Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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January 16, 2010

Between a Trojan, a Vol, and a hard place: A PR perspective on the Lane Kiffin coaching case study

It seems the situation with Coach Lane Kiffin leaving the University of Tennessee after one year to become the new head coach for USC after Pete Carroll said that he will be heading to Seattle to coach the Seattle Seahawks is causing a lot of discussion.  My first week back in classes at Tennessee were filled with inquiries on how I felt regarding this case.  When I introduced myself to my students in my PR Cases class this week, I said that I got my bachelors degree in PR from Florida (a huge rival for Tennessee), and then I said – well, I got my Master’s degree from USC in Strategic PR, which has been in the news a lot the last couple of days.  One of my students said “wow, that is like a double whammy for you!”  Yep – little did I know that I would be in more trouble wearing USC gear at Tennessee now instead of my Florida gear. :)

Here is where I stand:  I wish Lane Kiffin the best at USC and his new coaching position – I am a proud alum of USC (M.A. in Strategic Public Relations, 2007 & USC Shot put Record holder) and I am sure that they will continue to do great and wonderful things in football.  Many sports analysts are weighing in on the situation – some say that the way that everything was handled was done not as well at it could have been, while others say it was a good decision.  I am also supportive of the University of Tennessee – we now have a new football coach, Derek Dooley, and hopefully all of the discussion and commotion regarding this situation will settle down.  We have to remember that the most affected group in this situation are the football players at both schools.  These young men at both USC and Tennessee want to have a strong, productive, and positive atmosphere to play football in – and I think that people in the media, community, and boosters are forgetting this in my opinion.  The football players at Tennessee are now on their third coach in three years, and that is tough.  I wish both teams all the best – and here is to a great football season in 2010!

In terms of PR, I think that this case shows in many ways that public relations was not the route cause of this situation, however, it does have an active role for both USC and Tennessee. Both teams have to be actively communicating with their recruits for the upcoming year, meeting with the boosters of the football programs, and being transparent to the media and community.  These are just some of the issues that I see from this particular situation.  However, while both teams are handling these challenges, there are many opportunities that are present.  For USC, it is a chance to continue to have a strong football program and to show people – yes, this is how we do things at USC and to rebound from this past football season.  For Tennessee, it is about starting a new era and football culture with a new leader into the new decade.  Only time will tell to see how both teams will fare – but all I have to say is Go Vols and Fight on Trojans!!! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


December 30, 2009

The 00’s were quite the decade – fabulous family experiences, colorful track career, travel adventures, and two degrees!: Bring on 2010!

I am amazed that another year has gone by, and another decade as well.  I remember when everyone back in 1999 was talking about Y2K and preparing for what may or may not happen when we came into the 2000’s.  This decade was indeed a busy one for me – each year brought a new adventure, highlights, and achievements to it.  So, I thought that it would be good to highlight some of the activities and events that happened to me in the 00’s, and what to look forward to next in 2010 and a new decade.

2000: I was a junior in high school, and about 100 pounds heavier than I am currently in my stage (I was around 310-315 lbs or so).  This year was a highlight for me in track and field – I finally won the shot put at the California State High School meet. This was a pretty intense battle and I was very excited about it.  It was also a year of change – I transferred from Arroyo Grande High School to San Luis Obispo High, and began the college recruiting process.  I wrote for the high school track and field site Dyestat about my recruiting experiences.  I eventually signed a letter of intent to compete for SMU on a full track and field scholarship.  Dad was a great coach for me in track and field – he really helped me out tremendously and was a great workout partner. :) Thanks, “Coach Dad!” :)

2001:  My senior year in high school was definitely a busy but great year in track and field. I repeated as a state champion and was a quarter of an inch off the HS national record (I still get teased about that to this date! :)).  I also graduated from San Luis Obispo High School and went on to start my first year as a freshman in college at SMU.  Kristin graduated from West Point this year as well.

2002:  I competed in my first college track and field season for SMU during the indoor season, where I was the WAC Indoor Champion in the shot put and WAC Freshman of the Year Indoors. It was also a year of change again for me – I transferred to the University of Florida that year and became a Gator. :)  Also, this was the year where I became introduced into Public Relations.  I had my first PR class during the fall semester, and I realized immediately that this was the major and profession for me.

2003: I had my first complete season with the Florida Gators in track and field.  I was very excited about getting the school record in the shot put and becoming a two-time SEC Champion and two-time All-American.  I also began being a contributor for the Journal section of Trackshark.com, which was a web site dedicated to covering collegiate track and field.  I also started creating my email newsletter Kmail, which featured stories and insights about my experience with the track and field team at Florida.  It was also a year of transition for the Freberg family as well. Kristin went for her first tour in Iraq in 2003, and I did not get to see her until the following year.

