I spoke to two classes of communications majors today about digital PR and social media marketing. It was a wonderful experience. The University of Maryland undergraduate course was called Comm350: Public Relations Theory and their communications professor, Sahar Mohamed Khamis, was amazing generous and welcoming, basically handing me the reins to her class, sight unseen. The class is described as:
The historical development and contemporary status of public relations in business, government, associations and other organizations. Application of communication theory and social science methods to the research, planning, communication and evaluation aspects of the public relations process.
Everybody was super bright and super nice to me. One thing I was concerned about is that in both classes I taught today, both Comm350, only a couple people had Twitter accounts and I think there were just a couple folks who have a blog or who had every blogged. And these are our future PR professionals. Of course, when I asked, 100% of the students in both classes were on Facebook. Natch.
Well, I presented my A Guide to Blogger Relations slide show and then took questions. I told them that blogging, Twittering, and participating in the wider conversation would almost guarantee them a good job at a local or national agency after college. I told them that they should all, separately or in concert, start writing a blog about their take on communication, on advertising, on popular culture, on television, on PR, on social media — that the thing they learn in class every day would be interesting to the blogosphere, seen through their young eyes. That there is no doubt in my mind that you can really and truly write yourself into the job of your dreams and if they didn’t blog, all of them, they were darned fools (well, maybe I didn’t say it — it was implied).
I receive quite a thank you note from one of student from the first class, Miss Chelsea Clark, who not only asked a question but also said the following nice things — a mixture of review, testimonial, and, I dare say, her first blog post once removed:
I walked into my Comm350 class on Tuesday expecting to sit there taking notes for an hour and a half like usual. Instead, our professor announced we were having a guest speaker. I was thinking to myself that this could go one of two ways: really interesting and way better than cramping my hand taking notes, or really boring and put me to sleep.
Our guest speaker took the floor and introduced himself and described what his company does. I’ve learned about blogs in PR before, but I was never really able to link the two together. Yeah, so blogs are a new media outlet, but how does that help clients? How do businesses personally benefit from random people around the country writing about their hobbies and interests? I never really understood the connection until Chris’ presentation.
He described how he would have his team search for blogs that were written about topics that relate to his clients and then send out mass emails to the bloggers to ask them to write about his clients. He was worried that we would think he was a spammer, but, having made many annoying calls and emails to reporters myself, I knew how he felt. He then showed us results of actual bloggers that wrote about his clients. He got so excited! We all recognized this feeling, for being PR people ourselves, we know how satisfying it is to have free publicity.
I thought that Chris did a really good job with his presentation. I followed what he was saying the whole time and enjoyed some of his nerdy antics. I think some of the people in the class were less interested or maybe didn’t follow what Chris’ company is responsible for, either because they were pretending to take notes while really checking their facebooks or because they are still a bit unfamiliar with PR and got a little bit confused.
For me, the presentation was enlightening, exciting, and interesting and showed me new ways of getting publicity without necessarily resorting to TV and newspapers. I would definitely recommend him to other PR college classes that are looking for guest speakers!
That, Chelsea, really made my month. I appreciate the kind words and thank you, again, to professor Sahar Khamis
who will soon be coming out with a really compelling new book you should all pre-order on Amazon, Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace. I look forward to it.
Also, if you’re curious as to the content of the slide show and the presentation I did, here it is inline for your enjoyment… however, I need to record one with my insight, wit, and wisdom one of these days soon: