Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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April 22, 2014

At the finish line for the semester: Best tips for professors to create an engaging social media campaign style class

It is that time of the semester where finals are beginning here at the University of Louisville. While I do not give a final exam for my social media class, I do have final client presentations for their social media campaign proposals.

I have had this discussion with several of my PR professor colleagues any they have asked me why I have the students to actual campaigns instead of exams? My response is – what am I going to do? Give them an exam with questions like – what is a tweet? How about the components of Instagram? Of course not.

I’ve always believed that it is essential to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom and give them hands on experiences. This is what makes campaign style classes really different compared to other types of classes. Lots of papers, and one project that basically began the first week of the semester.

I am extremely proud of the students and what they have done this semester in #Freberg14. In many ways, this class here at UofL shows me how you truly can see a difference among the students from the start of the semester to the end. The first day of class started with me telling the class this simple point: “This will be the hardest class you will have this semester – and possibly in college.”

So, how do you prepare the students to be part of a project working with a client on a social media campaign proposal? Here are some of my tips I’ve learned while teaching this class at UofL:

  • Set deadlines and expectations early on: Make sure your students know the impact of this project and significance of this not only for the class, but for after they graduate and enter the workplace. Connecting the dots here is crucial.
  • Highlight the benefits: Show how this proposal could be used in their portfolio and share examples of students who have used this as a document to showcase their work for internships and job interviews. Also, discussing how to upload this document to their online portfolio, website, and even sites like LinkedIn are also important to note here as well.
  • Put on your coach hat with your students: I’ve been very fortunate to have a great coach in my Dad in track – and I remember how he would encourage me, push me, and give me to tools and resources I needed to be all I could be in track. I felt that was my role in my social media class. Yes, I did tell my students that they may not like what I am telling them when comes to their drafts, but I am here to help them become better. I push them to work harder and smarter with their documents to see what they can do to make them even stronger. At the end – it’s the work of the students and they are the ones that get the rewards of their hard work, and for me – that’s why I love teaching.
  • Be an “honorary” team member: This is what I tell all of my groups – I am part of their group and am always available to brainstorm ideas and offer my point of view on things. This allows the creativity to spark within each group and they feel comfortable with their ideas and feel that they are not completely alone in the process.
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Social media can be fun, but it is extremely hard especially when you are coming up with creative strategies as well as trying to keep up with the trends all emerging right now.

Tomorrow are our client presentations – where it will not only be the clients and the students in attendance, but also a couple of professionals working in Louisville.

Best of luck to all of the students tomorrow – I know you will do great in your presentations! Will let you all know how they go tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,


October 7, 2013

A must have book for social media classes at universities: “Your Brand” by Michael Brito

It has been a LONG time since I got really excited about a social media book. I have been teaching and researching in this area for the last several years, and one of the things that I have struggled with has been to find the right book to use for my social media classes. Some are dedicated too much to theory and others are not relevant anymore since it takes so long to publish nowadays.

However, I read a book that got me excited about not only the possibilities for how I could use this in research, but also in the classroom as well. I bought “Your brand” by Michael Brito right before I went to the EUPRERA Congress in Barcelona this past week – and I finished the book on the flight over. Yes, that is correct. I have not done this since the last Harry Potter book came out a few years ago – which says something to me right there! Once I finished the book, I immediately knew that I have found my official book for my #Freberg14 class in the Spring.

Why do I think “Your Brand” is a must-have? Here are the six reasons why you need (yes, I said need) to buy this book for your class (or professional activities) in social media:

  • Current case studies: Michael does a great job in sharing case studies that have worked or not worked in the realm of social media business strategy. These are good to share with students so they can see what other brands have done and what has worked, and what has not worked.
  • Great visual graphics to illustrate key concepts in social business: I am a visual person myself, and so are most of my students, and it was great to see the visual elements of the book illustrating the key concepts in the book. Whether it was discussing what is a social media command center or what is the overall framework of the social media business strategy model. These were good to connect the reader back to the concepts at hand – and many times we see just text in social media books, so this was a nice change to see and witness.
  • Human voice integrated with key social business concepts: A lot of times you see an author a little bit when you are reading their book, but Michael was able to present his own point of view as well as share some of his personal stories into each chapter as well. It was great to see how he has made some of these social media discoveries interacting with his family and daughters in the mix. So, in this case, not only are you hearing the professional voice and expertise on the subject, but you are also getting to know Michael as a person.
  • New tools and vendors: Great feature after each of the chapters – Michael discusses relevant tools and vendors that would be good to explore that are relevant to each of the topics covered in the book. Whether it is social media analytics or content management, there is one highlighted for each of these.
  • Great insights and strategies to share with students: Students today are pressured to know all about social media, but they sometimes don’t get the application of how to use these. However, this book accomplishes this very well – students will learn more about the strategy of social media instead of looking at what is Facebook, Twitter, etc in class. If students apply what Michael has discussed in this book towards their internships and jobs, they will be successful.
  • Bridging the foundation of theory/research and application: This one was a big one for me – and I think Michael accomplished this very well in his book. What I do think is interesting is that compared to some other social media authors, Michael also teaches as well along with working as a practitioner, so he understands this bridge and has been able to apply this to this book. This was probably one of the main reasons why I really enjoyed reading this book because of the fact that you don’t see this often in some of the other social media books.

