Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

See it! —– Believe it! —– Deal with it!   

September 20, 2014

The future of social media education and the role of PR professors

Brian Solis has written some great books (several I list for my students as part of their recommended reading list for social media) and has generously shared his expertise and insights with businesses, professionals, and even professors. I have followed Brian and his blog for many years, and when I saw he was doing a video series for Hootsuite, I wanted to definitely check them out.

One video that did capture my attention was his thoughts on social media education and what businesses need to be aware of. Solis primarily talked about what were the skills people had and what were some of the skills brands needed. This appears to be the growing issue and trend we are seeing not only in the business side of PR and other related fields, but also as professors.

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What does it take to be a social media professor? What we are seeing is definitely two groups here when teaching a social media class. We have professionals who are actively engaged in the profession still, may have their own consulting business and practice, and are focused on designing and teaching a class that is built on giving students practical and applied assignments and skills to enter the workplace. On the other side, we have professors who teach the theory and undermining principles and concepts going on behind the scenes of social media through research and theory driven exercises.

So, which one is the best approach to take? In my opinion, that’s the wrong question – it really should be – how can we bridge both of these approaches in one class? Some may say it can’t be done, and others argue for one side of the coin is better than the other. I say you can bridge both and be able to be part of these two perspectives. You can share what has been done before and tie in theory and previous work to have in-depth conversations about the growing changes we are seeing that are linked to behavior, attitude formation, and perception. Exploring and tying in principles and perspectives from related fields (ex. psychology, anthropology, marketing) are all key here. We talk about building a foundation for research before we initiate a campaign, but we first have to build a foundation for our strategic mindset.

However, I will say we also need more opportunities for our students when it comes to applying what we are discussing. Yes, it’s key to have the tactical assignments for how to create a tweet, write a blog post, etc – however, we also need to raise our expectations and demands to the next level to prepare them for what to expect. Anticipate the roles they are going to be asked to do for these businesses as Solis mentioned in his video interview with Hootsuite.

Specifically, he mentioned that these roles in some cases for brands are as he said “invented” – which puts professors in the position to be part of the equation and look from their perspective – what are some of the roles that are needed for PR firms, brands, and others in the area of social media? This question allows the professors also be part of the equation and consider what they can do in terms of assignments, projects, and roles for their students in their classes. The creative opportunity here is huge for professors in this area, and we should jump at this with both feet and run with it in our classes.

In essence, what we as professors are facing here is a reinvention of some of the traditional approaches and ways not only are we teaching our students when it comes to social media classes, but also our role as well. We as professors may need to “see things differently” as Solis has mentioned and be open to these new possibilities and opportunities. Along with how we do research and teach, our roles and what we do as professors is also evolving along with the changes we are seeing in the business and professional sector. It’s indeed an exciting time right now for our profession and a glimpse into the future of teaching and our role in it as professors. Bring it on.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


September 18, 2014

What PR professors teaching social media can learn from Gary Vaynerchuk

I first heard about Gary a couple of years ago when I was starting out teaching my social media class. I have read both of his books (if you haven’t checked them out, you should!) – I recommend both “The Thank You Economy” and “Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” These are both good to not only include as part of your own social media library, but two you may want to add as readings for your social media classes.

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I think Gary is probably one of the most memorable (and energetic) social media professionals I have seen. He does a pretty good job in capturing the attention of the audience with his personality, energy, and insights. The one presentation I felt he really captured some of main trends that are happening right now in the field. His presentation showcases some of the challenges and opportunities pertaining to storytelling.

Plus, Gary emphasized the main asset of time, and how we have to be aware of this personally as well as for our audience and how this influences their behavior in terms of your audience. Understanding the analytics and data is also key – but what Gary does emphasize that I think it key is to have a strong understanding that each platform is different – different features, functions, and audiences at times. Some brands and professionals forget about this, so it was very refreshing to hear this.

