Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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March 7, 2014

University of Louisville’s “Happy” Video

One of the great things I think is great about being at the University of Louisville is the fact that we have a great group of professors, students, and staff at the university when it comes to social media. It’s been like this for years and this is lead by Jeff Rushton, who is the Director of Digital Media here at UofL. We have regular meetings and share items, ideas, and trends with each other when it comes to social media on a FB group page.

Well, you just never know when your idea may be implemented, which is one of the things that has happened! As many of my students and friends know, I am a huge fan of the franchise “Despicable Me.” In fact, I have used them to create my grading scale in my social media class.

My grading scale for my social media class at UofL

One of the popular songs from the movie was Pharrell’s “Happy” song, and it translated into this music video:

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Of course, we saw a lot of various versions of videos of this from other universities, businesses, and individuals to recreate the happiness that is displayed in the song. With this in mind, the UofL social media group came together, brainstormed some ideas, and went about in creating a fun and happy video showcasing the university with its students, staff, student-athletes, faculty, and even our university president, Dr. Ramsey. Here’s the video of UofL’s version of “Happy:”

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More background on the brainstorming process can be found here on the UofL Blog. It was a fun project to brainstorm on (and no, I did not appear in the video to be dancing :)). It’s a great way to showcase the university and the people behind the UofL logo in a way that showcases positive feelings and happiness all around. You can’t help but dance to it!

Again, major props to the leadership and direction of Jeff for this great video showcasing UofL and all of the hard work, dedication, and team work the group did to make this come alive. Go Cards!

Hope you all are having a “Happy” Friday!

Best Wishes,

February 16, 2014

How to integrate Ted Rubin’s #RonR concept for professors & into social media classes

It is interesting to see how social media overall has become such a huge global phenomenon across industries and professions. We can see it even in the research and look at how it has truly evolved over the years – it’s truly amazing to see how fast this is changing. This is one  of the many reasons why I really like teaching and working in the field. There is always something new happening each and every day, which does have its challenges but benefits at the same time.

In many ways, like most areas nowadays, it is a business. One clear example was a report I saw where athletes at the Sochi Olympics are turning over their accounts to their sponsors so they are able to produce, create, and engage with their followers with content relevant to their personal brands. Calendars, content management systems, schedules, and promoted content are all part of the equation nowadays not only for businesses, but for individuals and their personal brands as well.

I would have to say that this was not surprising, but yet it still was to me when I read this. Is this the way social media is going as a tool and form of communication? Is it all coming down to scheduled updates, promoted content, and pushing of information to What does this say when we look at social media as a community? I think of course there is a time and place for promoted content, but where is the authenticity that can emerge from conversations and dialogues within these relationships with people?

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Personally, I absolutely believe that it all comes down to relationships when it comes to social media. I have been inspired to see what Ted Rubin has said regarding this issue and I think it rings true for sure. He was the professional who coined the term “Return on Relationships” or otherwise known as #RonR. It is about listening and focusing not on what you are doing, but what you can do for others at the same time. We seem to forget this not only in businesses, but also in teaching and research as well. I think Ted is really doing a great job in communicating this idea for marketers and professionals in the business, and I think there is a HUGE opportunity for professors to take notice of this mindset, especially for their classes.

Why do I say this? Well, I have seen some amazing professors who have lead this way with their classes on social media and are always actively listening and engaging their students by following this principle of RonR as Ted describes it. So, the question is, how can #RonR work  for professors as well? There are certain things we can look at ourselves that can help us establish our social media practices to help our brands and research as well. Here are a few ideas I have here on how professors can do this and what I’ve tried to do with my social media class at UofL:

  • Listening to students: I tell my students that I am not a mind reader, but it is key to see what they are talking about and what questions they have for me as the professor. That’s why I am actively engaged on using Twitter and other forms of social media to see what they are sharing using the #Freberg14 hashtag. Each student has different goals and expectations and interests – and my role is to see how I can engage them with the content as well as share additional resources for them. Again, it’s all about engaging them to create a dynamic learning experience.
  • It’s about THEM: One of the things that really made me think about what Ted was saying is this point. Students are actively learning about the discipline – whether you are looking at PR or social media – and it is our role as professors to focus on helping them better understand the material both in and outside the classroom. Also, think about what you can do to help them out as well to achieve their goals. Look at your connections on social media to see if you can make a virtual introduction to an agency professional or business owner in the area of interest a student has. These network connections can help create longstanding relationships that benefit the student after the class and possibly result in an internship or future job.
  • Being active to see how you can help students out: I have been approached by students over the years on a variety of topics from internships or job opportunities, or even resources to expand their knowledge in the area. We have to make sure we are there for students on social media not only when they are in our classes, but afterwords as well. I am still in contact with students in  my first classes a few years ago in both my traditional and online classes. Teaching is not for the short-term at all – you can still learn and grow as an individual even after class is done.
  • Ongoing conversations create communities: I think Ted’s point on ongoing conversations is right on task here. I do talk a lot about social media among my students, but they share other areas and topics with me over social media. Particularly, students have shared images and updates with me that pertain to coffee, which I think is fab! (If you don’t know already, I LOVE coffee!) But I do the same with them as well. I have some students who are active sports fans, so I share content relevant to their interests. I have others that are fans of bourbon and local Louisville shops – same thing. It’s all about sustainable engagement. It’s not only about sharing great content, but creating great content to share with your students as well. That’s where a blog can be extremely helpful here for your classes. Here’s another great video of Ted speaking on the importance of content creation.
  • Don’t try to fit the cookie cutter mold when it comes to social media engagement with students: I think this was one point that sparked for me when I heard this talk with Ted Rubin – even though he was referring to marketing and brands, I still think this is relevant for professors to note here when it comes to social media as well. You have to adapt your practices and engagement with your audiences based on each individual. The conversations you have are not always going to be the same. Your social media interactions have to be personalized and tailored.
  • To be successful on social media, you have to be “social”:  This is so important! I do see some professors incorporate social media to just broadcast content and share links with students, without personalized interactions with the class. That’s not the purpose here when it comes to incorporating social media into the classroom. As Ted says, you not only have to build a community, but you have to be part and spark conversations. Experiment, test, and try out ideas in your classes – you will be able to see what works and what needs to be adapted.

