Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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December 13, 2014

Social Media Rules [and Perceptions] are supposed to be broken: An inspired post b/c of Jessica Smith

There are many communities I am a part of on social media. I have my fellow professors who teach social media and PR with #prprofs and then I have also my crisis communications colleagues with #crisispr. However, there is another community I am a part of that is really great, and that is the #smsports community, or otherwise known as the social media sports community.

I have to thank Twitter for getting me connected to the great community that is #smsports. Honestly, some of the best strategic and creative minds are part of this community, and it’s truly been a pleasure to hear their ideas, perspectives, stories, and advice for others entering or working in the field. These professionals are dynamic, energetic, and absolutely brilliant in how not only they are for their respective teams and positions, but they are also very strong with managing their own personal brands as professionals as well.

Jessica Smith is one of these great professionals. If you are interested in strategic insights, great content, and knowing the latest tech trends in sports and their implications, you need to follow Jessica on Twitter and read her blog.

Jessica shared something this morning that truly struck a cord with me – she shared this post and talked about how social media rules are meant to be broken. This was an eye catching tweet and immediately started thinking – it’s not only about the rules, but the perception of what you are SUPPOSED to do on social media.

This actually is one of the things I talked about a few months ago at the UT Social Media Week. There are so many “rules” and even “myths” about how we are supposed to be on social media. As as professors, I’ve seen some of these come and go for years, and I never quite knew where these rules or expectations came from, but I knew they were not for me. I found out I was not the only one among my professor friends who thought this – so this of course sparked this presentation and another one I will be giving in March at SxSW EduWe are seeing a lot more professors breaking down these perceptions and rules on social media, and it’s been great to see this as well as start a community where we can all bounce off ideas and perspectives on this topic.

So, where did these rules actually come from? I am not sure who made up some of these rules, but what we have to look at here when it comes to social media is the fact that these “rules” and “perceptions” are all based on the community itself. Social media is all about experimenting to see what works – that’s the beauty of it. Social media success doesn’t happen over night – you have to work at it every day like you would as an athlete training for a major competition. You have some great days and there are some days were you have to say – well, that wasn’t fun. But you learn from these and make sure you do what it takes to make sure you come back better and stronger.

In essence, each platform, team, community, and individual is different – if we try to fit ourselves in one particular mold, how are we going to make an impression that is memorable? Does every athlete train the same way? There are some things they do that is similar, but there are some exercises that are tailored based on the individual athlete as well as the sport in which they are in. By drifting away from the rules slightly and being unique is what makes a memorable impression. If we all did the same things on social media and acted the same way – wouldn’t that be a little boring?

In summary, it’s important to break down some of these set forth social media rules to be different, bold, and impactful within our community. As Jessica says, social media rules are supposed to be broken, but I’d add so are perceptions – and you want to provide them with alternatives and educational tools to take action to adapt them to fit your own individual, brand, and community needs.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


October 27, 2013

How Google Glass to showcase shared experiences & empowered stories at UofL Football Game

Google Glass has been a very cool tool to use over the last couple of months. From conferences to classrooms to even guest lectures – it has provided a great opportunity for me to showcase and share with others what it is like with Glass.

One of the things I have tried to do as a Google Glass Explorer is not only look at how it can be used in the classroom and in research, but how it can be applied strategically for organizations and brands. Naturally, there are many brands in Louisville to choose from, but the first one I was able to share Google Glass with was UofL Athletics.

How did this come about? One of the things that has been great about being at UofL has been the partnership between athletics and academics when it comes to social media. We have a group dedicated to talking about social media and its new trends on a regular basis. This was how I first met Nick Stover, who is the Director of Social Media for UofL Athletics.

Rewind a few months ago – I announced in July that I was getting a pair of Google Glasses on social media, and the first person to ask me how I got to be part of the program was Nick.  Realizing that 1) Google Glass was a relatively new tool to be used and is being tested out and 2) we are still not aware of when it will be available to the public – it presented a unique opportunity that was both strategic and innovative.

What if we were able to use Google Glass in and outside the classroom? Several professors have been innovative with their uses of Google Glass in the classroom (like William Ward – he’s done some amazing things with it in his class!), but there never seemed to be a partnership where you truly saw a shared experience beyond the classroom.

It’s one thing to brainstorm how we can use Google Glass in the classroom – but it is another to actually implement and use it strategically. So, this is what we did at UofL. We knew that this would separate the athletic experience from other competing university programs in a big way – and also provided a unique view of the point of view and story of UofL as a team, university, and environment.

After showing Nick the basics on how to operate and use Google Glass, I was able to set him up with the Guest feature (where he would be able to take videos and pictures, but not look at my specific Google Glass account) and have him take videos and pictures of what it was like at the recent UofL v. UCF football game (which was our homecoming).

What Google Glass has done in the case of UofL Athletics is provide a unique point of view of what it is like to experience a UofL Football game – what it is like to walk in the traditional Cardinal March with the players and coaches and what is feels like to be on the sidelines of a packed football stadium full of UofL fans. You got to see our QB Teddy Bridgewater interact with fans and see the homecoming ceremony from the sidelines. It felt like you were right there in the game – which is one of the great things Google Glass does – it’s quite the personalized experience to share your point of view with others.

