Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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November 30, 2011

readings in social media and public relations for 30th november 2011

to recognize and celebrate Mark Twain's Birthday, Google posted this nice sketch!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Whether you are in the travel or aviation industry or not, it is possible by now you have heard the wildly circulating news about American Airlines. With over 20 thousand mentions of American Airlines in social media so far today and at the time of this posting, people are talking up a storm online about the bankruptcy protection filing of the giant airline. This is a time where social media crisis management is critical.”

“We want to hear what you think about the key issues affecting your career and company. The HBR Question of the Week presents a new poll based on the core insights presented in a popular HBR article. Take the poll and then visit the page at the link below to download a free copy of this week’s article.

How to Conquer New Markets with Old Skills (free PDF article)”

“The jobless rate is hovering above 9%, and job seekers have to be more savvy than ever to land a job. In fact, 77% of job-seekers are using mobile apps in their search. Why mobile? For one thing, people almost always have their phones on them, which means they can get job leads on the fly and respond faster than on their not-as-portable laptops. Not surprisingly, Android, which is dominating the smartphone market, is the most-used OS for these on-the-go job seekers.”

“Many brands have embraced a lesson of the social media age: It’s counterproductive to delete most criticism from blogs and Facebook pages. You look thin-skinned, and you risk enflaming your critics, as Nestlé learned when it threatened to ban those who posted an altered version of its logo during a Greenpeace campaign against the chocolate maker.”


“Leading social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on charges that its privacy settings were deceptive to customers, and that it made privacy promises that it didn’t keep.”

November 29, 2011

The Freberg Family & “How We Did It:” Being part of the new book focusing on Stories on Weight Loss by Nancy Kennedy

Dad with three copies of Nancy Kennedy's new book about stories on weight loss!

I am in a book!  :)  No, I have not published a textbook or book by myself (yet… :D), but I am one of the stories highlighted in Nancy Kennedy’s book on weight loss. I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Nancy Kennedy about my experience losing weight on Jenny Craig after I finished my collegiate eligibility at USC in 2006 for her new released book “How We Did It.”  She wrote a very nice blog post about my experience losing weight and my transition from being an athlete eating steak and ice cream to being more focused on portion control and vegetables. Mom, Dad, and Kristin are all on Jenny Craig – and it has been a great experience for all of us. We are the family that does Jenny Craig together! :)

Five years later – I am still on Jenny Craig and I am very thankful for losing my “throwing weight” as I used to call it. :)  I am able to exercise and do activities I was not able to do previously as someone weighing in at 285 lbs.  Now, I am able to take cycling classes (a couple of them are two hours long!) while feeling health and energetic unlike anything I have felt before. It was really wonderful to be able to share my experience with Nancy and I am excited to have the opportunity to read the other stories on how people have lost weight.  Congratulations, Nancy!  Thank you for allowing me to share my weight loss story with you! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


Catastrophe within College Athletics: Similarities and Early Warnings in both Penn State and Syracuse Crises

The athletic community (particularly within collegiate athletics) has been dealing with several high profile scandals and crises over the course of several weeks.  First there was the firestorm that emerged with the Penn State crisis that generated numerous discussions in the PR community about what would be some of the next steps for the university and officials to take in regards to crisis communications.  Now, we are witnessing another story coming down from the state of NY at Syracuse University with one of their assistant coaches on their basketball team.

There are several lessons we can take away from a PR and Crisis Communications perspective for both case studies – and something I think both universities need to take into consideration along with other colleges as well.  Here are some similarities I have seen from both of these cases:

