Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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August 22, 2014

Power of Storytelling & Viral Fundrasing: Exploring the ALS #IceBucketChallenge Case

One of the campaigns we have all seen either online or on the news – from celebrities to our dear friends and family members – is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What is ALS? According to the ALS website, ALS (or otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts the spinal cord and the brain.

Before we go into the actions and power of the ice bucket challenge, we need to be aware of the background story of how this campaign came about – which is one of the reasons why this became so successful. It all began with Pete Frates, a successful baseball player from Boston College who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the age of 27. Here’s his  story and provides a deeper view into ALS as well as the start of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

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It seems like everyone has done a video and been part of this viral movement, from celebrities to athletes and CEOs to people you know all in your network. It’s really become the face of viral fundraising - which is probably going to be a term you will hear a lot of PR and social media professionals talk about for the next few months.

However, from a PR and social media standpoint, this particular campaign has been a game changer not only for the huge increase of awareness and donations ALS has gotten since the beginning of this challenge, but it has also impacted brands like Facebook as well. From what we saw from this Mashable post, people were sharing these videos to Facebook, not necessarily Twitter. Why was this the case? Well, you can of course submit longer videos – but Facebook is where we have our social relationships – we are able to experience this with our colleagues, friends, and family.

There are several things we have to be aware of here from this campaign and as professors, we need to share this with our students:

  • The power of storytelling: Each person who participated was able to share not only why they were doing this, but if they were participating to donate to the cause based on a family member or friend they knew who has or had ALS.
  • Personal and simple messages: The message was clear, the actions for the behavior people had to take were direct and to the point, and it allowed a way for people to personally create and share a message with others. Not one video is the same – as well as the reaction to the experience.
  • Presence of strong word-of-mouth: Who are we influenced by? Friends, family, and others of course – this allows people to see of course celebrities and other participate – but this campaign allowed everyone to have the chance to be part of this cause. Hearing actions to take from a friend or someone you have a relationship with – personal and/or professional – can be an important area of source credibility to explore here for this campaign.
  • Sharing the experience with others: Everyone had the chance to share their experience in the ice bucket challenge, put forth their own spin on the message while emphasizing the need to donate to ALS, and to invite people to be part of the experience as well.

What has the result been for the ALS Ice Bucket Fundraising Challenge? To this day, they have raised over $53 million dollars. WOW! This is pretty impressive and definitely shows the power of social media, personalized experiences, and activism online to generate this huge success for the ALS organization. For those of you who have donated to this cause, thank you so much. We need to continue raising the awareness of this and sustain these efforts. If you haven’t donated yet, here’s the link to do so.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen 

August 15, 2014

Sharing insights on social media research and teaching from a PR professor’s perspective

If I had to describe how this past week has been, it’s been busy! However, it has been very rewarding and exciting especially in the area of social media education. I had a chance this week to talk to two great professionals this week about my thoughts and research in the area, which resulted in a podcast feature with Kevin Anselmo and a blog article on Hootsuite.

I had a chance to speak with Kevin Anselmo on his podcast a few weeks ago, but the episode came out yesterday and we had a lot to chat about! I first met Kevin virtually a few months ago when he wrote a blog post about how I was using Instagram for my social media classes at the University of Louisville. We had a lot to talk about when it comes higher education and social media in the classroom and in research.

Kevin and I talked also about a study I did a few years ago on social media influencers that really sparked a lot of discussion not only for professors, but practitioners as well. Make sure to check out Kevin’s blog and podcast if you are teaching or working in higher education and are interested in social media. It’s a great resource and Kevin is a wonderful host! I had a marvelous time being part of the show – thanks again Kevin for the invitation!

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have been a huge fan of Hootsuite for years. I have been actively engaged using the program as well as implementing Hootsuite University into my classes at the University of Louisville. Not only is the program and product great, but the team of professionals who work behind the scenes are amazing as well. They are all professional, energetic, and extremely helpful for educators and students to be engaged with on social media. I was asked a few weeks ago as well about what students can do better in terms of becoming more effective digital professionals.

This appears to be a topic of conversation a lot of professors are having right now, and I was really excited to share my thoughts with Olsy on the subject in this post. I think the overall strategy professors need to consider here when engaging in social media effective practices is to make sure to lead by example – be engaged on social media, be effectively connecting with fellow professionals, and share examples and tips students can immediately apply into their own work and online presence.

It was a fun post to be a part of for Hootsuite. I would like to thank Kimberly, Olsy, Shawn, Kirsten, Paula, Taylor, Carrie, Michael, Rob, Jordan, Bill Ward and Allie for all of your help and support these past few years. It’s been truly an amazing experience and I was very honored to be part of this blog post. Keep up the amazing work!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

 

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,
Karen

 

 

August 10, 2014

Meeting the Hootsuite Social Media Pros at AEJMC

It’s not every day where you get to meet key professionals in person at a conference. Well, I was able to do so this week while at the AEJMC Conference in Montreal. I had a chance to meet two professionals associated with Hootsuite. I was very excited to finally meet Dr. William Ward (or otherwise known as Dr4Ward) and Kirsten Bailey.

