Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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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

June 20, 2014

A powerful content publishing platform: Why LinkedIn needs to be incorporated into a professor’s social media presence

LinkedIn is not only a platform where you can create business networking, produce an evolving online resume and portfolio, and keep up with leading trends and topics among key organizations and businesses you are interested in. It’s also a key platform for content creation and dissemination of knowledge through their new long post format.

Why do I say this now? Well, there are a lot of reasons why I think now, more than I did a few days ago when I wrote my post on using LinkedIn as a content publishing platform, for why professors and students should use it in addition to their blog.

Since I started writing posts on LinkedIn, I’ve been amazed not only with the level of engagement I have seen, but the views as well. It’s not just my network on LinkedIn that is seeing the content I am sharing – but others as well.

Let me share with you an example of this – I wrote a post yesterday about what professors can take away if they integrate Hootsuite University into their social media classes. I’ve been a big fan of the program and Hootsuite in general for the last couple of years. They have really done a great job in not only engaging audiences and brands, but they have created a great platform for social media education.

So, I thought based on this, I’d write a post for LinkedIn about my experience and share some of my thoughts on the program.  With this post, it’s been the one that has had the most views, engagements, shares, and likes of the ones I have created. How cool! Plus, it was great to hear from two great professionals from Hootsuite as well and their thoughts on my post. Thanks for your responses, Kirsten and Paula! :)

Here are some lessons I have learned from my experience publishing on LinkedIn for professors, students, and young professionals to take note of:

  • Great exposure to interests and expertise: When you think about it, you are able to connect with others who have similar interests or are searching for topics you are talking about. It was great to talk with fellow students and professors about Hootsuite and what they are doing with their classes. Would I have had the chance to do this on my blog? Maybe – but I was able to do it pretty well on LinkedIn.
  • Connecting with other audiences with similar interests:  Similar to what I mentioned before. It’s about extending the conversation on a topic you are interested and passionate about while also networking with others on the professional business site.
  • Should be considered as a content extension platform: It’s about making sure to share insights that are relevant to what you are doing in your profession as well as your professional interests, but you want to make sure you are extending the conversation on LinkedIn rather than hosting it or designating it as your primary content creation platform. It should be an extension to your blog and website – so you want to make sure to adapt this into your own personal branding strategy and implementation for your content.

Overall, it’s been fun writing posts on LinkedIn and I really do appreciate all of the shares, comments, and feedback I have gotten so far from my colleagues, friends, and networks. I would definitely encourage professors, especially those who are teaching social media and public relations, to consider this as an option to be another extension to their personal blog and website. This will also be something I will be adding to #Freberg15 as well for my students.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

 

April 18, 2014

Presenting at the YAP Social Media & Digital Panel in Louisville: Reflections from a social media professor

I had the chance to be part of a great social media and digital media panel session yesterday evening at Power Creative, one of the main advertising agencies in Louisville that was sponsored by the Young Advertising Professionals (YAP) group of AdFedLouisville.

It was great to hear insights from professionals working in the field and from different industries. Ali Turner comes from Yum! Brands and David Jacobs has worked with some great brands like McDonalds with The Tombras Group in Knoxville. UofL had two representatives on the panel with Nick Stover from UofL Athletics and me – where I was able to share some insights on what I am doing with my research and social media class at UofL. It was cool to hear the stories, insights, and best practices from everyone and how we all came from different points in our careers and industries.

What I think is cool about being part of the panel was not only the overall focus on the range of topics associated with social media, but also how this panel and speaking opportunity came about. Of course, I have to thank social media for that! Got to give a shout out to Christy and Sean for reaching out to me and allowing me to be part of this panel yesterday. Had a wonderful time!

I had several students ask me how this panel went, and there are a few things I felt were key for me to note based on my experience to reflect on. Here were a couple of things I noted:

  • Having a digital presence and way for people to reach out to you is key: This was not only a time to present and talk about the field and area of interest, but it was also focused on a great networking opportunity. Sharing business cards is of course traditional – but the main question I had yesterday was – what’s your Twitter handle so we can connect?
  • Even professors can serve as students in the classroom and at events: What I liked about being part of this panel session was the fact that I was learning along with the panelists on these topics as well. I found it interesting to see what were some of the items and topics that were key for agency professionals to know and be skilled in, but also what are some future trends they see coming up as well. As a professor, I want to make sure I am preparing my students for the growing expectations that are coming from the field, so this was very useful and helpful for me.
  • Serving as a connector for introductions: I had several friends at the panel yesterday and I realized that they had similar connections or interests with others I knew at the event, so I felt that it was key to make sure they were introduced. This is an industry where it is not only what you know, but who you know that is also important. Also, I had the chance to see several former students I have had in the class at the event, so I wanted to make sure they had the chance to network as well.
  • Continue the conversation after the event: Sending out notes to people you saw at the event, sharing pictures from the session so others can see what the event looked like, and reach out to those that were in attendance on social media. This event was not only about sharing knowledge and experiences for one time, but it really has opened the door to a community with professionals that have similar interests, views, and insights in the profession.

Overall, it was a great event and I would like to thank AdFedLou for having a great event for young professionals and for Power Creative for being our hosts. Looking forward to seeing what future events you all have and continue this great discussion and network!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

February 26, 2014

Presenting at the upcoming 2014 ICRC Conference

It’s always exciting to attend the first conference of the year, which is actually what I will be doing next week. I will be attending and presenting along with Kristin (my sister and fabulous research partner) to present a research paper that we did along with the original Dr. Freberg (aka Mom) on a crisis and situational analysis study at the upcoming International Risk and Communication Conference in Orlando next week.

And if you are wondering, yes – I worked on this research project with my Mom and sister. You can say that we are the family that researches together. With that in mind, the three of us bring forth three different points of view when it not only comes to research, but also different perspectives and experiences based on our fields of study. Kristin comes from a systems engineering and risk analysis perspective from the US Army, and Mom is a neuroscience and biological psychologist. Me? Well, I am the crisis and social media professional in PR.

Working across disciplines has been one of the biggest learning and growing experiences I have had as a researcher and professor. It’s always cool to see what other perspectives and ideas come out of having a conversation with someone else outside of the field. Which is what resulted in this case – actually came out of a conversation we had over dinner I believe. We all had a lightbulb moment when we found out what we could do with this research study. Pretty exciting stuff!

This is a study that we wanted to build on from a previous one we did late last year, so this is a research line we hope to grow and enhance over time to help both researchers and practitioners in crisis communications.

Kristin and I are both going to be doing the presentation at ICRC and we are very excited. This has been one of our favorite conferences to attend and present at – one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in working or studying crisis communications. I’m already noting all of the presentations I want to see and make sure to meet up with some of my favorite researchers and professionals at the conference. It’s going to be a great couple of days at the conference and I am very excited. Stay tuned for more information and updates on this from Orlando.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

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