Overall, I think “Your Brand” must be a required book for social media classes at universities. Thanks to Michael for taking the time to share his expertise, insights, and perspectives on social media business strategy in this book. Really enjoyed reading it and congratulations on creating a wonderful product for students, professors, and practitioners all to enjoy and apply in their professions.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


November 7, 2012

Social Media & Crisis Communications Presentation at Iowa DHS Conference

I had the chance to visit Iowa (first time ever in the state!) a few days ago to present at the 9th Iowa Homeland Security Conference.  The topic I was going to be presenting on was related to social media and crisis communications – a topic that I have been researching and consulting in for the last couple of years.

This was a very cool conference – I had a chance to chat with some emergency responders and professionals working with the DHS in Iowa about some of the trends they are seeing with social media and what are their challenges and opportunities they are seeing with this emerging platform.

My Conference ID that had a bar code to be scanned as well :)

I went over three research studies I had the opportunity to work on related to crisis communications and social media – ranging from interviews (mobile technologies and social media) to intention to comply with social media message strategies, to constructing a qualitative/quantitative value model for social media in a crisis.

In addition, I had to also update and add some additional information related to what happened during Hurricane Sandy this past week and what were some of the emerging trends we saw from a social media perspective.  The integration of social media among agencies, the vast upload and sharing power of Instagram, and the presence of misinformation and rumors that made FEMA establish a rumor control section for social media. Another thing I did too was make sure to add some additional resources for people to look at for future study and trends related to social media and crisis communications.

Here is my presentation if you are interested in viewing it via Slideshare.

In summary, it was a wonderful experience and conference to be part of.  I got some great comments about my presentation afterwords, which was great.  Several responders and other conference attendees said that it was the first social media presentation that they went to that “made sense” and combined social media strategy specifically with crisis communications. Yay! :)

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,



October 19, 2012

Advancing Social Media Measurement & Research: Further discussion on new metrics to consider for PR professionals

One of the main areas we are seeing a lot of discussion in for public relations professionals is not only in the area of social media marketing strategy, but in the area of measurement and evaluation.  In particular, focusing on what metrics to look at for social media platforms.

We will continue to look at Facebook for general conversations and trends, but we will also look beyond and see the seamless integration of other associated platforms like Pinterest and Instagram – but the focus is going to be beyond social media platforms. Instead, the focus for social media practices and research will evolve to focus on experiences – the stories, activities, and conversations emerging from society, communities, businesses, and individuals that share common interests with each other.

To understand these future trends, we also need to discuss how to evaluate the metrics associated with each of these.  Here are some other metrics we should discuss further and determine 1) what is the overall value of this metric for PR and social media campaigns ; 2) how do quantify these results to measure across platforms and industries and 3) what are the best practices for PR professionals to address these advanced social media metrics?

  • Value of Images:Pinterest and Instagram are definitely setting the trend for emerging social media platforms as well as raising the issue of how photos and videos are the new currency for social media purposes.  Understanding the types of images and photos has to be considered along with the actions captured, user who has captured this image, comments emerging from images, range of exposure, visual voice + comments associated with the image, etc.  Will location be a key factor in this equation as well? However, some of the traditional means of monitoring and listening to social media may not apply for images, so we have to look beyond these metrics and determine what are going to be the specific ones we focus on for visual social media platforms.Optimization, reach, and shareability are just a few things to consider as well in analyzing these various platforms.
  • Value of Stories:  We have seen much discussion related to the concept of storytelling for brands and individuals via social media. While it is important to note that stories are all unique and have to represent the brand on a personal level – there are some associated metrics we can try to quantify that is related to storytelling.  Measuring authenticity, location, engagement in response to the shared comments, sentiment in the comments, timing, context of the story, and voice are just a few we may want to take into consideration and discuss further.
  • Value of Emotions:  People are more likely to share their perspectives and voice which images and visuals they like the most – there are some metrics that are similar to traditional social media platforms like FB with likes and follows on both Pinterest and Instagram, but how do we really capture the intensity of these emotions with individuals – do they just like this picture or do they absolutely love it?  Is there a formula to determine if someone likes and comments on a photo – that means they like it more than just sharing it with others?
  • Value of Shareability:  We have looked at the evolution of social media to translate to just separate platforms and traditional media to be more focused on converged media – how paid, earned, and shared media are all connected. So, how do we value how certain items are shared across platforms?  With these visual sites like Pinterest and Instagram, separate services are doing this already, including Pinalytics.  My guess is that sites like Bottlenose, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck along with other paid services like Radian6, Cision, and others will follow this trend as well.  We need to discuss how we would be able to quantify this for clients and in our research as well in social media.
  • Value of Influence:  We have seen many discussions related to the topic of influence and whether or not Klout, Kred, or PeerIndex are really capturing what influence is all about? We have to consider various components like audience, communication skills, personality, and other attributes that constitute and contribute to the overall conceptualization of influence in social media. Is influence something that happens on one platforms, or translates across all social media platforms and even offline?  These discussions and associated metrics need to be explored further.

