Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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October 27, 2014

Establishing personal branded hashtags is essential for #prprofs

Hashtags have been around for years – we see them all over the place when it comes to campaigns, events, newsworthy events, and even there is a hashtag video that features an entire conversation with hashtags. Here’s the classic skit from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

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I think there are many benefits for professors to establish their own hashtags not only for their classes to extend the conversation and dialogue with students, but also for their own personal brand.

  • Content or branding hashtags: If you are having a speaker come into your class that focuses on a particular product, event, or concept, this may be something to consider here as well. Or, this also an opportunity to share relevant content that you feel others in the field or even in academia may be interested in. For example, if you are sharing a video interview for media training in crisis communications, you may want to share this with #mediatraining and #crisispr.
  • Promoting an idea or concept within the field: Professors can communicate this the same way practitioners do. Ted Rubin has created his concept with return on relationships with #RonR, so why can’t we integrate an idea like this? I have been experimenting around with the concept #smprof [Social Media Professor] to share insights, perspectives, and ideas for how to integrate a sustainable, engaging, and memorable culture within the classroom with social media.
  • Inviting people to be part of your classroom: This is the most traditional form we are seeing when it comes to social media engagement for professors online. Professors create or designate a hashtag for their class to follow on Twitter, FB, and/or Instagram. Some have their  class name and others use their last name and the year. Lots of great things can be done with this class hashtag. Branded visual content, blog posts, shared articles, live tweeting events and guest speakers, hosting a Q&A or virtual office hour for students, and even updates announcements for class to name a few.
  • Engaging in Q&A with the professor: How cool would it be to answer questions from others who may be interested in hearing what you have to say about a range of different topics. Again, we can look at practitioners to lead the way in this area like Gary Vaynerchuck with his show #AskGaryV or Brian Kramer with #H2H (Human to Human). This could extend the conversation from social to potentially video and then back to your blog for a round-up from the questions. In other words, it’s an opportunity to be integrated with your social media channels together in managing the dialogue and your personal brand presence.
  • Showcasing your personality: Yes, hashtags can showcase your personality in many ways. I’ve noticed this personally when it comes to my enthusiasm and love for coffee. Whenever I post something about coffee, I use the hashtag #ThisProfRunsOnCoffee – which is true in many ways, but again shows a little bit of my personality and interests in a single hashtag. You can also use this to showcase emotion and enthusiasm for others. For my students, I use #ProudProf a lot because I am proud of the hard work, dedication, and excellent job they do in and outside of the classroom.

Overall, I think there are a lot of opportunities for professors not to only create branded hashtags for their classes, conferences, and universities, but also for themselves. I think if you were able to create 1) to communicate directly with others about your research, 2) create one to embody your personality/hobby/interests and 3) conduct a virtual Q&A where you can engage your online community and see what they would be interested in learning about are just a few starting steps to consider taking.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to branded hashtags – that’s the beauty about social media. The first step is to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t – and learn and grow from the experience.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

October 24, 2014

Lessons from assigning a mock crisis simulation for #FrebergGrads

One of the things I have tried to do in each of my classes has been to integrate both practice and theory together. This was one of my goals for my graduate crisis communications class this semester at UofL [or otherwise known as #FrebergGrads on Twitter].

I have eight master’s students in class this semester here at UofL and it’s been a lot of fun. Their main project is going to be a research case study where it ties in with the theories and practice in crisis communications. However, I wanted to make sure to give them an applied exercise as well for their midterm, which led me to create a crisis simulation exercise.

I did not use a computer simulation program [there are a lot of them out there to incorporate into your classes] – so I did the traditional mock simulation exercise that I have done in the past. However, I put my own twists to it to make it more personalized for the students.

This was going to take place during class time and I did let the students bring forth materials they feel they would need to be prepared. I also made sure to bring forth key snacks for them [and coffee] so they feel as comfortable as possible to do their best work.

The crisis simulation was broken down into three compartments: the first step was individual – the crisis planning stage. I asked the students to work on this individually (they brought their laptops to class) and were able to upload this to Safe Assign on Blackboard.

A few minutes later, I disclosed that there was a development in the situation and I broke the class into two groups – one was representing the university in question and the other served as the group of bloggers and journalists/social media representatives of the media. They had 30 minutes to brainstorm ideas for how to handle the mock press meeting (not necessarily a press conference, more of an exclusive media meeting), and the third step was the actual role playing for this mock crisis situation.

