MSVU Social Media Course Blog

Just another weblog

Missing my “kids”

Hey all you smarty-party pants. Thanks for working through some of the issues posed in mostlyheather’s post. I appreciate it. I miss our intense learning journey, and hope all of you are enjoying “summer”.

over for now, doctor d

p.s. anybody want to recommend a good post they’ve recently read on their monitored blog?

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve heard of an end-of-semester bash, but that was uncalled for

When I heard we’d be doing yet another client communications plan and pitch, I must admit, I pouted. Many of my classmates agree that the age-old client comm plan has gotten a little bit redundant over the past four years of the Bachelor of Public Relations degree. Fortunately this final project was different.

Working with Danielle Gaudet and the Women in Business initiative was an excellent experience. She was the most receptive and participative client I’ve ever worked with for an academic assignment. In addition to providing detailed responses to all of our questions, she asked questions of her own, demonstrating a genuine level of interest in our work.

The requirements for the communications tactics were also a refreshing change. Working solely with social media tools allowed us to transcend the monotonous press release rut that many of us have gotten ourselves into. I’m so grateful to complete my degree with an arsenal of fresh ideas along with the theory and practice to back them up.

On another note, I’d like to address something that happened toward the end of our class presentations—and I say this with the utmost MSN smiley emoticon-ness . After one team finished their pitch, several student spectators took it upon themselves to interrogate the team, questioning the validity of their research and the suitability of their tactics.

While we’re all encouraged to be critical thinkers, I don’t think it was an appropriate occasion to articulate those criticisms. From my understanding, the classroom should be a supportive learning environment where students can bounce ideas off one another—not squash them in front of a client to whom a team has just presented weeks of evident hard work.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just naïve, but I think the same standard should apply everywhere—even in this business world that we’re all so competitive and eager to enter. I would hope that we, as Public Relations practitioners, could set an example in mustering up some support and tact in regards to our colleagues. As self-gratifying as it is to be competitive, things seem to work better when we drop the cut-throat attitude and work as a team.

Okay that’s my beef.

It’s been an awesome semester and I’ve learned so much from everyone—what a sharp bunch of ladies (and gentleman) we are!

Best of luck to all! 

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Helpful or Opressing?

As the communications world grows more comfortable with social media and its various uses, it is inevitable that we are going to shift away from our traditional methods of communication in most all ways.  This includes media releases.  We have moved into a time where it is not uncommon to see what is now called a “Social Media Release” whereby an organization utilizes their various social media tools to get their message out there via a media release in the social media realm.  While this is an exciting  time, IABC has recognized that the marriage of this traditional tool with an untraditional one is a complicated relationships that must be carefully crafted.  On the Hobson and Holtz Report this week, they talked about the conference where members of IABC came together to discuss standards and formats for this new(ish) form of communication.

The Wiki that is maintained by IABC explaining these standards explains the purpose of setting a standard and format for these new media releases, “hRelease is an open, social media news release standard that encourages the electronic distribution of news across the Internet. hRelease will allow news authors to create a single copy of their online release and share it electronically with wire services, members of the press, and the public. The goal of the hRelease format is to enable a simple way to markup news, allowing authors to share news through blogs, personal and corporate websites, web feeds, and any other online repository.”

What are your thoughts? Do we really need someone telling us how to write our releases? Or will it be super helpful?

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s get a tan instead of hiding in the dark because we’re afraid of the sun!

I remember sitting in Amy Thurlow’s Intro to PR class several years ago and being really excited to hear the definition of PR because, to be honest, I really had no idea what PR was.  Three years and about a million comm plans later I could spout off that definition in my sleep…actually my husband told me I actually have before (scary). Amy taught us about mutually beneficial relationships that are achieved through two way symmetric communication. I remember being so pumped about two way symmetric communication.  Obviously there was no other way to practice PR.  Over the years though, after actually stepping out into the work world and seeing how people practice PR for real, I think I became a little bit jaded.  In Amy’s last class, Advanced PR Management, we read articles about how Grunig’s model was outdated and idealistic, about how two way symmetric communication was an impossible pipe dream and practitioners needed to just grow up and realize the truth, we were destined for one way asymmetric communication.  I think I believed the author.

