Monday, December 31, 2007

The Week's Best, 31 December 2007

On the last day of this year, some of these recommended posts are looking forward. Here's to a happy 2008!

The Shortest 2008 Trend Prediction Ever...Two Words, Rohit Bhargava
Ten Social Media Wishes for 2008, Geoff Livingston
Twitter, Beth Kanter
Social Media Training Wiki (via Dave Fleet)
The Lazy Worker's Guide to Office Politics, Gavin Heaton (via Kevin Dugan)
Landing Your First Public Relations Job, Espen Skoland

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Week's Best, 24 December 2007

Okay, I'm posting a few hours before 24 December but I haven' t missed a Monday since I started, so I'm cheating a little to keep my record intact over the holidays. Here are some good reads:

Twitter: How to Get Value Out of This Social Networking Tool, Rick Mahn
A Coming Problem of Diversity, Jonathon Trenn (via Susan Getgood on Twitter)
...For PR Students, Mihaea Vorvoreanu
Teens and Social Media, Pew/Internet survey
101 Dumbest Moments in Business for 2007, Fortune magazine
Industry, Trade or Profession? Some Observations on PR Associations, Present and Future, Judy Gombita
Musts for 2008: Tips, Tricks, Social Networks, and Newsletters to Keep You Ahead of the Game, Bob Batchelor
Best Practices: 10 Tips for Reaching Out to Social Media Influencers, Kami Huyse
Why PR Needs a Seat at Management's Table, Adam Denison
Stupid Commenting v. Smart Engagement, Amy Gahran

Also, check out some Auburn students' online work here. And for those among my students who just love that Dove "evolution" campaign, consider an alternative point of view.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Week's Best, 17 December 2007

Putting Blogs in Their Place, Richard Bailey
Throwing Out the Social Media Rulebook, Chip Griffin and Don't Throw Out That Social Media Rulebook Quite Yet, Brian Solis
New PR -- Another Failed New Year Resolution?, Tom Murphy
Leadership: 2007 Communication Faux Pas Hall of Fame, Ruth Sherman (via Andrew Careaga)
Top 10 Blogs for Writers, Michael Stelzner (via Brian Clark)
Ten Simple Steps to Build Your Twitter Community, Mitch Joel
Yet Another Proof Point that PR Doesn't Get It, Katie Paine
Joe's Social Media Bookshelf, Joe Thornley and Chris' Social Media Bookshelf, Chris Thilk

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meet the Teacher: Bob Batchelor

This week I'm featuring Bob Batchelor of the University of South Florida -- he's relatively new to the blogosphere, but he sure caught my eye when he blogged about PR history! It's my area of expertise but, let's be honest, not one of wide public concern. ;-) Here are Bob's responses to my questions... it's the first time Johnny Cash has appeared in Teaching PR.

Q. How and when did you first get interested in blogging? What is the purpose of your blog? Are you using any other social media?
My professional career in communications began roughly the same time the Web started taking off, which led to a longtime interest in technology. For example, I helped design and wrote content for a corporate Web site in 1996-1997 that was at the time state of the art. I do not recall an "aha" moment when the bulb went off regarding blogging, but rather my interest in the medium grew out of my writing for online publications. I used to write for some then-big Web sites, like and worked as a staff writer at in the heyday of the era. I also wrote quite a bit for Rick Shenkman’s History News Network (, which uses history as a vehicle for understanding today’s world. I see blogging as an extension of these attempts at creating a platform for myself as a popular culture specialist. My first (sporadic) blogging attempts began in March 2003 at Pop Goes Our Culture .

PR-Bridge grew out of my frustration with divide between the theory-laden, scholarly work going on among public relations academics and the buried under work, gut instinct driven world of practitioners. There are so many opportunities for true collaboration, but neither side (and they do seem like separate worlds!) seems that willing or interested in working with the other. I hope PR-Bridge grows into a place where some discussion can take place. My other hope is that professionals will recognize me as someone who can help them find new talent, thus getting my students jobs and internships.

Currently, I’m using a variety of other social media platforms, including personal and professional MySpace pages and a Facebook page. I also signed onto LinkedIn and MyRagan. I’m purposely avoiding most cell phone based social media, just because I like to be tuned out to have time to think, so I use my cell about twice a day to make short calls and in case of emergencies related to my two-year-old daughter.

Q. Tell us a little about your school and how PR is taught there.
The University of South Florida is the ninth largest university in the nation. We have gained a bit of notoriety over the last couple of years because the school football team joined the Big East and has been ranked. Also, there is a big push to become a nationally-recognized research university, so that has drawn attention.

Public relations is a sequence in the School of Mass Communications, which is approved by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, one of only 25 percent of the 450 journalism and mass communications programs in the United States accredited by ACEJMC. The School of Mass Communications requires students to apply for admission and pass an English diagnostic test, so most PR students are upperclassmen. My colleagues in the PR sequence include: Kelly Page Werder (sequence head), Kelli Burns, Rebecca Hagen, and Derina Holtzhausen, who is also the director of graduate studies. I also serve as faculty advisor for the Public Relations Students Society of America.

