Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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August 19, 2014

Managing your personal brand on social media: Tips and best practices shared on #HSUChat

I had a fellow professional and IMC graduate student Colin who reminded me to be part of the Hootsuite University #HSUChat session. The topic for today’s session was focusing on personal branding – and it was lead by Barbara Nixon. I’ve participated in a lot of different Twitter chat sessions, but this was probably one of the most engaged and dynamic ones I’ve ever been a part of! Wow – this was quite the experience soaking in all of knowledge and information pertaining to personal branding.

Check out what was covered today here and make sure to check out Barbara’s slideshare deck on her presentation today.

All of the conversations during this one hour chat session really brought forth an interesting question – how do you manage your personal brand? What are some elements to consider and what are some steps that need to be taken to be most proactive in this for yourself? I think all of the points highlighted in the chat session were not only relevant for professors, students, and fellow professionals to be aware of, but also consider how this could be applied to your own brand.

There are two questions, which Colin brought up that really hit this point home for me, that all social media professionals have to ask themselves when it comes to their personal brand. What are you passionate about and what is the one thing that people ask you for your advice on a regular basis? This is very important to consider and realize that this may be different from one person and another, so the way we have to approach this as a professor in the classroom is not to transform our students to be a single branded professional. Rather, we need to be explorers to determine what makes them unique and interesting and how to give them the best tools to help them establish themselves online with their personal brand.

If I were to add a third question to the mix for personal brand – I would have added this: What characteristics, experiences, and perspectives do you have that make you different from others in the field? Identifying this gap – this opportunity essentially – for students, professionals, and even professors is key. We want to see different perspectives and unique voices we have not heard about before. We want to see different voices shared, experiences and stories that have not been told yet, and personality along with it. If we are able to embrace what makes us who we are and combine this with our passion in the professional field of social media – well, look out world!

As a professor, this is what I have tried to do in each of my classes for my students. Yes, it is hard to determine what is unique about us and how to strategically position ourselves online, but this does not happen over night. Think of it as a training workout you have engage in on a regular basis. Not just once a week – this is a full time investment and commitment you have to make for your personal brand. It takes time, energy, and there are of course some ups and downs along the way. Look at how an Olympic athlete competes – they don’t decide one day they will be compete at the Olympic Games. Rather, they have to hone in on their skills and work hard to better themselves each and every day.

Doing a little bit each day pays off so much in the long run. This was one lesson I did learn while I was a shot putter both in high school and college, and this has served me well as I have started on this new chapter of my career as a professor, researcher, and consultant.

2004 Olympic Trials

I’d like to thank the team at Hootsuite University and everyone who participated in the #HSUChat session today on personal branding – especially Barbara Nixon. Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us on personal branding and extending the conversation for all of us on social media. I will make sure to check back in for another great chat next week. Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,




July 1, 2014

The rise of the social connector for PR professors

As a professor, we are working pretty much all year round. We are teaching, conducting research, preparing for conferences, and even consulting and providing our insights in our specialties. However, summer is a time to work on new projects and reflect on the past year as well as brainstorming new ideas for future projects and collaborations.

I have to say, this summer has probably been the busiest I have had. It seems like each year it gets more so. However, I would not have it any other way. :) One thing I did realize is the growing importance to stay socially connected, especially for professors. We need to be engaged not only for our students and fellow colleagues, but also to the profession. This was one of the things Richard Edelman emphasized in his talk to the attendees at last week’s Academic Summit, which I really appreciated.

So, what do I mean when I talk about “social connectors?” Well, we are in a position to connect professionals, knowledge, students, and the professional community together through digital channels to engage in dialogues and network opportunities. I actually had a chance to work on some research a few years ago with a good colleague and friend of mind, Dave Remund, on social connectors in the classroom. We came up with this idea after being on a panel together at the AEJMC Conference in 2012. Here’s the link to the presentation.

This is one of the things I love about what I do in my research projects. Yes, there is definitely a core theoretical foundation involved in providing insights from previous researchers and studies to see what has been done as well as what are the main factors involved to help explain behaviors and actions taken by individuals, groups, and large organizations. However, we have to make sure to be able to not only apply these findings, but do so strategically.

How do professors become social media connectors to the profession? Here are a few tips and best practices I have learned over the years that have helped me:

  • Write up a blog summary of your work: It’s not only important to talk about the findings you found in your research, but what is the story behind this project? How did you come up with your research team? How did this idea come about? I joke that a lot of my ideas for projects came from when I was out for a workout or the dinner table. However, it’s an opportunity for you as the professor to connect your audience with a story that has not been shared yet or even included in your published work.
  • Tweet and share the article from where it is published: I think this is key – you want to direct people to where they can see your published work. Make sure to use the appropriate hashtags used in the professional field that would be interested in your work. For example, I use #crisispr and #crisiscomms whenever I share published work I did in crisis communications.
  • Use social media to share updates visually: When an article comes out or you have a published book chapter, utilize visual storytelling platforms like Instagram to share the news. However, don’t rely on just one platform to do the trick. Send out a tweet with the news, share an extended update on Facebook, and integrate all of these back to your website and blog where you are establishing these platforms as the hub of your online reputation for your work.
  • Connect the dots visually with your research and presentations: Another way you can connect the story behind the research is to publish your slidedeck on Slideshare and then share the associated published article so people can see what you presented on as well as the written document. You want to share as much information in different formats as possible. In addition, if professionals are looking for research in a particular subject, recommend a fellow professional you know in the area. It’s all about connecting not only the dots in research, but also in potential networking and collaboration opportunities within the community.
  • Curate relevant articles associated with your work: We are all in the same team when it comes to research – so why not suggest and share articles and other reports that are similar to your work?
  • Be engaging and on the platforms where the conversations are taking place: Be accessible for conversations, questions, and comments about your work virtually. Sometimes this happens just through email, but it can also take place on various social media platforms. Some of the best conversations and discussions I’ve had about research have all been done through social media.

These are just some of the findings I felt have helped me become more of a social connected professor. As a result, Kristin and I are very excited to be part of the Executive Council for Firestorm Solutions and working with Hootsuite on a new groundbreaking research project. How did this come about? Because of a great conversation after we presented our research at the ICRC Conference for the last couple of years. We are very excited about this great opportunity!!! Make sure to check out Kristin’s blog post on the exciting news.

In essence, professors can use social media and present their research not only to share within the academic community, but extend and connect these findings to a larger audience group. The more we can do to branch out our community to talk about these insights and findings from our work, the better. This is how the field continues to evolve and change. We as professors can lead and set the example to help bridge the practice and academic field.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

May 20, 2014

Is Social Media turning into “Rented Media?”

For every one of my classes – both online and offline – I try to share some professionals to follow and be aware of when it comes to social media. There seems to be a lot of professionals out there who really have made a mark for themselves, and one of these individuals has been Scott Monty

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Scott was the pioneer of social media for Ford, and really set the tone for how businesses, agencies, and professionals use social media as part of their overall strategy but also be the focus of establishing a voice and relationships with audiences. However, Scott recently made his announcement known he was leaving Ford after six years. Of course, this caused a lot of people in the social media and PR community to take notice and voice their reactions to it.

Of all of the articles I read on this topic, I found the interview with Scott and AdWeek to be particularly interesting and enlightening. In particular, the role and current status of where social media is right now in society and in business. In many ways, social media has been transformed in many cases as another marketing platform where it is all about getting the message across, and the one that seems to suffer from this model is the presence of engaged dialogue and relationship management.

Another point that Scott raised in the article in AdWeek stuck me – and should also be noted by fellow professors, students, and practitioners – is the term that is being used for the major social media platforms. Instead of what we have considered to be “earned media” for social media purposes – Scott talked about how social media is sometimes being referred to as “rented media.”

Is this where social media is going? This is why it is crucial to not have your entire online presence on one of these sites – you want to make sure to connect them to an ultimate online hub that you control – like your website or blog even. Social media can be viewed as extensions of your online presence, but these communities, relationships, and discussions are all happening on someone else’s property – whether this is on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others. We have to realize this as being the trend for the future and have to prepare strategies to address these for businesses as well as for our own personal brands.

Again – I think one thing to note here is that social media first and foremost –  is about being social – if we did the same things we do on social media in real life like promoted tweets, ads, and even sponsored content and hashtags – how would they be received? I am not sure they would be successful. However, if we come in with the purpose of being a partner in the community, listening and attentive to the content in which is being discussed on a particular topic, and provide out point of view and thoughts across, that may work. Trust, loyalty, and commitment do not happen over night or through a span of paid advertisements – they come with stories, human interaction, and relevancy that is both received and provided by the content, services, and experiences that can be shared by others.

I have found Scott to be one of the very few professionals in the social media realm who has been transparent, authentic, and engaging with all audiences online – no matter if they are high profile professionals, or even professors like me who ask questions or comment on current trends and topics. I wish him the very best and look forward to see what his next adventures lead him. Thank you for all you have done so far for the social media community. Good luck and keep us posted, Scott!

Hope you all are having a great day! :)

Best Wishes,

April 22, 2014

At the finish line for the semester: Best tips for professors to create an engaging social media campaign style class

It is that time of the semester where finals are beginning here at the University of Louisville. While I do not give a final exam for my social media class, I do have final client presentations for their social media campaign proposals.

I have had this discussion with several of my PR professor colleagues any they have asked me why I have the students to actual campaigns instead of exams? My response is – what am I going to do? Give them an exam with questions like – what is a tweet? How about the components of Instagram? Of course not.

I’ve always believed that it is essential to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom and give them hands on experiences. This is what makes campaign style classes really different compared to other types of classes. Lots of papers, and one project that basically began the first week of the semester.