What does this have to do with social media, you may be asking.  I have come to realize over the course of this class, that not only is the world changing and evolving but so is our ability and techniques to communicate.  That author obviously never participated in a wiki or followed and commented on a blog.  The truth is, social media is not only changing the way people connect with each other, it’s changing the way we communicate. As we enter the field in a couple of weeks or months or years or whatever it may be, we are entering a new and exciting era of PR.  No longer will one way asymmetric communication be acceptable. People realize that they have something to say and that they have the right to be heard.  This means that organizations are not going to be able to get away with pushing messages without finishing the feedback loop. Everyone has feedback. And everyone will push to finish the loop on their own.  Without this two way symmetric communication, organizations are going to ultimately fail in favor of other organizations who do practice effective communications.  And social media is a massive stepping stone to this future.  That future isn’t so far off either, it’s not like we’re talking about robots and higher level technology here. We’re talking about people learning and utilizing tools that are already available to them to communicate with us, to have their voices heard.  The revoluation has already begun. And I’m psyched about it! Finally my first year enthusiasm is creeping back into my already jaded mind and I’m getting geared up to establish an effective model of communication in my work place. I recognize the importance of following this model, my publics recognize the importance of following this model and sooner or later my organization is going to have to recognize this importance as well.  Social media provides us with an opportunity to transition into this model.  Even if it’s only one step at a time.  From leaving comments to wall posting to blogging to collaborative wikis, these mediums of communication are all about leaving it open for feedback and response.  They are all about giving people the oppportunity to have their voices heard.

While we have been pushing collectively for a huge shift like this within the profession for, at least as long as I can remember, some are terrified of social media and its implications for the future. I think that’s because we’re not explaining it well enough, we’re not putting it into words that they’ll understand.  We’re not saying things like “two way symmetric communication” we’re saying “let’s start a blog and let people comment on it so that everyone can see both the negative and positive.”  That scares people, putting control in someone elses’ hand and having faith in their organizations.  It’s now our job as more informed social media users (thanks DeNel for helping us in that regard) to educate not only our peers but our superiors and our students as well that we are on the dawn of this new horizon and we need to embrace it. Let’s get a tan instead of hiding in the dark because we’re afraid of the sun!

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

How to find your comments..

I know you all probably figured it out, but DeNel asked me to put this up.

To find a list of all the comments you’ve made just go to My Account (top left-hand corner) and in the drop down menu click My Comments.



June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

3 things that took me 6 weeks to learn

As I ponder about the last 6 weeks and how social media can be used in public relations, I would like to think I’ve taken some valuable lessons from it:

1. Social media doesn’t work…. if you’re anti-social.

  • You’re not going to get to everyone. As a consumer, I find it difficult to stay on track of the dozens of sites that are available to me. In fact, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with not only the wiki assignment, but these blog posts as well. My own personal blog has sat, untouched, for over 3 months. If you accept that a) not everyone has a computer, and b) those luckily enough to own one aren’t necessarily building a ning network or tweeting to their tweeps. Take what you have, and use it to the best of your ability.

2. Social media will take over traditional media

  • Of that I am certain. We are so close to the tipping point, if not already past it, on the rise and popularity of social media. Save for those people in my earlier lesson who will never use social media, mostly everyone and their dog has at least heard of it. Once the older generation passes (as horrific as that sounds, it’s true), and the newer generations keep on coming, it will just be an everyday occurrence that people will check social networks like they do their email. Just like my grandmother used to write her weekly letters – new tools for a new generation.
  • For public relations – this means stepping away from sending out news releases, media kits and the same old, same old. It means actually being innovative, and thinking with a fresh brain or looking at the world with a new set of eyes. Once the old-fashioned PR practitioners retire, the social media world is ours.

3.  Nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication

  • With my personal conviction that social media will become an everyday tool not only for us PR practitioners, but for the world, I believe a caution must be exercised. Nothing has more impact than a face-to-face conversation. People paid attention to President Obama’s tweets, but no one could take their eyes off him as he said his inspirational words about change, and being able to face a world in crisis. Social media tools are just that – tools. It shouldn’t be used as a crutch, but as a channel. Whenever possible, always keep your human connection – the emotional touch that truly will persuade an audience or make them listen that much longer, or more attentively.

These are the three most important lessons I’ve taken out of this course – along with the technical ability to use all of these social media tools.

I am taking away the ability to step back from it, think about it, and say “How can I use this effectively? Is it worth it or am I just throwing it out there because it’s new and hip?” Like DeNel wished, when I think about how social media can influence my future work, I’m going to sit back and think critically about it for a little while before I jump on the bandwagon.


June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Did we cheer Twitter Revolution too quickly?

Protests in Iran from

Protests in Iran from

Wow, sometimes we get too excited over happenings in the social media realm without researching, analyzing and the big one THINKING about it!

