Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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November 6, 2013

How Skype allowed me to share knowledge & expertise in social media w/ virtual guest lectures

There are some commercials that tug on our emotions and we remember them due to the connection and story they communicate to their audiences. Most of the advertisements that have done this have been successful, and sometimes have turned viral.

This has been the case with Skype, and their latest commercial featuring the story of two girls who have communicated just on Skype and how this formulated a strong relationship and shared the first hand experience of them meeting each other for the first time. Warning – make sure to have some tissues on hand! In case you want to see more stories, check out this site.

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When I started watching these stories, I realized that I do owe a lot to Skype for where I am presently in my profession. I have to admit, if it wasn’t for Skype, I would not have had the opportunity to talk about social media, engage with students about these topics, and make new connections and networking opportunities. I would have not had the opportunity to encourage students around the US about the possibilities and changes that are happening  in social media. I wouldn’t have also had the chance to share with them all about Google Glasses. Without Skype, I would not have been able to do this.

Here’s what amazing stats I just found out about when I was looking at the various guest lectures I have done

  • [12] Number of states I have spoken to. The states I have reached include: California, Oregon, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, Missouri, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
  • [3] Years of doing Skype Guest Lectures
  • [7] Most number of Skype Guest Lectures in a Semester (Fall 2013)
  • [12] Number of times giving guest lecture on social media for PR since 2011
  • [4]: Skype Guest Lectures featuring Google Glasses [so far!]

Skype has been a great resource for students and professors to engage, have conversations, and network with others around the US and even outside the country. I have been a strong supporter for bringing in the best into the classroom, even if that means virtually. This shows students the power of technology and how they are still able to get a great learning experience that is related to the topic covered for the class. I try to do at least a couple a semester – they are really fun and great to do!

So, what are some ways to get involved and do a great guest lecture via Skype? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take away documents and resources: Have a PowerPoint slide deck to share with students and then go over it in presentation.
  • Share resources with others: Share slide deck online for others to see what you have talked about with the class (like Slideshare).
  • Organizing days for guest lectures: Try to schedule guest lectures via Skypes on days you are not teaching (this is why I do most of mine on T/Th).
  • Share contact information with classes: Encourage online dialogue with social media by sharing connections (always share email and Twitter handle on my presentations).
  • Plan ahead of time: Ask ahead of time if there is 1) a class hashtag or social media presence online; 2) day of presentation – make sure to share update on guest lecturing for professor’s class on social media; and 3) engage and talk about the guest lecture afterwords on the social media platform(s) that the class is involved in as well as your own profiles.

For young professors and PhD students (and candidates), the more chances you can get to do a guest lecture via Skype, that would be great. You are able to add these on your CV and this shows your expertise in certain areas that is in demand by not only possibly your university, but others as well. Technology services like Skype have allowed us to do this, so why not take advantage of it and share our insights and experience with others!

Hope you all are having a great day so far!

Best Wishes,


August 4, 2013

Two must have books on reading list for social media classes: “Youtility” & “What’s the Future of Business”

As the fall semester is approaching, I have taken some time this summer to review what textbooks and additional readings I will want my students to review during the course. It seems that either the list keeps getting longer and longer, and I am going to be adding two new books to the list for my fall semester. The two books I will be adding to my reading list for my students includes “Youtility” by Jay Baer and “What’s the Future of Business” by Brian Solis. Both are very strong books not just on social media platforms, but the strategy and trends we need to be aware of as we move forward as professionals. Here are my reviews of both books:

“Youtility” by Jay Baer:  I had the pleasure of hearing Jay speak at the first Social Slam in Knoxville in 2011, and I was excited to see his latest book out focusing not on what companies want, but focusing on the actual customer. This really connects nicely with what Brian Solis and JESS3 have done with their latest updated version of the Conversation Prism focusing on you. I really liked how Jay presents his insights in Youtility in a real but approachable manner. Meaning, you get an insight on what best practices and stories he has learned in his years in the business and how it can be applied to you as a person. He starts at the very beginning by focusing on having a particular state of mind when it comes to first approaching the strategic use of these emerging media today, which is key to focus on from both a research and practitioner point of view. Jay does an excellent job in providing clear examples (ex. Hilton Suggests, McDonalds, Meijer, etc) as well – these are great to share with students on how each of these principles are applied and what we can learn from these particular cases.

