This semester is already becoming busy – and it is only the second week of classes! In addition to teaching my two classes (one at Tennessee and the other for West Virginia), I have been asked by several professors and fellow colleagues to guest lecture for their class on social media. From research methods to intro to PR and public relations writing to a professional seminar class – it is a great opportunity to talk with the students about social media and its impact on the practice and research in public relations. One lecture that I always enjoy talking about is how to manage your online reputation and be active on social media.
There is indeed a balance in terms of being either too open with information online (ex. posting unprofessional pictures) to being to closed (not even wanting a picture of yourself online). I feel that we really do not have any privacy at all when we are online – but what we can do is be proactive and think about what we post and say online, and think about the consequences of our actions. Plus, we need to know what are the different strategies and techniques that public relations professionals can use to create these new relationships and networks to get their future position or make new contacts in the industry. Mashable recently had a great post that discusses how people can use social media strategically in creating new networks online.
We are in a time and place where relationships is the currency that businesses and individuals are using – and we have to better understand where our stakeholders are getting their information, what attributes they are associating with a brand or individual (reputation), and who else they are listening to and are influenced by. Public relations professionals have to communicate to their clients that they are not the ones necessarily in control of the message or the online community that they have created on Facebook, Twitter, Ning, or other platforms. As Jeremiah Oywang recently wrote on his blog, social media and public relations professionals should not just focus on one platform for their strategic campaign, but focus it on the customer that they are wishing to target. Of course technology is important to integrate into a campaign or research project, but you have to make sure that you keep in mind who you are trying to target and make sure that the message and content is there for them. Otherwise, you will have a fabulous campaign that looks amazing, but it may not be as successful. So, in order to be successful in social media and managing your online reputation – think of it as a strategic function in creating a relationship with the customer (or key stakeholder you have in mind) regarding your client, or future employer if you are doing this for yourself. This is just something to think about.
Hope you all are having a great day!