Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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September 18, 2014

What PR professors teaching social media can learn from Gary Vaynerchuk

I first heard about Gary a couple of years ago when I was starting out teaching my social media class. I have read both of his books (if you haven’t checked them out, you should!) – I recommend both “The Thank You Economy” and “Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” These are both good to not only include as part of your own social media library, but two you may want to add as readings for your social media classes.

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I think Gary is probably one of the most memorable (and energetic) social media professionals I have seen. He does a pretty good job in capturing the attention of the audience with his personality, energy, and insights. The one presentation I felt he really captured some of main trends that are happening right now in the field. His presentation showcases some of the challenges and opportunities pertaining to storytelling.

Plus, Gary emphasized the main asset of time, and how we have to be aware of this personally as well as for our audience and how this influences their behavior in terms of your audience. Understanding the analytics and data is also key – but what Gary does emphasize that I think it key is to have a strong understanding that each platform is different – different features, functions, and audiences at times. Some brands and professionals forget about this, so it was very refreshing to hear this.

What can professors learn from Gary? Lots of great tips – here are a few:

  • Adapting presenting skills for practitioners and academics: Gary’s presentation style is energetic, outgoing, and memorable. Plus, you don’t see him relying too much on PowerPoint slides or reading from the screen – he makes eye contact with the audience and is able to read and understand his audience from the stage. Watching a few of his presentations would provide a good insight and tool to study in how to do an effective keynote presentation.
  • Integrating personal brand across platforms: Gary writes books, does keynote presentations, hosts his own YouTube shows, and is actively engaged on social media. The way he presents himself online is a clear example of how to integrate your persona strategically across all platforms so they are aligned together.
  • Being an explorer with all platforms, but understanding their place with audiences: Gary is everywhere and on so many different platforms. You can see he has his hand on the pulse of what is trending and what is going on in the field – professors can take this into consideration and see if they can adapt these practices to see how they can stay on top of trends and test/explore them out as well. As professors, we sometimes stay on maybe one or two platforms without exploring others. Platforms change, and if we are teaching social media, we have to understand the main platforms that are emerging.

In addition, I think Gary is doing something where most social media professionals are not doing – and that’s hosting a video show where he answers questions from his followers and fellow members of his community through tweets, comments, and even questions raised in videos posted on YouTube.

If you haven’t checked out #AskGaryVee, you may want to check out. His latest episode actually addressed a question pertaining to professors and how to convince them about the power of social media and why it’s important to use it. Here’s how Gary addressed this on his show during episode 20:

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I am glad this question was raised – and I would like to share the fact that there are professors who are embracing social media in the classroom, and they are doing really well with this. I wrote a blog post and LinkedIn post on five professors who really are excelling in preparing their students and are embracing this to the fullest degree.  I do think there is a growing shift in academia when it comes to social media – more professors and programs are embracing social media not only for classes, but they are embracing it themselves as professionals as well.

So, if I were to pose a question to Gary for #AskGaryVee, I would ask the following: What can professors who are embracing social media and emerging technologies to create a stronger bridge with professionals like yourself? How can we go from talking to the talk to walking the walk when it comes to really working together so we are all getting the most out of social media education and strategy? We are willing to not only start this conversation, but take actions to make these ideas come to life. All we have to do is start the conversation and let the story play out.

Overall, I do appreciate the information, insights, and perspectives Gary shares with the online community. He’s one I would recommend introducing students and colleagues to in social media classes. His blog and video series will be some recommended readings for my social media class this upcoming spring.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

September 13, 2014

The role social media plays to create a thriving classroom: A professor’s perspective

It’s been interesting to see how professors over the years have engaged not only in the classroom with their classes, but also be creative and how they engage their students and others using social media. There have been many ways professors have used social media in the classroom, especially Twitter. More universities are offering services to professors and others who may be interested in how they could use these platforms for their classes.

