Jenni Hilton's blogging efforts are a great example of local community outreach. Like many social media efforts today, Jenni is reaching a local niche market. Although it may be niche, it can still be quite large.
Forsyth County Georgia, home to Cummings and on the shores of Lake Sidney Lanier, has a population of just under 200,000 people. It is also a short drive from Atlanta.
"One of my top posts on my personal marketing blog Eternal Thoughts from a Sunshine Mind is Free and Cheap Kid-friendly things to do in Forsyth County, GA," writes Jenni Hilton '93. That was posted in 2009. Jenni has been blogging and serving her community via social media for years.
What an excellent idea. How many parents hear their kids say, "There's nothing to do in this town!" Jenni is giving the parents information that enables them to say, "Oh, yes there is. Let's go!"
"Given that there aren’t many family-focused local blogs for Cumming, GA and the surrounding area of Forsyth County, Georgia, I set up this blog and focus how families can find cost-effective and fun things to do in North Atlanta. Forsyth County is also one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia and the US," Jenni said.
Most recently, Jenni is a volunteer doing Social Media and Public Relations Outreach at Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. They have a member forum in the form of a Facebook page. The group "is committed to being an advocate in the local community, increasing public understanding on the importance of food allergy prevention and the seriousness in food allergy reactions through the means of public communication, publishing materials, and outreach programs and activities."
Jenni is very active online. A marketing and public relations consultant, she "basically cover(s) what’s in my life: raising children, coping with food allergies, absorbing pop culture, giving tips on marketing and public relations, sharing neat places on the web, learning about social media and venting various office musings, general rants and other folly."
Jenni (Gurney) Hilton graduated from Auburn in June of 1993 with a B.S. degree in marketing from the business school.
"I grew up in the north until we moved down south for high school. I went to high school in South Carolina. I visited Clemson and USC and also Auburn. I just fell in love with the friendly small town vibe at Auburn. It was great that it was a bit further from home so I could break free from high school and life there. It just felt right when I visited. I just knew after visiting that it was the place for me," Jenni said.
She took advantage of Auburn's campus life activities. "I played intramural softball and was in a sorority. I made some of my best friends at Auburn and I met my husband there. We went to Arizona for the national championship and it was like a dream. We both grew up in different states but Auburn became our home while we were there. Every time we visit, it feels like a special homecoming (cue the U2 song)," Jenni said.
Social media affords Jenni the opportunity to express herself on a myriad of topics. "I started a personal blog years ago and talked about business and personal topics. Since I was in marketing and PR, those were natural topics. I also talk about social media and things in my life like family, parenting, food allergies and whatever is on my mind at the moment," said Jenni.
"I also started a local family blog when I lost my job three years ago and found myself looking for free and cheap kid-friendly things to do with my two daughters that summer. I have since continued it and made local business and blogger connections as a result," Jenni said.
MarketingProfs, a very well-respected site, wrote about Jenni's blog post regarding 5 PR tips for small businesses in a recession - Meltdown Marketing. My article also was picked up by the 60 Second Marketer.
"I talk about marketing topics that affect my life as a consumer and business person. Now that I'm a mom, I also have lots of topics that deeply affect me as a mom, marketer, food allergy advocate and more. I write about what is on my mind at the time - usually something that is bothering me or in the news," Jenni said.
An example of some of Jenni's work is her campaign for PLACE Ministries. For their 12-year anniversary, Jenni's helping them introduce blog and social media outreach to the community. Her release: A Match Made in Heaven - PLACE Ministries Helps to Build More Effective Church Ministries, Happier Staff and Volunteers.
"As an example, right now, I have a daughter entering kindergarten in a few weeks and we have to communicate with the school about food allergies and preventative practices and safety. Being in the peanut state, it is a tough obstacle. My next post will be about my experience with administrative meetings and trying to get a 504 plan for my daughter, which schools don't want to pursue." "I started blogging years ago to express myself first on Blogger and then on Wordpress. It was like keeping a diary. I recommend it for anyone in any business," Jenni said.
"The benefit is that I have found business through blogging. I am currently blogging for an agency that found me on LinkedIn. I sent samples from my social media blog posts and have been working with them ever since," Jenni said.
"I am building a local following on my local blog Forsyth for Families and Facebook page as a hobby and hope to build that in the years to come."
Editor's Note: This series highlights students and alumni blogging.
Whether it be for personal pleasure or for work, the practice is continuing to grow. I'm finding new blogs each week. The was originally going to be a five day series. This has now become a five-week series
- one blog each weekday.
~ Robert French