lauren has been writing. After founding Girls Above Society, she realized that being present and available was important. She created Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with a blog. She adds, “Blogging is a new thing for me, but when I feel inspired I also feel the need to write. I focus on creating images with motivating quotes, since that’s what teens like and enjoy sharing.”

Girls Above Society is a nonprofit that focuses on empowering young women.

It is appropriate that Lauren would choose to focus on teenagers since that’s when she was inspired to create her nonprofit.  She says there was a lot of pressure to conform and she realized that she was incredibly lucky to have the support system she did, but she also realized that wasn’t true for everyone saying, “I would see so many girls and friends trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations created by the media—magazine covers, reality TV shows and celebrities.”

During that time, Galley had the opportunity to live in Waterford, Maine, and she says, “Having lived in the big city my whole life, I found it so beautiful and really loved the small town feeling. I found it surreal that everyone knows each other—there are literally no strangers!” That sense of community is something that has stayed with her even though she no longer calls Maine home.

The Maine experience impacted Lauren and she is currently partnering with Camp Waziyatah in Waterford, as a part of the Empower a Girl campaign. The camp is known as the location of Disney Channel’s hit reality camp series, “Bug Juice.” Waziyatah shares many of the same values as Girls Above Society—they teach kids to respect themselves with the hope that they will build a healthy image of themselves.

Galley’s mission in establishing self love is evident in her choice to be an ambassador for Free2Luv, hosting their Web segment, Free2BeYOU. Free2Luv’s motto is, “Take a stand to spread love and to end bullying.” In her Free2BeYOU segment, Lauren will be hosting Q&A sessions with tips for dealing with bullies and peer pressure, as well as hosting contests and giveaways to encourage participation. Galley says, “I hope to share, inspire and make a difference.”

To learn more about Lauren and how you can get involved, check out her website at http://www.girlsabovesociety.org/.