2004: I would have to say if I could say one or two words about 2004, I would have to say that it was all about “hard work.”  This was the year that I was really working hard in track and field and in my academics.  Also, I had a few challenges that I had to face this year – particularly an almost-career ending back injury.  I did get to become an All-American in the shot put indoors, and my marks qualified me to compete at the 2004 Olympic Trials in July 2004.  I remember being really pumped up for the meet, but I was also really worried about my back.  However, I ended up being 6th in the prelims – my parents had so much faith in me before the meet that they only reserved one night in the hotel! :D  I ended up getting 9th overall, so I was very pleased with that. :)  Mom published her first neuroscience text book this year – woo hoo! :)

2005: I did not compete this year for Florida (redshirt), so this gave me some time to finish up my PR studies at Florida, apply to graduate school programs, and graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Public Relations in August 2005.  I applied to nine graduate programs, and got accepted at seven of them.  I decided that I would be going  to the University of Southern California and to Annenberg’s Strategic Public Relations program.  I was very excited to be back in California and to be part of the cohort in the Strategic Public Relations program. In the meantime, with weight loss and increase fitness levels.  I also had the chance to be part of the USC track and field team to complete my last year of eligibility.  Kristin also got her Master’s degree in Engineering Management from University of Missouri-Roulla.

2006: What a busy year!  From completing my first year in the Master’s program to finishing up my last year of college eligibility.  My track season at USC was very special – I was able to compete both indoors and outdoors, and became an All-American, Pac-10 Runner up, West Regional Runner-up, and got the USC school record for USC at the USC-UCLA track meet.  It doesn’t get any better than this!!! :)  After completing my season and finishing up my track career, I realized that I needed to lose my throwing weight, so I joined Jenny Craig.  Actually, my entire family did, and to this date – we are still one with Jenny Craig and losing weight! :)

2007: A lot of change, new adventures, and a completion of a large chapter of my life.  I continued to lose weight, thanks to Jenny Craig, and also finished up my Master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations in August 2007. I also got accepted to the Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee – very excited about this!  I also got the chance to go on a PR internship in Cape Town, South Africa over the summer.  This was such a life changing event for me – it really was a wonderful experience for me.  I met some amazing people, learned so much about South Africa, and of course had a lot of fabulous food!!! :)  After coming back from South Africa, I began classes at UT in Knoxville.

2008: This was the year where I really transitioned from being just a student to being an up-and-coming researcher and scholar.  I was able to present at three conferences this year, and finish up my first year of courses.  I made new friends at UT, and the professors were all great.  I was able to keep up with the tradition of fabulous travel this year, and it was to Beijing, China to present at the RI Conference!  Kristin came along with me and we had such an amazing time!!! :) The fall, I really worked hard in my classes and helped organize PR Day for the School of Advertising and Public Relations.  Also, during the fall – Kristin went back to Iraq to do her second tour of duty.

2009: As this year comes to a close, there were many things that happened!  First, conferences were definitely a theme here this year – presented at five, and two were international.  One was in Amsterdam, and the other was in Greece.  Mom, Kristin, and I had the chance to spend some time together and really tour Athens – from going to a cruise of the Greek Islands to doing Greek dancing.  And of course, how can I forget having fabulous meals??!!  Kristin came back from her second tour in October, and is now in the process of moving to Virginia to go on for her second Master’s.  Mom and Dad continue to do fabulous things – Mom‘s second edition of her “Discovering Biological Psychology” came out this year, and Dad continues to produce fabulous recipes – his presence in Tennessee is highly anticipated. :)  Karla continues to do great artwork, and has launched her own site.

So, what is going to happen in 2010?  Well, again – we in the Freberg family do not do boring things. :)  A lot of hard work is ahead of us, but what separates us from others is how we deal with them.  I am looking forward to the upcoming year and what it has to offer to the Freberg family.  Here are a few things that I have so far in the mix:

  • Comprehensive Exams – this is a big step for me in the Ph.D. program, and I will be taking these in Februrary.  Wish me luck! :)
  • Teaching: I will teaching again this upcoming year both in my online and off line PR courses.   Very neat
  • Research and Conferences:  I am working on a couple of research projects for the upcoming year – they are all at different stages, but all coming near the end.  Hopefully, I will be able to attend another international conference this year to keep up with the tradition! :)  And of course Kristin will be joining me as well. :)
  • Jenny Craig: Our family now has been on JC for over three years, and we are continuing to lose weight! :)  The family that does JC together. :)  Plus, I am sure that Dad is going to continue to make amazing dishes – starting with a Baked Alaska to celebrate the new year! :)
  • Overall Philosophy:  Work hard, win easy, be happy, live life to the fullest, embrace opportunities and challenges, and family is everything! :)

I wish each and everyone one of you a fabulous and Happy New Year 2010!  May all of your dreams and aspirations come true. :)  Have a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,


December 22, 2009

Meeting Louis Zamperini: USA Olympian, WWII Veteran and Prisoner of War, American Legend, and USC Alum

Filed under: Cuisine Adventures,Family,Food & Cuisine,Football,USC Trojans — Karen @ 7:42 pm