In summary, I am very thankful for professionals like Ted Rubin who have been generous in sharing his expertise and insights not only for businesses, but also with professionals and professors who are teaching and researching with students to help them be prepared for the workplace. Thanks Ted and keep up the great work! :)

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,

February 7, 2014

“The Influence and Power of Social Media on Corporate Reputation:” My session in the Reputation Academy

They say that most news – or sometimes the best – happen on a Friday afternoon. At least that is what I am told. :) However, I am very excited to announce a project I was able to be a part of officially now. No, I am not launching a new album under the radar like Beyonce. However, I have to admit that Queen B does have style many PR professionals (and professors in fact!) could learn from this.

So, what is the news? I just found out the training session I did for the Reputation Institutes Reputation Academy on social media and reputation management is now available. I am truly honored by having this wonderful opportunity.

The Reputation Institute is the world’s leading reputation-based advisory firm with some of the leading minds in the profession and research on the area of reputation management, branding, and strategic communications. For me, this is super huge! Not only they are a great firm, but they are also hosts for a conference I’ve been to ever since I started the PhD program at Tennessee. Since 2008, I have been attending and presenting research at the annual conference hosted by the Reputation Institute. I’ve been to a lot of different conferences over the years, but this one is one of my absolute favorites. The presentations are engaging, relevant, and bridges between research and practice.

The Reputation Academy brings forth leading experts (both professionals and researchers) to create webinar training sessions for top level executives on a range of topics associated with reputation management. You see some of the thought leaders and visionaries of the field within these listings.

When I got asked to do a session on a topic that I love both professionally and personally, I was beyond excited. This was truly an opportunity I could not refuse and I jumped on board with it immediately. Creating content, organizing talking points for the session, and figuring out the amount of time each slide needed explanation were all factors that came forth with this experience.

What were some lessons I learned from creating the training session for the Reputation Academy? Here are some things I wanted to share about my wonderful experience:

  • Determine who your audience is first: This was key for me – I have done a lot of social media presentations across various industries, and it really does set the tone for what information you need to present, and how to frame it. I found out top level executives from brands and corporations around the world would be my audience – so that put things in motion to create the presentation.
  • Concise presentation and writing will be your friend: I’m naturally a wordy person when I am writing, and I know I do have a lot more words presented in my slide deck. However, I had an awesome friend/colleague/mentor who was able to be reviewer and pointed some places where I needed to reformat and even edit down a few of the points. Thanks Craig!
  • Practice, practice, and practice!: One of the things I realized very quickly is that I had to practice making sure to talk slowly and clearly. When I talk about social media – I get so excited I almost talk at warp speed! I realized that I had to take my time and make sure I was consistent with my tone as well as speed during the presentation.
  • Eye contact is crucial to have: With this presentation, I had to have both a microphone and I was on video. What does this mean? Not only do you have to make sure you are clear and concise with your talking points, you want to make sure you give the audience key eye contact at all times. This does not mean reading from the screen or looking all over the room when you are on camera. This is where doing lots of guest lectures via Skype and Google+ really came in handy for me.

In summary, I am again honored and extremely excited about this opportunity and chance to do this online training session for the Reputation Institute. It’s another big extension for me to help me become what I want to be as a professor, researcher, and consultant in the field.

Professors – I would encourage each to consider looking at opportunities like this as well. Students (particularly PhD students) – add this as a goal for when you are entering the profession as well. I highly recommend it – it’s been a wonderful learning experience and truly an honor to be a part of. Special thanks again to the professionals at the Reputation Institute for allowing me to be part of the sessions offered at the Reputation Academy.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day! :)

Best Wishes,

February 6, 2014

Apps, apps, and more apps!: 7 must have apps for social media and PR pros

Instagram of course has been a fun tool to explore for class along with research possibilities and applying them for social media campaigns for #Freberg14 and even #Freberg14.