I am extremely proud of the students and what they have done this semester in #Freberg14. In many ways, this class here at UofL shows me how you truly can see a difference among the students from the start of the semester to the end. The first day of class started with me telling the class this simple point: “This will be the hardest class you will have this semester – and possibly in college.”

So, how do you prepare the students to be part of a project working with a client on a social media campaign proposal? Here are some of my tips I’ve learned while teaching this class at UofL:

  • Set deadlines and expectations early on: Make sure your students know the impact of this project and significance of this not only for the class, but for after they graduate and enter the workplace. Connecting the dots here is crucial.
  • Highlight the benefits: Show how this proposal could be used in their portfolio and share examples of students who have used this as a document to showcase their work for internships and job interviews. Also, discussing how to upload this document to their online portfolio, website, and even sites like LinkedIn are also important to note here as well.
  • Put on your coach hat with your students: I’ve been very fortunate to have a great coach in my Dad in track – and I remember how he would encourage me, push me, and give me to tools and resources I needed to be all I could be in track. I felt that was my role in my social media class. Yes, I did tell my students that they may not like what I am telling them when comes to their drafts, but I am here to help them become better. I push them to work harder and smarter with their documents to see what they can do to make them even stronger. At the end – it’s the work of the students and they are the ones that get the rewards of their hard work, and for me – that’s why I love teaching.
  • Be an “honorary” team member: This is what I tell all of my groups – I am part of their group and am always available to brainstorm ideas and offer my point of view on things. This allows the creativity to spark within each group and they feel comfortable with their ideas and feel that they are not completely alone in the process.
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Social media can be fun, but it is extremely hard especially when you are coming up with creative strategies as well as trying to keep up with the trends all emerging right now.

Tomorrow are our client presentations – where it will not only be the clients and the students in attendance, but also a couple of professionals working in Louisville.

Best of luck to all of the students tomorrow – I know you will do great in your presentations! Will let you all know how they go tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,


April 13, 2014

Understanding the strategies and trends involving selfies for brands & professors

I have had this discussion in most of the classes I have taught this semester on the phenomenon we all know as “selfies.” Selfies have been of course incorporated into various events, conferences, and even recently the March Madness tournament. It was exciting to see UofL featured as one of the universities that did a trendy campaign using social media and selfies for the tournament.

However, one of the things we have to consider here when it comes to this trend is to see how this is both applied and can be explored further. We have seen many discussions on this and what selfies represent and risks associated with them. I do believe it is key to understand both the opportunities and risks associated with every trend, new platform, and issue happening in society. Another trend we are also seeing is who can top the best selfie – which was a discussion and topic of conversation on Hootsuite’s blog the other day as well.

Selfies are even in campaigns – look at this campaign that features Messi and Kobe for Turkish Airlines. This is one of the things we as social media and PR professionals have to look at and see being implemented not only in social circles, but also for businesses as well. I shared this with my classes and we talked about how brands are trying to engage and interact with audiences using initiatives such as this to be current and relatable.

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There are apps out there now that are dedicated just to selfies, including one that has garnered a lot of news and discussion (along with investment) called Shots. Compared to other apps, one of the changes and features that is integrated into this particular app addresses the issue of preventing cyber bullying, which is another key challenge and risk we are seeing not just with selfies, but all social media platforms as well.

However, I think there are some elements to it that we can note as being notable changes and strategies being implemented by both individuals as well as brands and campaigns proactively. So, how can we use selfies strategically – even for professors? Here are a few ways:

  • Showcasing the importance of time and place for selfies: Of course, there are times and places for taking selfies – and it is always good to make sure to get permission first or let someone know that a selfie is part of a branded and sponsored move like what happened with the Samsung and President Obama selfie case.
  • Sharing an experience: Whether it is at a conference, meeting guest speakers, or even showing your school spirit – there are many reasons why you may want to take a selfie to share with your respective communities and even classes.
  • Encourage engagement with students outside of the classroom: One way you can go about in using selfies to build a sense of community with your students is to lead by example and say – I’m cheering for the team in the upcoming game or here’s my picture with my coffee as we prepare for finals. It’s about sharing the experience while making it interactive and visual. Also, it may be good to showcase the experience with other students. One of my good friends and fellow colleagues, Ralph Merkel, shared a selfie on the football field at the spring game with fellow students who invited him to be honored as a mentor at the Red and Black banquet. These are the type of selfies professors can share with others so they can feel like they are part of the experience as well.
  • Making announcements: We have seen selfies being used to document points of view, showcase experiences with others, and even endorsements and major announcements like Star Wars did with the launch of their Instagram account. When I found out that I got my pair of Google Glasses, of course I had to take a selfie to share this news with everyone! :)

Will this be effective later this year or a year from now? Who knows – we will have to wait and see what comes up next. But first.. let me take a selfie. :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

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