It is not everyday that you get to meet a well known American legend, especially a USC Alum and former Olympian in track and field.  Mom, Dad, and I went down to Los Angeles to pick up Kristin to bring her back up for the holidays, and we of course stopped by our favorite restaurant in LA for lunch, El Cholo’s. Not only are they the absolute BEST place in LA, but it is indeed a Freberg family favorite.  Plus, it is the hangout for USC alums and fans – Fight on Trojans! :)

While we were eating lunch, Louis Zamperini walked into the restaurant and saw Dad and I wearing our USC gear, and came by to talk with us.  We got to hear Mr. Zamperini’s stories from the war and his experience competing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, as well as his experiences as a USC Track and Field athlete. We also got some insights into his book that he has published, “Devil at my Heels,” as well as his upcoming book that will be available next year.  We do have his book – an autographed copy at that! :)  Plus, we also got to see the Louis Zamperini room that is dedicated for USC at El Cholo’s as well – here is a virtual tour of the room from the El Cholo web site – very cool! :)

Having the wonderful opportunity to speak with Louis Zamperini

I remember the first time that I saw Mr. Zamperini – it was at the 2007 USC Track and Field Banquet and he was introducing the Zamperini Award that was given to Ginnie Powell.  He has contributed so much to the track and field program at USC and has been an invaluable asset to USC.

It was not only an honor to meet Mr. Zamperini in person, but it was an absolute pleasure to hear his stories and for him to share his life experiences.  It was indeed a meeting that I will always remember.  Fight On Trojans! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!!!

Happy New Year 2009!

Wow, I am still amazed that it is now 2009!  Woo hoo!  My first post for the new year– very exciting! :) Last year I rang in the new year with Kristin in Hawaii at the Aloha Tower.  That was absolutely amazing!  The firework display was out of this world, and it was a blast to be with Kristin and her friends.  We celebrated the New Year at the Freberg family home by watching Stargate (we love that show!) and went to bed on the early side. :)

It’s been nice the past couple of years being able to actually celebrate New Year’s Day.  When I was going to school in Florida, I would always be flying back to Gainesville on Jan 1 because we had to be back for track practice a few days before school started.  Now, I am able to enjoy the festivities and wonderful New Year Day’s activities. :)  This morning, we all got up to watch the Rose Parade.  The floats are just amazing and so pretty!  And of COURSE we had to watch the Rose Bowl since USC is playing Penn State– that’s a given! :) Fight on Trojans!

Of course, to celebrate New Year’s completely, you have got to have amazing food! We had Mom’s ABC (Amarula, Blueberry, and Cinnamon) rolls for breakfast, and Dad’s chimichanga’s for lunch. Is that over the top?  Hey, there is only one way to ring in the good year, and that is with fabulous food and amazing company! :D  The USC-Penn State football game was at times pretty intense, but the Trojans came away with a huge win and their third Rose Bowl win as well!  Congrats to the USC Trojans and Fight on!

In a few days, I will be watching the Florida-Oklahoma game.  Go Gators! :)  I wish you all a Happy New Year– may all of your dreams and goals come true!  Have a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,


September 5, 2008

College Football and Public relations: Successful programs off and on the field

Packed stadiums, fans screaming for their teams, bands playing popular songs, and great athletes playing football– does it get any better than this?  The one thing that I absolutely love about the start of fall classes is that it is when college football season begins. I have always enjoyed watching college football– I remember going to a couple of pretty amazing games when I was on my recruiting trips during my senior year in high school. I got to go and see my first college game at Oregon versus UCLA (and Oregon won– go ducks!), and then I got to also see Washington play Oregon State, Michigan versus Michigan State at UM (that was such an AWESOME game!) and Arizona versus UCLA again (I see a them here…. :))  It was a lot of fun and I will always remember it! :)

Today, I follow several teams in college football. I cheer for of course Florida (I figure I can’t lose for the UT and UF game in a couple of weeks), USC (of course!!), and Tennessee (go Vols!). I also cheer for Army (West Point) because Kristin went there for school. :) USC right now is ranked number one, and I have to say– they have great PR! They are professional, respectful of other teams, and overall presents themselves as a team that has fun, works hard, and gets the job done. They also are very interactive with fans and the community, and they have implement some great media strategies to connect with them. I was also very impressed with the way that Pete Carroll talked about how UCLA’s victory against Tennessee (so sad!) was great for the PAC 10 conference, and congratulated them. Wow! :) What a class act and great PR messaging! :) Pete Carroll also does a lot in the Los Angeles community and has really brought honor and success to USC. Keep up the great work Coach Carroll!

My point is that there are some great college football programs that are very successful– but there are only a few that are on and off the field with their public relations practices. And I am very lucky that I have gone to three that fit this category. So– Go Gators, Gator Chomp! Go Trojans– Fight on! And Go Vols– good ol’ Rocky Top! Have a great day! :)

Best Wishes,

Karen :)

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