Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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August 27, 2014

Upcoming presentation at the LDA & IABC 6th Annual Digital Media Summit

The fall semester is beginning and there are already several conferences and presentations set for the next few months for me. One of which is going to be held here in Louisville, which is the LDA & IABC’s Digital Media Summit.

I first went to the Digital Media Summit when I first got to Louisville and started teaching at the University of Louisville. There always was a great lineup of speakers from around the US as well as great social media professionals in the area. Some were from corporations and businesses, and some were from agencies. However, this year, instead of being an attendee, I will be one of the speakers at the event.

I am truly honored and excited about this opportunity. I will be focusing my presentation primarily on the crisis communications angle of social media. This area continues to grow in research and practice of course, but there needs to be a bridge to understand both sides of the coin. Plus, we have to understand how to effectively engage our audiences at the right time and right platform/place.

This year has a pretty great line up if I say so myself. :) I am very excited to be part of this opportunity and really appreciative to Jason Falls for inviting me to be part of this great event. This is perfect for all professionals, students, and educators in the area of digital and social media. Here’s the Eventbrite link to the event so you can order tickets online. Registration is open until October 10th! :)

We hope to see you at the event and have a great day!

Best Wishes,

August 24, 2014

Reflections on lessons learned from putting “social” back in social media

We are officially starting a new academic year tomorrow at the University of Louisville. It is going to be great to see all of the students coming into the class from a busy and productive summer. It’s amazing to know it has been several months since I was in the physical classroom setting.

However, I felt that this summer was super productive. Busy – yes. Traveling all over the place – I was one with the airport for sure. Yet, I definitely learned a key and important lesson for students and professors to note this summer. I learned how to put “social” back in social media.

What do I mean by this? We meet a variety of people in various circles from school, professional, and social contexts. We know some of these individuals already, but then there are others where we get to meet virtually. This summer, I was able to meet several professionals and friends for the first time in person.

Here are some of the most memorable meetings I had this summer and how I put social back in social media:

  • Melissa Agnes: Melissa and I had been corresponding for years! She came into my class virtually through Skype. We had a chance to meet up in person when I was in Montreal for the AEJMC Conference. We had a fabulous time! Melissa was an excellent host and it was wonderful to have her meet several of my friends who are professors as well.

  • Dr. William Ward: If you look at leaders in the field of social media education, you would see Bill at the top of the list. I’ve been a fan of Bill’s for years and he’s been very generous with sharing ideas, insights, and introducing professors to Hootsuite University. I had a chance to meet Bill in Montreal as well – what a great professional and person! Really enjoyed the coffee chat we had at AEJMC.
  • Rachel Miller: While I was in London, I had a chance to meet my friend and fellow social media professional Rachel for tea. What a great experience! Rachel and I along with my friend and research collaborator Sabrina were able to chat about research, teaching, and trends in PR. One of the best experiences I had this summer! Rachel is a leading thought leader and practitioner in the area of internal communications – make sure to check out her blog! Thanks again for a fabulous time in London, Rachel!
  • Kirsten Bailey: Kirsten, along with the entire team at Hootsuite, is fabulous. Kirsten was part of a panel session I was presenting at in Montreal as well, and she was engaging and energetic sharing her knowledge with everyone at the conference. We had a chance to meet and chat over coffee along with fellow professor and friend Carolyn Mae Kim. What a dynamic conversation – this proved to me how brands like Hootsuite are the real deal as well as being at the forefront of social media education and innovation for the profession.
  • Deirdre Breakenridge: Deirdre and I have not met face-to-face yet, but we are planning on doing so in the near future. However, we did meet virtually for the first time over Skype. I have always been a fan of Deirdre and her work, but after our conversation, all I have to say is WOW! She’s amazing and super fabulous! A leading force in both practice and education in PR.
  • Matt Kushin: Matt is an amazing social media professor I met virtually through Twitter. He’s done amazing work with his social media classes and shares these great insights on his website and blog. We got to meet finally in person at the AEJMC Conference in Montreal as well – we didn’t realize we were tweeting during the same presentation and got a chance to meet up afterwords. Matt’s definitely a leader in social media education along with being a great friend.

I also would like to say meeting both Steve Waddington and Robert French were also highlights for me as well this summer – two amazing professionals in the PR business as well!

The point I would like to make is this – like what Ted Rubin has said all along – it’s all about the relationships we create and make online. What we need to consider with all of our contacts online is to see what we can do to try to meet these individuals in person. This was a key lesson I learned throughout this process and I hope to continue this in the future.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

August 22, 2014

Power of Storytelling & Viral Fundrasing: Exploring the ALS #IceBucketChallenge Case

One of the campaigns we have all seen either online or on the news – from celebrities to our dear friends and family members – is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What is ALS? According to the ALS website, ALS (or otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts the spinal cord and the brain.

Before we go into the actions and power of the ice bucket challenge, we need to be aware of the background story of how this campaign came about – which is one of the reasons why this became so successful. It all began with Pete Frates, a successful baseball player from Boston College who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the age of 27. Here’s his  story and provides a deeper view into ALS as well as the start of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

YouTube Preview Image

It seems like everyone has done a video and been part of this viral movement, from celebrities to athletes and CEOs to people you know all in your network. It’s really become the face of viral fundraising - which is probably going to be a term you will hear a lot of PR and social media professionals talk about for the next few months.

However, from a PR and social media standpoint, this particular campaign has been a game changer not only for the huge increase of awareness and donations ALS has gotten since the beginning of this challenge, but it has also impacted brands like Facebook as well. From what we saw from this Mashable post, people were sharing these videos to Facebook, not necessarily Twitter. Why was this the case? Well, you can of course submit longer videos – but Facebook is where we have our social relationships – we are able to experience this with our colleagues, friends, and family.

There are several things we have to be aware of here from this campaign and as professors, we need to share this with our students:

  • The power of storytelling: Each person who participated was able to share not only why they were doing this, but if they were participating to donate to the cause based on a family member or friend they knew who has or had ALS.
  • Personal and simple messages: The message was clear, the actions for the behavior people had to take were direct and to the point, and it allowed a way for people to personally create and share a message with others. Not one video is the same – as well as the reaction to the experience.
  • Presence of strong word-of-mouth: Who are we influenced by? Friends, family, and others of course – this allows people to see of course celebrities and other participate – but this campaign allowed everyone to have the chance to be part of this cause. Hearing actions to take from a friend or someone you have a relationship with – personal and/or professional – can be an important area of source credibility to explore here for this campaign.
  • Sharing the experience with others: Everyone had the chance to share their experience in the ice bucket challenge, put forth their own spin on the message while emphasizing the need to donate to ALS, and to invite people to be part of the experience as well.

What has the result been for the ALS Ice Bucket Fundraising Challenge? To this day, they have raised over $53 million dollars. WOW! This is pretty impressive and definitely shows the power of social media, personalized experiences, and activism online to generate this huge success for the ALS organization. For those of you who have donated to this cause, thank you so much. We need to continue raising the awareness of this and sustain these efforts. If you haven’t donated yet, here’s the link to do so.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

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,




August 15, 2014

Sharing insights on social media research and teaching from a PR professor’s perspective

If I had to describe how this past week has been, it’s been busy! However, it has been very rewarding and exciting especially in the area of social media education. I had a chance this week to talk to two great professionals this week about my thoughts and research in the area, which resulted in a podcast feature with Kevin Anselmo and a blog article on Hootsuite.

I had a chance to speak with Kevin Anselmo on his podcast a few weeks ago, but the episode came out yesterday and we had a lot to chat about! I first met Kevin virtually a few months ago when he wrote a blog post about how I was using Instagram for my social media classes at the University of Louisville. We had a lot to talk about when it comes higher education and social media in the classroom and in research.

Kevin and I talked also about a study I did a few years ago on social media influencers that really sparked a lot of discussion not only for professors, but practitioners as well. Make sure to check out Kevin’s blog and podcast if you are teaching or working in higher education and are interested in social media. It’s a great resource and Kevin is a wonderful host! I had a marvelous time being part of the show – thanks again Kevin for the invitation!

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have been a huge fan of Hootsuite for years. I have been actively engaged using the program as well as implementing Hootsuite University into my classes at the University of Louisville. Not only is the program and product great, but the team of professionals who work behind the scenes are amazing as well. They are all professional, energetic, and extremely helpful for educators and students to be engaged with on social media. I was asked a few weeks ago as well about what students can do better in terms of becoming more effective digital professionals.

This appears to be a topic of conversation a lot of professors are having right now, and I was really excited to share my thoughts with Olsy on the subject in this post. I think the overall strategy professors need to consider here when engaging in social media effective practices is to make sure to lead by example – be engaged on social media, be effectively connecting with fellow professionals, and share examples and tips students can immediately apply into their own work and online presence.

It was a fun post to be a part of for Hootsuite. I would like to thank Kimberly, Olsy, Shawn, Kirsten, Paula, Taylor, Carrie, Michael, Rob, Jordan, Bill Ward and Allie for all of your help and support these past few years. It’s been truly an amazing experience and I was very honored to be part of this blog post. Keep up the amazing work!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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