Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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May 27, 2013

Got Book Chapter?!: Co-authored chapter on social media & mobile in crises published

Got book chapter? Well, I do. :) I had a nice surprise when I came back from my trip to DC this past weekend for the APS Conference. I just found out I had one of my book chapters published! It is always very exciting to see your name in print. In case you are interested in seeing what other areas are focused in the book or are interested in purchasing the book itself, here is the link to the book on Amazon.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all about technology and love ebooks myself!  However, there is something about physically turning the pages and reading a book that is comforting and relaxing. It was fun looking over the book chapter I helped write a few years ago. It seems like yesterday I was looking at mobile media articles, discussing exactly what is considered to be a mobile device, and looking over the final edits for correct APA style (still working on it now even as an assistant professor).

It is amazing to see your writing in a printed edition of a book like this. This was a project I had the opportunity to work on with my advisor and chair at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Michael Palenchar when I was a graduate research assistant. This project focused on the challenges and risks associated with social media and mobile technologies in crisis situations.  This paper was presented at the ICA Pre-Conference on Mobile Technologies in Boston back in 2011, so it has taken a little bit of time to get the book published.

This was one of the first projects I had a chance to work on with mobile technologies a few years ago. Many people associate mobile and social media literature and research to be the same. There is a lot of crossover of course with emerging technologies both in research and practice, but they are each their own specialization. What is key for researchers and students interested in this area to understand is not only the differences, but also the bridge that connects these two fields together. They are alike in many ways, but they have their own distinct theories, principles, and studies associated with them.

This was a fun project to work on and I would like to thank both Kathleen and Larissa for their support and guidance with this project.  It was a pleasure working with these two great professionals and I appreciated the opportunity to have the chapter Dr. Palenchar and I worked on together be published.  I was very excited to see this book arrive and see my name in the book. :) Very fabulous! Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


April 23, 2013

How professors can use social media to engage, build relationships, and promote their research to communities

It was exciting to see my email this morning when I was notified I was featured as a researcher who does social media well to promote their research via social media.  The email came from Elsevier, and I had several of my colleagues who saw this and sent their congrats my way.

I was contacted a while ago from Elsevier and they saw my tweet about the news of a recent publication I had in Public Relations Review with two of my friends and colleagues, Dave Remund and Kathy Ketler-Previs. Here was the email they sent out:

So, how can researchers utilize social media to share information, updates, and engage in conversations with fellow colleagues and community members? Well, there are several ways you can go about in doing this:

  • Make sure to have the associated hashtag used on Twitter among professors: For PR, we have the #prprofs hashtag to share updates, news, relevant articles, and other documents on Twitter to other professors in the area. Figure out what are the professor hashtags being used in your field and make sure to update your community with your news.
  • Share links on Facebook and LinkedIn: Most of my friends in PR are also on Facebook and LinkedIn, so you may want to add additional comments about the study and publication on both of these sites. The point is to initiate engagement and a dialogue with these audiences about your research.
  • Write a blog post about it with associated key words:  Your blog is your hub of information while social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are extensions of this platform. As soon as you get the news, write a post, highlight your colleagues and provide a link to their websites or university pages, and start sharing this post through social media as well.

In summary, professors and scholars not only have to understand the various characteristics of social media for their students, but they have to use the platforms as well to initiate dialogue, build and formulate relationships in the field and in practice, and share relevant updates on projects and studies they have gotten published in academic journals or at conferences.

Social media is a wonderful way to build communities surrounding your professional and personal interests in the field. I would like to thank Elsevier for contacting me and featuring me in their email regarding this – thank you! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



March 23, 2013

The power of understanding and applying social media data: Determining the best platform / dashboard / service to use

One of the things we see in social media practices are emerging tools and resources that can be helpful for both practitioners and researchers alike.  While there are many tools out there to accomplish certain things, professionals and researchers are always looking for ways to monitor, engage, and listen to conversations emerging online via social media.   Sure, there are ways individuals can do it themselves across the various platforms like with YouTube Insights to other additional tools.