The three facets of Youtility as Jay presents in his book include: self-serve information, radical transparency, and real-time relevancy. Jay does a great job in my opinion in explaining each of these throughly as well as provide current and relevant examples of each of these. The remaining chapters focus on how you can accomplish this for your company, organization, or even your own personal brand. Overall, the message of identifying the needs from your audience, being relevant and transparent, and formulate strategies to accomplish these goals and objectives were clearly presented in the book. It’s a process for sure, so you have to have the culture and sustainability power to maintain it for your particular organization or brand.  I was very pleased when I finished reviewing this book and make sure it was on my reading list for my social media class this fall.

“What’s the Future [WTF] of Business?” by Brian Solis. I have read Brian’s blog for many years and he is truly one of the innovators and thought leaders in the social media business. I got his first couple of books (“Put the Public back in Public Relations” and “Engage”), so I wanted to make sure to get his latest book to see if this would be another book to include in my social media class. The answer is absolutely yes.

What I like about this book is the fact that Brian discusses what are the current trends we are seeing now, but like Jay, really focusing on the changes from the consumers point of view and why brands need to be aware of these. Disruption trends were raised here as well, which is important to note since this is how the field and technology evolves. The focus on new ways of thinking with innovative perspectives and ideas is enlightening and was discussed at length in the book, which I appreciate as a professor since this is what students need to be aware of. I also like the fact that everything starts with a vision – which a lot of times is forgotten when you are looking at new media since everyone has the “new toy” symptom when it comes to a new platform, tool, etc. Instead, we have to focus on the strategy, rationale, and application of these new ideas – which takes vision, so I am glad Brian brought this up here in his book.

As a researcher, one of the key points in the book that really made an impression on me was when Brian discussed medium-alism equals faux engagement. I was intrigued by this, but it made me think – what do we do to really provide authentic and meaningful engagement that makes an impact on our audience? Are brands saying they are “engaging” with audiences just for the sake of having a presence, or are brands really applying consumer behavior research and analyzing the emotion of their communities to determine what they want and don’t want?  This was interesting to think about. Brian says it starts with intention and aspiration, but technology along with creativity serve as the vehicles to deliver these messages to the audiences. This really stood out to me and allowed me to start brainstorming ideas on how to apply this into research and practice.

What do Jay and Brian do well? There are a few things I noticed while reviewing both of these new books:

  • Lots and lots of case studies: This was great to see – we got to learn about what McDonalds, Charmin, Hilton, Burberry, etc. All of these cases were current and well presented in each of the books.
  • Good use of visuals: I liked the fact we got to see some visuals – whether they were screen shots or graphs discussing the ideas being discussed and proposed in the texts, these were wonderful to see (especially for those who are visual learners, like myself).
  • Best practices outlined and discussed thoroughly: Both Jay and Brian did a great job by taking the time in both of their books to highlight the key points the reader needed to take away from the book.
  • Good online resources: Both Jay and Brian also provided the reader with websites focusing just on the book as well as official presentations (such as the one Brian has for WTF) and videos (like the one Jay has for his book). This is good to share with students as well so they can look at these as additional resources.

Overall, I have already decided that these two books are going to be on the reading list for my social media class at the University of Louisville for my students. You want to make sure to let them know where they can purchase a hard copy as well as ebooks (which I have done and have on my iPad). Amazon is good as well to share as an option – Youtilty and What’s the Future of Business.

Congrats to both Jay and Brian on producing great books and thank you again for sharing your expertise and insights with all of us.

Hope you all have a great day!

Best Wishes,


Social Media Preparation for AEJMC 2013

In just a few days, I will be heading to Washington D.C. for the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication (otherwise known as AEJMC) annual conference. It’s going to be a busy but fabulous couple of days hearing some great research presentations, exploring new points of view in the area of PR, networking with new and old friends and colleagues, and presenting research as well.

I am scheduled to present the top teaching paper in the PRD (:)!!) with co-authors Tiffany Gallicano (University of Oregon) and Gee Ekachai (Marquette University). I am very excited and honored to be presenting with these amazing ladies on our research on infographics being used as an assignment in PR and social media classes.

However, I am also going to be working with the fellow social media committee members (Tiffany, Melissa, and Geah) to contribute, report, and update everything related to the AEJMC Public Relations Division (PRD) during the conference.

So, where should you go if you want to follow what is going on at the conference?  Well, make sure to follow AEJMC PRD on Facebook a and Twitter of course – these are our primary accounts that we will be using. We will also be using Instagram as well during the conference for pictures and short clips from the conference as well. To follow these pictures and updates on social media, you will want to make sure to follow the following hashtags for the AEJMC Conference: #aejmc2013, #aejmc13, and #prprofs (specific just to PR professors).

