Hello everyone! My name is Karen Freberg and I am an Associate Professor at the University of Louisville and an On-line Instructor for the Integrated Marketing Communications program at West Virginia University. I got my my Ph.D. at beautiful University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2011. I would consider myself to be “Dr. Freberg 2.0” since the original is my Mom.

Along with teaching, I am also a research consultant in social media and crisis communications and has worked with several organizations and agencies such as Firestorm Solutions, Hootsuite, Kentucky Derby Festival, IMC Agency, DHS, CDC, National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, and the Colorado Ski Association. This experience lead me to be a 2015 Plank Center Fellow for General Motors (GM), where my responsibility was to work with the PR and social media teams forming best practices and recommendations on social media measurement strategies and influencer marketing practices.

I have coordinated and advised various companies on the areas of social media pedagogy and certification programs, such as Hootsuite (Advanced Social Media Certification and #HootAmb), Meltwater (certification program), Adobe (EDUMax Thought Leader), and Hubspot (Education program and podcast).

Along with teaching, my research has been published in several book chapters and in academic journals such as Public Relations Review, Media Psychology Review, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management and Health Communication.  She also serves on the editorial board for Psychology for Popular Media Culture, Corporate Communication, Marketing Education Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, and Case Studies in Strategic Communication (CSSC). I am also professionally active serving on the executive committee for the PRSA Entertainment and Sports section and is a regular contributor and a young professionals award judge for Front Office Sports.

Sometimes, we need to look back on our lives in order to remind ourselves about those decisions and experiences that helped change us into the person we are today. Sometimes
things just ‘happen to us’ either by chance or beyond our control, but most of the time, we can make a decision –and it is our decisions that mold and shape us the most greatly. So, what
do I think was most important to my life and what am I most proud ?

Here’s my story.

I was having a wonderful time!
me in New Zealand in 1993

I was born in Humble, Texas — “a town of no consequence except to anyone who has been there” as Jane Austin might have said. As things happen, we moved to California and I spent the next 12 years as a product of San Luis Obispo County schools. San Luis Obispo is a small county but with many redeeming features. Growing up my parents tried to instill into all of us what they referred to as ‘first generation mentality.’

The idea that achievement, hard work, academic and athletic success, doing right are all good things. Some tasks I found to be easy for me. Athletics and music were more fun than effort but academic pursuits required real work. The hard work of studying at home prepared me for success at school. By the time I was in 7th grade, I enjoyed typical female toys but also loved video games, watching sporting events and this new toy called ‘home computers.’ I promptly started my first web page, a Val Kilmer fan site! Soon, my web page became an ‘on-line scrapbook’ of my adventures in Track & Field.

7th grade was a nexus for me. I promised my P.E. teacher Mrs. Shimke that I would represent Laguna Middle School in a county wide track meet. I balked at the idea as the day approached — but my mother reminded me about my promise and said,’ there is this little thing called responsibility.’ I won the shot put throwing with my left hand ( later, I threw with my right ), a medal was placed around my neck, they took a picture and placed it in the school’s glass case for announcements. I was hooked!

I earned everyone's envy by wearing an

Competing at the 2004 Olympic Trials

In high school, I was California state runner-up as a sophomore and won my remaining two years. Nationally, I won the New Balance National Scholastic indoor Championships and was
ranked by Track & Field News as the Number 1 female high school shot putter for the outdoor season my senior year. So, off to college I went on a full scholarship. One year at SMU in Dallas and WAC Champion , next came my two SEC Championships at Florida. At Florida, we came in second in the NCAA Championships twice! I was a finalist in the 2004 Olympic trials.

I graduated on time from Florida with a degree in Public Relations and applied to a number of excellent graduate programs. My father asked very slyly, ‘aren’t you applying to anywhere outside of the SEC?’ There was method in his madness, he was an SC grad.

Me at Dad's alma Mater!

With my fellow USC Teammates and Coach Lange

I was selected by the Annenberg School in Communications at the University of Southern California. I petitioned for my last year of eligibility and was granted by the NCAA to
compete one year for the Trojans! Here, I set the school record in the shot (57-7.5), runner-up in the Pac 10, and helped our team to become NCAA runner-ups! I loved being a Trojan athlete! However, since I was ranked in the top 50 in the world, I had to submit ‘retirement’ papers to the controlling organizations in track & field.

Two down and one to go!

Graduating with my Master’s in Strategic PR at USC

My second year in Southern Cal’s Masters Program in Strategic Public Relations was just what I needed! In addition, I started losing my athletic weight and worked as a ‘Graduate
Assistant’ for the Track Team with recruiting.

I applied to a few select doctoral programs — and I was accepted immediately by the University of Tennessee where I earned a Ph.D. Program with an emphasis in PR. I also spend the summer of 2006 working in Cape Town, South Africa with Total Media. Total Media was a boutique firm specializing in fashion and consumer PR.

dining in Capetown, South Africa is wonderful!

I hope that this has helped you understand me a little better and if you are one of the many young athletes who stop by my site, remember, being ‘good enough’ never is, always strive to be the best and see where it takes you.

Best Wishes,

1 Comment

Laura’s Psychology Blog » Welcome! · July 9, 2006 at 4:49 pm

[…] I’d like to thank my daughter, Karen, and my husband, Roger, for the inspiration to try this new way of communicating with my students, people who have bought my books, and interested others. Karen is a grad student in Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, and Roger has had a long career in marketing. […]

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