Have You Thanked Your Mentor Today?

January 22, 2010 by

Often times, saying “thank you” to people in your life that have made a difference falls off the plate.  We have the best intentions to call or write them to say, “Hey, thanks! You really have helped me on my path.”

Fortunately, days like today, Thank Your Mentor Day, has us take pause to think about who our mentors are and thank them.  From the associates at PMG, we offer the following words of THANKS:

From Alicia DeMartini

Throughout my college career, there are a handful of professors that stand out amongst the rest as influencers, teachers, friends, listeners, and mentors. However, for Thank Your Mentor Day, I would like to thank my former professor Jim Ellefson. I took his Reading and Writing in the Wilderness class in the fall of 2008. The class focused on reading literature of the environment and the outside world, as well as intensive writing and journaling to explore our own passions and expand our abilities as writers. I have never had a class that encouraged more free discussion and student interaction, in a truly comfortable and open setting. Jim took us on various hikes and outdoor adventures, as well as opened his home to us for a communal (and absolutely delicious!) dinner of homemade garlic bread and minestrone soup. I immediately felt like I belonged. It was visible on my and my fellow students’ faces the effect that these sessions had on us. Jim encouraged me to share my writing, as well as my dreams and fears, and gave never-ending support and encouragement. A year and a half later, I still look back on those experiences as moments that truly shaped and developed who I am today. For that I thank him!

From Elizabeth Hagwood

As most people who grew up in good families know, parents always seem to top the list of role models in one’s life. Mine is no different, and since I’m a momma’s girl, my mom has played a significant role in my life.  I grew up in a military family and moved around every couple years, and my parents (especially my mom) always was able to make the best of it and never complained.  She always put HER dreams to the side to support my dad’s dream of flying (he was a Marine aviator) and her kids.  She was always there to encourage us, whether it be at a swim meet, piano recital or science fair, and to lend a giving hand (or, in some cases, a firm hand).  Now, my parents have retired, and my mom is finally able to live her dream of quitting the corporate world and moving away from the suburbs – they live on a farm and take care of many chickens, fifteen goats, and two dogs, and oh, play with clay for a living (alright, she’s a potter now).  Hmm, maybe that’s why I not only went to the same college as her, but also ended up in the same general career field as her (amidst all her career changes)…

From Izabela Socha

Mentor, hero, best friend— they all ring the same sort of bell in my ears. A great, passionate, determined sister or brother can make a monumental difference in your life. They drag you out of that deep hole you dug yourself into, but will also give you a piece of their mind to keep you in line. My mentor in life is my best friend and sister, Daria. Her determination for her personal career and vibrant life, in general, has inspired me to directly do the same with mine.

She has “shown me the ropes” of what needs to be done to get what you want, when you want it without hurting others in your way by giving your all and giving it with a certain sense and degree of passion.  Her positive reinforcement for my seemingly far away dreams has made me the person I am today and continue in becoming everyday.

From Alex Benepe

My mother has been a solid mentor in my life. She is a very steady, consistent, and calm person, who believes strongly in education. She taught High School for many years and is now a counselor at a University, and she has always encouraged and helped me to succeed in my own studies and projects.

One outlook she taught me that I will always remember is “Doors open and close for a reason,” which means that you should not be disheartened by rejection, and instead look at it as an opportunity for moving in a new direction.

From Nicole Ravlin

When I started my career I thought I would actively need to seek out a mentor.  For me finding this person was more organic – something I would have never thought. I was under the impression that I needed to have a structured conversation and define the relationship.  My mentors have come into my life, as bosses, and have evolved into mentors over the course of years after I had time to really appreciate what they were bringing to the table of my professional career.

For me, I am lucky to have two such individuals in my life, whether they know it or not!  Peter Giles is my former employer. While I worked for Peter, I was greatly impressed with his skill as a publicist and his natural ease with clients. However, Peter did not become a mentor to me until long after I departed Giles Communications and started PMG. It was then that I looked back on my days at Giles and was able to fully appreciate all that Peter did for the firm and why he made the decisions he did. Peter and I have talked from time to time and he has always offered me great advice and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. I consider him often as we work to build and better PMG and treasure the advice he has given, and I hope, will continue to give!

My second mentor is Reggie Cooper.  Again, my appreciation for what and who Reggie is took some time and reflection. From managing financials to management of associates and learning how to deal with tricky situations with grace, the lessons that I learned from Coop (as I fondly think of him), have stuck with me. I am honored to consider him a dear friend and my mentor.