However, there are some who may feel by having social media as part of the classroom, it is “killing” our classrooms. Well, there are of course some challenges we as professors have to be aware of when it comes to introducing a new form of technology to class. Yet, I am on the other side of this stance when it comes to the classroom. If implemented professionally and appropriately, I think classrooms thrive with the opportunities with social media. I discussed some of these opportunities as well as a few myths when it comes to social media for professors a few months ago at the UT Social Media Week event. Here’s the video:

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So, the question arises regarding this current stance we are seeing in higher education when it comes to social media: how do you create a real engaged classroom when it comes to social media for professors?

  • Be part of the class community with your students: Assigning students to tweet, post pictures, or write blog posts is one thing. However, as a professor, you need to do this as well. Lead by example and show students what you are doing and learn with them.
  • Invest in your online persona as a professor: If you are asking your students to create an online persona, you as the professor need to establish one yourself. Share what you are doing in terms of research projects. Do interviews with leading professionals on their podcasts. Create content on your blog to share with others. Reach out to fellow professionals and share relevant content that may be of interest.
  • Bring networking and guest speakers to your class through virtual networking practices: Help introduce students with professionals on Twitter to practice virtual networking.  Make sure to encourage to reach out to fellow professionals, brands, and others in industries they are interested in. Also, discuss the practice for curating and creating practices as well to help contribute to their online personal brand.
  • Be an explorer and test our new ideas: It appears that every professor now has their own hashtag for a class, set up a Twitter schedule, etc. However, how are you as a professor really going to make a memorable impression? Combining content and be innovative with how you communicate this material for the class to ignite a conversation will separate you from others. Whether it is Vine or even Instagram, there are a lot of possibilities here.

Overall, as a professor, you have to determine what will work best for you for not only your students, but also consider what are the goals and expectations you think they should have after they leave your class. Being a resource and engaged in the technology to help mentor and support them is also important for their success after graduation. Social media is constantly evolving, and as professors, we have to be aware of this as well as adapt to these changes as well.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

September 8, 2014

Getting back an industry’s moral compass: Analysis and reflections on recent sports crises involving NFL & NCAA

The sports field has definitely had quite the Monday when it comes to dealing with crisis situations. Both raise the eyebrows to both the overseeing governing bodies involved and lots of questions are being asked. The two situations I am referring to is the case involving Ray Rice (formerly of the Baltimore Ravens) and Penn State football.

Ray Rice was cut by the Ravens and was indefinitely suspended by the NFL today after a video from TMZ emerged that showed Rice hitting his fiancee (now wife) in an elevator in an act of domestic violence. Many involved in the professional football industry along with other football players shared their perspectives and reactions both on social media as well as in the traditional news outlets. Mashable has more information and detail about the case in this latest opinion post. Plus, one of the things that is of course being discussed in this case is the role social media has played in this case. Many users and others are going back through all of the social media updates and tweets by the Baltimore Ravens (including this one that has been circulating from May) and reshared again to spark more conversations about this situation. It was finally reported that the Baltimore Ravens did delete this particular tweet – which raises the issue about the digital footprint of not only users and others online, but brands and organizations as well. The domino effect has also emerged with others distancing themselves from Rice – and I would imagine this is just the beginning.

The other case involves one of the biggest scandals and crises that happened in collegiate athletics – the Penn State scandal involving Jerry Sandusky back in 2012. The NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports, dropped the postseason ban against Penn State – where they are able to get their scholarships back for their football team and are now bowl eligible. However, they still have to pay the $60 million dollar fine, but they do not have to continue on with the rest of their ban that would have gone on for two more years.  What message does this say not only to fellow players and universities – but to youth players? There have been several blogs and posts about this decision and how others feel about the NCAA regarding this decision. As a USC alum and former track and field athlete  for the Trojans (and still their school record holder in the shot put)- I was a bit shocked and disappointed with this decision since USC had to fulfill their ban involving Reggie Bush. You can see some of the USC fan’s reactions to this ruling here in this Facebook group – they are not too happy here.