What are some of the must have apps for Instagram? Many outlets like Mashable, Social Media Examiner, and others have shared their best of the best apps to download. Some are free while others are paid. I’ve tested a lot out myself (I consider it research for my social media class) for both professional and personal reasons (I love photography!).

With this in mind, I had several friends, students, and colleagues ask me what were the best apps to have for Instagram. Here is my list:

  • InstaCollage: I tell my students that one photo is just one way to showcase visuals on Instagram, but what better way to do this by making a collage. There are a lot of apps out there, but I like the range that InstaCollage has to offer for pictures. When it comes to videos, that will lead me to my next must have app.
  • PicPlayPost: An awesome way to showcase videos and photos in collages. What better way to showcase a talk, guest speaker, or even experience by having both videos and photos present. I have used this in classes as well as travels and even events (ex. concerts). A must have app for sure!
  • Camera+: When you need to edit a picture, boost color, or even add some cool features to it – Camera+ is the app to have here!
  • Partykl: Best new app I have found. Love the fact you are able to create animations with photos with various layers and features to it. It was one that I found by accident when I was following another professional on Instagram.
  • Rhonna Designs: If you want to look for an app that has great fonts, inspirational quotes, and other items to add to your photos, this is the one you will want to download. I use this for my classes especially on Instagram to promote positivity, engage with motivational quotes, and expressions as well. Awesome designs and visuals here!
  • #Selfie360: If you are going to do any selfies, go big or go home! This new app allows you to redefine what exactly a selfie is supposed to be. Awesome and lots of possibilities here.
  • Cycloramic: An app that allows you to take panoramic photos AND videos? Pure awesomeness. I think there are a lot of possibilities here for sure to use this app both in and outside the classroom. This is one I am recommending for my students who are working on their social media plans to download and use here.

In summary, there are lots of apps out there to choose from when it comes to all social media platforms. Like Twitter, Instagram does have an entire market of associated apps to look at and use for variety of different features. These are just some of my recommendations and suggestions on which ones I think are the best. I would be interested in hearing what you all think about this and if there are others that you think are top notch as well.

We are a visual society, and if we as social media and public relations professionals and we have to be able to communicate our ideas, insights, and even personal brand visually as well as in written form. With Instagram and these apps, you are able to do this successfully.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

January 24, 2014

Potential opportunities & lessons from blogging for #Freberg14

Blogging has been one of the more consistent activities I have done from begin a graduate student at USC (I started this blog right after I completed my eligibility for track) to now as an Assistant Professor in StratComm at the University of Louisville.

One of the elements I have thoroughly enjoyed about blogging is the fact that it does allow you to share your point of view. I get a lot of inspiration from what I see both in and outside of the classroom, as well as in research and practice. I also found several bloggers who I think are exceptional in their writing and sharing stories and best practices to the community. Mark SchaeferShonali Burke, and Jason Falls are a few I follow and highly recommend for their engaging content and point of view.

My family blogs and are all very active as well on their blogs. Mom writes about neuroscience and psychology while Dad writes about cooking and hunting. Kristin has done a great job with her blog in creating a balance between personal and professional interests.

Why is blogging so important? It does seem wherever you look – students are required to blog and write on particular topics related to class. However, it is not only about writing about content that is relevant for the class, but also it helps establish your digital presence and voice online. Other benefits include the following in my opinion:

  • Huge networking opportunities: You never know who may read your blog and offer you consulting jobs, internships, or conference presentation opportunities. It is exciting to see how a post can showcase your insights and voice to help you establish your presence in the professional industry as well.
  • Platform to practice writing: I told my students in my classes where I do have a blog requirement for them on how I look back at my first posts in 2006 now and I am amazed with how much my writing has improved. In order to become a better writer, you have to practice, practice, and practice!
  • Serves as the hub of your online persona: You want to have social media be the extensions of your identity and who you are online, but your blog is where you want to have everyone go back to for more information, content, and updates from you. Share and cross promote your blog through multiple social media platforms to engage your readers and brainstorm ideas that can spark new contacts and conversations.

#Freberg13 meeting #Freberg14. Diana, Jessica, Amanda, and Rachel all talked about the importance of blogging to the class today.

With all of these benefits, I am asking my social media class (#Freberg14) this semester to maintain a personal blog to help establish their online reputation in the field of social media. I would like to highlight a few I think are good not only for the content they have already shared, but for being creative and having a unique point of view on social media.

Hunter has done a good job in producing good content that is insightful and well documented with good resources to spark further conversation on. If you want to find someone who know all about Tumblr, you need to follow and look at what Giselle writes about – along with fashion, swimming, and social media. I would also say that Maggie has done a good job not only having a distinctive voice, but she does display her point of view confidently on your blog as well. If you are interested in following sports, Zach , Mollyand Brittany are the students to look at for their blogs.

What is great is the fact we have so many #Freberg14 guest speakers as well who have blogs (personal as well as professional) and are engaging in writing great content to share their point of views to their respective audiences. Here are some I would like to share:

In summary, blogging is a lot of fun and can open so many opportunities! I will make sure to share relevant blog posts from the class and guest speakers as the semester goes on. If you want to see what the students are writing about, make sure to follow the #Freberg14 hashtag on Twitter.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,

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