PMG works with icouldbe.org, an online mentoring program connecting high school students from at-risk communities with mentors from across the country, cultivating the students’ potential career interests, post-secondary educational opportunities and overall future goals.  January is National Mentoring Month.  If you have one hour that you can spare per week, please consider signing up to mentor a child. The beauty of the icouldbe program is, the mentoring takes place online only – so you can mentor from home, work, the beach, wherever is convenient.

Have a mentoring story or want to thank your mentor? We’d love to hear it!



November 7, 2009 by

Giving back to our local community is very important to all of us at PMG.

Due to H1N1 and concerns around the wellness of children in relation to this, we have been advised and have decided not to host the Vermont Toy Share this year.  Our intention is to return in November 2010 with this event.  Thank you to the local community for all of the interest and support for this event – it has been overwhelming.

When one door closes, another opens. After making the decision to shelf Toy Share for this year, we started to ask ourselves: how can we continue to make a difference within our local community? Sure, we could donate money to some non-profits… and we do.  We could provide some services pro bono to worthy causes… and we do that too.  We wanted to feel more tied to an organization and that our efforts were directly benefiting someone in our local community.  After some brainstorming we got it!

Ken and I do a fair amount of public speaking in Vermont and across the US.  Most times, we are offered an honorarium, and in most cases we politely decline. Preparing for these presentations, traveling to them and then presenting at them take time. And while we do not typically take the honorarium, we will now. We have decided that all honorariums that we collect between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010 we will donate to a charity.

For 2010, we are proud to announce that Spectrum Youth and Family Services will be our first partner in this effort.  All monies for speaking honorariums collected by PMG during this time period will be donated to Spectrum to help them continue the great work that they do with teens in the Burlington, VT area.

Want to join us in supporting Spectrum? Here’s a couple of options:

  • Ask a PMGer to speak at your next event. For more information drop me a line at nicole(at)peoplemakinggood(dot)com

How Do You Self-Educate?

November 6, 2009 by

I have always been a big believer that you need to consistently be feeding your brain to be happy in life. I think most people feel that way.

When it comes to my career, I long ago realized that my education did not end when I graduated from college.  That was merely a starting point.  As a professional, I need to consistently educate myself on new trends, practices within my field, changes in business, etc., etc., etc.

Sure, in the past my employer has paid for me to attend seminars and get certifications.  The problem with most of those “educational” experiences is that you lose what you learn within six months.

When you are self-guided in your education, you are more vested. I also think that that is the turning point when your job becomes your career.  You see spending time outside of the office on this type of education as an investment in yourself.

At this point in my career I am still working at it.  At the moment I am reading and studying the ever-changing world of social media. I am also reading up on sustainable business and corporate responsibility.

What are you working on?

It’s an honor…

August 21, 2009 by

…to be nominated, really!

Sarah Evans (of Mashable, #journchat, and Twitter fame) started the Top 50 Tweeples to Follow on Twitter.  Now in it’s second year, this award is a “people’s choice” style award where nominations come from the community and voting is open to anyone.  The idea is that this list of 50 are the best people to follow to help other better understand Twitter and how to use it.  There are several categories.  Being nominated for this is really an honor for me as we do spend a lot of time trying to better understand social media tools and how to use them effectively in marketing and public relations.  And as with social media – sharing what you know with others in the online community is part of the gig.

You can find more details here.

You can vote and see results here.

I am delighted to see PMG clients GreenHomes America and Boloco also nominated.

Good luck to all.  Voting ends September 1st.

Who are your Tweeps?

August 16, 2009 by

I have been a little slack in updating the PMG blog, but with good reason… as they say, the cobblers children have no shoes. I have four, what I think, are great posts in the works.  Watch for them to make it to the blog over the next week or so (I have a lot of plane time!).

In the mean time, Sarah Evans (who is one to watch in her own right) is bringing the Top 50 Tweeps award to Twitter once again.  Check out the details on her blog, and then search #Top50Tweep on Twitter to see who has been nominated. Nominations are open until THIS tuesday, August 18, 2009.

PMG’s Lunch Adventure

August 12, 2009 by

Hello everyone, my name is Chris Garafola and I’m honored to say I’m one of PMG’s new PR Interns. I’ve only been working here for about a month and I’m already amazed at how much I’ve learned. Having the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience is invaluable. Currently, I’m a senior at The University of Vermont and I’m majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.

