Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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July 21, 2014

The benefits of taking a digital break from a social media professor

There are times where even the social media and PR professional (or in this case professor) needs to take a “digital break” from things. I had a chance this week to visit my fabulous sister Kristin and my brother-in-law Scott in Hawaii. Kristin and Scott have been out in Hawaii for a year now and having some time before fall classes start up again made it the perfect opportunity for a visit. :)

Did I completely cut off all digital ties while I was in Hawaii? No – but I did limit the time I did spend online to thoroughly enjoy my time with family, play tourist in Hawaii, and explore new activities and events I had not done before.

However, there were a few things I noticed when I was technically on vacation and visiting family out in Hawaii that inspired me to write this particular blog post about the pros and cons of taking a digital break as a social media and PR professional. Here were a few observations I had:

  • People do ask if everything is okay when they don’t see you online as much: I noticed this right away when I had a few people tell me that I was posting a lot of personal updates (especially on Twitter) instead of my traditional blog posts and news articles. I had to tell them I was taking a break and on vacation. I was still sharing items, but not as much as I usually do.
  • Even if you are taking a digital break, you really are not: While I am still playing tourist and on vacation technically, I am still working. There are conference calls, consulting projects, research papers, and preparing for conferences I am still working on. It’s really all about doing a little bit of this each day and it will eventually get done.
  • There are many ways to still reach you even if you are taking a digital break: We are in an age where we are connected EVERYWHERE. Not just social media. Even taking a mini break from digital – you still get the text messages, phone calls, and other forms of email directed to you on your break. It’s all fine and good – but it does make you realize how connected and accessible you are to things.
  • Your reputation as a hard worker still proceeds you, even on your digital media break and vacation: I think I may be in the minority on this one, but I am a professor that never has set an “out-of-office” message to their emails when they are on break. I feel like I am always on call – which today is pretty much normal. However, if you are known as a hard worker, you will always be on call. I don’t mind this because I know I can get to the correspondence when I can.
  • Digital breaks are essential: This was the first trip in a LONG time where I did not have a slide deck to prep or a business suit to pack. Digital breaks and vacations are necessary in order to feel refreshed for the next opportunities and events scheduled.  It gives you the time to brainstorm more ideas, be inspired outside of the computer room or viewing your smartphone, and allows you to appreciate all aspects of life and what it can offer you personally. I recommend doing this definitely once in a while.

Overall, I have had an amazing break and time with my family out here in Hawaii. It’s been relaxing and I have had a chance to not only participate and do some things for the first time (like paddle boarding or going to a Hawaiian Luau), but it has served as a nice digital media break for me. Thanks again to Kristin and Scott for being amazing hosts!!!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

July 9, 2014

Putting “social” back in social media: Getting to meet social media pro Rachel Miller in London

One of the things I have wanted to do over the last few years is to meet people and fellow professionals I have met virtually in real life. I had this chance this week when I was in London and met up for with Rachel Miller.

If you have not followed Rachel on Twitter or read her excellent blog on internal communications and social media, you should! Rachel and I first connected on Twitter a few years ago and have had several great conversations online about PR and social media.

When I was planning my trip to Slovenia, I wanted to have a stopover in London (I’ve had layovers in London, but never had a chance to explore the city), so along with making plans to tour the city, I reached out to Rachel and said – hey! I am going to be in your city – want to meet up for tea? It’s all about putting the “social” back in social media.

We met at an amazing and super fabulous place in London for traditional tea and scones. Fortnum and Mason was truly an amazing place to experience – they had several levels in their building where you could shop for exclusive tea products and other amazing gifts for family and friends, as well as fashion (we did see some similar hats you would see in the Kentucky Derby as well). If you are in London, this is the place to go! Their tea service and scones are just lovely!

Meeting Rachel in person was absolutely amazing! She was exactly how she was online – which is a sign of an excellent professional. She was engaging and full of great insights and ideas on where the field was going, but we also had a chance to talk about shopping and fashion as well. Overall, it was a remarkable experience and I really do think this was one of the many highlights I’ve experienced here in London!

Thanks again Rachel for taking the time to meet with me and my best friend and research colleague Sabrina for tea. We had a marvelous time and can’t wait to continue our conversations virtually! :)

Hope you all are having a lovely day.