Both of these cases in the sports industry not only focus on a rising crisis for both the NCAA and the NFL – but both integrate different acts of crime. In crisis communications, we always seem to talk about the importance of message strategies and getting the main spokesperson out to the right channels at the right time. In many ways, it’s almost like a game of chess. However, these two situations are ones where messages are not the focus here – actions are. How both entities handled each of these situations was based on power, not necessarily what was right. The timing spent by the NFL in handling the situation was reactive and not proactive, and the NCAA made a decision that was not consistent or aligned with the moral compass a governing body should have as an overseer for the industry.

In addition, it is time for both entities to act to address both of these situations, but understand their role and responsibility as well. Accountability is one term that is getting a lot of attention when it comes to both of these cases. It’s one thing to talk the talk – but both the NCAA and NFL need to walk the walk and own up to their role to make things right. They need to go back by practicing ethicals and having a moral compass to do what is right and stand up for what is right for all of their audiences – internal and external. There needs to be a culture change within both of these organizations to make sure both of these situations don’t happen again. At this point, statements and press conferences will not do the trick. Nor will tweetable statements that can be shared on Twitter. There doesn’t need to be more talking – but more actions that are sustainable and focus on the moral behavior and professional ethical behavior we are all expected to see and be treated with.

In summary, I believe in the next few days we will see some posts and blogs about what we can learn from both of these cases. Understanding best practices and what we can learn from these situations is one thing – but we as crisis communicators, professionals, and professors need to start acting and addressing these situations also head on. We need to not only talk about we can do for the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We need to take actions. We need to bring the conversation to the table with everyone to start acting on these best practices and lessons learned. It will not be easy, but we need to do something to address this growing crisis and reputation trend that is eating away and becoming part of a virus infesting within the athletic community.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,

September 6, 2014

Reunited with Google Glass: A true story reflecting exceptional #RonR practices

As I have written about previously, I have been a Google Glass Explorer for the last year. I have thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Glass as both a professor and a fan – I’ve always loved technology and being an early adapter to Glass was a huge highlight for me. This past year, I had given a lot of guest lectures on Google Glass and features in various outlets as well. In fact, I was actually in Montreal in August presenting on Glass, which leads me to what happened.

However, that was where I was faced with a devastating discovery at the AEJMC Conference. During the first day at the conference, I realized that my Glass was missing and stolen during the chaos of getting registered and organized at the conference. It was pretty distressing to be honest for me – not only was it an important part of my presentation as well as an expensive device, but my Glass was an essential part of what I was doing in research and teaching. In fact, I was in Montreal to do a teaching presentation on Glass! I immediately contacted Google to see what I could do and what they needed from me. Filing a police report and security report in the hotel were just a few things I had to do.

After checking in on a regular basis at the hotel in Montreal and around the conference, tweeting and updating about the situation on social media among other things – I made sure to keep in touch with Google and see what they needed from me. Even in this moment, I was extremely impressed with the quick response and actions they were taking to work with me. I was only in Montreal for a few days, and no word about whether or not my Glass was found. I got on the plane back to Louisville and realized the sad fact that I may never be reunited with my Glass.

Yet, I received an email recently from Bradley [the Google Glass Support representative who I had been talking to in Montreal] with the best news anyone could ask for – he said my Glass had been found! I was shocked, surprised, excited, and thrilled all at the same time. I was bursting with excitement and happiness to be possibly reunited with my Glass. I did find out that my Glass was damaged when it finally arrived back at the Glass headquarters from Montreal.

What did Google Glass do? Mike [another Google Glass Support representative who had been corresponding with me about this] said they were going to send me a replacement for it. Me? My mind was completely blown away by this huge action and customer service response. I have never had such positive customer service interaction and relationship building in my life. I am a huge believer when it comes to Ted Rubin‘s concept Return on Relationships (otherwise known as #RonR), and the team at Google Glass really showed me this during this complete time. Their correspondence was immediate, personable, and they were there to offer suggestions and they needed from their end to make sure they were able to take care of things. The Google Glass team definitely was a key positive example of this and I can definitely validate this for the record.