What can professors learn from Gary? Lots of great tips – here are a few:

  • Adapting presenting skills for practitioners and academics: Gary’s presentation style is energetic, outgoing, and memorable. Plus, you don’t see him relying too much on PowerPoint slides or reading from the screen – he makes eye contact with the audience and is able to read and understand his audience from the stage. Watching a few of his presentations would provide a good insight and tool to study in how to do an effective keynote presentation.
  • Integrating personal brand across platforms: Gary writes books, does keynote presentations, hosts his own YouTube shows, and is actively engaged on social media. The way he presents himself online is a clear example of how to integrate your persona strategically across all platforms so they are aligned together.
  • Being an explorer with all platforms, but understanding their place with audiences: Gary is everywhere and on so many different platforms. You can see he has his hand on the pulse of what is trending and what is going on in the field – professors can take this into consideration and see if they can adapt these practices to see how they can stay on top of trends and test/explore them out as well. As professors, we sometimes stay on maybe one or two platforms without exploring others. Platforms change, and if we are teaching social media, we have to understand the main platforms that are emerging.

In addition, I think Gary is doing something where most social media professionals are not doing – and that’s hosting a video show where he answers questions from his followers and fellow members of his community through tweets, comments, and even questions raised in videos posted on YouTube.

If you haven’t checked out #AskGaryVee, you may want to check out. His latest episode actually addressed a question pertaining to professors and how to convince them about the power of social media and why it’s important to use it. Here’s how Gary addressed this on his show during episode 20:

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I am glad this question was raised – and I would like to share the fact that there are professors who are embracing social media in the classroom, and they are doing really well with this. I wrote a blog post and LinkedIn post on five professors who really are excelling in preparing their students and are embracing this to the fullest degree.  I do think there is a growing shift in academia when it comes to social media – more professors and programs are embracing social media not only for classes, but they are embracing it themselves as professionals as well.

So, if I were to pose a question to Gary for #AskGaryVee, I would ask the following: What can professors who are embracing social media and emerging technologies to create a stronger bridge with professionals like yourself? How can we go from talking to the talk to walking the walk when it comes to really working together so we are all getting the most out of social media education and strategy? We are willing to not only start this conversation, but take actions to make these ideas come to life. All we have to do is start the conversation and let the story play out.

Overall, I do appreciate the information, insights, and perspectives Gary shares with the online community. He’s one I would recommend introducing students and colleagues to in social media classes. His blog and video series will be some recommended readings for my social media class this upcoming spring.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

September 13, 2014

The role social media plays to create a thriving classroom: A professor’s perspective

It’s been interesting to see how professors over the years have engaged not only in the classroom with their classes, but also be creative and how they engage their students and others using social media. There have been many ways professors have used social media in the classroom, especially Twitter. More universities are offering services to professors and others who may be interested in how they could use these platforms for their classes.

However, there are some who may feel by having social media as part of the classroom, it is “killing” our classrooms. Well, there are of course some challenges we as professors have to be aware of when it comes to introducing a new form of technology to class. Yet, I am on the other side of this stance when it comes to the classroom. If implemented professionally and appropriately, I think classrooms thrive with the opportunities with social media. I discussed some of these opportunities as well as a few myths when it comes to social media for professors a few months ago at the UT Social Media Week event. Here’s the video:

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So, the question arises regarding this current stance we are seeing in higher education when it comes to social media: how do you create a real engaged classroom when it comes to social media for professors?

  • Be part of the class community with your students: Assigning students to tweet, post pictures, or write blog posts is one thing. However, as a professor, you need to do this as well. Lead by example and show students what you are doing and learn with them.
  • Invest in your online persona as a professor: If you are asking your students to create an online persona, you as the professor need to establish one yourself. Share what you are doing in terms of research projects. Do interviews with leading professionals on their podcasts. Create content on your blog to share with others. Reach out to fellow professionals and share relevant content that may be of interest.
  • Bring networking and guest speakers to your class through virtual networking practices: Help introduce students with professionals on Twitter to practice virtual networking.  Make sure to encourage to reach out to fellow professionals, brands, and others in industries they are interested in. Also, discuss the practice for curating and creating practices as well to help contribute to their online personal brand.
  • Be an explorer and test our new ideas: It appears that every professor now has their own hashtag for a class, set up a Twitter schedule, etc. However, how are you as a professor really going to make a memorable impression? Combining content and be innovative with how you communicate this material for the class to ignite a conversation will separate you from others. Whether it is Vine or even Instagram, there are a lot of possibilities here.

Overall, as a professor, you have to determine what will work best for you for not only your students, but also consider what are the goals and expectations you think they should have after they leave your class. Being a resource and engaged in the technology to help mentor and support them is also important for their success after graduation. Social media is constantly evolving, and as professors, we have to be aware of this as well as adapt to these changes as well.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

August 31, 2014

Exploring the growth of PR and Social Media strategies implemented w/ Snapchat

Snapchat has of course become a go-to app to reach a particular audience community to start creating a conversation. It appears wherever there is a presence or new opportunity to reach a particular audience, brands are right there to reach and establish a presence. However, Snapchat is also about making sure to pitch to marketers how their app could help them out. So, as you can see, both parties are part of the equation and result of why this chat mobile app is growing in popularity.

Snapchat allows you to create “Our Story” to collect collections of photos based on particular location or event. This of course has been labeled to get into Twitter’s territory a bit, but it does add a new twist to the growing popular app we are seeing not only among teenagers and young adults, but by brands, athletic events like the World Cup, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations and initiatives. Here’s a great infographic from Marketo that showcases the potential for this app for brands. Here’s an early campaign using Snapchat by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to check out as well.

However, like all new apps and we have seen this being brought up with all of the associated apps and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine – there is another side to Snapchat and we need to be aware of what are some of the risks associated with this app.

And yes, as a public relations and social media professor and researcher, I do have a Snapchat app and account set up, but have not used it yet.

Why? I have been waiting to see what others have done with the app to see what are some good practices to note, what are some things that have not worked, and explore great examples of how this app has been used strategically to align itself with the overall brand mission, vision, and community.

However, it’s been great to chat with some of my students who are very enthusiastic and engaged on the platform as well as fellow professionals in the area (Taylor Loren and Chris Syme are very engaged on the platform and share their insights on a regular basis on social media).

In case you are a beginner on Snapchat, here’s a great guide from Mashable and make sure to read Chris’s guide to Snapchat marketing on Social Media Today as well. Both are great resources and readings to share with students, colleagues, and others who are interested.

Other resources you may want to look at include:

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

August 27, 2014

Upcoming presentation at the LDA & IABC 6th Annual Digital Media Summit

The fall semester is beginning and there are already several conferences and presentations set for the next few months for me. One of which is going to be held here in Louisville, which is the LDA & IABC’s Digital Media Summit.

I first went to the Digital Media Summit when I first got to Louisville and started teaching at the University of Louisville. There always was a great lineup of speakers from around the US as well as great social media professionals in the area. Some were from corporations and businesses, and some were from agencies. However, this year, instead of being an attendee, I will be one of the speakers at the event.

I am truly honored and excited about this opportunity. I will be focusing my presentation primarily on the crisis communications angle of social media. This area continues to grow in research and practice of course, but there needs to be a bridge to understand both sides of the coin. Plus, we have to understand how to effectively engage our audiences at the right time and right platform/place.

This year has a pretty great line up if I say so myself. :) I am very excited to be part of this opportunity and really appreciative to Jason Falls for inviting me to be part of this great event. This is perfect for all professionals, students, and educators in the area of digital and social media. Here’s the Eventbrite link to the event so you can order tickets online. Registration is open until October 10th! :)

We hope to see you at the event and have a great day!

Best Wishes,

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