In summary, there are many opportunities to have advanced social media metrics incorporated into campaigns and in research.  However, further discussion needs to occur in order to determine the proper value as well as specific items necessary in order to quantify some of these variables.  With that being said, we should also explore the potential for exploratory research to determine these items first with qualitative research – so mixed method approaches would be good to address these points.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


October 16, 2012

Additional Topics to cover in Advanced Social Media Education

Social media education continues to evolve and become an essential class for PR, Strategic Communications, and Integrated Marketing Communications students need to have once they enter the workplace. More brands and agencies are expecting not only to know the latest tools, but how to use them strategically and effectively.

Mark Schaefer shared a post via Twitter yesterday that caught my attention since it was proposing seven ideas to advance social media education. I think Mark has proposed several key areas that definitely need to be included and discussed in the area of social media education and incorporated into the curriculum.  This is perfect timing since I just finalized my syllabus for my class at the University of Louisville for this upcoming Spring.

While I think there are some great points and topics that need to be included in social media education as Mark has highlighted, there are a few other topics I would add to the list as well:

  • Transmedia Storytelling: The focus of social media platforms and tools is the fact people are going online to share their experiences, perspectives, and stories across multiple platforms.  This is the heart of what social media is all about – and this is a topic that needs to be discussed at the very beginning of class so students will have this foundation when discussing the other areas associated with social media and be able to connect the dots with content, strategy, and platforms seamlessly.
  • Rise an Prominence of Converged Media:  We forget that social media is not the only medium to follow and be aware of when we are looking at digital practices.  We have to be aware of how online conversations can translate into placements and mentions/stories in traditional media, and how relationships are formed based on these conversations with journalists and others in traditional media.  What about the rise of owned media and how brands are engaged more in content marketing practices?  This needs to be discussed thoroughly with students so they are informed about the current media landscape and the strategies they need to be aware of when practicing in this area.
  • Crisis Communications:  Social media crisis communications is a huge area that everyone seems to be talking about right now.  There are many cases to look at from this perspective, so this topic definitely needs to be highlighted and discussed in the classroom. This topic is going to be a weeklong topic for my social media class. Share stories, best practices, and case studies associated with social media crises.  I will have the chance to bring in two leading experts in the area via Skype/Google+ next semester in crisis communications (Melissa Agnes and Jonathan Bernstein) for my class. Crisis exercises and assignments also need to be incorporated as well.
  • Mobile Communications, Marketing, and Strategies:  When I was doing my research in social media classes for my syllabus, I was surprised when I found out that there were few professors that really went into mobile in their social media classes.  This is where the future is – and this was one reason why I wanted to make sure my class at the University of Louisville was titled “Social Media and Mobile Technologies.” Not only should students know about mobile, but the various specializations associated with it (ex. mcommerce, augmented reality, gamification, applications, etc).  Several classes and assignments should be dedicated focusing on the integration of social media with mobile technologies.
  • Social media and mobile analytics:  Another key area that needs to be shared and discussed with students.  Highlighting what are the main tools, metrics, and software programs out there that are available and being used by agencies and companies is key. In addition, discussion on the rise of social media dashboards and command centers should also be discussed and analyzed in class.  Research will definitely be a component – along with writing, strategy, and creativity – I will highlight in my social media class.

In summary, as social media tools and platforms evolve, so does the social media curriculum. We have to make sure we are offering the latest updates and practices for our students so they are prepared for the workplace and successful in the field.  As professors, we have to be lifelong learners and be prepared to alway explore and look for the latest trends to bring into the classroom.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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