On Millennials | #trendingThursday

Thursday, May 21, 2013

rulesOn Thursdays I want to talk about what is on my mind. As I spend a lot of time online everyday, some of my biggest thoughts are on topics that are trending and that affect everyday life. Like the millennial I am, I’m connected to multiple media channels that give me the latest happenings around the world, so this is my attempt to process at least one of those points intelligently with my readers.

I’m frequently concerned with the morals and ethics of marketing and the responsibility that comes with being a voice, an advocate, and a champion of anything you sell. The surest way I know how to deal with responsibility is to educate myself on the topic and to apply the same morals and ethics to my observations as I do to my personal decisions—fairness, constitutionality, and compassion. As a defender of rights and advocate for a better future, I know that for many cases I need to make a hard decision on issues. #trendingThursday is an attempt to give as an objective view as possible on important issues facing Millennials.

Marketing Like A Millennial’s #trendingThursday – an alternative perspective on a trending topic of the week. Read about and gather information on something that is happening right now from the mind of a Millennial. Guest bloggers and joint posts to ensue!

Who: Emma Sulkowiczmedia

What: Emma has just completed an endurance performance art piece for her senior thesis at Columbia University titled Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). The art performance has led to worldwide recognition for Emma as well as for her alleged rapist, Paul Nungesser.

When: September 2014 – May 19th, 2015

Where: Columbia University, New York, New York

Why: Emma reported her alleged rape months after the event and after a hearing organized by campus administrations, it was decided that there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute Paul as a rapist. Emma feels that Columbia University did not sufficiently deal with her accusation of her alleged rapist and the formal proceedings that took place after. As part of her art project, Emma demanded that Paul be expelled from the university, otherwise the performance piece was to continue until either Paul voluntarily left campus or they both graduated.

Latest news: The art piece has now come to an end by Emma bringing her mattress to graduation on May 19th, 2015 and deciding against student tradition to shake Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger’s hand.

traditional pfAlso on that day of graduation, posters were seen on several blocks around the university depicting Emma with her mattress and the words “Pretty Little Liar.” The Twitter account “Fake Rape” supporting the claim that Emma is a liar has been up since yesterday, May 20th and already has 2,593 followers. American actress, author, screenwriter, producer, and director Lena Dunham has also been targeted as a liar by the posters seen around Columbia on graduation for the claims she has made on being raped while in college. Lena responded to the posters by taking to Twitter to congratulate Emma on her graduation and thanking her for the courage she has given Dunham to come out with her own story of being raped in college.

The back and forth on Emma: As a member of the Columbia student and alumni community, I have been able to gauge student opinion on Columbia’s campus. From comments and articles on BWOG, the student run blog about campus life and events, The Columbia Spectator, the university newspaper, and conversations with students living on campus, as well as with friends of Emma, there seemed to be much support for Emma early on in the year.Re Emma But as publications picked up the story and especially after Paul Nungesser decided to file a lawsuit against Columbia University, its board of trustees, its president, Lee Bollinger, and Emma’s senior-thesis supervisor, Jon Kessler, students’ opinions have faltered in support of Emma, and even openly state that they wish for this situation to all go away.

Paul alleges that Columbia exposed him to gender-based harassment and a hostile educational environment in allowing the art project to go ahead. He maintains that in so doing, they damaged his college experience, emotional well-being, reputation and career prospects.

social mediaIt is easy to assume that people are passionate about the conversations that Mattress Performance has sparked – the general public has even been battling the validity of Emma’s statements through public art and twitter. The important discourse on women’s rights has been spearheaded into the minds of the American public. And, I want to argue that, thanks to Emma’s efforts, that discourse has remained relevant even when global leaders are having conversations about the real potential of nuclear warfare.

My thoughts on Emma: As a woman myself, I want to say thank you to Emma for the courage she’s had to brand and position herself as a voice for women’s rights. I also want to applaud Emma for an astounding performance piece she has successfully completed.

After much deliberation and after following this story since the first piece I read of Emma’s, published online by Time in May 2014, I have made my decision. This is an important time for women, for Millennials, for American universities, for “fixing something that is broken,” but I think Emma is wrong.

I don’t care if she is lying—she is performing a personal art piece, it is personal, so it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I wish I could end my comments on Emma’s work there, but unfortunately, and to my dismay, I must say that even though I feel like Emma is fully encompassing the American spirit, I think her demands are un-American.

I firmly believe that Emma is trying to set a precedent that, whenever a woman claims to have been raped or sexually assaulted, she must be believed – whether or not there is enough evidence to support that claim. I think Emma was trying to accomplish a dangerous thing for Americans, all Americans, men AND women.

Although I’m only a third party observer, I am also an American female and I know that my opinion matters; I’m assured that the issues surrounding the Sulkowicz and Nungesser case apply to me, my sister, my brother, my best friends, my niece and nephews, and someday maybe even my own children. These are the points that I can take from what I have read and discovered this past year following Emma:

  1. I have always been convinced that there was no way for Emma to prove that Paul raped her;
  2. Emma does not agree with Columbia as to what is sufficient proof of her case;
  3. She demands prosecution either way and publicly announces that this is a case for women and rape victims (especially in regards to university students), through her performance art piece;
  4. I can’t and don’t care to think about whether she is lying or not, she doesn’t have the evidence, talking about whether she is a liar or not is irrelevant, and I think Emma is wrong because she wants to be treated as an exception to the American justice system; and
  5. She is a visual arts student at Columbia and I think she did a great job on her senior thesis!

A crucial point: Emma has provided rich context for further discourse on American history, the Internet as (still) a new medium, women’s rights, and on the power and influence of modern society. Her hard work and perseverance has stimulated conversations about rape and women’s rights in the U.S. and around the world, amongst groups of people of all levels and prestige. She truly has accomplished a great thing.

businessI am interested in hearing more about what people think in regards to Emma. I will remain open minded as I am only sure of one thing, that I am never absolutely sure of anything at all. Please leave a comment about what you think, let me hear your passions and opinions on this case!

I will continue to share insights on social media and digital public relations, but on Thursdays you will be hearing more about the topics and trends I see popping up on Twitter and that permeate into real life.

If you feel like you have been a victim of sexual assault, even if you have some doubt, please reach out to someone immediately. Anyone impacted by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline. You can visit online.rainn.org to receive support via confidential online chat or call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. 

Creating Who You Want To Be: Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part III

This post is part three of a three part series on personal branding. Part I defines what is a brand, Part II helps you identify your own personal brand, and this article shows you how to change your personal brand name and make it better.


We have established in parts I and II, that, just like products, people have brand names too. This is especially the case if you are trying to gain new clients and working to connect with them in person and online. Deciding to take control of your brand means giving yourself agency to convey to others exactly what you want them to think of you.

Tony Stark was the face of Stark Industries, known to the world as the master mind behind weapons of mass destruction, but he changed all that with the creation of Iron Man. Unlike Tony Stark, for some of us it is impossible to build a full metal, armored bodysuit intended to fight off evil villains to change the perspective the world has of your company (also, most of us don’t have a Pepper Pots dealing with crisis management). This doesn’t mean that the power isn’t in our hands to do something about your reputation. Put these five steps into action to create your “Iron Man” brand.

Be Honest. You already have natural qualities; there is no need for you to fabricate who you are to others for them to believe in you and your brand. Personal branding is all about highlighting the qualities that are true to you. You don’t have to fake your personality to create a powerful personal brand. The best way to create a true following is to leverage your already existing positive traits. Being honest about who you are is the only way that you can be open about the true foundation behind your company. For example, if you are an introvert you don’t have to pretend being an extrovert. Instead, highlight your superior listening skills or your compassion for your customers.

Make More Friends. If you want to work on or highlight certain personal qualities, find others who already personify them. For example, perhaps you are a graphic designer and want to build your brand around your attention to detail. In fact, you want your business to portray the same exact thing. The surest way to learn how to do that is to find people who already have a well-established personal brand around the same idea and be a “grasshopper”. Become a student of their craft and make observations on how they personify their brand. Sometimes your “brand models” might not even be aware of how they themselves carry their brand, but pay attention to the language they use, the platforms they choose to connect with people, the way they conduct themselves in public, how they interface with clients, and other ways they personify their brand. Once you understand their personal tools – create your own!

Make A Good First Impression Every Time. Making a good first impression isn’t something you can buy with money, and despite the attempts we make to present ourselves professionally to the world using online platforms and media, there is nothing that can replace the impact of a face-to-face meeting. As the facilitator of a business networking group in New York, I get to work with successful industry leaders and meet new highly successful professionals every month. Even though meeting very impressive c-level professionals can be nerve wrecking sometimes, there are a few things I always remember: maintain a firm handshake, stand tall, speak clearly, and always smile. Being a friendly person is key. Take every opportunity you get to make the best first impression you can, you’ll be an expert at meeting new people in no time!

Nail Down Your Pitch. One sure way of letting people know who you are is by telling them. People won’t always remember everything about you or what you say, but if you package yourself nicely for them, they will remember you better. Prepare a 90 second “bit” on who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for.

My Pitch: “Hi, I’m Michelle Vallejo, creator and founder of Marketing Like A Millennial. Marketing Like A Millennial is a growing resource database of information for brands and concepts wanting to take a fearless, relationship-based approach to business development, personal branding, and digital public relations. I am looking to make connections with small businesses, startup companies, and passion driven concepts around the world.”

Never Stop Growing. Creating and improving your personal brand is a lifetime affair. No matter what your personal brand is, keep it going, make it lively, and have fun exploring ways to highlight the strengths of your personal brand to enhance it. Most importantly, never give up and always believe in yourself.

Do you have a question about where to go from here? Need to reassess your branding strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Feel free to get in touch with Marketing Like A Millennial today, or ask Michelle a question on Twitter or Facebook and she’ll point you in the right direction.

Who Are You? Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part II

This post is part two of a three part series that gives you the information you need to create a cohesive personal brand. This article is meant to help you identify your own personal brand. The third part of this series will show you how to consciously adjust your brand as it grows.

business developmentEvery time you use a label to identify someone, such as “soccer player,” “hypocrite” or “techie,” you are referring to them by their brand name. At first glance, these categories are just labels, but a deeper look uncovers the brand these individuals have either consciously or unconsciously built for themselves. Also, keep in mind, for small or micro businesses, your personal brand is often the same as your business brand.

Are you aware of your own personal brand? Having trouble figuring out what people think of you? Try these three strategies to uncover something deeper about the perception the world has of you and your brand.

  • Face the music. Ask around. It is very hard for you to know how others view you without actually asking them what they think. If you want a soft-edged answer, ask your friends and colleagues what words they would use to describe you. If you want something a little more honest (read: less emotionally based), ask your employees. Ask these people what they think your strengths and weaknesses are and pay attention to the first few words they choose to describe you.

As an example: Josephine is a yoga instructor, a health and wellness coach, and starting her own lifestyle management company. Josephine does most of her work in a co-working space and asks one of her colleagues, Katrina, what she thinks about her. Katrina instantly responds, “Josephine you are very energetic and I love how dedicated you are to creating a holistic life brand.” The words “energetic”, “dedicated”, and “holistic” are “brand terms” that say something about Josephine’s personal brand.marketing

  • Know that you are unique. Identify your “specialty” skills. What skills do you have that are considered rare in your environment? Do you speak French or Mandarin where Spanish and English are most common? Are you the only one on your team that doesn’t have a minor panic attack at the thought of public speaking? These rare skills differentiate your brand from others. Seek them out and uncover them.
  • Be honest with yourself. Analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Take some self-reflection time and journal for 15 minutes today. Use this exercise to list all of your traits. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just let a stream of consciousness flow out of you and write freely. At the end of the 15 minutes, you will find that a few traits really stand out, or maybe you have used different words to describe the same thing. For example—my list consisted of ambitious, opinionated, passionate, positive, driven, giving, responsible, and motivated. All these words point to the fact that I am a self-driven, hardworking person. “Self-driven” and “hardworking” are also the traits that I would like to stand out in my business.

Personal brand names, which often overlap with your business brand, are important to identify because your brand could actually be working against you and there is no way to know this otherwise. Also, you must know your brand first before making it better.

Now that you know what a brand is, and how to identify your own, in the next article you will learn how to adjust your brand to the best and truest depiction of you and your company.

Would you like to learn more about how to determine your own brand? Are you interested in speaking with Michelle directly on how to build a community of customers and followers online? Reach out to Marketing Like A Millennial on Facebook, tweet at us on Twitter, or send us an email and tell us more about your business!

What is in a Brand: Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part I

This post is part one of a three part series on personal branding. This article serves to define “branding,” part two and three will focus on how to define your own brand and how to tweak it as you further construct your public image and build your company.

digital prWhat comes to mind when you hear the name “Apple” or “Facebook” or even “Oprah?” Most of the time these words not only bring a specific person to mind but a specific image, whether it is a smart phone, or a room full of people being told that they are being gifted a new car (last year marked the 10 year anniversary of the stunt and it is still fresh in my mind!) These are some of the most trusted and well-recognized brands in their industry and this didn’t happen for them over night. These brands worked diligently to carefully construct what their users thought of them and to make sure that when their name is spoken something unique about them comes to mind.

A company’s success depends on how well they construct their brand name.

Before we start digging further into branding strategies lets first take a look at what a brand even is.

  • A brand is recognizable. When we hear it or see it we immediately recognize it! Those golden arches are recognizable all around the world, as is the Coca-Cola coke can. Humans are big animals of habit, when it comes to purchasing and consumption, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, but rather preferability.
  • A brand is preferable. When we are given a choice, we go with the more famous brand. Name brand vs. generic brand products are always being put up to blind tasting showdowns to see who really is better, and unsurprisingly most people prefer the generic brand or can’t tell the difference between the products at all. A Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi study conducted by Pepsi a few years back turned out to be 51 for Pepsi and 44 for Coca-Cola during the blind test. Then they let the participants try the drinks with the labels on, this time it was 65 Coca-Cola, 23 Pepsi.

Coca-Cola reigns in popularity across many media channels, and has really been able to create storylines with their brand unlike Pepsi— just one example, think of the holiday commercial collection Coca-Cola must have by now. Be smart with your brand, make it a story, make it popular, make it reputable and you’ll see your brand make it closer to joining the “cool kids lunch table” for sure.

  • A brand is highly regarded. Just like the blind-taste tests of generic vs. brand name food, quality tests for products have been researched to determine what consumers really are buying and if they even know it. 20/20’s John Stossell, actually took matters into his own hands and in his book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, makes the conclusion that for the majority of the products that he researched, brand name quality is the same as the generic brand and most people don’t even have a clue.
  • A brand is dependable. Across America mothers and grandmothers pass down trade secrets to their daughters on how to raise children and what products to buy for them too. In their notes, we see brand names like Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, and Fisher Price. Brands get passed down from generation to generation because we trust our brand names and have come to depend on them over time. Of course some brands like Johnson & Johnson have a long history and that is a definite plus. There is a trust factor involved always. We like the idea of using the same brand that has worked for generations. We love to depend on it and feel safe using it.
  • A brand has extendibility. We will trust a brand selling different products but just so long as it stays within its “domain.” Companies constantly need to worry about staying relevant and in attempts to broaden their reach they usually leverage their most valuable resources, their brand equity. Some big companies have launched some silly products as part of their brand extension attempts. This is unfortunate because over-extending your brand’s reach is always an expensive decision. We are willing to accept and buy new products from a company, as long as the new products fit the brand.

Some of my favorite mistake brand expansions include:

  • marketingLance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Mutual Funds
  • NASCAR Romance Novels
  • Cheetos-flavored Lip Balm
  • Bic Underwear
  • Harley-Davidson Cake Decorating Kit, and of course,
  • Hooters’ novice airline attempt, Hooters Air

It has been proven repeatedly that people love and trust what they find familiar and dependable. All strong companies have a brand name, a reputation to uphold, but this is not a surprise. What might be surprising to you is that you too are a brand.

You sell and market yourself everyday, whether it is picking out photos for your Facebook or dating app, asking the bank for a loan, or even just convincing your friend to do Mexican instead of Thai food tonight.

You have certain assets, certain weaknesses, and you must “sell” yourself based on your own personal brand all the time. Learning what a brand is, understanding that YOU ARE A BRAND TOO, and keeping in mind a few tricks will help position you to right where you want to be. My next two articles will give you the tools to do just that.

Article 2 and 3 of this series will focus on how to define your own brand and how to make adjustments to it as you grow and further develop.


Do you have a question about where to go from here? Need to reassess your branding strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Looking for someone to whip your online positioning and reputation into shape? Feel free to get in touch with Marketing Like A Millennial today, or ask Michelle a question on Twitter, and she’ll point you in the right direction.

Marketing Like A Millennial

Starting A Business

So you’ve launched the business of your dreams (or maybe you’re just trying your best to keep afloat in this volatile economy and hedging your bets on entrepreneurship). Congratulations!

Now for the kicker—you’ve been relentlessly trying all the traditional methods of reaching the people who you desperately want to serve or solve a problem for and they just aren’t biting.

In 2013 there were 534,000 new businesses getting started every month in the US alone. This means that Americans are doing their job of being inventors, service providers, artists, and stimulating the economy around them. (I am sure I can say the same thing about many countries all over the world too.)

Unfortunately, a big scary statistic looms over all of this entrepreneurial activity no matter how you try to face it, 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first year in the U.S. This means that there are a lot of unhappy and disappointed (but hopefully not disillusioned) creative, interesting, and adventurous people all over the U.S. (and the world) – and most of them are headed straight towards bankruptcy!

I have seen many similar statistics throughout the years since 2009 when I really got hooked to the internet of things – I really didn’t need the 11,200,000 results in 0.39 seconds to “How many small businesses fail in their first year” to know that almost all small businesses fail.

Entrepreneurs are my favorite kind of people; in fact I’m one of them! So I have decided to start Marketing Like A Millennial—a supportive space and resource center that helps service professionals launch and position their business online the millennial way. You’ll learn the traditional methods and find links and resources on how to get started if you are new to the social marketing space, but we learn the old methods to master them and then kick them to the curb. Millennials don’t stick to traditional methods; they adapt, change, and grow them.

There are many reasons why businesses fail. Most of the time, the reason is avoidable or could have been drastically improved with some added structure and support, but the majority of business owners are too busy spending their time and efforts launching their business to realize it until it is too late.

I really like how keynote speaker on social media, Shama Hyder put it best, “Most entrepreneurs are artists of the most creative kind. They sometimes forget that business is also part science.”social media

Marketing Like A Millennial is all about adding some science to your madness, and making sure you don’t overlook the importance of connecting with your true customers and utilizing valuable resources easily found online to ensure the success of your business.

Follow Marketing Like a Millennial to find strategies, insights, and tools to help you master the rules of business, branding, integrated online marketing, and digital PR.

Do you have a question about where to go from here? Need to reassess your social media marketing strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Looking for someone to whip your online positioning into shape? Feel free to get in touch with Marketing Like A Millennial today, or ask us a question on Twitter, and we’ll point you in the right direction.