Sometimes we PMG’ers like to get together and grab a nice lunch on the town. However, since there are so many great places to eat, deciding on where to have lunch is difficult. After a few suggestions were made, my fellow Intern Joe and I decided that today would be a great day for a burger—and that’s how our lunch adventure began.

Burlington, Vermont is known to many for its rolling green mountains and Lake Champlain. Yes, it’s even reported to be the stomping grounds of Champ the iconic lake monster. Almost anyone who has heard of Burlington has also more-than- likely heard of Church Street. The cobblestoned street is the center of Burlington’s energy. Everything from nightclubs, restaurants, live music and a cone of the highly acclaimed Ben and Jerry’s can be found here. However, nestled just a couple blocks away on North Street lays a hidden treasure—and I’m not talking about gold. I’m talking about burgers! Or more notably the best burger in Vermont!

This is truly a diamond in the rough. The Shopping Bag is located in what some claim to be a “rough neighborhood”. From the outside, The Shopping Bag looked uninspiring and didn’t seem like a place worthy of “Vermont’s best Hamburger.” However, after one of my roommates ate there the day prior and described it as, “the most delicious burger I’ve ever eaten!” I felt destined to try this burger. Not to mention, Joe the intern accompanying me also happens to be one of my best friends (this is when you say “awww… how cute”).

After we mustered up enough courage to enter the store we realized it wasn’t all that bad. We found out that we needed to see the cashier after deciding what we wanted to order. After we paid, Joe and I were given a scrap piece of paper that said “Scibec Sizzler”. From there, we were informed to give this scrap paper to the grill cook. My first impression of the grill cook was that of intimidation. He was a big man who had an angry look on his face. In other words, if you were ever in a fight, you would want him on your side. However, that didn’t phase me because for some reason I saw a little twinkle in his eye which said, “I may look mean but I make a meaner burger” Once the cook grabbed our slips he disappeared in the back for a little while. At first I was confused. I didn’t know whether he was going on his break or the two swipes of Old Spice I applied in the morning didn’t do the trick. I soon learned neither was the case because he returned with two of the biggest beef patties I’ve ever seen in my life. They keep the patties in the back cooler, almost as if the burger was a brick of gold and the back was a bank vault.At this point, I arrived at the realization that I was in for the most intense burger I’ve ever eaten.

While waiting for the mammoth burger to cook I decided to wander around the store. So I’m in my own little world humming Foreigner’s Cold as Ice (I had just heard it on the radio, and you know how that goes), when I came upon an attractive poster. The poster read, “Food Network, 50 States, 50 Burgers” and on it was the best ranked burgers from each state—and guess who made the list for Vermont? If you guessed our very own Shopping Bag—you guessed right! Not only was this burger hyped up by my friends, it was given national acclaim in a praised and respected magazine. My standards were rising higher and higher as the burger sizzled on the grill. Once the half pound burger was complete (and by complete I mean grilled and topped with: dill pickles, bacon, red onion, lettuce, tomato, toasted sesame seed bun, Montreal seasoning, three slices of American cheese, mustard, ketchup and mayo) it was time to eat.

Joe and I arrived back at PMG to eat our massive burgers. The once paper bags that were holding our Sizzlers now looked like see through plastic bags from all the grease that seeped through. However, it was all worth it because this burger was A M A Z I N G! Every bite I took created a juicy mouthful of flavors that wrapped around my tongue like a kid eating his first Popsicle. I was literarily in culinary heaven. Every ingredient and topping on the burger complemented each other perfectly. The experience was great and the burger was delicious. Granted it took me 17 minutes to completely finish eating it, but it was well worth it and I plan on making an excursion back to the Shopping Bag soon for round two.

Just one more thing, if you’re planning on getting a Sizzler, plan your day ahead of time. After you eat one of these bad boys you’re not going to want to strap on the old roller blades or hit the gym. Instead, you may want to lie down and watch VH1 I love the 80s while your food coma subdues.

Square Pegs: Not Just a Sarah Jessica Parker Sitcom

June 23, 2009 by

I have a window seat in the PMG office.

Okay, there’s only one desk that’s could be considered to be turned away from the windows, but that’s neither here nor there. I, the summer intern, have a window seat in the office. As a result, on occasion, I get to gaze upon the Waterfront. Or more truthfully, upon the people who are outside enjoying its splendor.

