Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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April 29, 2010

How to use the iPad for Public Relations and Crisis Communication Practices

A recent post that appeared on Arik Hanson’s website Communications Conversations discussed how public relations professionals can use Apple’s latest product the iPad for their professional and business uses.  The post does provide some really good suggestions on how public relations professionals can monitor and use the iPad and its applications for listening to what others are saying regarding their product, and how to promote a particular event for the organization or individual you are representing.

Apple's iPad (2010) - Courtesy of Mashable.com

However, these are ways that public relations professionals can use the iPad for positive events and activities – but that is not always the case for us in public relations.  We have to deal with crises that our corporations or individuals we are representing all of the time.  Social media create a novel receiver environment by allowing receivers to control and redistribute the information they process. This new communications environment has significant implications for managing crisis situations for public relations professionals.  Crises can range from environmental issues (like the latest oil spill in the Gulf) to corporate and legal crises (ex. Bernie Madoff and the economic crisis).  So, how can public relations professionals strategically use the iPad in their crisis communications practices?  Here are a few things that I would recommend for businesses and public relations professionals to consider:

Monitor latest trends and negatively associated viral catchphrases (ex. Internet memes) associated with the client: Like Mr. Hanson suggested, public relations professionals can use the iPad to monitor and listen to what others are saying about them online.  However, not everything that is written about a corporation or individual is positive – so it is important for crisis communication professionals to monitor and use specific applications for the iPad to see what viral catchphrases are being associated with them.

Sharing knowledge at anytime, anyplace. With the iPad, crisis communication professionals can connect with their stakeholders (ex. customers, investors, media, etc) with a touch of the button and immediately connect with the online community with the latest updates and information regarding a crisis.  In addition, crisis communication professionals can use specific applications to make sure that they are sending information not only on social media outlets, but on their email as well.

Have documents available electronically for presentations and press conferences. The days of carrying around traditional media kits or fact sheets, or even written prepared statements on paper for a press conference are coming to an end.  Crisis communication professionals can use their iPad for press conferences that will have all of the necessary documents and materials that they will need in order to prepare for handling a press conference and prepared statements.  With a touch of a button, they can send this material electronically and immediately to those reporters that ask for this material. In addition, if crisis communication professionals have to answer tough questions regarding a very complex subject (ex. chemical spills), they can use specific applications immediately for their reference and then are able to address the question with more knowledge.

Easy transportable laptop to take to crisis sites and locations:  One of the comments that technology analysts are saying regarding the iPad is the fact that it may replace laptops as we know it.  The iPad will make it easy for crisis communication professionals to be able to communicate and share information on the go at any location.  It is smaller but easier to transport around – whether you are on site or traveling – it is definitely easier to manage compared to a laptop.

Creating engagement with stakeholders:  Like mobile applications and mobile marketing, the key elements that public relations professionals have to be aware of is that relationships are the key currency being used presently for business.  People want to do business with others that are actively listening to what they have to say and are there for the long-term.  Crisis communication professionals have to be engaged and active in the various conversations that are being discussed in a crisis situation.  In addition, they need to make sure that they are giving people enough information to reduce their levels of uncertainty regarding a crisis, and specific action steps that they can take.  Also, crisis communication professionals can create their own application with these specific crisis communication messages as well as provide people with visuals (ex. symptoms of illness like H1N1).

Anyway, these are just a few things that I think that public relations and crisis communication professionals can do with the new iPad.  On a side note, as a celebration for passing my comprehensive exams and becoming a doctoral candidate, I have purchased my own iPad – it will be arriving tomorrow!  I am super excited not only to use it for research and teaching, but to explore future possibilities in how to use it in crisis communication practices.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Best Wishes,


April 28, 2010

The importance of understanding the power of social media influencers

One area of public relations and social media that is definitely been discussed in the online community as well as in both the professional and research arenas is the discussion on how to detect the online influencers that people are following, and how to predict who will be the next one.  Forrester Research just came out with a study that discusses the impact of mass media influencers and why businesses have to be aware of who these individuals are.

The power of peer influence needs to be considered for various reasons, but public relations professionals have to be aware of these individuals both in their research and professional practices.  Social media influencers are powerful and legitimate and are perceived as having strong reputation and personality characteristics.

"Social Influencers"

Earlier this year, I actually did a study that focused on what are the personality characteristics that people were assigning to specific social media influencers, and how businesses can use this knowledge to predict the next social media influencer in their respective industry. The four social media influencers that were used in this study included:  Brian Solis, Deirdre Breakenridge, Jeremy Owyang, and Charlene Li.  As a result, a social influencer prototype was constructed following Block’s Q-Sort technique (Block, 2008) among 32 participants.  It was a very interesting study to do and I hope to continue with this research in public relations and social media.

Public relations  professionals need to be able to identify these influential spokespersons and maximize the benefits of relationships with these individuals.  Research looking at the impact of social media influencers  in the realm of Web 2.0 should be further explored.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



Block, J. (2008). The Q-sort in character appraisal:  Encoding subjective impressions of persons quantitatively. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

April 25, 2010

How to succeed in Public Relations Research in 2010 and beyond: It is all about being transdisciplinary!

