Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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October 21, 2014

How coffee contributed my personal brand as a #prprof

What makes us all human is our unique qualities and characteristics. Whether we are enthusiastic about technology or have a passion for cooking amazing feasts and bake for others – these are part of who we are and our identity as human beings.

However, when it comes to social media professionals, how do we showcase our unique qualities besides our knowledge, experiences, and insights? The answer is simple, and it has to do with socks.

No, I am not saying you have to go out and buy all the socks you can – what I mean is embracing an item, accessory, or even a drink that can be tied to your reputation.

I consider Ted Rubin to be one of the great leaders in the digital sphere and profession – we are Facebook friends, follow each other on Twitter and Instagram, and I have been really impressed with how he engages on a real and authentic level. He updates not only on relevant content on social media, but he also showcases his personality quite a bit. And, he takes pictures of his socks, which he calls “sockies.”

What Ted has done as he explains in his post is how socks helped establish his brand on social media and formulate these relationships. I couldn’t agree more! You have to figure out what makes you different and use this as a way to engage in dialogue and formulate these relationships?

So, while my sock collection totally needs to be addressed, I have used another item to help establish my personal brand with fellow colleagues, students, professionals, and even fellow professors. My item is coffee.

Coffee is probably one of my biggest weaknesses – I joke with my students and colleagues about the fact that it is a major food group for me as well as my blood type. :) All you have to do is look at my Instagram page and see all of the reference associated with my enthusiasm for coffee. I even use the hashtag #ThisProfRunsOnCoffee a lot to communicate this!

However, this was not always the case. I started really sharing my love for coffee a few years ago while I was still at the University of Tennessee with my friends. I would occasionally share this online on Facebook, and then it started picking up among my friends. While at UofL, I noticed right away that it became quite apparent with even my students where they would bring me items to my office related to coffee. In addition, if students or colleagues wanted to meet – it was never in my office – but rather a coffee shop. I guess you can say they know me pretty well!

Another factor to note here is that with social media, there is of course a way to share the love and joy of coffee with others! This is where I have used TweetACoffee from Starbucks to do just this. You can send a coffee voucher virtually on Twitter to a friend and they are able to redeem this on their end.

I have done this for students, fellow professionals working in social media, and even colleagues celebrating their birthday. I have gotten tweets, tags on Instagram, and pictures shared on Facebook of my fellow friends and colleagues who have used their gift and and thanked me online. This was awesome to see! :) I have found that this has not only been an extension of my personal brand on social media, but also has contributed to the relationship management I have had with fellow colleagues, or #RonR like Ted Rubin says.

In summary – the answer is not to jump on board the sock or coffee bandwagon [however, these are both fabulous and always in need for more enthusiasts!]  – but find out what makes YOU memorable as a professional/person in your field. What other elements make you memorable and others can associate with your personal brand and give you the ability to share this with others. There are many other professionals who have done exactly this for other items like Lee Odden (another coffee enthusiast!), Jason Falls (bourbon), and Alex Houg (doughnuts).

So – what will be your item to help extend your personal brand and formulate sustainable #RonR with your community? Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen 

October 18, 2014

Reflections from 2014 LDA Digital Media Summit

I had the chance and wonderful opportunity to attend as well as present at this year’s Digital Media Summit, sponsored by the Louisville Digital Association. This was a fun conference to go to and had an amazing time presenting as well as listening to all of the great talks at the event.

Plus, I was able to see some amazing professionals in attendance at the conference like Dennis Yu, Alex Houg, Melody Murphy, Hailey Heishman, Christy Belden, Todd Krise, and Sam Douglass. Great to see you all in attendance!

We had so many great speakers at the event and I felt I walked away with a ton of new knowledge not only to guide me for what to cover for my social media class this upcoming spring at UofL, but also within my own research. As soon as I left the conference, I reviewed and edited my syllabus for my class to include some of the tips, best practices, and lessons learned from the event.

We are seeing great number of changes in the field where the expectations for operating, communicating, and engaging in new disruptive techniques and technologies to advocate for change and rethinking of traditional principles and industries. I was able to take in a great deal from all of the fellow speakers. It was also great to finally meet some of these amazing professionals in person like Rick Murray and Kyle Lacy – I have been following them on social media for a while and it was wonderful to speak to them at the conference. Also, I had the chance to meet Erik Deckers, who is an outstanding writer and an author of one of the books I recommend my students to read for my social media class. Very cool!

