Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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May 5, 2011

finding the right way to say ‘thank you!’

Filed under: Public Relations,Tennessee — Karen @ 10:55 am

finding the perfect gift to say 'thank you'

I have completed my dissertation defense, typed my dissertation and it has been uploaded and approved and ,now, all I have left to do is ‘walk’ at graduation. However, there is something very important left to do.

I have always felt that it is very important to thank all of those wonderful people who have been so very helpful along the way. There were times when completing my dissertation looked like a very dim light at the end of a very long tunnel; fortunately, I had a lot of ‘fairy godmothers’ cheering me along. So, I wanted to find something very special to show my appreciation, so I consulted a few family ‘experts.’ My sister Kristin, statistician and fellow researcher along with my mother quickly suggested ‘COFFEE!’ and I had to agree. Our life is nothing, if it isn’t about coffee! Our favorite coffee in my family comes from the island of Kona and it is truly wonderfully delicious.  Pele Plantation makes you feel like you are actually there eating chocolate covered Macadamia nuts, rubbing your bare feet in the volcanic soil and sipping on a hot cup of Joe! Pele Plantation is expensive because they had to fly it to me in Tennessee, but it is worth it!

The accompanying gift was a bit more challenging.

As a young person I would always give a coffee mug to my teachers or friends as a sincere way to thank them for their support and maybe they might remember me when they used it. However, this time, I wanted to do something very special. Although I was in the middle of my dissertation process, I attempted to look around and found nothing acceptable, so I went back to my ‘other consultant’ , my father. Dad eventually discovered a wonderful potter (MugRevolution.com) who still makes everything by hand in his small studio and sent me a link so that I could find something I liked. As you can see in the picture above, they turned out beautifully.

In the changing often turbulent world ahead, we will need more collaboration and more transdisciplinary approaches to solving the challenges of the day. In this new environment, building the right team will always make the difference between success and failure, even in finding a ‘perfect’ way to say thank you requires many experts!

I would like to again thank all of my ‘experts’ within the University of Tennessee and those without.

April 2, 2011

One step closer in becoming Dr. Freberg 2.0 – Passed Dissertation Defense!

I have been part of the PhD program now at the University of Tennessee for four years, and it just seems like yesterday I was walking into orientation and starting my first classes in the core part of the program.  Amazing how time flies by! From taking classes then to preparing for my comprehensive exams to starting off with my dissertation research – it seemed that each day got me closer to the time where I would be finishing up my degree.

Yesterday, I became one step closer to becoming Dr. Freberg – well, at least Dr. Freberg 2.0! :)  My Mom (Professor in Psychology) is the original Dr. Freberg, so I am just the social media version of it! :)  I passed my dissertation defense yesterday (and yes, I did this on April Fool’s Day), so that was good.

My dissertation focused on the intention to comply with food safety messages in a crisis based on message source and reliability.  The steps that I undertook during my dissertation combined several methods together – focus groups and a main experiment.  I conducted several focus groups to help frame my scenarios and research instrument for my experiment.  Once I did a couple of pilot studies, I then implemented my experiment with a consumer panel.  There were definitely some interesting insights and results that I was excited about sharing with my committee and everyone who came to my defense. :)

I would have to say that the overall process of the dissertation was actually enjoyable – I know that not many people say this – but I felt that this was a fun project to work on.  It was great to research and find out more information on what was going on with social media and crisis communications related to food safety.  There are some things that I would recommend for students who are in the dissertation stage or about to start:

  • Time management is your friend:  Doing a little bit every day helps, and it is key to make sure that you set personal deadlines for yourself to get certain parts accomplished and in order
  • Extra steps and procedures is the way to go: Making sure that you are covering all of the bases in terms of your research is absolutely key.
  • Coffee and Kickboxing are two fundamental necessities: Coffee in my opinion is a major food group and exercise allows you to take out your stress through positive activities.  Both have worked for me and it really all depends on what you feel is necessary.
  • Work hard, win easy: By working hard and making sure you can balance a dissertation, teaching, research, and consulting – you will be prepared to enter and start your first year as a professor on a better note.  Learning these skills will help in the future, and we are in an economy where everyone has to work hard to be ahead and current – and if you do, then you are good to go! :)

I would like to thank my members of my committee for their hard work and guidance for this dissertation process.  I felt that not only did I learn about the theory and methodology involving the particular phenomena I was studying, but I did feel that I grew as a researcher and professional in the process.  I would also like to thank my friends who came to support me during my dissertation defense (Sabrina, Monica, Stephanie, Anthony, Kit, Scott, Lei, and Dr. Childers).  Thank you all for coming to my defense and celebrating with food (Sabrina made some AMAZING and fabulous white chocolate and peanut butter truffles – yum!).  We had everything at the defense from water to truffles to muffins to fruit – what can I say, I am a foodie! :)

I also have to thank the ladies at the Jenny Craig Knoxville Center – I have been going to JC now for four years and these ladies were really the best!  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging as well whenever I came in for my appointments and helped me celebrate my defense (now I am known in the center as Doc Freberg :D) – thank you so much Jo, Amy, Kiersten, Amber, Vanessa and Taylor!

Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank my family (Mom, Dad, Kristin, and Karla) for their continued support, encouragement, and commitment to me during my dissertation process.  I am very lucky and fortunate to have such a wonderful family! ;)

In summary, getting a PhD has been a lifelong dream of mine ever since I was little.  This was one step to become closer to achieving this dream.  So, Mom – there is another Dr. Freberg in the family. :)

Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,

Karen aka Dr. Freberg 2.0 :)

February 28, 2011

Generous with resources & information, setting professional guidelines in class, and leading by example: Key to success in teaching in traditional and online classes

Over the last couple of years since I have been pursuring my PhD in Communications, there have been many areas that I have been active in as a PhD Candidate.  Working on research projects in various areas (crisis communications, social media, psychology, etc) have been very fabulous in my opinion – just great!

I have also found teaching very rewarding – both in the traditional sense(Tennessee) and online (IMC Program at WVU).  I knew that I always wanted to be in the classroom – ever since the early days of seeing both Mom (Psychology) and Dad (Business & Marketing) teaching their courses, and soon Kristin will be teaching at West Point.  I guess you can say that it runs in the family! :)

In various discussions with colleagues and seeing what others say are some of their own reflections and best practices when it comes to teaching, I would have to say that I have come up with a few of my own:

  • Lead by example: If you want students to perform certain assignments and presentations or produce case studies, then you have to lead by example and show that every assignment you have for the class, you would do as well.  I have done this in my PR Cases Class where I have shown students a case study I did and highlight the main points as well as explaining of the framing of the assignment.
  • Be one with new trends and issues in field – always be a student of life: This also goes with implementing new technology – if you are known for being the person to go to social media for example – you have to lead by example and use it in the classroom as well.  This can be done by implementing Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, or Tumblr into the classroom setting to bring out discussion points and conversations outside.Not only being aware of these trends is important, but being apply to strategically apply these and provide reasons for students to pay attention to these for both professional and personal reasons is also key.
  • Articulate clearly expectations and reasons behind class structure: I have framed my classes for students by pointing out that they should treat this class like they would an internship or job.  This means attending classes, being on time, producing professional documents and presentations, etc.  I also state at the very beginning (and my syllabus) that if they wouldn’t do something on the job (ex. turn in late work, etc) then don’t do it in class.  Setting the expectations early and being consistent with these throughout the semester is key.
  • Give more information and resources than expected: College tuition is expensive, and students want to take courses that help them not only by expanding their knowledge about the field, but also where to go for further information and resources.  This is what I have done in both of my classes this year – I try to provide students with white papers, list of resources for social media, and presentations that I think might be of interest to them.  These materials are not covered on the exam or anything like that – but they have these in hand to review at their leisure.  I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from these additional resources from some of my students.

Overall, teaching is very rewarding – and these are just some of the best practices that I have come up with based on my experiences and talking with others in the profession.  Setting strong expectations, creating a positive and professional learning environment, offering constructive criticisms and ways to improve assignments and writing, and leading by example by becoming a student for life is key to success in the classroom.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,


February 15, 2011

Fabulous Student Blog Posts for February 15 2011

The students in the Social Media class at Tennessee continue to write some very interesting, innovative, and critically thinking blog posts about various topics related to social media.  From discussing current issues and trends in social media to making announcements for charity events / donations through social media to announcing a new radio station here in Knoxville dedicated to social media.  There are some really great posts by the students, and I wanted to share with you all a few that I thought were very good.  Also, if you are interested in seeing what we are talking about in regards to social media via Twitter, here is the Paper.li site dedicated to the class. Keep up the great work everyone! :)

  • Social Networking Sites and Virtual Segregation” (PR from the OR) – great insights and discussion about current issues and trends when it comes to social media from both a research and applied PR perspective – well done, Nicole!
  • How fast does social media work?” (Living Life to the Fulmer):  Very interesting perspective of how to use social media to generate buzz and engaging audiences to donate to charities and participating in “Dancing with the Knoxville Stars.”  Good luck, Allison!
  • The Feed” (Something Clever):  Discover the new radio station in Knoxville called “The Feed” dedicated just to Social media – fabulous!
  • Audi Super Bowl Ad” (Carpe Dean):  Interesting post on Audi’s Super Bowl ad along with some great links to other articles.
  • YouTube for You” (It’s that time):  Good post discussing connection from class topic for the week (video sharing) and tying it into a personal reflection and story for online audiences.
  • Just call a Timeout” (Matter of Fact):  Insightful post from a PR/ Sports perspective on the recent Tennessee-Florida BB game.

February 6, 2011

Fabulous Student Blog Posts on Social Media for February 6 2011

Here are some great posts from students in the ADV 490 class (Special Topics – Social Media) class that I thought you all would like to see!  Some of the blog posts are focusing on particular events that are being discussed in social media (ex. Daily News Magazine App, Egypt crisis, Taco Bell crisis, and Kenneth Cole Twitter crisis), while other posts are discussing different features and implementations of new emerging technologies for advertising and public relations professionals to consider when presenting to their perspective audiences and clients. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts from all of the students in the class so far this semester, and wanted to share with you all some that I thought were very good and presented in a very professional manner. :)

Keep up the great blog posts, everyone – these are very insightful about social media, advertising, and public relations! :)  Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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