My new replacement pair of Google Glass! #HappyProf

I’ve been a fan of course of Google and the Google Glass product – but now after this experience, you can count me in for life. I know there’s been a lot of talk and discussion about Glass – but I will tell you what, this is one story that I think everyone would believe to be true. This is bigger than just Google Glass the device – this story really shows you the connection, support, and the dedication Google Glass’s team has for their Glass Explorer Community. This speaks volumes to me not only as someone who is a part of this community, but a researcher and professor who is teaching about this topic. We are in a reputation economy and we have to not only look at the products and services brands are offering today, but we have to look at the people behind the brand. So, based on what I have experienced with the Google Glass team, I’d say their reputation and brand based on their people working with the brand are some of the best in the business.

Again, words cannot express my overall gratitude to Bradley, Mike, and the rest of the Google Glass Team who reunited me not only with Google Glass, but really went beyond to help me with this. Thank you so much and keep up the amazing work!

Have a great day, everyone!

Best Wishes,

September 4, 2014

Leading in social media strategy and education: Introducing Hootsuite Campaigns

I have been of course a fan of Hootsuite for many years, and they always continue to grow and evolve not only as a brand, but also as a product. They have gotten some great news earlier with their recent $35 million dollar investment, but what I am writing about is their new exciting feature they just announced. Today, Hootsuite made an announcement of acquiring Brightkit, which was a service that allowed users to create customized social media marketing campaigns for their clients.

Why is this an important development and trend we as professors and practitioners need to know about this move from Hootsuite? There are a few things. First, this shows the evolution of social media practice from exploring what the tools are to focusing more on the strategies for how to effective engage audiences, reach influencers, and demonstrate a full comprehensive sense of community. With their new designed enterprise product Hootsuite Campaigns, this allows users to integrate some of these key strategies into their campaigns like contests, sweepstakes, and many more options in a single dashboard. Here’s a short video to showcase their new enterprise product.

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This is also bringing forth the new trend of pure strategic integration into a single platform interface. It appears Hootsuite Campaigns allows the user not only personal control of how their various campaign initiatives are going to look like, but also allows them to specifically target particular audiences, communities, and users online in a very effective manner across various social media platforms. I also liked the fact they have a good view of what the campaign analytics are going to be like – this will be interesting to see how this compares with other platforms and what is going to be different and similar compared to what they are currently offering right now.

What immediately popped into my head when I saw this was not only the huge potential this has for the classroom and for PR students, but also crisis communications. What if you were able to integrate this platform and campaign feature into your social media crisis strategy? If you had some of these same features embedded as part of your platform, you could integrate both listening and responding in a seamless and effective manner. Making sure your statements, updates, and messages are getting across with the official hashtags to the audiences that are impacted or want to know what is going on during the situation.

There are a lot of possibilities and exciting opportunities here with this new feature. It will be great to get an overview of what this platform and new product has to offer – Hootsuite is offering a free webinar to talk about the new product and you can register here. I am looking forward to hearing more about this new feature as well as how it could potentially be integrated as part of Hootsuite University, the advanced certification program offered by Hootsuite, and potentially how this could even be applied in their crisis communication simulation exercises.

Overall, this is not only a great product and tool for practitioners to be using, but students would hugely benefit from this experience and hands on training. These are the type of activities, skills, and duties most students are expected to know when they enter the workplace. It’s really great to see how a brand like Hootsuite is always thinking two steps ahead and adapting their products and services to accommodate for these evolving trends and expectations in the field. As a professor, this is great to see a brand taking a stand and lead on this to help better prepare our students for the workplace as well as provide these types of services to the social media community. Lots of great things happening – congrats again to the Hootsuite team on leading the way in this arena in social media strategy!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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