This is one of the issues Kristin and I explored in detail in our social media command center presentation at the ICRC Conference this year. We will also be collaborating with Firestorm on a webinar on this very topic in May in case you are interested in joining us. :) This is a growing area of interest not only among researchers, but also practitioners as well.  Kristin and I have been working on this area and we have found a lot of interest in the area across the board.  These questions and discussions need to continue to happen both in practice and in academia.

However, what are some of the emerging tools for monitoring and research we should be aware of?  Here are a couple you all may want to check out:

  • Sprout Social:  Social Media Today posted a pretty good overview of the site and what features they offer for their clients and what they are measuring/monitoring.  
  • Webtrends: Not only does this site focus on social media, but also mobile – which does separate themselves from the rest of the crowd in this category.
  • Ubervu:  This site and their service looks pretty cool – looking at their measurement and analytic features may be a worthwhile and cost effective option for businesses and other researchers involved.
  • Wildfire:  What this service and business offers compares to others is the opportunity to not only get access to their resources and tools, but also be part of their webinars on social media marketing and its connection with other related disciplines.
  • Blitzmetrics:  If you want a one-stop shop for data analysis and application, Blitzmetrics is there and can really provide you with not only resources and tools for social media, but also the training and resources to educate your team.
  • Hootsuite:  They have a great free dashboard and services available to professionals.  Plus, you can be part of their Hootsuite University program, and this allows students to learn their services and become certified with the tool.  I am using this for my social media class at the University of Louisville.

In summary, you don’t have to have a paid service to be able to monitor, engage, and listen to what your audiences are saying about your brand or topic in question.  What you have to do is look at what are the emerging conversations, themes, and concerns/questions/comments are sharing. There are many tools out there that are pretty good that are free – all you have to do is explore and experiment with them to see if it fits your overall strategy plan.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


March 21, 2013

Presenting at the upcoming Reputation Institute Conference in Barcelona!

It looks like this summer is going to be pretty busy for me with conference presentations!  This does appear to happen to me a lot, but it is all good! :) Conferences are a great way to network with fellow professionals in the area, meet new colleagues and potential collaborators, and experience new cities and places. :)

One of the organizations that hosts a great annual conference is the Reputation Institute. I first heard about them from one of my favorite professors at USC, Dr. Craig Carroll, in my reputation management class.  They have done a great job in providing insightful research, practices, and case studies to help researchers and practitioners in the area of reputation management.

So, I am very excited to announce that the paper I worked on with some amazing colleagues and friends of mine (Kristin, Sabrina, Monica, and Christy) has been accepted at the Reputation Institute Conference!

This is actually the one conference I have attended ever since I started my academic career, which is amazing! I have been part of this conference since I began the PhD program at the University of Tennessee back in 2008 where I attended my first RI conference in Beijing, China. It was a wonderful conference to be part of and really got me interested in exploring the area of reputation management within crisis communications and social media.

My first international presentation in 2008

Over the years, I have presented research that have focused on particular case studies such as Heineken (Amsterdam), SMIs and social media (Rio), mobile technologies and reputation management (New Orleans), and crisis message strategies in social media (Milan).

Presentation from Milan (2012)

This year, our paper explores the role of a spokesperson in a crisis and proposing our new value model supporting this within social media.  It’s a very exciting project and will make sure to share the presentation for the conference in the next few months. I am also very honored to work with such amazing professionals and scholars on this paper as well.

Now, the conference is going to be held in Barcelona, Spain!  I have never been to Spain, so I am very excited to visit and learn more about the culture and business environment. It is one of the many places I have always wanted to go to and I am very excited to not only be able to present research I have been working on with my colleagues, but also explore a new country.  These experiences will not only help me personally, but I will be able to share these stories and presentations with my students as well, which is great.  There are so many opportunities out there for presentations, so I always tell my fellow PhD colleagues and friends they need to look for these because they are not only a great networking and research experience, but you also grow as a person when you travel internationally as well.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


February 6, 2013

The need to reinvent the academic / practitioner relationship: Teamwork to help prepare students for the 21st workplace

One article that has been circulating among my Facebook friends (and fellow professors) was an article that was published in AdAge.  The title for the article was “What do to with out-of-date advertising professors?”  Looking at the comments being raised here by readers, it appears they are mostly from the practitioner side. However, lots of conversations and discussions came up about this one article and I felt it would be a good one to focus on for a blog post.

