Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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January 11, 2010

Staying ahead of the pack: How scholars can enhance public relations education with social media

Well, it is just about that time of the year – Christmas is over, and students and faculty are getting ready to begin a new semester of classes.  I will be teaching two courses this semester – one will be PR Cases for the University of Tennessee, and the other will be my online PR Concepts and Strategy course for the IMC Master’s program at West Virginia.  I am looking forward to meeting my students and the discussions that we will have in class.  In preparation for classes, I have been doing some research on how to best use social media in the classroom in both of my classes.

Public relations students are expected to not only be online, but know how to use it effectively in various campaigns and research studies.  However, the same goes for educators.  We have to be on top of the latest technologies and incorporate them into the classroom.  Mashable recently published an article that discusses several ways that educators can use social media in the classroom – from Skype guest lectures to Twitter to having students comment via their phone by using mobile applications. Skype is a great way to bring in prestigious guest speakers into the classroom to enhance the course material.  I had the honor of having Dr. John Cacioppo speak to my class on the Elaboration Likelihood Model and how it can be implemented in Public Relations via Skype last semester – here is the link to the podcast of the lecture.  I have also used both Facebook and Twitter to communicate and have discussion on various case studies that are happening in Public Relations – both are a great tool to have the students discuss issues that are relevant to the course as well as using these different platforms for educational purposes.

The other thing that is important to communicate to students today is the fact that they have to be aware that what they say, post, and comment on is viewable to the entire online community.  Having a public online persona is what is being expected now, and students have to know what are the strategies they can do to best manage their online reputation effectively.  Students need to be encouraged to have their own personal web site, blog, and be present on multiple platforms.  Plus, they have to be aware that they are their best spokesperson – they have to be actively aware of how they are perceived and how networking and establishing these professional online relationships is the key for success in the public relations profession today.

We are living in a very exciting time where technology is changing each day – as scholars and professionals, we have to embrace this change and be lifelong learners. :)  I hope that you all have a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,



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