Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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November 22, 2014

Embracing opportunities and gaining inspiration at NCA 2014

I have been in Chicago these past few days for a communications conference – this has been one I have attended a few times over the years. The first one I did was back in 2010 when I was still a doctoral student.

However, the other times I have attended this conference I had presented research, but that was not the case this time. I did not present research at NCA this year. However, I had the opportunity to be a respondent for the social media and PR panel on Thursday in Chicago. The research that was presented in this section cut across all aspects of PR – from restaurants to NGOs to emergency management to stakeholder engagement measurement.


The level of research that is being conducted now in the field is both relevant and inspiring. It was great to be able to read these papers and respond with some initial comments to the audience. It was a full house!

The social media presence was felt as well at the conference. The PRD for NCA was active on Twitter sharing updates, insights, and comments from the presentations. Sarah VanSlette was in charge of the engagement we saw at the conference and did a tremendous job! As someone who has live tweeted, managed multiple accounts, and covered various panel sessions on social media for conferences like AEJMC, I know the amount of energy it takes to do this and Sarah has done this extremely well. The NCA PRD is super fortunate to have an engaging, hard working, and innovative professor and professional managing social media for the PRD. Well done, Sarah!

Another great thing about conferences is you get a chance to see fellow professors, mentors, and friends at the conference as well. It was great not only catching up on what everyone was doing – but checking in to see how they were doing outside of work. Some of these professors I have known for almost ten years, and then there are others I got to finally meet in person after years of corresponding on social media.

It was also fun to see graduate students who are now professors and being referred to as “Dr. So and So.” This last part made me realize it has been three years (going on four) since I was in their position. Time has certainly flown by when you’ve been busy!

Overall, even though it has been a short trip to Chicago for me, it was well worth it. I feel energized, excited, and inspired by the conversations and research I have heard these past few days. I also feel the field is in good hands with the graduate students who are entering the workplace and the professors who are mentoring them.

If you are interested in finding out more about the NCA PR Division, make sure to follow them on Twitter at @PRprofs and save the date for the conference next year in Las Vegas.

Safe travels everyone from Chicago and I wish you all a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Best Wishes,

November 11, 2014

Lessons learned after a successful #PRProfChat for AEJMC PRD

One of the things we have done as part of the AEJMC PRD social media committee is to initiate a Twitter chat series within the division. We have done two previous chats on different topics this past year, and both were very successful.

We initiated one for the fall semester last night and it focused on wearable technologies and new media. We had Rick Murray and Dana Coester come and join us virtually on the Twitter chat session.

We had probably the most engaged chat session yet! We had more users come on board and participate and we also extended the conversation to include not only professors and students, but also practitioners in the field as well, which was very cool to see.

However, to create an effective and dynamic Twitter chat session, you have to have a team in place for this to happen. Luckily, I am working with the best social media team out there – Dave, Geah, Melissa, Diana, Kelly, Carolyn, Nicole, and Patrick all have helped out tremendously this year with the PRD social media efforts. Geah was the one who organized and hosted the chat session last night and she truly did an amazing job.

There were a few lessons I was able to take away from participating in this chat last night and apply for future Twitter chat sessions. Here are some of the best practices I’ve learned from this experience:

  • A Twitter chat session is a team effort: It’s really hard to pull off a chat session by yourself – so you want to make sure to have several people on board. More hands on various keyboards and mobile devices create light work. :)
  • Have different roles on the Twitter chat session: What worked for us is the fact we were able to have multiple roles going on. Geah was the host, and Dave and I were actively engaged in communicating and commenting about the various topics on hand with the professionals and guests for the chat.
  • Promote, promote, and promote: Before the chat even has happened – you want to have a content management plan ahead of time for how you are going to promote the event. We used infographics that were shared on all of our social media sites as well as sending out a notice to the PRD listserv to cover our bases.
  • Create visual quotes from Twitter answers by the guests: This was new for me – but I think this was a neat discovery in the process. I had my laptop, iPad, and phone going during the Twitter chat session, and I realized both Dana and Rick were saying some great things that I thought were key to save and share with others in the chat session. However, do you favorite the tweet, or create a visual to illustrate this answer? I went with the second answer by creating visuals for each professional by using the app Word Swag – which can be shared, downloaded, and used in future presentations in classes and other places. I think for future chats – whether it is for the PRD or at conferences – you need to have at least one person who will be in charge of creating visual quotes from the speakers to share on social media for everyone.