Courtesy of UofL Athletics (Cardinal Athletic Fund & ULFlyingCardinal)

If you want to check out the video, you can view it here. The video has since been promoted on all of UofL Athletics social media pages such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

So, as a professor and Google Glass explorer, what did it teach me? There were several things that it taught me about this experience:

  • Technology is great to brainstorm, but you really have to apply it and test it out to see how it works. I viewed this as an opportunity to bring Google Glass to the classroom of life for the first time – which was both exciting and made me nervous to tell you the truth. You never know what others may think of the technology and how it could be used, but this showed it was a great experience for everyone.
  • Field research (which this can be categorized as being) is crucial when it comes to emerging technology: You have to expand the horizon on how this can be used. Look at where social media is today – it’s not just in the classroom, but it is everywhere! We have to have this same philosophy when it comes to tools like Google Glass.
  • Training and education is essential. You have to spend the time going over the basic functions, what you can do with the technology.
  • Empower audiences with these shared experiences: One of the stereotypes happening with Google Glass Explorers is the fax they are being called “Glass*****” because they don’t allow anyone to test out Glass. I didn’t want to be one of these explorers, but I felt it was necessary to allow certain people to test this out for themselves to share these experiences. With this, I think it has empowered the UofL Athletics department with their audiences because of this unique viewpoint and sharing this with all audiences (fans, students, players, media, etc). So, it was definitely a win-win situation for all involved. :)
  • Always have Plan B. If the battery is dead – what do you do? How do you delete pictures and transfer them? These are all things that need to be covered before an event, which we did.
  • Trust is absolutely key. You have to make sure you go over the protocols for the tools and this is again where training comes into play.

Overall, it was fun to see Google Glass being used to share the stories, experiences, and point of view of UofL Athletics. I am sure that we are going to see more sports teams around the nation implement this new tool to showcase their teams, players, coaches, and fans – but it was fun to see it first being done here at the University of Louisville. :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



February 4, 2013

Super Bowl 2013: Newsjacking, storybranding, and brand personalities showcased via social media

The Super Bowl is an iconic American past time were friends, families, and fans all come together to watch some great football.  Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens for their win against the SF 49ers.  While there has been a lot of focus dedicated to the various teams playing in the game, it was interesting to see what was emerging via social media as well.

What did we learn from this year’s Super Bowl overall?  There are some trends we have seen consistently not only the commercials, but how they are using social media itself.  However, as many on my Twitter feed mentioned, the real story was what was happening in terms of engaging fans via Twitter and other social media platforms.

Power of newsjacking for brands:  David Meerman Scott first coined this phrase a few years ago and has a book on the subject as well. From what we can see, newsjacking really was clearly seen in this year’s Super Bowl and was actually listed as one of the key trends to watch for 2013.  Oreo brilliantly created a visual communicating how you can still dunk a cookie even in the dark when there was a power outage in New Orleans.  Definitely a great example of real-time marketing strategy at play.  Well played, Oreo. Walgreens also jumped on board as well by offering candles, but what made Oreos stand out from the crowd was the fact they added the visual component that was aligned to their brand.

Always expect the unexpected and be prepared for any crisis to happen:  This of course happened during the Super Bowl when the there was a power outage which caused other brands like Oreo, Walgreens, Tide, and even the MLB to jump on board with their commentary and integrated their brands to the mix. Many reasons were given for why this happened, but the classic jab towards the Superdome came from Audi by mentioning how they are going to send LED lights to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Ouch.

Fans and other social media users jump on board to get their 15 minutes or so of fan by providing witty and humorous commentary on social media:  With the commercials, performances during the game, and football in general – fans were very active in engaging in conversations via Twitter.  From conspiracy theories to blaming Beyonce for the power, the list goes on and played out via Twitter to create the organic hashtag #BlackoutBowl.  The power outage was actually the most talked about item of the Super Bowl – which of course is probably not what CBS and the NFL expected for the game.

Storybranding is absolutely key to integrate with brands and their campaigns:  Jeep, Ram, and Budweiser really tapped into this aspect for their commercials by telling a story to share with others in a visual and strategic manner in their commercials.  The reaction to all three commercials and campaigns has been extremely positive. Here is the commercial for Ram that focused on Paul Harvey and farmers:

YouTube Preview Image

Commercials used hashtags, but some were not trending.  Many of the brands were using hashtags that were not associated with the brand itself, which was a risk to take.  Instead of going to the hashtag strategy, Oreo went and directed people to go to their Instagram page and use their cookies cream hashtag. The result?  Before the commercial, they had 2,000 followers.  Now, they have over 30,000 following on Instagram.  I would say that was a success.

In summary, what we have seen here with this Super Bowl is the emergence and importance of several key strategies for public relations and strategic communication professionals to recognize.  First, you have to be on top of things for your brand in terms of social media.  Opportunities may arise to tie in your brand with a popular topic or issue, so timing is everything.  Storybranding is key for brands to integrate into their various messages to reach their audiences.  Crises do happen and it really all depends on how you react to them – and we got a chance to see some brands interact and engage with each other in making the most out of the power outage.

