Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tips for promoting PR student blogs

So you've created a blog, probably for class, and you've started posting content. Now you're hoping someone will read it. How do you get people to notice your blog? That's one of the most common questions I get from my students. Here are the suggestions I give them to get them started (note: you should have 3-5 posts up before you start promotion).

1. At least some of the time, create original content, not just links to news stories or "I agree with so-and-so" posts. Examples:

2. Start to build a community.

3. Remember that a blog is a conversation.

I (and my students) welcome any other suggestions or additions to this list!

Cross-posted to WOM Class.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A (Baker's) Dozen Things PR Pros Blogged About

Back in October I listed a dozen things I wished PR professionals would blog about for the benefit of my students. The response has been great, including a few modifications and additions, so I wanted to post the final list with links to the blog posts. Thanks to all the pros who contributed!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Week's Best for PR (and WOM) students

South Carolina -- Turnout, Young Voters, and Social Media, David Wescott
The Ultimate Student Resource List, Dustin M. Wax
RSS As a Research Tool: Using RSS to Subscribe to News and Web Search Feeds, Corinne Weisgerber
Say It Ain't So, Larry; Bosox Defile Uniform with Corporate Logo, Kevin McCauley
Millenials in the Job Market: Implications for Organizational Communication, Les Potter
5 Courses for PR Students (Advice from the PRos), Lizzie Azzolino
Advertising: Now a Conversation, Ted Shelton (BusinessWeek)
Everything You Ever Needed to Know Can Be Found in Free e-Books, Todd Defren
Best Internet Marketing Blog Posts of 2007, Tamar Weinberg
Media Myths and Realities: A Public of One, Ketchum Perspectives

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Announcement: New resource for PR/social media educators

In another follow-up from the Connect conference, I'm happy to announce the availability of a new resource for educators in public relations and social media. The New PR Wiki now includes a section on Teaching Social Media. It includes a bibliography, a course list with links to information about classes currently being taught around the world, and links to sample assignments to use or modify.

It's definitely still under construction, but the contributors, rounded up via Twitter by Elizabeth Albrycht, are: Elizabeth Albrycht, Philip Young, Corinne Weisgerber, Gary Schlee, Ross Monaghan, Karen Russell, Lauren Vargas, and our librarian, Constantin Basturea.

Check it out!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breaking news: Social media bootcamp for students

Last fall at the Connect conference, some of us discussed the idea of holding a "social media bootcamp" for students. My colleague Kaye Sweetser is turning that idea into reality.

Grady College and Edelman are co-sponsoring a social media bootcamp for upper-level PR students (and educators) from around the Southeast during the first weekend in March. Kaye says the registration fee will be nominal and will include lunch and refreshments. For those who can't attend, my WOM class will be live-blogging, tweeting, flickring and so forth.

More details to come.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Week's Best for PR Students, 21 January 2008

"What I Wish My New Employee Knew," Todd Defren and One More Rule for PR Students Who Still Don't Quite Get It, Steven Silvers
Obama's Goal: Getting Out the Youth Vote, Eric Eggertson
How to Become a Social Media Junkie, Sydney Carroll
Distributed Influence: Quantifying the Impact of Social Media, Jonny Bentwood (Edelman)
Examples of Twitter Providing Business Benefit, Paull Young
10 Lessons I Learned in the First Week of Classes, Meg Roberts
Frozen Peas: A Case Study, Michael Allison
42 Top Social Media Tips and Tools, Dave Fleet

And, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, here's his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, made the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, which includes these lines:

"Let us rise up tonight with greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once again, for allowing me to be here with you."

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

"48 Hours of Twitter" class assignment

My WOM communication class just wrapped up a replication of my colleague Kaye Sweetser's Twitter experiment, so here's a report on it for other faculty who might want to try it.

I created a Twitter account, WOMclass, keeping my updates locked so that only students could follow it. I then used Twitter's invitation system to invite all the students to register on Twitter and request to follow WOMclass updates. Once they all linked to WOMclass, they could click on each others' avatars (as opposed to the 100+ other people I follow as KarenRussell) and therefore easily connect with each other.

I made the assignment as unintimidating as possible -- students could post about anything, they had to post only 5 times in the 48 hours (but not all in a row), and they didn't have to follow anyone outside the class. They don't even have to use it ever again. The assignment was also worth only 5% of their final grade, so basically it was intended simply to encourage them to experiment with it.

Most of the students far exceeded the requirements and made a genuine effort to understand how the Twitter community operates. They uploaded their pictures, posted more frequently than required, and gamely jumped in to try the @reply method and to learn Twitter etiquette.

In class this afternoon (the experiment ended at 9 a.m.) we discussed Chris Anderson's description of "filters" that drive traffic down the Long Tail, including recommendations and reviews. I then pointed out how much of their conversation had served that purpose -- music, a movie, a local restaurant, a book, two television shows, and a certain new laptop all came up, not to mention red velvet cupcakes. We also talked about parasocial relationships, and compared our experiment with this study of microblogging and talked about the significance of one of its findings, that personal and community common interests comingle.

Finally, we reviewed how they might use Twitter for personal branding and networking purposes and listed ways that microblogging can be used in advertising/public relations/marketing communication. Our discussion, which was guided by several blog posts (sorry, didn't think to save the links) and 3 helpful Twitterers, included:

I enjoyed following the students for a couple days and thought the experiment was a great way to get students involved in a form of social media that most hadn't tried -- great idea, Kaye! I also loved how their conversations actually mirrored what academics and professionals alike suggest can and does happen on Twitter. I'm interested to see how many will continue tweeting.

Update: links I should've included-- thanks to Judy Gombita for an assist.

