Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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July 25, 2013

Scholars as Social Connectors: Bridging theory & practice in PR classes

When it comes to the classroom, professors have to be open to both the theoretical foundation of research as well as the application and strategic implementation of these findings for their students. Many times, professors either focus on just one angle or another.

To be honest, I always felt that I was never in one side or another – I felt that I was somewhat in the middle when it came to the theory and practice perspectives. I appreciate the foundation that theory brings to the table, but I also love the creativity and strategy that comes with the practice side of PR. So, this got me thinking – is this just something I am experiencing myself or are there others out there that feel the same?

The answer was – yes, I was not alone in this perspective. In fact, we are seeing a rise in the PR community with this hybrid perspective to integrate both theory and practice together for PR education and research purposes.

I had the opportunity to work with Dave Remund (Drake University) on a couple of research projects dedicated to focusing on this hybrid approach for PR professors. One project was with one of our other fellow PR colleagues (Kathy Ketler-Previs from Eastern Kentucky University) which was presented at the PRSA Conference and published in Public Relations Review.

However, this project we worked on focused on what we called “Scholars as Social Connectors,” which was published in the publication called Teaching Public Relations. The focus of the project was focused on looking at how PR professors can use digital media and leadership skills to bridge the connections between theory and practice in the classroom.

So, how do you become a scholar who is a social connector? Well, there are several things you can consider implementing in the classroom:

  • Be a student of technology (social consumers): It is essential for PR professors to know and be part of the digital community. Research what are some of the trends coming up and see 1) what theories could be applied to study these trends that have not been done before and 2) consider brainstorming projects on how to look at these trends from a strategic and applied point of view.
  • Share knowledge, tips, and best practices with PR community (curator): We are all in the same boat – so we have to look at what resources and tools we have at our disposal that we can share with fellow colleagues, students, and professionals in the field. This is what I have tried to do with my website, blog, and my page called “Becoming Social.
  • Create content that has both theory and application (creators): The days of focusing on just theory for professors are pretty much over – we have to be skilled in the application and creativity that comes with creating content that is relevant for the PR profession. Don’t focus on using a theory or practice that has been done over and over again – but think about – what has NOT been done or explored yet? We have to be creators as well as explorers in this day of age as PR professors.

Dave has been a wonderful colleague and friend in the PR community to bounce off ideas and projects with – it was great working with him on this project and I am looking forward to working with him on more in the future.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about our study in TPR. Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


May 28, 2013

Presenting at #aps2013dc: Great research, networking, and scholarly community!

APS (or other wise known as the Association for Psychological Science) Conference has been one of my favorite ones to attend and present at. I presented a research study looking at crisis messages in a food safety and athlete crisis situation by using the situational qsort method. It was a fun project to work on with both Mom and Kristin. Here’s the link to the video of us highlighting our study at APS (with our designated and original tshirts as well).

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One of the things I really like about APS is the community aspect of this conference as well – we are able to come in with some memorable tshirts that are connected with our study somehow. Also, the members of APS were interested in the fact we were not only in some creative tshirts, but we were a family research team. Here’s our video sharing our story:

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This year, our tshirt said “Keep Calm & Go to APS 2013″). Fabulous! Here’s the Ptch I created of our time at APS and presenting our research during the poster session.

As a PR professional, I have gotten a lot of questions from my colleagues about this – why does a PR researcher attend a Psychology conference? There are many reasons why I attend APS:

  • It’s a dynamic and scientific focused conference – so many great research ideas and studies showcased that really are relevant to my area of research and consulting (social media)
  • It’s trandisciplinary – many of the researchers at the conference do come from other fields besides psychology, which is pretty cool!
  • It’s a conference with great people – I have many friends who present, attend, and help organize the APS event – they all do a fabulous job and it was great seeing them all in Washington D.C. this year.

So, is APS a good conference for PR pros to go to? Absolutely. It is one of my favorites because I am able to walk away from the event with fresh ideas from another field that can be applied in my own field as well as some great networking connections as well. It is a wonderful conference to attend and present at – highly recommend. I am looking forward to submitting another research project to the conference when it is in San Francisco in 2014!

I would like to thank everyone at APS (especially Wray Herbert and his social media team) for making everyone feel welcomed and addressed all of our technology and social media needs – their app was very cool! Very impressed! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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,


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