A luddist? Here is all you ever wanted to learn about social media and…. never dared to ask

Early last year, invited by prof. Maria Russell, I visited Syracuse University for a lecture. Following this, as I was having my usual, unrepented, ‘fag’ outside the Newhouse Building… …I was approached by a young student who had been stimulated by some remarks I made on the Internet and Social Media (didn’t call it as such, then). His name is Eric Hansen and, as we conversed, it happened that I mentioned some papers and documents. He subsequently emailed me and asked me to send these papers to him, which I did and he thanked me. That was the last I heard from him, until the other day when he sent me a note (and then commented on one of my posts) which I strongly recommend you read and -most of all- link to the site he mentions.You must also know that, following my (at least for me) very satisfying first ‘global relations and intercultural communication’ teaching assignment this winter at NYU’s Master of Science in Public Relations and Corporate Communication, I agreed to do a repeat course from June to August of 2007: but an on-line one! The reason is twofold: a) the most serious is that in 2006 I spent (with my great enjoyment, mind you!) far too much time on academic work and (to the chagrin of my professional partners) far too little on the market. Now that I have, with my partners, recently sold Methodos (my change management consulting company) to highly reputed Doxa (the oldest and most established Italian research company), I am committed to an intense three year consulting contract as Senior Counsel (copied this title from my friend John Paluszek at Ketchum!) and I must demonstrate that I am still useful…otherwise… I get no salary…. b) The other reason is that I wish to experience hands-on what it means to transfer knowledge on line and engage students in improving their (and mine too) skills and competences. So, I accepted to try this out and am beginning to prepare my course materials keeping well in mind (but for the moment only guessing) the radical difference of the two relationship and learning environments, in order to be ready for the June/August period when that course is to be implemented. I tell you this story because of all the online courses I have visited so far to understand what this is all about, this link to Eric’s six sessions truly opened my mind as to the many flexibilities and opportunities which today are available. And even more so… if you suspect you might even be more ‘luddist’ than I am, I very much recommend you spend some time on this. Not only for the structure, the format and the various array of tools, but mostly for the contents. If you ever wondered if the time hadn’t come for you to begin to understand what all this ‘social media’ stuff was about but….didn’t have the guzz to ask your colleagues or neighbours or sons and daughters for fear of being ridiculed…here is your great opportunity to do so.. quietly, on your own time and when you prefer. Make sure, of course, you download all the right software as you go along (only a few minutes and the instructions are idiot proof). Let me know…Here below is Eric’s accompanying note, his flyer ( NNMS and Speakers Flyer.pdf) and please link to the indicated url:Greetings, this is Eric Hansen, a student from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Since August of 2006 I have been working on an independent study project that addresses the deficit of educational guidance left in the wake of a communications industry significantly changed by new and social media. Today I am pleased to share with you the current progress on this endeavor and to receive your feedback. On February 7, 2007, I will deliver the first of six sessions on new media and public relations. I have titled this project the Newhouse New Media Series and it will cover blogs, podcasts, online video (YouTube et al), social networks (MySpace et al), and online monitoring with RSS. (A flyer is attached.) During each session I will introduce and explain the new medium/technology, answer/discuss participants’ questions, and review the lessons offered by recent case studies of organizations failing/succeeding?at using new media to accomplish their PR goals.

The address is http://newmediaseries.syr.edu. The current status of the Web site is “ready for prime time,” but it will be frequently updated with additional information over the semester. Online versions of sessions 5 and 6 will be added closer to their scheduled date. One of the most exciting aspects of this project has been the response of the PR department at Newhouse. They have organized the “Use of Social Media in Communications” guest speaker series that includes Steve Rubel (of micropersuasion.com and Edelman’s Me2Revolution), Jen McClure (Society for New Communications Research), Mark McClennan (VP at Schwartz Communications), Aedhmar Hynes (CEO of Text 100), and Michael Terpin (Terpin Communications Group). These speakers will complement and enhance the educational sessions perfectly. I welcome and encourage feedback on this project, either via e-mail or commenting on the project blog, and thank you for your time. Best regards, Eric Hansen, Student, Syracuse University:Public relations, Information management and technology, Jazz drummer ethansen@gmail.comvv

 

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4 Replies to “A luddist? Here is all you ever wanted to learn about social media and…. never dared to ask