Overall, I think we are going to remember this Super Bowl for a long time for many reasons, but this was the one that brought about newsjacking, storybranding, and showcased power of brand personalities.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


October 10, 2012

Behind Army Football Lines w/ Social Media: Experiencing football on the sidelines

One of the best ways I think to see a football game is on the field – and this is what I was able to do this past weekend at the Army v. Boston College Football game.

It was our fall break at the University of Louisville, and I spent my time visiting Kristin and Scott up in Highland Falls.  But the question is – how did I get the chance to hangout on the sidelines?

Well, I made a bid on an auction item that allowed me to work with the radio show at West Point for the chance to hold their microphone on the field.  I had a chance to be interviewed on the radio show, go up in the pressbox, and see the game from the best seat of the hosue!  I have to thank Dad for encouraging me to do this since he had the chance to do the exact same thing when he was up visiting Kristin for her birthday a few weeks ago!

I have been up at West Point several times over the years visiting Kristin – it is a wonderful place and there is nothing like it.  The atmosphere is energetic and there is so much history, tradition, and commitment among all those who are at West Point.

Best seat in the house at the Army v. BC Game!

With this amazing opportunity to see a game at this level, I knew that I had to make sure to get both pictures and videos of this event to be able to give others an idea of what it is like to be at an Army football game.  I actually made two Ptchs – one is with some of my pictures before, during, and after the game and the other is just video clips I took on the field. I also made sure to use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to share my experiences through updates and photos as well.

Ready to watch some Army Football! Go Black Knights!

Overall, I had an amazing time in NY and experiencing my first Army game with Kristin and Scott – they were fabulous hosts!  I would also like to thank Tracy from the USMA Athletic Department who was really helpful in making sure I got on the field and helped me get around to the various places at the game. I would highly recommend looking at some of these auction items to see if you can try to get the same experience – this is one I will never forget and I was able to not only enjoy myself at the game, but I was able to capture some of the great memories and views I had to share with others.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



August 27, 2012

A former student athlete who had a voice online: Shared insights and perspectives on guest blog post

Track and field was a big part of my life – I started off in junior high throwing the shot put and being coached by my Dad (or otherwise known as “Coach Dad.”).  Dad coached me throughout my career and was a great motivator, supporter, and workout partner.

Dad (aka Coach Dad) and I at the 2000 Golden West Invite

I competed in high school were I threw the shot put and was ranked #1 during the 2001 Outdoor season after being off the HS Girl’s National Shot Put record by a quarter of an inch. Yep – quarter of an inch – so close yet so far away. :)

What did distinct me from other athletes at the time was my website.  It first started off as a Val Kilmer fan site (yes, the actor – hey, I was in Junior High at the time! :)).  However, it transformed into my student-athlete resume for college coaches to follow my stats and accomplishments as a student-athlete. In college, I used my website to promote our team competitions, trips on the road, food we were eating at competitions (of course – was a foodie even then!) and sharing what it was like being a student athlete.

All-American Throwers at the University of Florida (2003-2004)

When I retired from track and field in 2006, I finished as a Four-time All-American (3X at the University of Florida and 1X at University of Southern California), Two-Time SEC Champion, USC School Record Holder in the Shot Put, and 2004 Olympic Trials Finalist.

Throwing for the USC Trojans (2006)

I got the wonderful opportunity to write a guest blog post for Melissa Agnes on her blog.  The conversation emerged when I was corresponding with the co-hosts of “The Crisis Show” (Melissa, Jonathan, and Rich), and the issue of social media monitoring and athletics came up.  I shared some of my own experiences as a former track and field athlete with a website and online newsletter with the group – which resulted in the guest blog post.

As mentioned in the post, I had the chance to participate and compete for two established academic and athletic programs. I competed for Florida from 2003-2004, and graduated with my degree in Public Relations and went to USC for my Master’s and competed for the Trojans during the 2006 season. While both are wonderful schools and I am proud to be a graduate from both, they do have different views of whether or not a student-athlete should have a voice on social media.

Based on my experience, I think student athletes do need to have a voice and a partnership and education initiative should be engaged. In the guest post I wrote for Melissa, I offered some points for others in the sports and social media community to think about and consider.  This trend of social media monitoring among athletics will continue to grow – but we need to have these conversations as a community.

A lot of the lessons I learned from being a track athlete online are now being applied in my academic and professional career.  Managing a proactive reputation online, time management, correspondence with fans of a particular team, engaging in proactive conversations online, and even crisis communication messages strategies. I had first hand experience in all of these activities in the ten years as a student-athlete.  While some these lessons were tough, they were very educational for me and have shaped me into the person and professional I am today.

Researcher, Professor, and Consultant in Social Media, Crisis, and Public Relations at the University of Louisville

I would like to thank Melissa again for the opportunity to share my story on social media within athletics from a former-athlete perspective.  Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


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