The Big Juicy Twitter Guide, Caroline Middlebrook

How Individuals Use Twitter, Peter Kim

If You Don't Twitter Now, You'll Hate Yourself Later, Deborah Ager

17 Ways You Can Use Twitter, Maki

7 Ways Marketers Can Use Twitter, Ann Handley

Guide to Twitter for PR Students, me

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Thinking about organizations

I'm not an org theoriest but a sentence in a post by Valeria Maltoni got me thinking about the nature of our relationship with organizations.

"We should never talk about organizations as entities, it leads to all sorts of false assumptions, the most glaring of which is that an entity has a mind, it does not," she writes.

This is a fundamental error that people make all the time. Yet when my students write about a company using the pronoun "they" (example: Company X sold a million widgets, and they could've sold even more), I have to correct the grammar. Wouldn't we be better off if reminded that a company really is "they" rather than "it"? That is, it seems to me that the grammar is teaching us to think incorrectly about what organizations really are.

Dan(nye) Santow and Andy Bechtel, I'm throwing this one to you.


The Week's Best, 14 January 2008

My WOM class is experimenting with Twitter this week (thanks, @kaye), so here are some Twitter-inspired stories, all located via Twitter.
How Frozen Peas Started a Movement, Washington Post (via @prprof_mv)
Social Networking in 140 Characters or Less, Robert Rhyne Armstrong (aka @Ninety7)
Twitter: How Do You Find People to Follow?, Dave Fleet (@davefleet)
Twitter is My Village, Laura Fitton (@pistachio)
The Engaging Brand podcast, Show #136 Inside the Mind of a Digital Native, Anna Farmery (via @lukearmour, starring @paullyoung)

For you Twitter haters (you know who you are), an alternative set of recommendations:
Ask Questions and Pay Attention: Keys to Good Client Service, Kelli Matthews
PRET a Reporter, Richard Bailey
The Secret Lives of Fonts, Phil Renaud (via Jill Walker Rettberg)
10 Simple Rules for Social Media Success in 2008, Chris Winfield (via Sarah Wurrey)
Exclusive: Former FEMA External Affairs Head John Pat Philbin Sets the Record Straight About "Fake" Press Conference, Kami Huyse

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Campaigns client: Partners for a Prosperous Athens

This semester marks the fifth time I've taught PR Campaigns, and I've gone and made it the most challenging yet. I have 20 students (not including the 5 working on the Bateman competition team) all working on a single project, Partners for a Prosperous Athens/OneAthens. The client is an ambitious, grassroots attempt to solve the horrendous poverty problem here in the home of the state's flagship university.

The class met with representatives of the client, which is a coalition convened by local government, business, school system, university, and other officials. Thousands of volunteers have contributed in one way or another over the past two years. They've conducted research on the issues, identified problem areas, and made 155 recommendations, which were combined into 10 initiatives, for which implementation plans have been made. Now it's time to stop talking and start doing. The client wants our class to help publicize and explain the implementation strategies and to build public support for the intiatives. The plan pushes hot buttons in just about every area you can think of, but I think there is general support for the idea that something must be done.

On Tuesday the class is going to divide into 4-5 teams to do a couple of weeks' research on the initiatives and implementation plan so we can figure out how to explain and build support for the complicated plan in our very diverse community. I have confidence that my students are up to the challenge, which is good because failure is not an option!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teaching about blogs

Here's an example of how to do a link.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Using Weblogs in PR education

My refereed teaching paper on using blogs in PR education is now up on the AEJMC PR division Web site (thanks again to Kami and Constantin for reading a draft). In it I tried to identify some simple ways PR educators can use blogs for those who are new to the blogosphere.

If you're an AEJMC member just checking into my blog for the first time -- welcome! A lot has happened since I first drafted the article. The number of blogging PR educators is slowly increasing (see my blogroll); I assigned one of my Campaigns classes to create their own blogs, with mixed results; Grady hosted Connect, a PR and social media conference, very ably organized and publicized by one of my Campaigns teams, with social media coverage handled by Dr. Kaye Sweetser's social media class; and I've just started teaching a word-of-mouth communication class emphasizing social media... more on that throughout the semester.

One of my favorite parts of Connect was an educator's roundtable at the end of the conference in which we discussed ways to help PR faculty integrate social media into the curriculum. We're going to be working on that this spring and summer, so stay tuned for details-- if you're interested, leave a comment and I'll add you to my list. In the meantime, check out Kaye's post with some ways to get started.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

The 8 in 2008 meme

I've been tagged by Lauren Vargas to participate in the crazy 8 for 2008 meme. As she points out, a similar meme made the rounds last summer, so I've decided to take the Gary Schlee route, although I'm sure my list won't sound as mysterious as did his. (And Gary, can I point out that this one is also going around at the start of a semester? Don't worry, I'll leave you alone this time.)

1. Munising, Michigan
2. kiddie lit
3. 1996 women's Olympic soccer (football) gold medal match
4. Buckeyes
5. Edinburgh and Honolulu
6. American Camping Association
7. McDonald's
8. Queen

My tags go to my Word-of-Mouth Communication class, meeting for the first time tomorrow... even though they don't have blogs yet.


The Week's Best for PR Students, 7 January 2007

A brief introduction for students new to my blog this semester: every Monday I post a list of links to interesting, provocative, and thoughtful blog posts/stories/videos/podcasts etc. that I think will benefit PR students. Here are my picks for this week:

Welcome to the Fifth Estate, Geoff Livingston
The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard
Is Blogging Worth It? What's the ROI?, Andrew Chen
Ten to One, Dan Santow
Advertising is a One-Way Street, Valeria Maltoni
Facebook Fan Pages Improvement, Lee Aase
Seven Reasons Why I Blog, Gary Schlee
A Complete List of the Many Forms of Web Marketing for 2008, Jeremiah Owyang

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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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