Public relations is a three-semester sequence, though students have strict requirements while completing the degree, from taking Mass Communications courses like Intro to Advertising and Beginning Reporting to taking management, marketing, economic, political science, and library research skills courses outside the major. Students take Principles of Public Relations their first semester. In the second, they enroll in Writing for Public Relations, Public Relations Research, and Public Relations: Issues, Problems, and Practices, which is a case study course. In their final semester in the sequence, students take our capstone Advanced PR, where they work in account teams for a real client. They also take PR Design that final semester. In addition, most of our students are juggling internships, jobs, and extracurricular groups, like PRSSA, Student Government, and a variety of activist groups and philanthropic activities. Most of our top students are graduating with two to four internships.

My primary class is Writing for Public Relations, though I also teach Principles and Issues on a regular basis. I also teach an introductory course Mass Communication and Society, which is a large course (I’ll have 300 students in January) that students from across USF can take. The PR sequence is difficult and we stress the competitive aspects of the profession. Based on my professional experience, I teach from an integrated communications perspective, which I feel best prepares my students for entering the field.

Q. In what ways do you incorporate social media into the classroom? What would you most like to do that you aren't already doing?
I use blogging extensively in my courses. In the Writing classes, I make blogging part of their weekly assignments. Often, this entails giving the students a current article or op-ed to read and then having them post their responses on our internal (Blackboard-based) blog. Supplementing their textbook this way forces students to read about events and issues taking place right now and shows them the kinds of publications they should be reading to prepare themselves for their professional lives. I started experimenting with podcasting this semester. In the 45-student Issues class, I had them do group work and then each group answered the same four questions via podcasting. Next, they had to blog about the assignment after listening to the other groups’ podcasts. The student really enjoyed the work, so I plan to incorporate more podcasting in the future.

What I would like to do more of in the future is use Wikis as a way to build the class into an online community. Also, I hope to find a way to get more involved myself in the students' blogging efforts. Keeping up with them is a numbers game that I always seem to lose to some degree. That said, I am pretty harshly critical of myself as a teacher. I will always search for better ways to prepare my students, particularly by using new technology. In the future, I foresee this including actually teaching them how to build Web sites, blogs, post podcasts, and other technical skills that they lack as a group.

Q. Do you have any advice for other PR educators who are considering starting a blog or getting involved in social media?
Despite the effort that blogging requires, I find it valuable enough to dedicate the time. My priority is my students and blogging helps me understand social media better, thus giving me some credibility when discussing it as a teacher. My students are focused on building the skills necessary for them to succeed in the profession, so they want to know that I have the experience and background to teach them. PR-Bridge is a kind of "putting my money where my mouth is" exercise that shows students the value of social media. In fact, I challenged my students to build their own brand by starting a blog or joining the social media networks that I mentioned earlier. Here’s an example of a couple students who took me up on the offer: Meg Roberts and Tory Lynne.

On a personal level, I would love it if more PR educators blogged, particularly those who approach the field from a more scholarly viewpoint. There are big issues in this profession that need addressed and we could all benefit from more voices in the mix. For example, though I know Bill Sledzik by reputation, I had never met him prior to a recent exchange we had via blogging, looking at an issue from two divergent views. This conversation would have never taken place without social media.

Q. Like me, you're a historian, and you're currently studying for your doctorate in English Literature. What are your long-term career plans and how will you fit in your varied interests?
After a decade of corporate communications work, I needed a change of pace. Luckily, USF wanted to hire someone who had deep professional experience. But, academe requires a doctorate for tenure, so I took the steps to gain admission into the English Lit program at USF. I have always been a secret lit kind of guy, so working toward this degree has been a dream come true. The degree will help me get tenure and gives me a new perspective on teaching writing to PR students.

My primary goal, as audacious as it sounds, is to become the best college professor in America. That’s the kind of standard I hold myself to. I hope to write quite a bit in the future about how to best teach PR, which is another reason why I wish more of us were blogging.

As a scholar, nearly all of my work is broadly defined as popular culture. My long-term goal is to be a respected pop culture scholar, like my friend Ray Browne from Bowling Green State University. By labeling myself as a pop culturist, rather than narrowly defining my interests, I keep my work fresh and varied enough to encompass everything I want to write about. Currently, for example, I am working on a book on pop culture in this decade and editing a 4-volume encyclopedia on American pop culture in the twentieth century. My next project is editing a 3-volume series of original essays on cult pop culture. Then I’ll be onto a modern history of public relations, which the field sorely needs, and a short bio of Johnny Cash. I want to publish a book a year for about a decade then see what happens next.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Week's Best, 10 December 2007

A rather momentous occurence in the PR blogosphere this week, and I bet most of you missed it: we actually generated debate among U.S. PR educator/bloggers. A tipping point, perhaps? In honor of this long-awaited event, this week I'm highlighting great posts from PR educators. Enjoy!

