Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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August 13, 2014

Tips and suggestions for creating a “social media dream team” for academics

As an assistant professor, there are several responsibilities we have in order to get tenure at our respective universities. We have to of course produce research that is published in well respected journals, and we also have to be great teachers and be engaged in our classes with our students. The third part of the equation is service – whether it is for the university, community, or even professional community – it is an important element to what we do as professors.

For the last few years, I have been serving as a co-chair of the social media committee for the AEJMC PRD. I was invited to be part of the committee by its founder, Tiffany Gallicano, who set a fabulous presence and foundation for the committee. Tiffany was incredible to work with and follow her leadership.

The 2014-2015 Social Media PRD Committee. Back Row: Diana Sisson (PhD Student, University of South Carolina), Nicole Lee (PhD Student, Texas Tech), Carolyn Kim (Biola University), Melissa Janoske (University of Memphis), Geah Pressgrove (WVU), Patrick Merle (FSU), and Dave Remund (University of Oregon). Not pictured: Kelly VIbber (University of Dayton)


Since then, the committee has grown from two people to now eight. I am very excited about this upcoming year for the AEJMC PRD. We have six professors and two graduate students helping out this year. This is probably the biggest social media committee I know for an academic professional organization in PR, but the reputation and presence of the PRD increasingly grows each year. With this in mind, we have organized quite the “Social Media Dream Team” for the PRD.

So, what are some steps that are needed to take to create a “social media dream team?” Here are some things to consider:

  • Having a strong digital presence: Making sure your fellow colleagues have a strong engagement factor not only for themselves, but for their research as well. All of the professors and students who are on the committee are actively engaged in digital and social media. This was one thing Tiffany had emphasized strongly when forming and adding more members to the committee.
  • Great work ethic, creative strategic mindset, and being a team player: These professionals are awesome – they come up with creative ideas and are willing to put forth all they can for the committee. Dave came up with a great idea for the conference with shirts and buttons to give away on social media – and we had of course a lot of ideas related to content to post throughout the year from #PRProfChats and interviews with faculty, students, and practitioners (Geah, Melissa, and Dave).
  • Reputation in the field: We have professionals who are well respected for both their professional and academic work. All of these professionals have a nice hybrid approach with PR – they all have published research, but also have experience applying this to the field as well.
  • Have a diversity among members: From PR related interests, experiences, and even locations – we each bring something new and unique to the table. We are also coming in from all aspects in the field as well as locations – we have representation from West Coast, East Coast, South, and Midwest.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better team. They are truly the best in the business – no question! It’s been great to see how this committee has grown and evolved and I am really excited to work with each and every one of these professionals. Make sure to check out our Twitter (@AEJMC_PRD), Instagram (@AEJMCPRD), and Facebook for the latest updates.

Have a great day, everyone!

Best Wishes,



July 28, 2014

Presenting in collaborative crisis strategy webinar w/ Firestorm Solutions & Hootsuite

In just a few days, I will be participating in a great collaborative partnered webinar on social media and crisis communication strategy. This partnership will involves both Firestorm Solutions and Hootsuite – which is very cool. Kristin and I are very honored and excited to be part of this new research/practice collaboration with these two great brands.

Our webinar is going to be focusing on speaking and listening in a crisis. This really is an important issue and topic both practitioners and researchers have to address when in a crisis situation. Kristin and I will be starting the webinar with some of the work we have done in this area (particularly when it comes to certain metrics that could help with crisis messaging and strategy) and then we are going to hear the expert insights from Shawn Bouchard of Hootsuite on what they are doing with their simulations and crisis strategy implementation for their clients on social media.

What I think is really great about this collaborative experience is the fact Kristin and I are able to apply the research we are doing for real agencies, businesses, and situations. It is still key to contribute to the body of knowledge and scholarly literature in the area – which we are continuing to do – but, when the opportunity comes to use what you have found in your research and apply it to real situations that could help others in the field and in your area of practice, you should embrace that.

It should be a great webinar and if you are interested in joining us, you can go to this link off of the Firestorm Solutions’ website. Again, we are very excited to be part of this great webinar series and hope to see you all on July 30th at 2pm EST!

Have 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,

June 8, 2014

Tips and best practices for graduate students entering the 21st century of being professors

I think what is challenging for professors today with this perspective is that it is not just the field and profession of PR that needs to get a seat at the table for senior leadership and businesses. It’s about getting ourselves to the table as professors.

Yes, I said that right – professors. When you think about it, we are the ones who are educating future professionals in and out of the classroom in the field. We are responsible in connecting the foundation of the field in terms of research and theory with the application. We are overseeing the development and spark that emerges over time with students who are in our majors and evolve on their own as they enter graduation.

In order to get a seat at the table, we first have to look at benchmarks on where we stand as professors, but also where our graduate students are at in terms of preparation. We have lots of great and talented professors and graduate students out there in the PR field – which is very exciting to see. What we have to make sure to do is to help them adapt to both the changes we are seeing in the field, but the evolution we are seeing with the role of the professor in PR.