In summary, the Twitter chat session for the AEJMC PRD this semester went off very well. Thank you to all of the PR professors, students, and practitioners who participated in the chat session.

Also, special thanks to Rick Murray and Dana Coester again for taking the time to chat with all of us last night. We really appreciated your time and having the opportunity to chat with you about emerging trends and media.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

November 8, 2014

A must have social media book for #prprofs: Trendology by Chris Kerns

I am always looking for new books, articles, and resources to bring into my social media classes. I have used a range of different books for class, and I have found one that is not only going to be included in my class for the spring, but it should be on the list for all professors teaching social media classes. The book is called “Trendology” by Chris Kerns.

I have to be honest, there have only been a handful of books where I went and sat down and read it all in one sitting. The first one was Michael Brito’s book [another great social media strategy book I am using for my social media class again next year] and this one. What I really like about this book by Chris is the bridge he is able to connect between data analytics to strategic applications – some books have done this, but not as effectively. It was very refreshing to review this book and I realized very quickly that this is a must have book for professors teaching social media classes.

There are so many different elements of Chris’s book that are not only relevant for professors and practitioners to consider, but for students as well. There are a lot of relevant RTM case studies in Trendology, so that is very helpful for professors to talk about these in class but also showcase how students can take these lessons from examples of B2C RTM [Business-to-Consumer Real Time Marketing] and B2B RTM [Brand-to-Brand Real Time Marketing].

  • Accepting rather than setting the narrative. This is one point Chris highlights in his book which is very good to focus on and address. This point does provide us with a way of looking at RTM in a different light rather than just a current trend we are seeing. Instead, it’s about the strategic mindset we have to be aware of here. I am really glad Chris has pointed this out for all of us.
  • Having great visuals and case studies: I LOVE the amount of case studies, current examples, and frameworks Chris has in this book. The visual illustrating the RTM framework is concise and to the point – but it also can serve as a guide for others when implementing their social media strategies. We all know about Oreo of course, but Chris talks about DiGornio’s, Tide, Charmin, KitKat, and many other cases which is very refreshing to see and be able to talk about with the students. Plus, having the list of brands Spreadfast has followed on RTM specifically on Twitter = fabulous!
  • Best explanation of measurements on Twitter: This was a big factor for me here – and Chris nailed it and really created some great definitions that are concise and very clear. This is PERFECT to have for a reading for the students in a social media class. Chapter 2 is essential to look at – one of the best overall presentations of this platform from a strategic/measurement perspective I’ve read.
  • Breaking down to the metrics effectively: Chris does an excellent job in walking the reader through the strategic analysis process of looking at the data – what are some trends we are seeing, how do we calculate and evaluate the results, and how do we apply this. Really excellent to see this presented in this book. Chapter 3 focuses on the application of RTM for known events while also highlighting the importance of data analysis and implementation to help guide these strategies.
  • Having a blueprint for a dynamic social media team for RTM: Chris has this down for Chapter 5 and continues on this path for Chapters 6 & 7, so if you have a social media class that is focusing on a group project or proposal for a client, this would be good to note and have your class read. Very good strategies and ideas here. These three chapters will help guide students into the strategic mindset process – figuring out what they need to do in terms of the planning stages for their social media efforts so they are able to capture and execute creative messages that are effective on social media.

Overall, I was very pleased and impressed with this book by Chris Kerns. Trendology is not only a book for fellow practitioners, but it is a necessary book to include as part of the required readings for social media classes, especially those who are working with clients and have students propose a campaign proposal.

I am very excited to have Chris speak to my class virtually in the spring for #Freberg15, and I am sure my students will really enjoy reading Trendology for class. Make sure to follow Chris on Twitter as well as use the hashtag for the book as well #Trendology on Twitter.

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,




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,

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