At least, some of them are. Others are parallel parking.

It’s a regular sight, people attempting to parallel park outside my window. Some succeed, some reevaluate, and some…well, some think that their Hummer is the size of a bread box. They wiggle, jiggle, and creep their way into a space that is not meant for them – it’s a little something called Square Peg Syndrome.

There’s a lot of Square Peg Syndrome in PR.

Imagine: You have a widget client – oh, what glorious widgets they produce! The bestest widgets you ever did see – plus, they’re nice people, which is always an added bonus.

The client has a dream: To reveal their latest widget on The Ubber Hip Show! Unfortunately, you know that The Ubber Hip Show doesn’t hit any of the widget’s targets and, in fact, may take away from other potentially potent placements (alliteration – love it!). But the client wants it – and they’re nice, remember?

So, you focus all of your energy on getting on The Ubber Hip Show. Days and nights of e-mails, calls, and, despite your best efforts, pleading that leads to…absolutely nothing. It’s a no-go and the widget client gets pitiable coverage on their latest and greatest invention.

And you know the sad truth? The Pretty Nifty Variety Hour, another popular show, would have hit your client’s target and their promotional dates perfectly – and you knew it, too. If only your focus wasn’t so pinpointed.

Sqaure Peg Syndrome AKA Over-targeting. It kills…your PR campaign.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Waterfront gazing to catch up on.

Talkin’ Social Media

May 28, 2009 by

Last week I was invited to talk about the basics of social media on the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV as part of my participation in Vermont Business & Industry Expo.

As always, Mark was delightful to chat with. In case you missed it, here it is: Nicole’s Interview with Mark Johnson

Thanks again to Mark for welcoming me to the show.

If you missed the Expo video that we produced for the show, you should see it.  Izabela Socha at PMG scrambled to get this together and did a great job!  We now call her “Hollywood” – look for more from her soon!

Don’t Talk to Me!

April 29, 2009 by

Social media done well includes three things:

  1. Contribute to the conversation. Sure, there is a lot to be learned by reading tweets from others, but chances are you have nuggets of information that others would find incredibly valuable. Why not contribute your thoughts?
  2. Listen to your customers, critics, competitors, brand evangelists… really to everyone who has something to say about your company, brands and you! Chances are you will learn something, and better yet, you may be able to get ahead of issues.
  3. Engage. As a marketer it is easy to blast messages at your fan or follower base. This is not engagement. Engagement requires a give and take – kind of like a good relationship. If you are listening it is easy to react and engage.

It is pretty simple stuff. But, somewhere along the way we became comfortable with talking at and to rather than with people. Said that way, social media can really bring us back to basics—if you want to do it well. And with the global community that we now have access to thanks to the internet, our conversations have more reach.

Bottom line: don’t forget that social media is a conversation and requires interaction. Kind of like a dance, sometimes you lead and I follow. Other times, I lead and you follow.

Also, taking a step back and perhaps sending a note card to contacts from time to time, rather than an email, might set you apart from the crowd. A total retro move, I know, but I can guarantee you won’t get lost in the stream!

The “…ations” of Our Business

March 27, 2009 by

When did the occupation of public relations become so confusing to people?  When I graduated from college, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.  My studies were concentrated in public relations.  I understood this to mean that my job would be to communicate a business’ message to the public: directly, through the media, and if needed and depending on the company I worked for, lobbying.

Today, there seems to be some question as to what this practice entails.  Is it just effective writing? Is it a robust database to help your clients get traction in the media? Is it throwing a press release on the wire? Is it lobbying a bill on the Hill? Is it working with investors of a business to get the company’s messaging across? Is it social media?

The truth is, effective PR firms and people know how to do all of that, and in most cases, do much of it well.   The business of public relATIONS is all about communicATION. And in today’s world that means communication to many types of people across multiple channels.  The multiple channel piece of the equation is key.

From bloggers to national broadcast television placements, it is all important and beneficial. In fact, some of the smaller, less “glamorous” placements can do more for your bottom line.   Consider the reach an outlet has AND how respected they are.  A very targeted blog about a specific subject may get your client more traction than a mainstream newspaper placement.  Think podcasters are important to target? You bet! Leave no stone unturned and achieve better results.

Bottom line: relate and communicate information effectively across all channels. That is what today’s PR is all about.