What did I talk about at the LDA Digital Media Summit? I was able to talk a little bit about crisis communications – what I am seeing emerging from the field and what I am currently working on as part of an extension of research I have been doing over the last few years. I was very honored to be asked to speak by Jason Falls and I was actually able to share the story where Jason saved the day while we were traveling back from the Integrate Conference.

If you are interested in what the speakers talked about, Jason Falls and the great team at LDA created a page where they have all of the presentations uploaded so you can see them on Slideshare. You also may want to check out the great key takeaways post Todd Krise has written about the event as well over on LinkedIn – great insights and summaries!

So, I would like to take this time to thank Jason Falls, Nick Huhn, and the rest of the great and amazing team at LDA for allowing me to be part of this amazing event. This was the largest one yet and it is a must go to conference for students, professionals, and professors who are actively engaged in new emerging media and technologies.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

October 13, 2014

Presenting at EAPRSA about Google Glass in the PR Curriculum

I had the opportunity to be part of a great Google Glass teaching panel this weekend in Washington D.C. with some amazing professors and practitioners in the PR field. Special thanks to Amber Hutchins for organizing and getting all of us today for this great panel! It was great to brainstorm ideas also along with Melissa Dodd (University of Central Florida) and Katie Paine (Paine Publishing).

Katie Paine, Melissa Dodd, Amber Hutchins, and I at our Google Glass PR panel at EAPRSA.

We didn’t really have a PowerPoint for the presentation, but I did create this one in advance with some stories and talking points I wanted to share about my experience with Google Glass over the last year. Melissa Dood also created a great list of ideas and resources on Google Glass here for everyone to look at and save. It was great to hear from everyone not only their stories, but also hear from the audience as well on what they think are some of the main assignments and ways it can be integrated into the classroom.

Google Glass has been a great and innovative tool to include as part of the classroom, especially in my social media class. I feel that it does open the door for wearable and mobile technologies and integrating them as part of a strategic storytelling function. Plus, we are also able to see the POV of the individual in slightly a new way, where we are able to see what they are viewing and be part of this shared experience.

In addition, the number of apps and functions (ex. directions, apps, creating videos/visuals, getting notifications, etc) are very cool to share with the students. I do think however, there are many opportunities to conduct brainstorming sessions with students and see not only what they think, but also what they can do with this form of technology that could help them with their future careers. Getting experience in coding and creating apps for Glass are just a few ideas to consider.

With this panel, there were a lot of ideas and points shared with fellow PR professors, and I do think this is just the beginning of a future discussion and collaborative effort in the PR academic community when it comes to wearable technologies. It was cool during the conference to see Google Glass also engage with all of us on Twitter!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

October 6, 2014

Engaging Visuals & Stories from Educators: 5 must follow PR professors on Instagram

We have seen some great things being used and created by using Instagram – from brands to even teachers in the classroom. As a professor, I have used the platform myself to engage not only what it is like traveling, presenting research, or my personal life, but I do try to use it to engage my students and fellow colleagues in the classroom.

What I think is important as we celebrate Instagram’s fourth birthday is to look at not only how brands have used the platform over the years, but see how fellow professors have done this in their classes. There are several professors who are friends of mine who really have stepped it up with their Instagram profile to engage who they are as a professor as well as a person. I’d like to give shout outs to the following professors who have really used this platform very well in their classes and overall presence:

  • Amber Hutchins (IG: @profhutchins): Amber does a great job in capturing her classes with great guest speakers who come to her social media classes at Kennesaw State University. However, Amber does a great job also in showcasing her wonderful personality and interests as well – which is a reflection of a strong online and offline personal brand.
  • Nick Bowman (IG: BowmanSpartan): Nick’s awesome and very engaged on social media – but he does a great job in showcasing his personality as well as his story on a regular basis with his pictures on Instagram. While Nick has a few pictures on Instagram, you already get a glimpse to the type of professor he is based on his personality and hard work ethic.
  • CarolynMaeKim (IG: @carolynmaekim): Many times, you see professors who are not willing to share a bit of themselves on social media, but Carolyn has done a great job in showcasing her interests in cooking and coffee (of course!) on Instagram. Instagram allows you to do this and along with her interests in PR and social media, Carolyn is able to visually showcase another part of her personal brand successfully through visuals on Instagram.
  • Laura Spica (@lauraspica): A professor at the University of Tennessee and teaching a social media class this semester, Laura has showcased the culture, student assignments, and overall story behind #UTADV490 through Instagram. From pictures of her students participating in class assignments outside of lass to her personal life as a successful social media professional, Laura has done an excellent job in bridging both her professor/personal/professional brand together through a visual story.
  • Gee Ekachai: (IG: @geeber): If you have not followed Gee, a professor from Marquette University, with her Instagram blog on Tunblr, you need to. If you want to see the latest and greatest third party apps to use for photography, Gee is the person and professor you need to follow. Gee does a great job in showcasing the various apps and features you can do with Instagram and photography. I’ve learned a lot from following Gee when it comes to Instagram and creating great visuals to tell my story as a professor. Thanks Gee!