As I was traveling back from my conference in Miami to Louisville, I was thinking about the reactions I not only got at this conference, but others over  the years. The reactions I have gotten have ranged from – wow! You are doing great work in your research that contributes both to practice and to research. I’ve also gotten some feedback on my work ethic and how it seems like I have a go-go mentality when it comes to projects and research. Yes, this is true – but I blame a little of it on my love for coffee. :)

However, since I have been at Louisville as an assistant professor, I felt there were several lessons I learned with taking on the role.

First year on the job – it is all about getting to know your community. Making introductions, setting up networking sessions and appointments to meet fellow professionals, and becoming familiar with the landscape of the profession both locally as well as nationally and even globally. Second year  – all about displaying what you know. What makes you different and separates you from the rest of the professors out there.  What are you doing in terms or research and where are you presenting and publishing in? It’s about establishing your voice, perspective, and personal brand to the field of academia, research, practice, and teaching.

However, the third year of being a professor is all about one thing:

It’s not about who you know or what you know: It’s about who knows you.

What I mean by this is simply – you have to invest in making sure professionals – researchers, practitioners, brands, and agencies – know you. They need to know your voice and point of view as a professor – what makes you unique and memorable. It is also key to be present and engaged with the conversations – wherever these are at. These can be at conferences as well as research meetings and online.

Another factor here is – you want to branch out in terms of who you want to know you. Meaning, if we are in PR, why are we not going to marketing, consumer behavior, or psychology events and conferences? For every person I talked to about this – I have said, it is key to go where the conversations are happening outside the field as well as in the field. I’ve been to many more conferences that are not PR than I have been to PR conferences. Go to these conferences to generate ideas. Talk to practitioners and start the conversation – not focusing on “okay, what can our students do for you” – but more along the lines “what can we do together to bridge the gap between research and practice to help the profession?” It’s all about having this hybrid perspective.

These are a few things I would have wanted to hear when I was a doctoral student, so this is why I was inspired to write this blog post. I’ve had several doctoral students and graduate students (even newly minted PhDs) reach out to me over the years with advice about best practices and what they can do to be successful in the field. We need more professors who take the time out to share these stories and best practices – we are all on the same page here, so why don’t we help each other out?

I’d be interested in hearing what you all think about this. Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,

May 5, 2014

Being professional does not mean boring: Showcasing best practices for standing out for professors

I got inspired to write this post by my sister Kristin’s post on her blog about how you can be professional but not boring. Awesome insights on this, Kristin – because this is SO true. Being passionate about what you do professionally is something that makes everything work – if you are excited and like what you are doing in your work, it doesn’t get old. Plus, it is something you get inspired to share these insights and ideas with others.

I had a chance to give a presentation at the UT Social Media Week a month ago and I felt this one was all about showcasing personality and not being a “normal” presentation by a professor. Was this a “normal” presentation by a professor? Well, that depends on what your definition of normal is. :) I would say that I used a lot more humor and personality here than I have done in some of my presentations – especially when I was a graduate student.

Here is the YouTube video of the presentation (I have my session around the 30 minute mark):

YouTube Preview Image

So, how do you make sure your work – both in research, practice, and in teaching – is not “boring” and making sure you are doing something you are passionate about? Here are some of my tips:

  • Got to showcase your personality: If you are trying to be someone else, you may not be as happy as you are if you are yourself. I noticed this as a professor – I realized I had to be myself and see what worked for me and how can I share this with others. See what works for you and do take on best practices from professors you feel are doing well – but do put your own twist on it. First and foremost – be yourself.
  • Be bold, dramatic, heroic!: You got to take a page out from Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” – set the tone and say – I am not going to be doing what everyone else is doing in research or teaching. I am going to go where no professor/researcher has gone before. Is this scary at times where you feel you are alone in the process? Sometimes this is true, but other times it is exciting. You’ve got to experiment around and see what works!
  • Being different is a good thing: Why would you want to be like everyone else out there? If you are like everyone else, how will you stand out? Consider doing a SWOT analysis of yourself in the profession. What makes YOU different from others, and how can you market and showcase this in your field? It may be hard to think about this, but every single professor, researcher, practitioner has unique qualities, stories, experiences, and point of views to share. It’s all about finding them and packaging them up in the brand you want to share.
  • If you feel like at any time your work is “boring” – you need to see WHY this is the case: What you do should be enjoyable and fun. There are always tasks that we may not enjoy more than others, that is the case in all aspects of work. However, if you see that most of the time you are like – I’m bored with what I am doing – you need to reevaluate what is going on and see what you can do to change this.
  • Take time to be creative: Do activities that help inspire your creativity. If you are doing work 100% of the time – this may not be the best for you and you may get burned out. Take an hour to do something you enjoy – whether it is photography, playing video games, work out (this is what I do), or other activities. I have found taking the time out to do an activity you enjoy, you feel rejuvenated and you may actually come up with some good ideas for your work. In fact, most of the ideas I have gotten for research and in my class have come after I have gone out from a run, walking out of a spin or kickboxing class to name a few.

Overall, the key message here is to make sure you are happy with what you are doing and you have a passion for it. However, liking what you do is only half the battle. There is hard work and dedication involved in the process as well. Yet – if you add the hard work and passion to the equation, you can become a very powerful force in the field where you can build and establish yourself as a person to note in your field. Special thanks again to Kristin for being the inspiration with her blog post for this one!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

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