While I think many of my colleagues in academia may feel differently, I think Marc Brownstein has some good points he raises in his article.  There are professors that believe that theory is the center of the universe and that “social media is a fad.” One incident I remember distinctly happened a few years ago where a professor at one of our conferences asked a VP of a very large PR firm what theories they use for their work.  I think the practitioner was not amused.

Trust me, these are just some of the various things I have witnessed in my academic career so far.  I experienced these points first hand in my studies and going to several conferences over the years. This is not an issue just for students, practitioners, and even parents – but one that impacts everyone involved.

I have been a professor for nearly two years now.  However, the issue of whether or not I fit into one camp or another in PR was another issue. This was one struggle I found when I was out in the university job interviews and managing my reputation at various academic conferences.  The major thing I heard about me was the fact I was not in the applied group of professors and I was not considered to be a “theorist.” I actually was told I was just a “blogger” at one conference to my face. Ouch.

Personally, I felt I was a professor that could fit nicely in the middle between both perspectives by understanding the research aspects of what is going on in the field and how to apply these findings strategically while addressing questions and formulating best practices. Did I feel like I fit in either camp only? No. Did I think I could balance between the two? Yes.

However, to support my fellow professors in this area, not all of us are out-of-date.  Some of us not only want to learn more about the evolving trends, but also be a participant in the learning and applied process of these emerging practices and trends with practitioners. For example, here are some of the things I have done to make sure I have a clear line of communication with practitioners to establish professional relationships, networks, and keeping up to date with the technology.

  • Practicing what I preach in the classroom with applying tools and skills:  I think one of the things missing from professors today is actually practicing what they talk about in the classroom.  In my social media class, I have the students write and maintain a regular blog and share these via Twitter. However, I do the assignments and view the classroom as a collaborative and evolving learning environment.
  • Present research and findings at conferences for practitioners:  I had the chance a few years ago to present at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NYC and I have the chance this upcoming year to be part of the SoSlam lineup of speakers, one of the major social media conferences we see in the South.
  • Participate in webinars for professionals in areas of specialization:  I have a chance in a few weeks to be part of the PR News Online webinar on visual storytelling. Many professionals will be part of this session and I am very excited about this opportunity.
  • Write guest blogs and be engaged in the conversation online: I have written several blog posts on various topics and have been interviewed as well for my research, including the one from a few years ago with Cision.
  • Sharing syllabi with both professors AND practitioners:  This is what I did for my social media class at UofL.  I went directly to the practitioners I knew and asked them to see if they felt what I was covering in the classroom was relevant and highlighted the skills they would expect young professionals have in social media. The result of this?  Got this tweet from Jason Falls after sharing my syllabus with him and inviting him as a guest speaker.

In summary, professors and practitioners are part of the same team. We have to work together to make sure we understand what are the growing needs and expectations being placed by young professionals today.

While I think Marc has some good points and concerns related to some professors, not all fit this category.  We are trying to be up-to-date with the latest tools of technologies and continuing being lifelong learners. We are forming new partnerships and exploring research ideas and teams with practitioners and professors alike.

This is the way things are evolving. David Armano stated we need to reinvent PR, but I think we have to also look at our academic profession as well as one that needs to be reinvented as well with the growing changes and expectations in research and practice.

We have to have an open line of communication with practitioners so they are aware of 1) what research we are doing that may be useful for their own work; 2) collaborate with practitioners on projects and team work and 3) invite them into the classroom for input, presentations, and commentary of the students and their work.

This will take time, but if we are able to work together as a team, we can make sure our students are prepared for the workplace and continue learning.  We are all on the same team – why can’t we be friends and learn from each other? I feel I have learned so much from my fellow practitioner friends and they have been extremely generous with their insights and I have been able to do the same for them.  It is a win-win situation for all of us.

So – let’s get the conversation and collaboration started!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



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