I first corresponded with Bill a few years ago when I first started teaching social media. If you are not following Bill yet on social media or his blog, you definitely should! He’s pretty much the leading voice and presence for social media education – he was the first to be part of Hootsuite University and is now the Director of Education for Hootsuite. Congratulations on your new role, Bill!

So, after many years corresponding on social media, I had a chance to meet Bill in person. We had a great conversation over coffee in the coffee bar at the conference hotel. We discussed new trends in social media education, our enthusiasm for coffee, and how the AEJMC PRD and Hootsuite could continue working together for future conferences. This was the first time Hootsuite was a sponsor at AEJMC.

The time seemed to just fly by – and Bill is not only a leading expert in the field, but his energy and enthusiasm to help others was awesome to see first hand! He’s the real deal and a wonderful colleague and friend to have in the business.

Kirsten and I have been actively corresponding over the years as well. She is the Director of Hootsuite University, which is a program of course I heard about from Bill. Kirsten and I had a chance to talk with fellow PR professor Carolyn Kim (another must follow professor in social media) before our panel session. I was truly amazed and excited to share with Kirsten my thoughts on social media education – she listened and wanted feedback from both Carolyn and I about our experience in HSU and what Hootsuite could do for educators.

Wow – how cool is that? That is what I thought and made me realize – this is what Hootsuite is doing that is separating themselves from other brands. This level of commitment, engagement, and support for education is superb and leading the field.

The team Hootsuite has for the program is unlike any other I have seen over the years from social media companies. I have had the pleasure speaking and working with great professionals at Hootsuite (Taylor Loren, Paula Cusati, and Kimberly Jang) along with Kirsten to incorporate HSU in my social media classes at the University of Louisville.

Kirsten did an AMAZING presentation at AEJMC as part of a teaching mobile panel session. Her presentation was wonderful and insightful for fellow PR professors – here’s a mini clip of her presentation on the panel.We had a chance to not only learn more about Hootsuite University, but also get some ideas for how it can be used in the classroom for various assignments.

I was sitting on the panel myself (did a presentation on Google Glass), and I was able to see the excitement and focus of everyone in the room. The room was standing room only, and the buzz on social media definitely reflected this.

In summary, I would like to thank both Bill and Kirsten for coming to AEJMC and presenting all about Hootsuite to the PRD. We are thrilled with the results and feedback we have gotten – it’s exciting to see everyone getting ready for the fall semester and saying – HSU is going to be a must have for my classes!

I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations as well – I was a huge fan of Hootsuite of course before the conference, but the energy and kindness shared by both Kirsten and Bill at the conference really stood out to me and made me even a bigger fan. Taking the time to talk with professors, asking our feedback on the program, and being willing to share resources and help educators in social media education – I can’t think of any other company in the social media sector that has done this like Hootsuite. In fact, I can’t think of any! :)

Again, it was a pleasure meeting you both at the conference, Bill and Kirsten. This was a true highlight for me and I know many of the PR professors and students in Montreal. Thank you and the rest of the team at Hootsuite for being such a leader in social media education – this is not only making a huge impact and difference for our students, but for all of us who are professors as well. #ThanksAMillion. :)

Thanks and have a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

August 9, 2014

From Social to Coffee Chats: Meeting the fabulous Melissa Agnes in Montreal

One of the things I have truly taken away from my travels, conferences, and meetings this summer is to make sure to make the effort to meet fabulous social media friends I have made over the years in person. I have had a chance to do that her in Montreal on several occasions, and the first one I want to share is when I had a chance to meet the fabulous Melissa Agnes.

If you don’t know Melissa, she is one of the leading voices and practitioners in the area of social media, crisis communications, and crisis management. She is a professional based in Montreal and has been working with clients and speaking at conferences all around the world. Her blog and podcast are pretty fabulous as well!

For several years, Melissa and I would tweet, chat via FB, and even start having virtual coffee meetings via Skype. Melissa would come on board with The Crisis Show and would also be a popular guest speaker for my classes at the University of Louisville. Melissa has also allowed me to be a guest on her blog, podcast, and even guest blog as well like this latest one on teaching crisis communications.

When I found out that AEJMC was going to be in Montreal – I immediately let Melissa know about it and we had a year to plan accordingly – #OperationFabulousPRPartOne!

Melissa and I at coffee in Montreal! (Photo Credit: Melissa Agnes)

I finally got to meet Melissa the first day I was in Montreal – and it was probably one of the highlights I had not only in Montreal, but my travels this summer. Melissa is exactly how she appears online – kind, energetic, enthusiastic about life and the profession, and absolutely a delight to spend time with.

We had actual coffee together at an amazing local coffee shop and dinner later (was fabulous!) I took away the experience as being so enjoyable because I felt I have known Melissa for years, which we have of course. Melissa also attended the conference as a practitioner and was able to come to my presentations, which was pretty cool!

Overall, based on my experience and meeting Melissa in person, I knew she was super fabulous, but she is beyond super fabulous! One of the best professionals I know and a truly fabulous friend. Along with several other professionals I got a chance to meet in person from our connections on social media, this really sparked my enthusiasm to do more of this.

Thank you so much for meeting up with me here in Montreal Melissa and showing me the beauty of your city! Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen 

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