Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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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,

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,

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,

September 25, 2014

Collaborative efforts promoting paper to practice for social media and crisis research

Over the last few months, Kristin and I have been working with the great teams at both Firestorm Solutions and Hootsuite to integrate some of the research we have been doing using both situational qsort methodology as well as value modeling. As part of this project, Kristin and I have been able to talk about how this research and insights pertaining to crisis message strategy can be included and used in social media.

There will be a series of blog posts that will be featured on Hootsuite, and the first one was one I wrote focusing on providing an overview of what we have done and what are some of the benefits to these two methodologies. This has been a great and fun collaboration to work with both of these great teams for these amazing organizations.

Kristin and I firmly believe in the concept of paper to practice – where we are taking what we have done in our research and studies and be able to apply it to various situations for businesses, organizations, and agencies. We find also working across disciplines to explore different perspectives and apply new methodologies into specialized industries and fields comes extending the current foundation of scholarly work and applied principles.

How can professors translate their research to practice? There are many ways that this can be accomplished for both professors as well as graduate students:

  • Be willing to share your perspectives online: Writing blog posts about your research opens the door to others looking at what you have done and start the conversation and brainstorming process. You will be getting a different perspective of your work compared to a conference scene.
  • Go to conferences where there are both researchers AND practitioners: I love academic conferences, but I really love ones where you are able to get both sides of the coin for the field. Submit your work to conferences like this (highly recommend the annual Reputation Institute Conference as well as the ICRC Crisis Communications Conference). It was at the ICRC Conference where this idea of this collaborative research effort came about!
  • Network, chat, and discuss your research outside of academia: There are a lot of what I call “Academese” out there. Yes, it is important to know the major components of this theory or the statistical power and value of this measure. However, are you able to communicate these concepts in a way that can be applied and a stepping point for a creative discussion? Practicing this by writing in a different voice may be helpful.

We find with this collaboration with Hootsuite and Firestorm Solutions is a wonderful professional opportunity and I am very excited to be part of this project!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

September 23, 2014

The Rise of Viral 2.0 for Social Media Strategy Practices

If you have not read Jonah Berger’s book titled “Contagious,” you may want to do so and even include this as part of your recommended reading list for your classes (and your own social media and PR library). Here is a talk where Berger gave last year on this very topic which was featured on Talks at Google, and it really does focus on why we are sharing what we are sharing – and the overall power of word of mouth communications today.

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What I do appreciate is the fact that virality – in some cases people have referred to as being luck or entertainment purposes for brands and users – is a science. Berger does highlight the six steps in which a story, brand, or individual can become viral in nature, which includes STEPPS (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, Stories). There are a lot of great viral case studies here to check out – great for PR professors to showcase and talk about in their classes. There are also a lot of resources here to engage with your students with this concept in your classes on Berger’s website.

It really does depend on who you talk to when it comes to having content go “viral.” There are those that are all in favor of incorporating this as part of your strategy for social media, PR, and even marketing events and campaigns. However, there are those that say there is a time and place for viral trends, and it is better to evaluate and look at all of the factors before jumping on board.

While I think these individuals may be focusing on the first version of what we consider to be viral, I think what makes it a powerful concept is when it is taken to the next level. I think the new term we may see a lot as we finish up 2014 into 2015 is Viral 2.0, another term coined by Berger in this post. This concept makes sense because we have seen this of course with the evolution of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and of course Web 3.0. Some of the same principles apply here and the focus is about creating valuable experiences that can be shared and integrated as part of the overall strategy for a brand.

Overall, there is a lot of ways professors can incorporate these ideas and principles for classes. Pushing the envelope when it comes to viral content and ideas and determine how this could be accomplished both through creative ideas, practical tools, and research. It may take time – you may not have an overnight sensation for your brand or client you are representing, but it may be enhanced. However, with the cases we have seen for intentional newsjacking to generate buzz or do something to spark outrage online, we have to be careful and look at both the benefits, challenges, and risks/ethical considerations when exploring this niche area in the emerging field of integrated communication marketing practice and research.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


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