Being transdisciplinary is the way of the future for researchers, especially for public relations professionals.  So, you ask what exactly does it mean to be transdisciplinary?  Transdisciplinary means that there needs to be a unity of knowledge that is integrated across disciplines.  There have been many scholars and professionals that have said that it is best to stay in your respective discipline and only do research in that particular area.  While I think that it is very important to have an established presence in your discipline, it is also important to collaborate and work with other professionals in other disciplines on research projects.  Not only does it establish a stronger research and scholarly community, but it also gives you the researcher  different perspectives on the phenomenon that you are researching and ideas for future research projects.

In the three years that I have been at Tennessee, I have presented at several conferences, including some that are not in Public Relations or Communications.  For example, I presented a poster session last year at the Association for Psychological Science on Loneliness and Social Networking sites (ex. Facebook).  I had the wonderful opportunity to work with exceptional professionals and researchers on this project and it was a very rewarding learning experience for me.  It gave me a chance to work with researchers and graduate students from not only another university, but also from a different discipline.  Psychology has influenced Public Relations in so many ways, and they are doing some amazing research particularly when it comes to social media and computer mediated communication.

Psychology is not the only discipline I have had projects in.  For example, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with my friend and fellow doctoral student Monica Colon-Aguirre (University of Tennessee) in Information Sciences on several projects this year.  We did a case study on the impact of Google Books on the reputation of Google the corporation (reputation management) and how it has impacted the reputation of academic libraries as the ultimate source of knowledge (Information Science and one of Monica’s research interests).  We presented a paper together at the Research Symposium at Tennessee, but Monica also went to Boston for the ALISE Conference in January to present our case study.  It was a great project to work on!

My friends Lei and Monica presenting our Google Books Case Study at ALISE 2010

So, in summary – in order for a discipline such as Public relations to evolve and continue to grow – we need to be transdisciplinary.  If we just focus on what is going on in our discipline, we will miss numerous opportunities to explore new elements about particular phenomena and collaborations with other researchers.  This is what I have tried to do in my research, particularly this year.  I have had projects now in Information Science, Reputation Management, and Psychology conferences as well as in Public relations and Communications conferences.  In addition, I have collaborated with other researchers and scholars from different disciplines such as Psychology, Information Science, and Systems Engineering.  It has been really great and fun to work on various research projects with fellow graduate students and research scholars! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


April 24, 2010

Best practices for presenting at Conferences & managing reputation

It is near that time of the year where faculty and doctoral students are preparing for the upcoming conference presentations.  Since I have been at the University of Tennessee, I have thoroughly enjoyed the fact that we have been encouraged to submit our research and presentations to various conferences.  Each conference format and presentation is different and a wonderful experience.  Some are formal presentations to a large audience while others are more one-on-one like in a poster session.  Over the last few years, I have learned some best practices and things to remember when presenting at conferences, and here are a couple that I would like to share with you all:

Visuals are key in presentation:  Whether it is a poster presentation or a formal presentation, you need to make sure that you have visuals in your presentation.  If you just have text on your PowerPoint slides in your presentation or on your poster, this will not necessarily catch the attention of others.  Use graphs, figures, and other visuals to illustrate what your research presentation is all about.

Practice, practice.. and practice some more!:  You want to feel confident and energetic about your presentation – you it is important to make sure to practice your presentation.

Appearance is everything: People are not only going to be looking at your presentation, but they are going to look at you.  So, by saying this – you got to look fabulous!  Investing in a nice business suit (with fabulous shoes of course!) and presenting yourself professionally, you will definitely make a very good impression on others and manage your reputation proactively.  Jones New York has really great business suits – they are just fabulous!  In addition to your appearance, you want to make sure that you have material for the participants at the conference to have that will remind them of you and your presentation.  Whether it is a handout or your business card, it is important to have these available for others so they can refer back to these materials and be able to contact you with further questions or establish a networking relationship with you professionally.

These are just a few tips that I would like to share with you all that have helped me out in my conference presentations.  I will be using these same tips in the next couple of weeks at my various conferences. In a few weeks, I will be heading to Rio de Janeiro for the Reputation Institute Conference to present several research studies during the Round Table presentation.  After the RI Conference, I will be attending the Association for Psychological Science Conference in Boston.  I am really excited about attending and presenting at these wonderful conferences.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


April 19, 2010

Embracing Brazilian culture & public relations environment

Olá!! Meu nome é Karen Freberg, e eu estou olhando para a frente a ir a Brasil apenas em algumas semanas.

Yes, this is in Portuguese – thought that I would practice a little in my blog post today. :)  In just a little less than a month, I will be on my way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the annual Reputation Institute Conference. I am super excited – this will be the third RI conference I have been to and I am really looking forward to networking and meeting fellow professionals in the public relations and reputation management disciplines.

In the meantime, what I have been doing is studying the Brazilian culture and public relations environment.  It is important to understand the local customs and safety measures to take in a new country, information resources, and what are some of the sites and places that are a must go to.

I recently gave an international public relations lecture for my PR Cases students, and I mentioned how important it was to understand not only the culture, but the PR environment that you will be either exposed to or working in.  Brazil appears to be an upbeat, energetic, and engaging public relations environment.  Brazilians trust local brands more as well as those businesses and professionals that take the time to establish a relationship with them.

Of course, there are some things that travelers need to consider when going to a new country, but if you take proactive measures and do your research, you will be fine.  Exploring and traveling to new countries and experiencing the different cultures is such a wonderful learning experience, and I am looking forward to going to Brazil to network, learn, and experience the Brazilian culture and public relations atmosphere.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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