I was able to debrief the students after this exercise, and there were several things that came up that makes this a valuable exercise not only for crisis communications students, but practitioners as well:

  • Getting hands on application of handling a crisis: Most of the students had not done a simulation before, so they were not sure what to expect. However, everyone afterwords felt more confident on what to expect as well as how they personally reacted to the situation.
  • Timing was very apparent as the main challenge in the crisis: I set forth these tough time limits to show the students 1) how they work under pressure and 2) how preparation is absolutely essential so you don’t have to reinvent all of these ideas, documents, templates, and message strategies at the moment. Being proactive is better than being reactive.
  • Allowing the students to apply what they have learned creatively: I was very impressed with how the students were able to apply what they learned in class and integrate this into their responses and strategies. There were additional factors they brought forth that I did not provide to them , but these were important to note.
  • Evaluating team members and others who were involved in the process: I asked both teams to evaluate how they feel they did individually as well as their own team, but I also asked them to grade the other representative team. It was great to see how each group had their strong moments, and there were a few points where the other team brought forth a suggestion on what they can work on for next time. Peer collaborative team work and feedback is another evaluation method to consider for this particular exercise to get a comprehensive view of the results of this exercise.

In summary, would I do this assignment again? Absolutely! Lots of great lessons learned and it was an opportunity to see the students work on a project individually as well as in a group.

Plus, what struck me as a winning moment as a professor was to see the students have an “Ah Ha!” moment after the simulation and were able to see the connection of what we were covering in class and how it is applied. These are the moments that make what I do as a professor so rewarding.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

October 13, 2014

Presenting at EAPRSA about Google Glass in the PR Curriculum

I had the opportunity to be part of a great Google Glass teaching panel this weekend in Washington D.C. with some amazing professors and practitioners in the PR field. Special thanks to Amber Hutchins for organizing and getting all of us today for this great panel! It was great to brainstorm ideas also along with Melissa Dodd (University of Central Florida) and Katie Paine (Paine Publishing).

Katie Paine, Melissa Dodd, Amber Hutchins, and I at our Google Glass PR panel at EAPRSA.

We didn’t really have a PowerPoint for the presentation, but I did create this one in advance with some stories and talking points I wanted to share about my experience with Google Glass over the last year. Melissa Dood also created a great list of ideas and resources on Google Glass here for everyone to look at and save. It was great to hear from everyone not only their stories, but also hear from the audience as well on what they think are some of the main assignments and ways it can be integrated into the classroom.

Google Glass has been a great and innovative tool to include as part of the classroom, especially in my social media class. I feel that it does open the door for wearable and mobile technologies and integrating them as part of a strategic storytelling function. Plus, we are also able to see the POV of the individual in slightly a new way, where we are able to see what they are viewing and be part of this shared experience.

In addition, the number of apps and functions (ex. directions, apps, creating videos/visuals, getting notifications, etc) are very cool to share with the students. I do think however, there are many opportunities to conduct brainstorming sessions with students and see not only what they think, but also what they can do with this form of technology that could help them with their future careers. Getting experience in coding and creating apps for Glass are just a few ideas to consider.

With this panel, there were a lot of ideas and points shared with fellow PR professors, and I do think this is just the beginning of a future discussion and collaborative effort in the PR academic community when it comes to wearable technologies. It was cool during the conference to see Google Glass also engage with all of us on Twitter!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

October 6, 2014

Engaging Visuals & Stories from Educators: 5 must follow PR professors on Instagram

We have seen some great things being used and created by using Instagram – from brands to even teachers in the classroom. As a professor, I have used the platform myself to engage not only what it is like traveling, presenting research, or my personal life, but I do try to use it to engage my students and fellow colleagues in the classroom.

What I think is important as we celebrate Instagram’s fourth birthday is to look at not only how brands have used the platform over the years, but see how fellow professors have done this in their classes. There are several professors who are friends of mine who really have stepped it up with their Instagram profile to engage who they are as a professor as well as a person. I’d like to give shout outs to the following professors who have really used this platform very well in their classes and overall presence:

  • Amber Hutchins (IG: @profhutchins): Amber does a great job in capturing her classes with great guest speakers who come to her social media classes at Kennesaw State University. However, Amber does a great job also in showcasing her wonderful personality and interests as well – which is a reflection of a strong online and offline personal brand.
  • Nick Bowman (IG: BowmanSpartan): Nick’s awesome and very engaged on social media – but he does a great job in showcasing his personality as well as his story on a regular basis with his pictures on Instagram. While Nick has a few pictures on Instagram, you already get a glimpse to the type of professor he is based on his personality and hard work ethic.
  • CarolynMaeKim (IG: @carolynmaekim): Many times, you see professors who are not willing to share a bit of themselves on social media, but Carolyn has done a great job in showcasing her interests in cooking and coffee (of course!) on Instagram. Instagram allows you to do this and along with her interests in PR and social media, Carolyn is able to visually showcase another part of her personal brand successfully through visuals on Instagram.
  • Laura Spica (@lauraspica): A professor at the University of Tennessee and teaching a social media class this semester, Laura has showcased the culture, student assignments, and overall story behind #UTADV490 through Instagram. From pictures of her students participating in class assignments outside of lass to her personal life as a successful social media professional, Laura has done an excellent job in bridging both her professor/personal/professional brand together through a visual story.
  • Gee Ekachai: (IG: @geeber): If you have not followed Gee, a professor from Marquette University, with her Instagram blog on Tunblr, you need to. If you want to see the latest and greatest third party apps to use for photography, Gee is the person and professor you need to follow. Gee does a great job in showcasing the various apps and features you can do with Instagram and photography. I’ve learned a lot from following Gee when it comes to Instagram and creating great visuals to tell my story as a professor. Thanks Gee!