Best Wishes,
Karen

July 8, 2014

Appearing on Agnes+Day Crisis Intelligence Podcast: Teaching Crisis Communications

I had the chance to speak with Melissa Agnes (a fabulous and amazing crisis and social media professional). Melissa has spoken to my classes several times and is overall an amazing and wonderful person. I was very honored to be a guest of hers on her new podcast talking about teaching crisis communications and higher education.

During the podcast, Melissa and I talked a lot about higher education and how to approach teaching a dynamic field of crisis communications. I am going to be teaching my first graduate level class in crisis communications at the University of Louisville, and it was fun to give Melissa an exclusive on what I am going to be doing for the class in the fall for her podcast.

I really emphasized the importance of connecting with fellow colleagues in the field and providing real-life experiences for students with current resources, readings, and reports in the field. It was also good to chat with a leading expert in the field like Melissa about what were some of the challenges as well as obstacles facing students (and professors) who are interested in the field to address in the classroom. One of the areas I felt very passionate about was the area about approaching crisis communication from a hybrid approach (research and practice) in my class. I have always felt like I was not completely in one category, but a mixture of both. It was really fun to talk to Melissa about this as well during our podcast.

Overall, I was thrilled and so excited to be talking with Melissa for her podcast. She is an amazing host and what a true natural in engaging in dialogue and stimulating great points about crisis communications. This was super fun and we also had time to of course talk about coffee and emphasize our fondness for our favorite word: fabulous!

Special thanks to Melissa for inviting me to be part of your new podcast! Keep up the amazing work!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

July 5, 2014

Creating an engaging community for practice and research: Reflections on experience at BledCom and Slovenia

The last couple of days have been a whirlwind in terms of getting engaged in not only PR research, but also traveling. I have been in Slovenia for the last few days to attend and present at the BledCom Conference.

Bled is probably one of the most beautiful places I have seen where you not only are you appreciative of the landscape, but you want to be out there all day! We did play a little bit before the BledCom conference and checked out the landscape and hiked around. It was quite a workout, but the views were worth it! We also had a chance to experience the local cuisine and discovered Bled’s famous cream cake. It is a must try – absolutely fabulous!

So, what were some of the major takeaways from the BledCom Conference? There were several presentations I felt were good, but one that really stuck out to me as not only being right on target, but inspiring, came from Stephen Waddington.

Stephen is the Director of  Digital and Social Media in the UK, and his keynote address focused on the bridge between practice and academia. Hearing Stephen share his insights on where both fields need to go to become more of a collaborative community was exactly what we (professors) needed to hear. I felt he did an excellent job in not only talking about what the practitioners needs to do, but what we as professors can do to help and be part of this cause.

Creating a collaborative community, publishing content to be shared and discussed across both areas of PR, applied research, mutual understanding and appreciation, and networking at conferences where both professionals and researchers are at. To hear this being discussed at this conference was music to my ears. Make sure to bookmark, share, and read Stephen’s great post on his keynote and follow him on Twitter – he’s definitely a great professional to follow, listen, and network with. It was a true honor to be able to talk with Stephen and discuss some of these topics and brainstorm ideas for where the field (for both practitioners and researchers) can go with this in the future.

I’ve been a strong believer of this and do consider most of my research to be applied. Yes, there is of course a core theoretical foundation to the work I do in PR, crisis, and social media – but I try to consider how these results, implications, and best practices could be applied for an agency, client, or individual working in the field.

Overall, in many ways, this conference reminded me a lot of the IPRRC Conference held in Miami, which I have been to just a couple of times. I think we had a good experience in having the opportunity to network with fellow collaborators and professionals with the same mindset on applied research for PR and social media like Stephen has.

Plus, Slovenia is a beautiful country and we enjoyed taking the time to share our work, brainstorm ideas for future collaborations, and have the chance to experience the local cuisine and atmosphere of a wonderful city.

Again, it was great to meet some great professionals at the conference and have their support in our session. It was also good to see fellow PR professors and friends Melissa Dodd (University of Central Florida) and Tim Coombs (University of Central Florida) and Flora Hung-Baesecke (Hong Kong Baptist University) at the conference as well. Thank you for taking the time  and support to come to our presentation and taking such great pictures! Really appreciate it.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,
Karen

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,
Karen

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