  • Feeling of invincibility and “being above the law:”  One of the points that has come out about the Syracuse scandal is the wife of the former assistant coach, Laurie Fine,  was tape recorded (but is in the process of contesting the integrity of the taped conversations) stating that her husband felt he was above the law.  This is a common theme we are seeing in both of these cases – these coaches felt that they were part of a high profile athletic program and that if they were the ones bringing in the athletic prestige, accolades, and funding – they could do no wrong.  This is a huge risk and issue that immediately needs to be addressed not only at both of these institutions – but all athletic and university programs.  There are more incidents where this has a been a case in point – many coaches feel this way.
  • You can try to run, but you can’t hide:  The Washington Post made an observation that many of the university officials were trying to go into hiding when the news would break, and you can’t do that.  It is better to take responsibility for the actions and address the hard questions being asked by students, the media, alumni, athletic supporters, and parents to name a few.  Look at what happened just a few years ago with the Duke Lacrosse Crisis in 2006 – there were certainly different approaches and message strategies that were implemented in this crisis compared to these two recent sports and athletic crises.
  • Being more effective in looking at early warning signs:  As each of these crises develop and more information is presented in the media – there were clearly many warning signs presented in both the Penn State and Syracuse crises.  Both cases had “internal investigations” within the athletic departments – speaking from personal experience as a former student-athlete, I do not find these investigations to be that effective and many times are used to keep things quiet and out of the view from others.  Also, observing the behavior and actions of some of these coaches would also raise some red flags as well.  There are certain warning signs that really do detect whether or not a coach is professional and proactive with their athletes and other stakeholders – or if he/she is a risk for the program and institution.
  • Look at the supporters and who are the “protectors” of these individuals during crisis:  It is interesting to me to see who are the professionals and associates that are supporting some of the key players in both of these cases.  The former President of Penn State was supporting the athletic director and vice president once the news broke at Penn State, while there have been others who have been supportive for Syracuse former assistant coach Bernie Fine.  I wonder if any of these people understand that once they voice their support, their reputation will be tied to these individuals as well.
  • Looking at those who are silent:  I am surprised that there have been certain governing bodies and other institutions that have been quiet during all of these recent events.  I wonder what the NCAA will do in terms of making sure that this type of incident does not happen again.  What about more evaluation measures for coaches and staff members tied with the athletic department?  Professors are reviewed on an annual basis based on not only their performance in research, but also in the classroom.  There needs to be the same standards associated with coaches and staff members.  Also, make sure that if you found out that people knew that there was a problem within the athletic department and did not do anything about it and there is documentation to proof this was the case – they need to be also held accountable for their actions.
  • Both institutions are focusing not on the true issue at hand – the victims impacted and lives changed forever:  The core issue that needs to be addressed in the community, media, and within the university system is not whether or not a coach is being fired of the future of the athletic program – but there have been several children who are now adults and some still young and their lives will be forever changed.  Both Penn State and Syracuse need to take this into account and focus on addressing these audiences, not the athletic donors.
In summary, there are so many issues that are coming up in the media with both of these cases.  What is key to understand is that this is really addressing a core issue that has always been present in athletics – but has always been considered to be an “undiscussable” or been hidden from public view due to the fact that these coaches felt they were “above the law.”  Well, not any more – what needs to be done now is to look internally at each of these universities – large and small – and see if there are other cases that need to be addressed.
Hope you all are having a great day.
Best Wishes,

November 27, 2011

readings in social media and pr for 27 November 2011

This Christmas, we will be cooking an entire lamb on a spit!

Here is what I am reading today:

“When small businesses contemplate a social media strategy, Facebook and Twitter get lots of attention. However, niche social networks and online communities offer additional opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in an environment that’s highly targeted and often less congested. Let’s look at how a different brands are using Instagram, Pinterest and Foodspotting to reach out to potential customers in novel ways. “

“As we grow older and more cynical wise, it becomes clear that these cartoons taught us how to not only be good people, but also good business people.

Want proof? Here you go:”

“Today Domino’s launched “Pizza Hero” a new semi-real-time advergame that challenges you to become just that, a Pizza Hero as you battle people from around the world to top the leaderboard. The app is pretty cool, and will have you kneading dough, spreading sauce, sprinkling cheese, placing toppings, and cutting slices as you race against the clock.”

