Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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July 21, 2014

The benefits of taking a digital break from a social media professor

There are times where even the social media and PR professional (or in this case professor) needs to take a “digital break” from things. I had a chance this week to visit my fabulous sister Kristin and my brother-in-law Scott in Hawaii. Kristin and Scott have been out in Hawaii for a year now and having some time before fall classes start up again made it the perfect opportunity for a visit. :)

Did I completely cut off all digital ties while I was in Hawaii? No – but I did limit the time I did spend online to thoroughly enjoy my time with family, play tourist in Hawaii, and explore new activities and events I had not done before.

However, there were a few things I noticed when I was technically on vacation and visiting family out in Hawaii that inspired me to write this particular blog post about the pros and cons of taking a digital break as a social media and PR professional. Here were a few observations I had:

  • People do ask if everything is okay when they don’t see you online as much: I noticed this right away when I had a few people tell me that I was posting a lot of personal updates (especially on Twitter) instead of my traditional blog posts and news articles. I had to tell them I was taking a break and on vacation. I was still sharing items, but not as much as I usually do.
  • Even if you are taking a digital break, you really are not: While I am still playing tourist and on vacation technically, I am still working. There are conference calls, consulting projects, research papers, and preparing for conferences I am still working on. It’s really all about doing a little bit of this each day and it will eventually get done.
  • There are many ways to still reach you even if you are taking a digital break: We are in an age where we are connected EVERYWHERE. Not just social media. Even taking a mini break from digital – you still get the text messages, phone calls, and other forms of email directed to you on your break. It’s all fine and good – but it does make you realize how connected and accessible you are to things.
  • Your reputation as a hard worker still proceeds you, even on your digital media break and vacation: I think I may be in the minority on this one, but I am a professor that never has set an “out-of-office” message to their emails when they are on break. I feel like I am always on call – which today is pretty much normal. However, if you are known as a hard worker, you will always be on call. I don’t mind this because I know I can get to the correspondence when I can.
  • Digital breaks are essential: This was the first trip in a LONG time where I did not have a slide deck to prep or a business suit to pack. Digital breaks and vacations are necessary in order to feel refreshed for the next opportunities and events scheduled.  It gives you the time to brainstorm more ideas, be inspired outside of the computer room or viewing your smartphone, and allows you to appreciate all aspects of life and what it can offer you personally. I recommend doing this definitely once in a while.

Overall, I have had an amazing break and time with my family out here in Hawaii. It’s been relaxing and I have had a chance to not only participate and do some things for the first time (like paddle boarding or going to a Hawaiian Luau), but it has served as a nice digital media break for me. Thanks again to Kristin and Scott for being amazing hosts!!!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

July 17, 2014

The rise of emojis & potential uses for them in social media classes

We have all seen the use of emojis of course floating around on social media. Whether they are on Twitter, Facebook, or even Instagram and Snapchat, there are pretty much everywhere. They are symbols that are used to communicate how we feel, what we are currently doing (ex. exercise, traveling, etc) but also represent the stories we share with our communities online. In fact, Rosanna Pansino even made a video showcasing how to make emoji cookies (which I may have to do next time I am at a social media gathering).

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Are emojis the next big trend in social media? I’d say that it is certainly a component of social media to pay attention to, but also consider the various uses and strategies they can be incorporated into your various message strategies. Do you need a separate social media platform just for emojis? No. However, they could be integrated as a tool within a network like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, or Twitter to get the point across. They are not for everyone – but if you want to create fun and visual messages with them, then these are right up your alley.

Personally, I am guilty of using emojis of course when I communicate on social media, especially the happy face one. :) I even got the nickname of “Dr. Smiley” by my good friend and PR colleague Geah because I use it in pretty much every form of conversation I have on social media.I also have used them extensively when I have been teaching my social media class at the University of Louisville.

There are several ways professors – who are teaching social media and use various platforms for their classes – to incorporate emojis into their classroom correspondence and conversations. Here are some ways I have been using them in my classes:

  • Providing engaging feedback to students: It’s important to show your appreciation and feedback on class related conversations and activities. High fives, stars, and happy faces are simple to share and communicate with – but mean so much to the other person behind the screen.
  • A new way to introduce yourself visually to your students: Emojis are visual, and it is an interesting way for people to use these to introduce themselves with each other. One thing I am going to be doing this fall for one of my classes is have my students not only introduce themselves to the class in person as well as online – but one of the tasks will be to use emojis to introduce yourself. It does make you think about how you would use symbols to introduce yourself with others. A fun exercise that could be different to incorporate into a classroom setting.
  • Adding these to the social media etiquette document assignment: I think it is good for the students to discuss tools they use and what are the do’s and don’ts for emojis – especially when we are looking at businesses and brands. It is also good to discuss whether or not they are even appropriate at the workplace or come from your own personal account. Having this discussion and application of an assignment like this could be very beneficial for the students.
  • Live tweeting events: Have students who are interns in athletics or working in various events for industries? Along with the messages and images with hashtags, there are possibilities for students and professors even to use emojis to add to these messages to be shared.
  • Showcasing personality: I have to admit I’m a bit of a coffee fan. Just a little bit. :) However, when I share visuals and images related to coffee, of course I have to use the coffee emoji! Since we are not communicating face-to-face on social media, we have to go towards the extra effort to show our enthusiasm about various subjects, so emojis help with this.