In summary, all though Instagram has been around for four years, there are still a lot of great opportunities and creative ways Instagram can be used both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom especially when it comes to Instagram. Are there other professors you feel are good examples to showcase as leaders in the area of using Instagram for the classroom?

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

September 30, 2014

Mentoring future professionals in the age of social media

We hear a lot of times that research and teaching are two important duties for professors today. However, I think there is a third item that needs to be added here for all of us to consider. Mentorship is one of the key duties and responsibilities professors have today with their students. Whether they are undergraduate students or graduate students, we need to make sure to provide a good foundation to what is to be expected of them out in the workplace. However, we also have to make sure to provide them with opportunities to showcase their insights, skills, and knowledge in new opportunities.

One of the things I have tried to do while at the University of Louisville is to share what I do when I am not in the classroom. I have had students in the past who think all I do is come to class, give them a lecture on a topic associated with class, and then leave. However, I do outline my daily calendar of all of the other activities I am a part of (ex. research, dissertation meetings, consulting projects, etc). I also make sure to talk about what the benefits are for working on research projects and what that involves.

I am currently teaching a graduate crisis communications class this semester, and I gave my students the opportunity to potentially submit their research case study (their final project for the class) to two conferences. One was going to be in Orlando, and another was to be held in Greece. One of my students, Samantha, expressed an interest in pursuing this. I provided her with some recommendations on what case study to work on and then she came up with the abstract to submit. And, she received some wonderful news yesterday – her paper got accepted to present at the conference.

I think this is not only impressive, but really exceptional because you may see this from a PhD student, but it is not that common to have a Master’s student initiate a research case study to present at an international conference. When Samantha shared this exciting news to her, I let her know she is doing something not many students have done before. In fact, I was in between my first and second year in my PhD program when I presented at my first international research conference.

There are several lessons I have learned here when it comes to mentoring that I hope professors take into consideration as they advice their undergraduate and graduate students:

  • Determine what makes this student unique: This is something to think about for each student. What’s their story in getting into this major? What areas are they passionate about?  What is going to be their unique contribution to the field? What makes them different from other graduate or undergraduate students? What are their skills?
  • Ask the students where they see themselves after graduation: Along with the assessment of their skills, you want to ask the student where they see themselves after graduation. This will give you an idea of where they see themselves and if they are currently in the mindset for understanding what it will take to make it there.
  • Be generous with what you’ve learned in the process: Sharing your own experience in the field is key – whether it is professionally or in research. I’ve tried to share what I have learned over the years with fellow colleagues, students, and even doctoral students. My feeling is – what would I have wanted to know at their stage? Also, walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Show your students what you have been able to do thanks to social media. Whether it is through Twitter or even writing on LinkedIn or your own personal blog, you are able to provide a real life perspective on the topic for your students to witness.
  • Evaluate their willingness to invest and work ethic to achieve their goals: You want to have a “come to reality” chat with each of your students on this topic. In today’s society, we are all expected to work harder and more efficiently than ever before. However, if we take the time to invest in our professional future, it will pay off substantially. This is what I have done for both graduate and undergraduate students over the years – look at how much they are willing to work towards achieving their goals and what they want to do.
  • Be their coach and cheer them on. One of the best lessons I got in this was from my Dad. Dad was my coach in track, and he always said that you want to be there as a coach to support, encourage, and push the athlete to perform and be the best they can be. However, coaches are not there on the award stand getting the medal around their neck. I think this is the approach professors should take. We want to be there to help our students succeed and when they do, it’s their time in the spotlight and we will be there as their biggest cheerleaders. When they get exciting news like Samantha has done, share it! It’s not every day you get to see your students excited and motivated to take on these various tasks and challenges and succeed in them!

In summary, I am very proud of all of the students I have mentored and taught over the years. Each one has had their own unique qualities and dreams after graduation, and it has been an honor to be part of this experience. Having the opportunity to be able to make an impact and help guide future professionals in our field is one of the best things about being a professor.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

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