“The sites — which combine elements of crowdsourcing, social media, and an old-fashioned recipe swap — are popular destinations on the Web. Allrecipes.com, a subsidiary of Reader’s Digest, claims more than 20 million unique monthly visitors. Scripps Networks says its Food.com has about four million. Other sites that feature user-submitted recipes, such as Cooks.com and the Recipe Wiki on Wikia.com, also attract millions of visitors each month and feature a gluttonous variety of menu choices. (Leeza’s is but one of more than 300 cranberry sauce options on Allrecipes.com.)”

“We identified the top Tweeters in the sports universe, about 4,000 in all, to see how they fit together. Starting with a handful of major sports voices and identifying accounts connected to them, we filtered those results and repeated the process until the universe became clear. (Data was collected in Sept. 2011). “

Breaking the PhD Mold: Work ethic, creativity, and interdisciplinary skills and knowledge key for success

One of the things that I find interesting is that there are still certain stereotypes or perceptions for certain professions or activities.  Whether it is athletics or academics or even in the professional atmosphere, these stereotypes have always been present and accounted for.  The rule of thumb always should be never judge a book by its cover – and that goes with PhD students and professors for that opinion. During the PhD program and even in my new role as an Assistant Professor – these perceptions are still present.

The traditional mold of what people assume of a person with a PhD is focused on just only being about theory and research.  However, I would argue that there are several friends and colleagues of mine that have a balance between theory and practice.  They are able to translate the research and theories to how they will be strategically applied and presented in various campaigns in the real world. In addition, one thing I do believe that is missing in some of the graduate and doctoral programs is an emphasis on creativity.  While it is key to look at what has been done previously with research – but what about new ideas and perspectives? Does this line of research have “it?”  Creativity needs to be encouraged and practiced within the classroom and in research.

However, what are some skills we need to let the fellow PhD students know about before they enter the current job market?  Here is a good article that shares this perspective with undergraduate students, but I would like to highlight some other skills and points to keep in mind for translating your graduate and doctoral studies into the current PR landscape in academia:

  • Being able to apply theory to real problems and issues:  It is key to be aware of your theoretical perspective and framework in approaching research – but how will this help businesses in their communication practices?  What are some other trends we need to be aware of and how we go about solving this problem?  These are some issues we need to be able to address.
  • Don’t be afraid of breaking the mold:  Most PhDs traditionally have come in the same cookie cutter shape – however, there always needs to be some variety in the mix as well.  Whether you are coming from a professional program or you are known online as being a blogger – everyone has a unique perspective to share within the academic community as well as in their research.  How can we advance as a field without these different perspectives to PR?
  • Networking is important, but not everything:  It is key to make sure you are networking and establishing professional relationships – however, there is a time and place where you have to do your own research and establish your name in the field.  There is a point where you have to step up to the plate and initiate research ideas and mentor future scholars as well.
  • Branch out to other fields and collaborate:  Work with other PhDs in other fields working studying the same issue – look at their literature to see how this all comes together from both a theory and applied perspective.  Interdisciplinary research teams are going to be key for advancing the research in the future.  This also applies to other journals, conferences, and networking opportunities.
  • Ideas can be stolen, but not your brain:  One thing that I have noticed in being in academia is the risk of having research ideas stolen or having your work presented without acknowledgement of your contribution.  This happens and ideas may be taken away from you – but what happens when people are approached with the questions asking what they are working on next?  This is the key – ideas can be taken away but your brain will always be in your possession.  You will always have the advantage of making sure to connect the dots with your research lines and study extensions.
  • Serve as a mentor for academic community:  We talk about how we need to give more to our clients in our campaigns and go above in their expectations – so why is this not emphasized in academia?  We are all in the same community and working on research and teaching – so why don’t we share our insights and resources with each other more often?
In summary, some of these approaches may be something that is different and comes with a different perception of what is a professional with a PhD in academia.  These are just a few things that I have found to be missing in some cases that do need to be addressed.
Hope you all are having a great day!
Best Wishes,
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