Also, make sure to download the AEJMC Conference app as well – definitely essential to have so you can keep track of all of these social media conversations and updates on the presentations in a centralized location! :)

In case you want to get a transcript of some of the top tweets, shares, updates, and pictures from AEJMC, we also do have a Storify account we have set up where we will post the highlights from each conference day and share them across social media platforms.

It should be a great conference and I am looking forward to seeing everyone in DC! Have a great day.

Best Wishes,



June 5, 2013

Reputation Institute, Barcelona and Segway #Reputation_Inst #riconf

CLICK on the above picture for a 1 minute highlight of today’s event!

Part of our very professionally diverse Research Team will be presenting at the Reputation Institute tomorrow! In the meantime, we are working hard to get the flavor and rhythms of this beautiful city!

Just so you don’t think it was all work today, we managed to take a “Segway Tour” of the city !

CLICK on this link to take a short ride with us on the sites of the city!

June 3, 2013

A day with Jason Falls: Travels, discussions, and a story to remember

This is going to be a different kind of post, but definitely relevant to what I usually write about in relations to social media.  This post will involve a story a couple of central characters as well. One person that will be featured in this story will be Jason Falls.

I first met Jason a few years ago when I went to the first Emerging Media Summit conference here in Louisville. I had been reading Jason’s blog posts on Social Media Explorer for a long time and considered him to be a leader in the field. I was truly amazed he came up to me to introduce himself to me at the conference. I remember thinking, wow! This is pretty cool!

Jason and I were both presenting this weekend at the Integrate Conference in Morgantown, which was pretty amazing all around. Great speakers, wonderful insights, and amazing collaboration and community. I will be posting a blog post on the conference shortly, but I wanted to share with you a story about what happened to me yesterday. It’s kind of fitting since one of the main themes emerging from Integrate yesterday was storytelling.

So, here’s my story.

Jason and I took a shuttle along with Joe Barnes and Joe Cohen (both great PR and social media professionals) to Pittsburgh. We were on the same flight because we were both going back to Louisville. We are on the plane, and Jason mentions to me since he was on wifi with his phone that are next flight to Louisville was cancelled. I was surprised, but surprised turned into panic for me. I don’t usually stress out with travel (been traveling all over the place recently in the US and the world), but I had a time crunch to meet.

I am heading to Barcelona today to present at the RI Conference and my flight was leaving today. I had been looking forward to this trip for months – my sister, brother-in-law, and one of my best friends were all heading to Spain and we were going to go to Paris afterwords.  So, I was very motivated to see how I could get back to Louisville. However,  we were in Philadelphia, we would be out 9 hours from Louisville. Doing the math, it wasn’t looking too good for us. :(

However, Jason was calm and said we can fix this. US Airways told us we could go all of the way out to Cincinnati for our flight, which would have really added some more issues. The wheels were turning in my brain to think – okay, I need to call a rental car company, see if I can get some coffee so I can drive back to Louisville at night, etc.

However, Jason looked and did some research and found out that there was a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago and to Louisville that would get us back in Louisville. As I was looking for my credit card to purchase the ticket, Jason said he had enough points to get us both tickets. I was blown away. This was truly such a kind act and I basically spent the entire rest of the day thanking Jason for helping me out with this. While I had a time crunch for my conference, it was Jason’s 13th wedding anniversary, so he was trying to get back home as well.

Even though we had a 14 hour travel day, I really enjoyed spending the day with Jason. We talked about social media, sports and baseball, traveling, and even the conference over Chinese food and ice cream. I have known Jason’s work as a leading social media professional and see several of his presentations, but I got to spend time with Jason the person, who is as charismatic, energetic, and supportive as anyone I know. I knew at the time we were both pretty tired from the travel and conference, but I knew I would remember this and knew it would be a good story to share not only for the experience, but the lesson I learned by spending time with Jason.

The good news is that we were both able to get back to Louisville. I am just about to head to the airport to check in for my flight to head to Barcelona.  I am still missing my suitcase, however, it is on route, but I will remember this day for Jason’s kindness and being able to spend a day with one of the leading social media professionals. We will certainly have a story to share for years to come. It will be like “Remember when we got stuck in Philly and were traveling all day.” Good times.

A special shout out and thank you to Jason. For all of the young professionals, students, and brands out there – Jason Falls is the real deal. Not only is he a great social media professional, but he’s one awesome person and can’t say enough good things about him. Thanks so much, Jason!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



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