On the blog, I am following Net Effect, Evgeny Morozov published an Op-Ed on his blog that he had sent to the Boston Globe and was also published. In his op-ed/blog, he stresses that we should look at things from the other side before we start celebrating the success of social media.

For instance, the Western World celebrated that Twitter was allowing us to know about the happenings inside Iran. However, as Morozov questions, why didn’t the Iran government block Twitter? He gives these excellent ideas:

1)It is a god-send to Iran intelligance to discover connections between activists and their outside counterparts.

2)It allows the government to follow the events happening inside closely.

Opps… yet another way for big brother to control the people. Also another example that we as intellectuals need to question more and think from the other perspective.

As social media is used more and more we need to be more inquisitive about who is able to read what we are putting out into cyberspace and who can read it.

Your thoughts?



June 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

It’s been a fun and interesting ride!

It is hard to believe tomorrow we enter our last week in our Social Media class. Seriously, the time flew by! I have to admit  this class has been an eye-opening experience. I feel so lucky to be ahead of the game in regards to social media and its use in business, marketing and PR from this class and I am nervous to leave in case a new social media tool creeps up and I won’t hear about it. (oh no, I’m concerned about being left out of developing social media apps. Has this class turned me into a Web 2.0 geek?)

Although I found learning about all the different social media tools (blogs, wikis, twitter, flickr and even skype was new to me) fascinating, it wasn’t until we had the opportunity to speak with C.C. Chapman that this exciting world of social media hit home for me.

C.C. was so down-to-earth and spoke about social media in plain language (Too much tech talk before turns me off). After hearing about his agency’s, The Advance Guard, advance buzz campaign for True Blood I was captivated. So I read more about this particular campaign and watched videos on the response. I even found myself showing it to people who barely know me at work and gushing about how well done I thought it was. This campaign was the perfect mix of social media and traditional marketing. As mentioned in our first reading by Tracey Taweel, people love to communicatewith each other, but we also love to communicate in different forms. If we only had ICQ, and couldn’t talk on the phone, in person or in any other form what a lonely world we would live in. This campaign not only tapped into newer social media as a forum to intregue influencers with social capital, but they used the old fashioned post office communicating.

It is exciting campaigns like The Advance Guard’s True Blood and people like C.C. Chapman that get me excited about social media and how we can use it as a new tool among all the other tools we have in our red PR tool boxes.

Thank you Dr. D for this fantastic experience. Turning on a computer will never be the same for me ever again!



P.S. By the way, ever since C.C. Chapman skyped into my life and I discovered True Blood, I’ve been a little obsessed. For your viewing pleasure, the teaser for True Blood season two.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Last Post…

So this is it, my last official blog post. I have mixed feelings as a write this post, I am sad that the course is coming to a close, but also to be filled with knowledge of what social media is all about.

On the first day of class I was nervous and excited. I was not comfortable with my social media skills and when I was told all the exercises we were going to be doing, my stomach did a little bit of a flip. Blogs, Wikis, pos casts… WhAT!?!? I had used these tools, but to actually make when. I am a facebook geek, and I would tweet and blog from time to time, but to actually learn the purposes or blogs, wikis, podcasts was a great experience. I find my self a lot more comfortable with the different social media tools, and actually know what they do and where to get access to them.

I also enjoyed reading my classmates posts. Each post was unique and very informative. It was also nice to see how our personalities are shown in our posts; just by reading them you can guess who wrote them. I would also like to say thank you to all the great guests speakers that we had. All of them brought new ideas to the table, and open my mind to what social media has to offer and how it different tools can play different parts in organizations.

Last but not least. Thanks DeNel.  You made this class fun and interesting for the last 6 weeks. You kept us working hard and always had us on our toes. In my opinion, I think this course should be a mandatory class. Social media is growing fast, and all up coming PR practitioners should learn the ropes.

Au revoir mes amis!

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One PR Student’s Optimistic View of Social Media

There has not been an updated blog on the Ascentum site since June 4th so I decided to to my last blog on my thoughts on Social Media thus far.

At times I feel overwhelmed with the vastness of the internet and I think I am not alone when saying that I can easily get social media fatigue. I think the trick is to look at Social Media as an addition to the mediums in which you gain your knowledge and not a replacement for important acts in our lives.

The concept of Social Media reminds me of something my farther said to me when I was in High School.

“There will always be a need for people to specialize in one area of expertise, but if you truly want to understand others it is better to know a little about a lot of things then to know a lot about one thing.”

This is what social media allows. It permits people to dip into the thoughts of others and gain snippets of information otherwise not seen by traditional media. If this holds true social media will help people progress and better understand each other and understanding foster peace.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment