Oct 13

Personal Branding and the Changing of a Name

I got married in July of 2016 and because I feel strongly about such things, I changed my last name to be the same as my husband’s: Oldham.

Gratuitous wedding photo:


When I named my business in 2010, I had a different last name, one I’d carried since 1989 and didn’t expect to change. Jaggers Communications is the name of my firm. I like it, I like the logo and the brand I’ve developed.


Because of all the work I’ve done leading up to the launch of the business at the beginning of 2011 and until the present day, there is a lot of good search engine optimization tied up in the Jaggers Communications brand and in my own, former name, Marijean Jaggers.

I thought a lot about re-naming the business. I even settled on a potential new name and embarked on the design of a logo. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

I’m going to stick with Jaggers Communications.

My challenge is to publish content with my new last name and earn the Google juice needed for Marijean Oldham, but that’s a challenge I welcome, and it will be fun to be able to track these fresh results.


Oct 11

Doug Muir, the Bella’s Boycott, and Black Lives Matter

A week ago, we attended Rooting Out Injustice, the signature fall event put on by Legal Aid Justice Center and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. Full disclosure, I’ve been involved with Legal Aid for more than seven years and am on their advisory council. The event featured co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, who was a fantastic, inspirational speaker. The speaker panel, emceed by local attorney and author John Grisham (you may have heard of him) explored the intersection of race, injustice, disparities within the system, and ways the nonprofit organizations are tackling civil injustice.

In the midst of the event, a local business owner, Douglas Muir, saw fit to post a comment on Facebook stating, “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organization since the clan. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!”


Mr. Muir is the owner of Bella’s, an Italian restaurant in Charlottesville. He’s also listed as a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia.

What Mr. Muir obviously didn’t know is that the wrath of the offended via social media is swift and ruthless. There’s a hashtag #boycottbellas and there has been a peaceful demonstration. But that’s not the end of this. Doug Muir deleted his comment and is, no doubt, keeping a low profile while his employees suffer a lack of income (restaurant workers make their money mostly in tips. No customers = no income.)

I think this is an opportunity for all people — not just the people who attended the event, or who have heard and seen Mr. Muir’s comment and are aware of the boycott of Bella’s to go look at the http://blacklivesmatter.com/ page. Think about civil rights and a movement that didn’t just start last year, but has been going on since before Abraham Lincoln was president. This isn’t new. Racism isn’t new. Social media is, though, and how we use it can change minds and change our society.

UPDATE 10/12/2016:

The Cavalier Daily ran an apology from Douglas Muir about the comment. It’s a good apology.

Oct 11

Having and Being a Mentor

I grant a lot of informational interviews. I have had interns as part of my team for most of my professional life. I teach. On the flip side, I’ve reached out to others with something to offer, guidance, experience, more confidence, and local knowledge.

I don’t have formal mentors — I’m pretty sure there’s no one walking around with a name tag that reads “Marijean’s Mentor” even though several people have qualified over the years. There are those who filled that role for just a lunch or a coffee and others with whom I’ve stayed in touch throughout my career who have contributed in some way.

Guess what? Very few have been in my field. Not all of those I’ve been a mentor to have ended up in PR or marketing. Hubspot says mentors are valuable at any stage in your career and I agree. It’s also wise to think outside of your field — what I’ve learned from attorneys, accountants, entrepreneurs, and clients continues to help me daily as my business grows.

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor to someone else?

Oct 10

Learning to Read the Room

So much of what we do in public relations and communications is about developing relationships. Whether there’s a need to create new customer relationships, or cultivate loyalty with existing ones, all the business we do boils down to what’s happening between the people involved.

We spend a lot of time encouraging clients to listen carefully to their audiences 00 to pay attention to what’s going on with the people with whom they engage and rely on to make a living, or raise funds, or keep a thriving business going.

It’s stunning then, to be witness to an example of someone who has failed, utterly, to read the room. Taking a moment in a business setting to gauge the tension, to size up the tone and play it safe by being professional and not overly familiar, is a good strategy. This close to a very heated presidential election is not now, nor is is ever a time to inject politics into a business conversation. Unless your business IS politics, leave mentions of the candidates, their positions and most certainly your views out of any meeting, or the chit chat before and after a meeting as well. How often do we need to be reminded that religion and politics really have no place in this kind of interaction!

Being overly familiar is a tough line to walk as well:

  • Don’t go for a hug when a handshake will do
  • Don’t try to be funny if you’re not naturally funny, and if you find you’re the only one laughing, stop immediately
  • Smiling is better than a polite chuckle. Laughing when you don’t get the joke or approve of it can cause a real problem later: don’t.
  • If tensions are high, ask questions, and maintain objectivity. Gather information before you dive in.


These are important skills to learn and they take time. In your next professional gathering, observe the interactions and try to identify those who fail to listen and pay attention — those who are NOT reading the room. What do you see? What impact do you think it has?


Oct 07

Should We Use LinkedIn or Facebook to Promote our Business?

Social media is pretty useful when it comes to getting the word out about your business. Too often, businesses try to spread themselves too thin, however, trying to manage a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest profile, all on top of a website! It can be pretty overwhelming.

We really encourage organizations to take a look at what they can really invest time in keeping active. If it’s ONE TOOL, that’s fine. And if, truly, all they can manage is keeping content on a website fresh, then DO THAT, above all.

From there, it depends on the kind of business you have, and the audience you attract.

If your customer base is other business people, please focus your efforts on LinkedIn. You’re going to attract many more of the right audience members than you will with the shotgun approach of trying to pull in people from Facebook who are largely there for personal, not professional reasons.

If you have a consumer facing business, by all means, please keep your Facebook page active by being helpful to your audience. Be warm and interesting. Share information. Celebrate your community.

From there, the tools differ based on the kind of product or service you offer. But above all, stay focused on fewer tools and do a better job with the ones you use, first and foremost the platform your business owns: your website.


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