Why I Don't Trust Marketing, Bill Sledzik and Why I Don't Trust PR "Purists": A Friendly Reply to Bill Sledzik, Bob Batchelor
The PR Campaign, Battle Stations Everyone!, Gary Schlee
Corporate Bloggers Organize into the "Blog Council," Les Potter
Facebook Beacon Timeline and Analysis, Mihaela Vorvoreanu
EuroBlog2008: Call for Papers, Philip Young
College Admissions Embrace Social Media, Nora Barnes
Forward Podcast 37 Live: What Are You Doing to Address Globalization?, live podcast with PR educators Richard Bailey and Robert French on Sat., Dec. 15

And a couple of other posts of particular interest for students:
Why Writing Like a College Student Will Kill You Online, Brian Lash
Edelman Online Behavior Policies and Procedures

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Book review: Fire Them Up!

Richard Bailey will tell you that I'm always praising him for including book reviews on his blog. As the book review editor of Journalism History, I write and edit dozens of reviews every year, but somehow I never got around to doing one for my blog. So, when I presented with the opportunity to review Fire Them Up! by Carmine Gallo, I decided to jump at the chance.

Fire Them Up! promises to explain 7 simple secrets to "inspire colleagues, customers and clients," "sell yourself, your vision, and your values," and "communicate with charisma and confidence." American workers are unhappy in their jobs, Gallo argues, and the solution is better leadership.

The seven secrets (acronym: INSPIRE) are...

Each tip is illustrated with the stories of leaders, from top executives like Patrick Charmel, CEO of Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., to Krista Hawkins, Hyudai auto plant tour guide in Montgomery, Ala. Gallo, a communications coach and former journalist, hosts the Useful Commute podcast and is a speaker who also wrote 10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators. This background explains why many of his tips include advice on making good presentations.

Part II of the book shows how individuals -- Steve Jobs, Disney teacher of the year Ron Clark, Peter Fleischer of Ketchum -- apply the secrets to their work. The fact that Gallo included a wide range of jobs and people throughout the book is a real strength, in my opinion.

Although I'm usually skeptical of a book that promises "simple steps" to anything, I would definitely consider assigning to my students various chapters from this book, such as "Paint a Picture" for PR writing or "Navigate the Way" for a discussion of vision and mission in PR administration. They're clearly written, lively, and provide relevant examples. Moreover, the book draws upon rhetorical theory and provides tips on using such literary tools as analogies and metaphors, which is not often the case in the popular business press. I would also include it on a list of choices for student book reviews in the administration class. It's a cut above many of the business/leadership books I've seen.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The 5 best podcasts for PR students

Earlier this year I was stuck in an airport (and in an airplane) so I spent several hours listening to PR podcasts. I got hooked -- what an easy and time-efficient way to keep up with PR industry news.

Now that I've been listening for several months, I'm ready to recommend my top five picks for PR students. I listen to and enjoy several others, but these are my picks for five that focus on content of interest to students and that are accessible to newbies.

Forward Podcast (Paull Young and Luke Armour) -- consistently high-quality content geared specifically toward students and young professionals. If you only have time for one, this is a must-listen for students (and faculty, for that matter). Luke also does a live show called The Rundown that students will enjoy.

The rest:
Inside PR (Terry Fallis and Dave Jones)
New Comm Road (Bryan Person)
PRobecast (Topaz Partners)
Trafcom News (Donna Papacosta)

If you're new to podcasting, you can follow my links to download the podcasts directly from the Web sites, or you can subscribe on iTunes -- either way, they're free. I also recommend Sarah Wurrey's posts on PR Podjots, which provide updates on various PR/marketing-related podcasts, and Forward's episode 26, a tour of the PR podosphere. Happy listening!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

The Week's Best, 3 December 2007

Either I had too much time on my hands or people have been saving their best stuff for the end of the year. I usually try to limit myself to 5-10 links, but this week I'm goin' crazy:

Dear Santa 2.0: My Social Media/PR Wish List, Dave Fleet
The Secret Strategies Behind Many "Viral" Videos, Dan Ackerman Greenberg (with 508 comments so far)
Mob Rule?, Mike Driehorst
Making the Sunday Sports Section, Washington Post (video, via Andy Bechtel)
Astroturfing and the American Way: A Code of Ethics for the Choir to Live By, Kami Huyse
7 Warning Signs that You're Drunk on Your Own Words, Jonathan Morrow
Social Media and Online PR -- Specialist or Not, Stuart Bruce
Don't Box Tick, Caroline Wilson
2007 Social Media Top 10 List, Dan Greenfield
PR Blogs List Update: November 2007, Constantin Basturea
10 More Blogging Tips from a Novice Blogger, Avinash Kaushik
LinkedIn for Newbies, Scott Allen
Dear PR Flack, Don't Make Us Laugh, Nicholas Carlson
Busting the 10 Most Common Social Media Myths, Lisa McNeill

Also, Dr. Kaye Sweetser's post on Target, which appeared in The Week's Best for 15 October, has finally caught some national attention, including appearing in the Minneapolis newspaper.
Target and Drillteam Media Busted for Stealth Word of Mouth, Andy Sernovitz
Target Misses on Facebook Page, Lee Aase

And, check out all of her students' Semester Projects.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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