  1. Having been closely involved in social media since its inception, in 2004/5 I developed a variety of training modules on the subject specifically for public relations practitioners and have regularly delivered training and education on this topic for PRiNZ, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand, along with other organisations over the last few years. Of all the training I do, this area is currently the most dynamic with something new to add each time – for example, currently prepping a session and where this time last year swickis as a sphere of influence didn’t figure, now they do. There is a reasonable body of knowledge on this topic available in different parts of the world and it is good to know that Eric will be adding to this in his locality during 2007. Social media is a key arena for practitioners, but, it should be remembered, remains one of many channels we can use. No practitioner can afford to remain ignorant on the topic and, as you so rightly say Toni, if anyone has fought shy of getting involved, or understanding the impact of these tools on relationship building, now is the hour! As I’ve said before, the good practitioner should be able to work alongside an avatar on Second Life in the morning and deliver equal value to a developing organisation in the afternoon – an organisation which might not have access to clean water and power, concentrating on a very different set of priorities. But even if you don’t use any of the social media tools at present, you need to know how it works, what it does and the functionality of the various applications in a public relations context.
    I have found that on-line training and face-to-face methods are equally valid forms of sharing knowledge (PRiNZ delivers live sessions as well as webinar options and of course you can Skype or use other VoIP services too). The most difficult aspect of on-line interaction with students and delegates is often tone – humour particularly can be the first casualty – and given that laughter is a great shared prompt to learning, it can be a significant casualty! Some of the better e-learning apps allow you to access live split screen views of your delegates, which is a great help – a type of posh video conferencing really. That said, as communicators, we very swiftly develop new approaches to suit the tools we use so no problem is insurmountable. The greatest benefit of on-line learning is that it provides the opportunity to participate when otherwise one wouldn’t be able to, due to geographic, economic or social restrictions – so I have always been of the opinion ‘bring it on’! Widening the scope of delegates in this way also brings increased diversity – a must as far as I am concerned. Ultimately, I think on-line/video link learning will move to your phone, which will present us with another new set of challenges…but that’s probably a story and discussion for a different day. Best of luck to Eric and to you Toni in your on-line and consulting worlds.

  2. Louisa,
    thank you for your comments and I will vividly keep in mind your skepticism. I will in any case meet students face-to-face at the beginning, during, and at the end of the course.Admittedly, this is not the same thing as meeting face to face for 42 hours.
    However, the e-course could certainly allow students to hear from guest lecturers in different continents without necessarily obliging these to be in new york!
    Also, as you have seen from Eric’s posted materials which is where this post started from, there are many more ‘tones’ and ‘notes’ and ‘instruments’ to be used than one may imagine.
    The concept which you seem to value so much (me too, of course) of the utmost importance of diversity for, with, in public relations mostly comes from the fact that globalization (and therefore communication which is its driving force, and the internet which is the latter’s most recent driving force…) has helped us learn and be aware of the many diversities much more than aligned us to follow global standards.
    So, the experience I am about to undertake is to keep the beat and listen to the music.
    Maybe others reading this might wish to add their thoughts and, even more so, do’s and dont’s to avoid that Louisa’s comments be correct…

  3. Professor Falconi,

    I agree with, and am all for engaging PR students to learn and interact using social/new media tools, however, I wonder if this course (NYU Global PR) offered on-line, will truly be as successful in getting the message across to students?

    Here’s why – I believe that this particular course’s content requires a very personal dialog on the overarching topic of diversity. For me, the medium helped to solidify the courses core messages. An internet mediated course may cause some of these messages to be lost in translation. It’s like teaching music over the internet – you loose the sound, as well as passion that accompanies with playing the music. I can envision notes, but what about feeling the beat?

    Okay, perhaps an over exaggeration! Nevertheless, the topic of diversity is a passionate issue. For sure, many of us former students walked away motivated and empowered to communicate with, in, and for diversity. In part because of our lively in-class discussions, and because our good fortune to interact and communicate with the invited guest lecturers. Honestly, I am sad to know that students may not have the opportunity to meet you, and experience the passion you lend to any conversation in person.

    Just my thoughts!

    BTW – Congratulations on your consulting venture.

  4. Thanks, Toni! Best of luck on your consulting venture. I should point out that you were the first person to introduce me to Edelman, which was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with that company.

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