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Michelle Muenzler, Author and Nicknamed “The Cookie Lady”

By Cheval John

January 10th, 2018

Today’s episode features Michelle Muenzler, who is an author of many books and a speaker.

She has spoken at many conventions around the state of Texas including the Houston Comicpalooza.

The backstory of how I met Michelle happened when I was a last minute substitute to moderate a panel about how writers use social media to build brand awareness for a self-published author at Comicpalooza last year.

I had always heard a lot about Comicpalooza and how it was filled with celebrities who build their status with past shows.

Living here in Houston the last couple of years, I knew this was my opportunity to attend the famed event, so I was happy to moderate the panel.

While preparing for the writer’s panel in the meeting room, Michelle walked in asked if anyone wanted cookies she made.

I gladly accepted and I got to hear her presentation at comicpalooza.

In this episode, you will hear:

-what led Michelle to become a fiction author full time
-the importance of social media
-her favorite sports team
-why she left Twitter
-why she brings cookies at every convention she attends

This episode was recorded on Facebook Live via Blue Jeans Network late last year.

Snippet on Vallano Media TV (I had dropped my bag which had the computer and my screen had turned green. Thankful the computer is o.k.)

Full episode on BlogTalkRadio

Website: www.michellenmuenzler.com

Quotes from Michelle Muenzler on:


Conventions are a lot of fun.

They are a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

I’m naturally kind of an introvert, so extroverting for a weekend takes a lot of work and mental preparation and a little body armor.

There’s something about just being able to go in and be on a panel with a bunch of other writers and just kind of talk shop that I know is really enjoyable.

The fact that comicpalooza (houston) invited me back two years in a row has been awesome.

I’m hoping to go again this next year (this year).

I do a lot of the Dallas area conventions, the small library conferences up at Roanoke (Texas).

Austin (Texas) has armadillo con which is always a lot of fun.

So it’s a great way to connect with people and hang out with other writers.

You get to hang out with fans and booksellers.

It’s like a giant happy family.


It can be a terrible distraction, but also a wonderful way to connect.

I tend to mostly hang out on Facebook because I can control a bit better how much I’m interacting.

I used to do a whole lot of Twitter, but I found myself obsessing too much over reading every single thing that every single person on my feed posted and it just got to be way too much.

I can’t shut my brain down enough to kind of let it be for the day and interact whenever I happen to cross over.

It’s been really great for getting writer news like information on markets.

Information on what’s going on in the industry.

Get to chat with fans and hear about everyone’s cats.

It’s allowed me to kind of get in touch with a lot more people.


I think I like it because it’s a slightly longer format, but not too long.

It’s happening somewhat real time, well Facebook algorithms aside from how they keep screwing with the order we see everything.

People are posting whenever they feel like it.

They can post longer things about what’s going on in their lives.

You have a little bit of a chance to kind of react to it and talk about it.

It’s all consolidated in one space.

So it’s not quite as lengthy or like thrown out as a blog is.

I keep track of a number of blogs.

But I have a little bit of trouble just connecting with them on that same personal level.

There’s just something about being able to instantly interact on Facebook, but with it not being too short.

Like a comfort medium.


What I found at conventions as a short story author is it’s a little bit easy to kind of disappear.

Even a lot of novelists kind of struggle with standing out.

It’s a very highly competitive industry full of fantastic writers.

So you want to stand out a little bit.

I found number one, the cookies kind of helped people remember me based off of that.

In addition, I also am rather the introvert and I found the cookies kind of helped give me a safety net or a magical shield a la Captain America minus flinging it at people.

When in doubt, pass out the cookies.

I can meet people and just randomly walk around and be like, “greeting stranger, have a cookie.”

It’s made it a lot easier actually to meet people and to break ice and to not get all caught up in my own head.

It’s been very useful for that and people actually recognize me.

At armadillo con this year (last year), someone came up and they’re like, “oh my gosh, you’re the cookie lady from comicpalooza.”

It works.

I spend the entire day before every convention baking those 700 cookies.

So it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun and everyone loves cookies.

Fiona Birch, Founder of Pro Athletes Online

By Cheval John

December 27th, 2017

Today’s episode of What’s The Word? features Fiona Birch.

Fiona is the founder of Pro Athletes Online, a company which helps athletes to be aware of how they present themselves on social media the right way.

She has spoken at conferences including Social Media Marketing World 2016 and is set to speak there again next year.

Fiona has also given presentations for brands and business schools including Air Zealand.

The show was recorded on Blue Jeans Network and simulcast to Facebook Live

In this episode, you will hear:

-why she decided to found Pro Athletes Online
-why college athletes should take control of their brand
-the importance of social media
-the one hero she would spend one day with past or present

Snippet on Vallano Media TV

Full Episode on BlogTalkRadio

Website: www.proathleteonline.com

Twitter: @fi_birch

Quotes from Fiona Birch on:


We grow up with every cliche your can imagine.

One of my father’s cliche was “The world is your oyester.”

The other one was, “It’s easy to be the same as everybody else.”

One of the things that I ask people is “Are you scared of failure or are you scared of success because I think a lot of people assume that they are scared of messing up.

For me, I would say, “I’m probably more afraid of success than I am of failure.”

I’m very good at picking myself up the ground and just doing it again.

Sometimes when it’s all about to happen and you feel it and know it’s about to go crazy.

It’s all about really being honest about what it is that freaking you out at any point in time.

You have to go into the next unknown phase.

Sometimes we get so comfortable and it’s been a struggle and getting knocked back and hitting your head against the wall.


When it comes to social media and somebody is building a brand for themselves, “it’s do not do this, do not do that, do not be an idiot.”

If you are not building your brand, then the only two people who are building your brand are the media and the trolls.

They will come after you.

They are not looking for a good story at all.

So that’s one thing we face a lot with athletes is the agenda of other people.


What they have actually created is what I think is an amazing feat for branding.

What summed up from a brand point of view is who is going to take VEGAS seriously.

They never had a pro team before.

They were very honest of what they were.

They are a city of entertainment.

They are a city of secrets.

They are a city that sort of everybody visits and have fun.

They got a great sense of humor.

There is actually a sense of community in Vegas when you live there.

For the rest of us, the perception is not they had to create this community.

The person that runs the golden knights social media account is hilarious.

He kind of looked at what the Kings did.

The National Hockey League (NHL) was pretty robotic in how they handle digital media to say it lightly.

So the Kings are the first to sort of went out there.

But Vegas went a bit further.

Jessika Phillips: Founder and President of Now Marketing Group

By Cheval John

December 6th, 2017

Disclaimer: This Is A Sponsored Post

Today’s episode of What’s The Word? features Jessika Phillips, who is the founder and president of Now Marketing Group.

Her Ohio based company is a Forbes agency which serves about 200 clients nationally and worldwide.

This podcast episode was recorded on facebook Live using Blue Jeans Network months prior.

The reason for the disclaimer: Two weeks prior to the airing of this episode, Now Marketing Group became a client for my company to promote their upcoming conference, “Social Media Week Lima 2018” and this blog post is one of the ways I am promoting the conference.

Even if they were not paying me, I would still promote social media week lima because I spoke there as a panelist earlier this year and I saw first hand how well run the conference is.

I saw first hand how Jessika worked alongside her Now Marketing Group team and the university student volunteers from the University of Northern Ohio.

This is one of the reasons why I would recommend attending Now Marketing Group’s conference.

In this episode, you will hear:

-How Jessika decided to start Social Media Week Lima

-How she got the opportunity to speak at Social Media Marketing World 2018

-The difference between a magnet and bullhorn (her terms)

-The one person (past or present) who she would spend time with

Snippet on Vallano Media TV

Full episode on BlogTalkRadio

Website For Social Media Week Lima 2018: www.nowmarketinggroup.com

Facebook Page: Now Marketing Group

Twitter: @jessikaphillips

Quotes from Jessika Phillips on:


The doubts came before I started the business.

You get super comfortable and the biggest obstacle you have to overcome is just getting started.

If you can get started, you’ve built up enough momentum to keep you going.

You just have to feed that momentum.

Whether that’s through training, getting connected with other people or hosting things on your own, you just have to keep that momentum going.

I sat with my computer for five to six hours with the same screen up before I hit enter to submit for my business name.

I was so paronoid because I had a good job, a company car, the whole thing.

It was like, “do I really want this or do I not?”

Sometimes your family and your friends, God love them, they are not always going to tell you that you can go after that thing.

It’s something you have to do within yourself.

It’s something that you have to say, “I’m willing to take this chance. I know that I am capable and I know what I want to do is going to serve someone else.”

Your family and friends are there to try and protect you and they may be afraid for you.

But you literally have to put blinders on and just be in your own lane and keep your momentum going.


They have been trained that marketing is having to spend money and broadcast your message out.

They preaching the same message that everybody cares what you have to say and all you need to do is say it to them.

I attribute that to being the same as you only calling someone every time you need something.

They are gonna get pretty annoyed with you and not want to pick up the phone.

So you have to think, “How can I offer value. How can I work as a magnet and draw people in to me” because they have more options.

Now you are competing with a larger audience and there’s so many pools for our attention.

Customers don’t want to be bullhorn.

That’s why DVRs exists.

That’s why Pandora exists.

That’s why YouTube is out there.

You can get news on Twitter.

People do not want to be interrupted in their day.

They just want to be in their own lane and be around things that are serving to them.

So you have to think of ways you can attract people to you.

We as marketers need to do a better job of working with our clients to tell them the same thing like “Yes, people will care about what you have to say, but they have to know you care first about what they are struggling with or what they are trying to find an answer to or why they’d be coming to you” because if not, then you are just an interruption and a part of the noise.

Listen more. Know who you are trying to talk to and how you can help them along the way.


When podcasting was becoming big, I just could not see myself podcasting.

So I was like, “how can I do this in another way?”

I was comfortable with video at the time.

I worked with our videographer to actually shoot videos to keep people up to date on what was happening in social media and what new things clients could try out.

I just knew I could help more people if they had instant access to it and did not have to come to me or sign up for a webinar.

They could just find it online.

Then live video rolled out.

Now we don’t have to produce this and wait for it to be edited.

We can go live in the moment.

So it was a very easy decision at that point to say, “Let’s double down and do this, make it consistent every tuesday at 4 p.m. eastern, we’re going live and we’re gonna have a show concept all about how you can be a magnet versus a bullhorn with your marketing.


It depends on their goals.

If their goals are to be found, then I honestly would say YouTube because I do see a huge potential on YouTube Live right now in the moment, having your video there, building up a community especially if they already have subscribers.

Facebook right now seems to be the one that’s kind of holding the trump card as far as live video.

I’m excited to see where that goes and how they are going to be building this creator community of people that are going to be going live.

It truly does depend on who you are trying to target and who you are as a brand.

I still see value in instagram.

I still see value in snapchat.

I have seen several people that have done really, really well on snapchat as an influencer. They are building up a community and some of the millennials are still there.

If you have a super niche, periscope (twitter’s live video app) works for so many brands.

So literally, this answer could change depending on what company you are and who you are trying to attract.

You can leave a comment below and share this post if you enjoyed this article.

Dr. Karen Freberg, Associate Professor at University of Louisville

By Cheval John

November 15th, 2017

Today’s episode features Dr. Karen Freberg, associate professor at the University of Louisville.

She is one of the most innovative professors in higher education due to being a pioneer in the teaching of social media.

Dr. Freberg has spoken at conferences around the world.

She has build her online presence via social media which gave her insights into preparing her students for the real world.

Her #freberg17 class created and implemented a social media marketing plan for the Louisville Bats.

This episode was recorded on Facebook Live via Blue Jeans Network.

Snippet on Vallano Media TV

Full episode on BlogTalkRadio

Website: www.karenfreberg.com

Twitter: @kfreberg

Quotes from Dr. Karen Freberg on:

Being Active On Social Media

I feel like social media is a passion of mine and I absolutely love it.

I also feel like for college students, if I am asking them to do certain strategies on social media, I have to do them as well just to kind of show them like, “okay, here’s kind of the strategies that I have been able to learn through the process.

I feel like instead of being like a top-down model for my classes, I am more of a participant too.

So there is definitely strategies I can definitely articulate, share and teach my students.

I am constantly learning each and everyday new things, new trends, new ways of approaching certain softwares for social media.


I would say it actually came from a research project I was working on this past year.

I was talking to one professor who was teaching social media at a university in Utah.

He was talking about how he really wish there was a place where professors who were teaching social media could come together and share some ideas.

He said, “I go to these other conferences, but they are really just advertising conferences or public relations conferences.”

“There was really no central place where we could all share our thoughts on certain trends in social or what are things that we are facing in terms of expectations from employers about our students skills and books we were using to teach social media.”

So I got the idea of creating a group where we just came together and share our ideas.

The group started last year in October and we have over 360 members (my update: the group is now over 450 members) from around the world.

We are all struggling with some of the same questions and same concepts.

We talked earlier before the show about this perception of professors who teach social media.

We get criticized all the time with “We don’t know what we are talking about, higher education is a waste of time. We are not ahead of the trends or we don’t know what we are doing.”

So it is nice to come together as a group and say, “Okay, here’s what we are doing. Here’s how we are going to show future employers our students are getting the necessary skills and education.”

It is a very great community and I have been really happy to see everyone sharing their ideas.

I also wanted to create a place I wish I had when I started out as a professor.


I got approached from Front Office Sports about taking over their instagram account for college gameday.

I’m like, “Great, this is so exciting”

I realized, “Oh, I have to do what I have been preaching to my students and making sure I was basically following the same guidelines and best practices.

It was a lot of fun.

It was a different mindset where you have to think about what would the audience for front office sports want to see.

I had a lot of people that were really excited to see the clemson social media team.

So I made sure I got some coverage there and then the behind the scenes of college gameday.

Always make sure you have extra battery backs for your phone.

You can leave your comments below if you like or disliked this post

Deirdre Breakenridge, Owner of Pure Performance Communications

By Cheval John

November 8th, 2017

Today’s episode of What’s The Word? features Deirdre Breakenridge, founder of Pure Performance Communications.

Deirdre has written many books on public relations and social media.

Her recent book “Answers for Modern Communicators: A Guide to Effective Business Communication” deals with how professionals and college students can be successful communicators in a business environment.

She is also the host of #prstudchat, a twitter chat which speaks about how college students can learn more about the public relations field and how they can prepare themselves once they graduate from college.

In this episode, you will hear:

-Deirdre’s process in writing her first book

-The importance of live streaming

-On why she started the podcast, “Women Worldwide”

-On hosting “The PR Influencer Show” on Nasdaq

This episode was recorded on Facebook Live via Blue Jeans Network before airing on BlogTalkRadio.

Snippet on Vallano Media TV

Full Episode on BlogTalkRadio

Website: www.deirdrebreakenridge.com

Twitter: @dbreakenridge

Quotes from Deirdre on:


Public relations has changed so much because of social media and the way businesses have to be more flexible.

People would go online at any time and if they wanted something, we had to be there.

If you are going to support a business, you have to be ten steps ahead and to understand and listen and know where the pain points are in the market and with the customers to be able to help that business.


I knew we had to embrace new media.

It was a different way of communication and how we approached, not just traditional journalists, but different types of media and where people wanted to receive their news.

In 2003, I had a huge wake-up call.

My team went in to pitch a CEO and his team on a tech product and we were probably a little over-confident.

We thought we knew exactly where we could get the message out through what channels.

After we pitched on how we were going to launch this load balancer product, he kind of looked at me and said, “Okay, that was good, but where’s all the new stuff that’s really going to excite our end users? Where are they going to embrace things?”

What he was saying was why aren’t you talking about blogs.

I had written about that in my second book, which is really ironic that I was writing about blogs, but not pitching that.

I went back to my agency that day and said, “No matter how ahead we think we are, we are not.”

“We are now going to start opening up technology for our public relations professionals. They need to be hands-on in the back end of websites and content management systems.”

“I want public relations people to upload news releases and photos. I want them hands-on with technology.”

They thought I was crazy.

That was the start of “We have to be flexible, we have to move, there’s new things out there.”

Public relations people have to embrace and move forward.


They are content machines and they are not just sharing content for the sake of getting their messages across.

They are educating and becoming thought leaders.

They are having other people come in, be correspondents and share news and information and do interviews.

It is a whole new dynamic.

I was sitting with a financial services company recently.

They now have an in-house studio for video production because they are thought leaders in their space and they are going to be doing interviews.

We see this a lot more.

That is the kind of storytelling and brand journalism you want to bring to the table to be a media company.


I think it is a great opportunity.

It is almost the no bull crap way of getting out some really good transparent information.

You are talking to a person who grew up in the agency world where we would not put out anything.

This is a new way of being able to tell stories and to share who you are and what you do.

To give a piece of yourself as an entrepreneur and to show your passion through a live stream is really important.

If you enjoy this episode, you can share via the social media icons below.

Also, who would you like to be a guest on the show?