In summary, all though Instagram has been around for four years, there are still a lot of great opportunities and creative ways Instagram can be used both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom especially when it comes to Instagram. Are there other professors you feel are good examples to showcase as leaders in the area of using Instagram for the classroom?

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

September 30, 2014

Mentoring future professionals in the age of social media

We hear a lot of times that research and teaching are two important duties for professors today. However, I think there is a third item that needs to be added here for all of us to consider. Mentorship is one of the key duties and responsibilities professors have today with their students. Whether they are undergraduate students or graduate students, we need to make sure to provide a good foundation to what is to be expected of them out in the workplace. However, we also have to make sure to provide them with opportunities to showcase their insights, skills, and knowledge in new opportunities.

One of the things I have tried to do while at the University of Louisville is to share what I do when I am not in the classroom. I have had students in the past who think all I do is come to class, give them a lecture on a topic associated with class, and then leave. However, I do outline my daily calendar of all of the other activities I am a part of (ex. research, dissertation meetings, consulting projects, etc). I also make sure to talk about what the benefits are for working on research projects and what that involves.

I am currently teaching a graduate crisis communications class this semester, and I gave my students the opportunity to potentially submit their research case study (their final project for the class) to two conferences. One was going to be in Orlando, and another was to be held in Greece. One of my students, Samantha, expressed an interest in pursuing this. I provided her with some recommendations on what case study to work on and then she came up with the abstract to submit. And, she received some wonderful news yesterday – her paper got accepted to present at the conference.

I think this is not only impressive, but really exceptional because you may see this from a PhD student, but it is not that common to have a Master’s student initiate a research case study to present at an international conference. When Samantha shared this exciting news to her, I let her know she is doing something not many students have done before. In fact, I was in between my first and second year in my PhD program when I presented at my first international research conference.

There are several lessons I have learned here when it comes to mentoring that I hope professors take into consideration as they advice their undergraduate and graduate students:

  • Determine what makes this student unique: This is something to think about for each student. What’s their story in getting into this major? What areas are they passionate about?  What is going to be their unique contribution to the field? What makes them different from other graduate or undergraduate students? What are their skills?
  • Ask the students where they see themselves after graduation: Along with the assessment of their skills, you want to ask the student where they see themselves after graduation. This will give you an idea of where they see themselves and if they are currently in the mindset for understanding what it will take to make it there.
  • Be generous with what you’ve learned in the process: Sharing your own experience in the field is key – whether it is professionally or in research. I’ve tried to share what I have learned over the years with fellow colleagues, students, and even doctoral students. My feeling is – what would I have wanted to know at their stage? Also, walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Show your students what you have been able to do thanks to social media. Whether it is through Twitter or even writing on LinkedIn or your own personal blog, you are able to provide a real life perspective on the topic for your students to witness.
  • Evaluate their willingness to invest and work ethic to achieve their goals: You want to have a “come to reality” chat with each of your students on this topic. In today’s society, we are all expected to work harder and more efficiently than ever before. However, if we take the time to invest in our professional future, it will pay off substantially. This is what I have done for both graduate and undergraduate students over the years – look at how much they are willing to work towards achieving their goals and what they want to do.
  • Be their coach and cheer them on. One of the best lessons I got in this was from my Dad. Dad was my coach in track, and he always said that you want to be there as a coach to support, encourage, and push the athlete to perform and be the best they can be. However, coaches are not there on the award stand getting the medal around their neck. I think this is the approach professors should take. We want to be there to help our students succeed and when they do, it’s their time in the spotlight and we will be there as their biggest cheerleaders. When they get exciting news like Samantha has done, share it! It’s not every day you get to see your students excited and motivated to take on these various tasks and challenges and succeed in them!

In summary, I am very proud of all of the students I have mentored and taught over the years. Each one has had their own unique qualities and dreams after graduation, and it has been an honor to be part of this experience. Having the opportunity to be able to make an impact and help guide future professionals in our field is one of the best things about being a professor.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

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