In summary, emojis may not be for everyone, but they are a fun tool that can be incorporated into message strategies on social media. They can also entertaining, clever, and help showcase the personality and point of view of the user. Again, there is a time and place for emoji use and of course proper forms of etiquette when it comes to them. We also have to realize that they do not replace thoughts or images necessarily, but they add an additional element to them.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

July 14, 2014

Social media trends from Summer 2014: A work-in-progress

One of the things I love about researching, teaching, and consulting in social media is the fact it is constantly changing and evolving. I remember when I first was starting out in the field in terms of research and being amazed with some of the advancements and changes we were seeing even then. Now, it’s a whole other ball game for everyone online.

This appears to be the summer of trends,  new best practices, and case studies in the area of social media. We are seeing brands, individuals, and others breaking some of the established rules and paving their way towards a new set of established practices and strategies.

Here are some major social media takeaways we are seeing based on what has happened so far this summer:

  • Sports and social media are becoming one: We have seen this all along in sports, but the level of engagement with fans and others is becoming more and more apparent. Social media allows individuals to be their own media outlet to share their stories from perspectives and point of views that are unique and exclusive to that person. It’s not about who has it first, but who has the right angle and POV – and we saw it this past weekend with the World Cup.
  • Traditional media outlets are breaking down silos to get exclusives: Lebron James proved this when he announced he was going to be heading home to Cleveland from the Miami Heat in this letter in Sports Illustrated. The impact? This of course went viral on social media and made Lebron the most popular writer for SI. The integration and connection that social media has with the traditional media is quite apparent, and the lines are definitely blurring together. In case you haven’t seen the letter, you may want to also check out this video Erik Qualman made based on the video:

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  • Storytelling is integrated into everything and has to be based on strategy: It’s all about not only the content and stories you are sharing, but how you are sharing it. We are seeing brands this summer have the strategic focus on what they are sharing and how they are sharing this on social media for their audiences. Whether it is connecting with real time events from a brands’ perspective or going to where the audience is having the conversation (like Mercedes has done with Instagram).
  • Authenticity and the rise of Communication Marketing: This was a trend we saw at the Edelman Academic Summit last month with Richard Edelman’s keynote. I believe this is a window into the future of not only PR, but it’s relationship with social media. We have to formulate strategies of course for our campaigns and brands, but we first have to make sure we are transparent and authentic with our vision and audiences. This is not just a trend, but becoming the expectation for everyone in the field to follow.

Of course, there is still some time left in the summer, but it is interesting to see how these trends have come up at the forefront for both practitioners, and even academics. I am looking forward to sharing these trends and case studies with my students in my fall classes.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

July 9, 2014

Putting “social” back in social media: Getting to meet social media pro Rachel Miller in London

One of the things I have wanted to do over the last few years is to meet people and fellow professionals I have met virtually in real life. I had this chance this week when I was in London and met up for with Rachel Miller.

If you have not followed Rachel on Twitter or read her excellent blog on internal communications and social media, you should! Rachel and I first connected on Twitter a few years ago and have had several great conversations online about PR and social media.

When I was planning my trip to Slovenia, I wanted to have a stopover in London (I’ve had layovers in London, but never had a chance to explore the city), so along with making plans to tour the city, I reached out to Rachel and said – hey! I am going to be in your city – want to meet up for tea? It’s all about putting the “social” back in social media.

We met at an amazing and super fabulous place in London for traditional tea and scones. Fortnum and Mason was truly an amazing place to experience – they had several levels in their building where you could shop for exclusive tea products and other amazing gifts for family and friends, as well as fashion (we did see some similar hats you would see in the Kentucky Derby as well). If you are in London, this is the place to go! Their tea service and scones are just lovely!

Meeting Rachel in person was absolutely amazing! She was exactly how she was online – which is a sign of an excellent professional. She was engaging and full of great insights and ideas on where the field was going, but we also had a chance to talk about shopping and fashion as well. Overall, it was a remarkable experience and I really do think this was one of the many highlights I’ve experienced here in London!

Thanks again Rachel for taking the time to meet with me and my best friend and research colleague Sabrina for tea. We had a marvelous time and can’t wait to continue our conversations virtually! :)

Hope you all are having a lovely day.

Best Wishes,

July 8, 2014

Appearing on Agnes+Day Crisis Intelligence Podcast: Teaching Crisis Communications

I had the chance to speak with Melissa Agnes (a fabulous and amazing crisis and social media professional). Melissa has spoken to my classes several times and is overall an amazing and wonderful person. I was very honored to be a guest of hers on her new podcast talking about teaching crisis communications and higher education.

During the podcast, Melissa and I talked a lot about higher education and how to approach teaching a dynamic field of crisis communications. I am going to be teaching my first graduate level class in crisis communications at the University of Louisville, and it was fun to give Melissa an exclusive on what I am going to be doing for the class in the fall for her podcast.

I really emphasized the importance of connecting with fellow colleagues in the field and providing real-life experiences for students with current resources, readings, and reports in the field. It was also good to chat with a leading expert in the field like Melissa about what were some of the challenges as well as obstacles facing students (and professors) who are interested in the field to address in the classroom. One of the areas I felt very passionate about was the area about approaching crisis communication from a hybrid approach (research and practice) in my class. I have always felt like I was not completely in one category, but a mixture of both. It was really fun to talk to Melissa about this as well during our podcast.

Overall, I was thrilled and so excited to be talking with Melissa for her podcast. She is an amazing host and what a true natural in engaging in dialogue and stimulating great points about crisis communications. This was super fun and we also had time to of course talk about coffee and emphasize our fondness for our favorite word: fabulous!

Special thanks to Melissa for inviting me to be part of your new podcast! Keep up the amazing work!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

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