Category Archives: Activities and Events

Stukent Digital Marketing Summit: Key Takeaways

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Stukent Digital Marketing Summit August 2019

I had a great opportunity on August 16 to speak as part of the summer 2019 Stukent Digital Marketing Summit. If you missed it, I want to share one key takeaways I got form each speaker (In reality, there were too many takeaways to keep track of).

Digital Marketing Summit August 2019 Speaker Line Up

Jonah Berger – Why Do We Share?

Jonah Berger (@j1berger) is a professor in the Wharton School of Business and the author of several influential studies on online word of mouth. He is famously the author of the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Jonah discussed research on why people share ideas, whether through word of mouth offline or online.  He noted that understanding psychology is at the center of how ideas spread. For example, people want to be insiders and they want status. The status is only valuable, though, if others know about it. What good is it to be a frequent flyer if you can’t brag a little? (This resonates with me. When I FINALLY got frequent flyer status on United, I rocked the Silver tag on my bag so everyone could see I ‘had arrived’).

Jonah also discussed turning customers into advocates for your brand. He further explained how a brand or product can be embedded within an idea in such a way as to help it spread, like the famous panda cheese commercials. The panda is odd and funny, and his actions carry the product. So the panda is a key part of Panda Cheese.

Key Takeaway: The WHY of what we share is critical to understanding how ideas spread.

Leo Morejon – Audio is the future (and the future of student feedback).

 Leo Morejon (@MoreLeo) is an award-winning marketer and educator as well as a professor teaching at West Virginia University.  He is the host of a great podcast, the Build & Inspire podcast.

Leo discussed how he uses audio and his experience and skills podcasting to provide rich audio feedback to his students. Benefits include the ability to share emphasis and emotion in feedback (which can be lost or misinterpreted in text), greater class engagement for online classes, and time-saving in grading for professors. I’m always inspired by Leo’s passion and energy and I can see how written student feedback just can’t capture that.

As Leo said, EDU is too text heavy. When we compare to the popularity of audio in our everyday lives, it makes sense. My commute is all about podcasts (Right now, I’m binging on the cold case true crime podcast, Someone Knows Something: Season 5). I was also blown away by this stat about the rise of voice-enabled digital assistants among the student-aged population.

Takeaway: I need to try audio feedback this semester! I hope you’ll try it too.

Mary Owusu – Many Students Aren’t Prepared

Mary Owusu (@AnalyticsMary) is the Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy & Analytics at Mower. She also teaches undergraduate and MBA-level classes at Canisius College.

Mary discussed issues surrounding student preparation for careers in digital marketing. She noted that according to the AACSB, 1 in 3 programs do not offer a single digital marketing course. But we professors can prepare our students. For example, she shared a great list of many certifications that professors can use to help prepare students. She also discussed the need to push our students to succeed and to also push for diverse perspectives in the classroom.


Takeaway: Hold students to high standards and ban homogeneous thinking.

Karen Freberg – Now, more than ever, it is an exciting time to be a professor and influencer in the education space.

Karen Freberg (@kfreberg) is an associate professor of strategic communication at the University of Louisville. She’s the author of the popular social media textbook and accompanying workbook, Social Media for Strategic Communication: Creative Strategies and Research-Based Applications, and an awesome book for professors about how to teach a social media class, A Roadmap for Teaching Social Media.

Karen spoke about how professors can be influencers and why we should be. She provided lots of great tips on ho we can do this, including formulating strategic partnerships with organizations. Karen has done a truly impressive job doing this, including her participation helping build the forthcoming Facebook Blueprint (search Facebook Blueprint in the Social Media Professors Facebook group to learn more) and her role in creating the Cannes Lions Educator Summit.  She also reminded us that the best way to build our own brands is by lifting up others and creating community, stating ‘Show your influence by bringing people together.’

Key Takeaway: What it means to be a professor today is changing. Universities can recognize this, moving beyond evaluating professors just on teaching, research, and service.

If you registered for the event (whether you were able to attend or not), Stukent will be sending out a recap with edited video, handouts, and more.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the event. I really enjoyed speaking and sharing about using Facebook Audience Insights in the classroom with everyone.

I hope everyone enjoyed the event and is getting ready for the start of a new semester!

– Cheers!


My New Book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love, is Now Available on Amazon!

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Teach Social Media Book

I am beyond thrilled to announce that my new book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love, is now available on Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

It has been a long and exciting journey. I am so glad to finally be able to share this project with you. It is one of my most ambitious undertakings. I can best describe it as an organized “brain dump” of my knowledge about teaching a social media class for students interested in careers as professional communicators (e.g., public relations, marketing).

Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love

Grab a copy of Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love through Amazon now!

The book is available in paperback and Kindle eBook formats. The paperback version comes with the ability to access the Kindle eBook version for free so that you can access the live URL links in the book via a Kindle, the Kindle Cloud Reader on desktop, or a Kindle app on a smartphone or tablet.

A Book With Social Media Class Assignments, Activities, and Exercises Organized into a Class Plan

This 9-chapter, 216 page book is an end-to-end plan for creating a social media course for students studying public relations, marketing, and related fields. In it, I walk you through a 15-week semester.

The book contains chapter appendixes with social media workshop exercises, social media class assignments, and lesson plans. It contains a social media syllabus with all of these assignments and activities integrate into it.

Each chapter builds upon the preceding chapter. Thus, the social media exercises and lessons in one chapter teach students skills that they apply in later chapters in new exercises and assignments.

What Makes This Book Unique

The book is not a textbook and it is not a workbook. It is written in a ‘how to’ style. It is built around the What, Why, How, Do, Reflect (WWHDR) framework that I wrote about earlier this year. The book contains chapter appendixes with assignments and activities that you can use in the classroom. The book also contains access to digital copies of these assignments and activities.

Several friends and colleagues encouraged me to write a book at the 2018 AEJMC. The problem is that these very friends and colleagues  – Carolyn Mae Kim, Karen Freberg, and Keith Quesenberry – have already written stellar social media textbooks (I’ve discussed Dr. Kim’s textbook here and the accompanying workbook for Dr. Freberg’s textbook here). I knew I wanted to contribute in a different way, but I wasn’t sure how.

So I talked to several folks and thought about what it is I could contribute to the conversation about preparing students for careers as professional communicators today. I evaluated my strengths and my passions. I knew I wanted to write something that was true to the mission of this blog. I also knew I wanted to write something different than I had ever read before.

  • Textbooks are for students but we faculty read them to learn and prepare our classes.
  • Education pedagogy books give you advice on how to manage a classroom.
  • Workbooks give you assignment that you can use in your classroom.

My book is a little of all three of these genres. I wanted to tell the story of how to organize and execute an entire class. This blog, after all, has mostly been about social media assignments and activities. My Google Analytics data tells me that the posts I write about assignments and activities are the most popular. But blogs, as a medium, are limited. Blog articles are single units. At best, they can be strung into series – which I’ve done quite a bit of. But writing blog posts about disparate assignments cannot bring together the meta-organization that goes into planning a class.

Teach Social Media seeks to accomplish what could not be accomplished on this blog. It combines my obsession with organization, detailed assignment plans, and well-planned classes with a broader vision that can only be accomplished with the length and freedom a book offers.

While some of the content in Teach Social Media has been touched upon on this blog, most of it hasn’t. Further, I’ve never publicly organized my social media assignments and activities together in a systematic way that explains how to plan and execute an entire class.

There are two ways to use my book:

  1. Follow the book as an end-to-end guide for teaching your class. You will find that the book is designed around a social media project that spans the entire semester. All of the topics, assignments and activities in this book are integrated into a social media project and therefore each chapter (and each assignment) builds upon the chapter before it. If you follow this approach, you will want to read the entire book before starting to plan your class.
  2. Picking and choosing assignments and activities to integrate into your existing class. Call this the à la carte approach. You don’t need to build your class around the semester project to apply the information in the book. Pick what works for you.

Thank you for your support over the years. Thank you so very much to all of the people who have cheered me along over the last many months as I worked through drafts of this book. I want to thank Brad Hamann, the designer of my book’s cover. I also want to thank the Shepherd University Foundation for providing financial support this summer – support that made this book possible.

I hope that Teach Social Media is like no other book you’ve read! Most importantly, I hope that you enjoy it and find it helpful. For me, this is a dream come true!

The book’s table of contents and a sample chapter (appendix not included) are available below. Note that the document will say “error! page not defined” for the table of contents because the sections have been redacted as this is only a sample chapter.

Join Me at the Stukent Digital Marketing Summit Friday August 16

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I’m thrilled to be a part of the upcoming Stukent Digital Marketing Summit. The virtual one-day conference, which focuses on digital marketing pedagogy, will take place Friday, August 16. Registration is now open for this free event.

The speaker line up is impressive! Speakers and topics are:

  • Karen Freberg – Embracing Our Inner Influencer: How Can Educators Use Social Media for Personal Branding?
  • Jonah Berger – TBD
  • Leo Morejon – Are Students Hearing What You’re Saying?
  • Mary Owusa – A Practitioner’s Perspective: Top 10 Digital Skills Your Grads Must Have
  • Matt Kushin – How to Teach Students to Use Facebook Audience Insights to Build an Audience Persona

I am honored to be speaking alongside these impressive faculty.  Professor Freberg has achieved rock star status in the social media education space. She has been a constant inspiration to so many of us. She is the author of a brilliant and super-popular social media textbook Social Media for Strategic Communication: Creative Strategies and Research-Based Applications (I recently reviewed the accompanying workbook).  I’ve recently had the great opportunity to connect with Professor Morejon – of Oreo Super Bowl blackout Tweet fame (which we all talked about in our classes after it happened!). He’s been doing amazing things in and outside of the classroom and I’ve loved hearing about how he’s using audio to engage his students. Professor Berger is well-known for his best-selling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. I discuss Berger’s research in my forthcoming book on teaching social media.

My presentation will focus on Facebook Audience Insights. Specifically, I’ll dig into how professors can teach their students to use Facebook Audience Insights to do research when creating audience personas. During my presentation, I’ll be sharing 2 activity sheets that you can use to teach your students these skills. A full description of my presentation is below:

Audience personas are used by marketing and public relations professionals to get to know a target audience. This presentation will show professors how their students can use the free Facebook Audience Insights tool as a launching point for developing data-driven audience personas. Step-by-step instructions and an activity sheet are provided.

There’s been a lot of buzz about this event. I’ve used the Stukent Mimic Intro software in my Writing Across Platforms class. But I wasn’t able to attend #ProfCon. So I am really looking forward to my first Stukent event. Be sure to register for free at Remember, that’s Friday August 16th!

I look forward to (virtually) seeing you there!


Why You Should Apply for the Advertising Education Foundation Visiting Professors Program

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Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Advertising Education Foundation’s (AEF) Visiting Professors Program in New York City.

Myself and 32 other professors from around the country spent a week meeting with agencies and companies in the advertising and marketing space. We met with:

  • Ogilvy
  • Momentum
  • Facebook – specifically ,the agency division.
  • McCann
  • R/GA
  • Wavemaker
  • IBM

AEF at the Facebook Agency offices in Manhattan.

The AEF is all about bridging academia and the industry. And through this program they executed their mission in an impactful way!

During the trip we stayed in the dorms at Fordham University, just a few steps away from this NYC icon: The Metropolitan Opera House.

Being in the offices of these innovative companies opened my eyes to not only the changing advertising/promotion landscape, but the changing media landscape more broadly and how it is affecting so many aspects of business, commerce, and day-to-day life.

Inside the Momentum offices. Momentum is owned by McCann and is focused on experiential marketing.

I was afraid I would be the only professor who was not in a business school or who was not strictly an advertising educator. I was delighted and surprised to meet many professors from communication – with emphases from public relations to media studies – as well as other disciplines such as anthropology. To me, this really shows the dedication of the AEF team to the advancement of knowledge about advertising broadly.   Because advertising impacts all of us.

I learned a ton from this experience. I can truly say it was one of the most remarkable professional development experiences of my career as a professor. There are many ways in which I will incorporate what I learned from this experience in my teaching as well as in my life. Below are my three key takeaways from my trip.

If you have not participated in the AEF Visiting Professors Program, I highly recommend that you apply for a future year.

If you are not familiar with the AEF, check them out. They have lots of great resources. My students and I used the AEF’s Campus Speaker Program to find a spectacular speaker, Maggie Bergin, who came and spoke with our department last semester.



I’m Writing a Book! (And I need Your Help With The Title)

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Big, big news here! I’ve kept it a secret far too long and it’s time to spill…


If you’ve noticed that the frequency of my blog posts has been, well, down lately, that’s why.

What’s the book about?

Teaching social media.

The book will touch on topics discussed on this blog. But it is so much more than what I’ve published on this blog. The book is a comprehensive guide to planning and executing a social media class. I’m talking end-to-end. Everything you  need. Think of it like an entire brain dump of everything I do to teach my social media class. But it is an organized brain dump. In fact, it provides a series of assignments that all gel together to make a unifying class from week 1 to week 15.  Below is the synopsis.  But first, here’s where you come in.

Without you, the readers of this blog, this book wouldn’t exist. So I am asking for your help in coming up with a title. What’s better than to use social media to crowdsource the title of a book about social media?

Please complete the below survey by Monday, June 24 if you would like to contribute. Thank you so, so much!

Link to survey:


Designed around a semester-long social media project with assignments and activities that build upon each other, this book offers an end-to-end plan for building and executing a social media class from the ground up. It provides everything you need from week 1 to week 15 to turn your class into a hands-on, engaged learning environment where your students will take on a client and build and execute a social media plan. Your students will learn by doing.

The social media environment is transforming at lightning speed. Students must learn more than software skills. That’s why the book follows the What, Why, How, Do, Reflect framework which aims to teach students adaptable knowledge and skills and ever-lasting abilities such as critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, and ethical decision-making.

The economic realities of higher education make it challenging for professors to provide an education due to a lack of access to software and resources. Costly software and access to external clients are nice but not needed. This book shows you how to deliver a high quality, experiential class on a shoe-string budget.

Both new and experienced professors will enjoy this book.

Excited? I hope so. I sure am!

The book will be available this fall. News and updates will be available right here. So…


UPDATE: 8/14/19

My new book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook.


Changing the Conversation! Reflections on my National Millennial Community trip to NYC

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Last week I had a truly life-changing experience. I went on my second National Millennial Community (NMC) trip as the advisor to our university’s chapter. The trip was to Manhattan where we met with major brands, non-profits and agencies including: McCann World Group, NBC Universal, BuzzFeed, Condé Nast, Barnes & Noble, the Ad Council, Pfizer, Droga5, Wells Fargo, Nielsen, among others.

The BuzzFeed offices in Manhattan

The lobby of One World Trade Center at the Condé Nast entrance

What is the National Millennial Community?

The mission of the NMC is to change the conversation surrounding the Millennial generation. Currently, the organization is represented by students and alum from 40 campuses across the U.S.

As you probably know, the Millennial generation (and Gen Z behind them) have been maligned as lazy, selfish, and disruptive. They ruin industries and don’t buy homes or cars.

So how do we change that conversation? By meeting with executives and authentically sharing the Millennial perspective.

As a think tank, the NMC members engage in many fascinating conversations about the state of the media industry, including offering insight into the views, trends and habits important to young adults today.

NMC members learn a ton on these trips. Organizations offer an ‘under the hood’ at projects they are working on and often seek our members’ feedback on how the organizations can better connect with the Millennial and Gen Z generations. In this spirit of sharing, both our members and the organizations we meet with walk away having benefited greatly.

On this trip, we also participated in the GenWorks 2 conference with Wells Fargo, Nielsen and the IW Group. The purpose of GenWorks is to rethink how generations work. I had the opportunity to co-lead the discussion around stages in life and media consumption with a very sharp leader and student from UNC Greensboro, Gene Mance. I have no doubt that Gene is poised to do big things!

Co-leading the discussion on Stages in Life and Media Consumption at GenWorks2

Below, I’m going to share my key takeaways from the many conversations we were apart of over a busy 3-day schedule all over Manhattan from Wall Street to midtown.

While I can’t go into any specifics (I signed several NDAs), let’s look at a few themes that emerged across the conversations as a whole.

Here are my 5 takeaways from this NMC trip to NYC:

  1. Stories Are Tops – When it comes to what type of content works best, a common point of conversation was the power that stories have in resonated with Millennials. Millennials like them and companies find they work best.
  2. Empathy: There is no Substitute – We heard a lot about the importance of understanding the audience and the common human experience that binds us together as humans. If you want to succeed working in communication, you need to have emotional intelligence. While Millennial media habits create challenges and opportunities, what hasn’t changed is that great communicators see the world through the eyes of their audience.
  3. Simplicity is Power – You may have heard this famous quote by Pascal: “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter.” Another theme I took away from our meetings was that the successful companies thrive when they take complex ideas and make them simple. Simple language is a key part of this. But that’s not the only thing. A complex idea can be confusing and when too much nuance is presented, learning gets lost. Take a complex product, service or problem. Take the core of human emotions and needs. Put them in a pot. Boil them down and you’ve got your message.
  4. Enthusiasm Wins – Certain types of content do well at certain times. This is a content cycle. That means that the type of content that’s popular now might not be popular in a year. One executive we met with stated that while irony and cynicism were popular a few years ago, “we’re in a content cycle where people want enthusiasm.”
  5. These students are going places! – Now this takeaway is a bit different than the list above. But I’ve got to make a sidebar. The students that were on this trip came from universities across the country, including Alaska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wyoming, New York, Florida, California, and more. I am impressed with how professional, sharp, kind, and ambitious they all are. I am proud to be an advisor to the Shepherd University chapter of the NMC. I can see both the impact the organizations we meet with on these trips have on these students but also the impact these students are having on these organizations. These students are poised to offer diverse, unique, and exciting perspectives that will continue to change the field of communication in the years ahead. What does the next 5 years hold for PR, advertising, and related fields? If these students are any sign, the future is bright. There certainly is no shortage of young talent.

– Cheers!

Watch my Internet Day 2018 keynote at the University of Aveiro Portugal

Recently, I had the tremendous honor of being invited to serve as the keynote speaker for the Internet Day 2018 celebration put on by the DigiMedia lab and the Department of Communication and Art at the University Aveiro in Portugal.

My keynote, titled “The Cost of Clicks and Shares: Questions on the Civic and Political Potential of the The Internet in the Attention Economy,” looked at trends in social media, politics and civics today. It drew, in part, on my co-authored research with Dr. Masahiro Yamamoto and Dr. Francis Dalisay on social media.

Highlights from the event can be seen in the video below.

Knowing that I would be speaking with researchers and graduate students who are working to design and create Internet-based solutions for today’s problems, I wanted to focus on the wider, often unintended ramifications on society that come from the decisions Internet architects make.

You can see the full speech, broken in to two slightly overlapping parts on Periscope:

The event was sponsored by the American Corners program through the American Embassy in Portugal.  Through this trip, I also got the opportunity to speak at the University NOVA Lisbon in the FCT library.

Poster promoting my talk at the University of Lisbon

I have to say that Professor Nelson Zagalo and all of the faculty and administrators at the University of Aveiro and the University of Lisbon NOVA were tremendously inviting and gracious hosts. I feel that I felt the experience having learned more than I gave. I was truly inspired by the work I saw in the DigiMedia lab from the faculty and the graduate students.

I had the opportunity to take a tour of the kinds of projects that the DigiMedia lab team was working on. The manner with which they intersected scholarly research with applied solutions to real-world problems was inspirational and motivating. Just seeing how dedicated and energized everyone was to work with government and corporate partners really left me thinking about ways that I can better use my position as an academic to seek out technological solutions to the problems we face.

The FAB Lab at the University of Lisbon NOVA and the awesome 3D printing that they were doing was incredibly cool to see.

In summary, it was an eye-opening experience to get the chance to interact with passionate, brilliant scholars across the ocean. The opportunity to discuss ideas helped me see new connections between my own teaching, research and global issues.

This was my first trip to Portugal. It is a beautiful country with wonderfully kind people, amazing history, and an awe-inspiring culture.

I want to express my sincere and humble thanks to everyone who made this opportunity possible.

I hope everyone is having a rejuvenating summer.



From Sydney Australia: Reflections on ICBO 2018 and my event app planning experience

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The spring semester has come to a close!

I have recently returned to Shepherdstown from a 1.5 week trip to Sydney Australia. There, I had the amazing opportunity to execute the ICBO One app event experience for attendees to the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry event at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center.

The famous opera house in the Sydney Harbour near Circular Quay

The event app was a huge success, with 90% of attendees actively engaged on the app. So, our time promoting the 2018 ICBO event has come to a close. Over two years of work went into creating the ICBO One app. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to travel all over the globe to help promote the event and to provide the app to ICBO partner events in the U.S., Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Toledo, Spain, Vienna, Austria, and Sydney, Australia. I also got to travel to Budapest to help pitch the app and make it a reality as well as to Dubai to help promote the ICBO 2018 event.

The Sydney Harbour bridge. The opera house is in the background. Photo taken from ferry.

It has been a truly eye-opening, learning experience from event planning to digital communication strategy, to designing and executing a successful digital event experience, to working with sponsors, speakers, and event attendees from different cultures and countries. The professional development experience was truly one of a kind.  But, more than anything, I loved the opportunity to meet generous, kind, and motivated optometrists and vision therapists from around the world. As someone who is, of course, not in optometry myself, I learned so much about how much passion behavioral optometrists have for their field. I think it is fair to say I made many friends these last few years.

The walkway to Manly beach. Photos taken right before Anzac Day, thus the flags and signs. Pacific ocean in the background.

The ICBO One event app came out of my professional development experience at the ICBO 2014 event in Birmingham, UK. There, I created and executed the precursor, the ICBO Social event app.

The ICBO event apps are built on the Double Dutch event app platform.

Below are the main stats from the event. An additional 299 questions or comments were posted in the chatroom, which are not reflected in the data below.

An interesting trend, is that comments and updates were down slightly from four years ago, even when we consider the additional 299 chatroom posts. Part of this is likely due to the fact that attendance was down slightly (it is hard to travel to Australia) and we only created 1 account per exhibitor booth, rather than 1 account per booth attendee.  But, what’s interesting is the huge spike in likes. We can see that more than twice as many likes occurred this year than in 2014 (There were 13,812 likes in 2018 and 5,753 likes in 2014). I think this shows a larger trend in social media. Content overload has driven people towards greater likes and fewer posts.

With ICBO over and the 2017-18 academic year behind me, it is time to start planning for summer. Here are a few things I have planned:

  1. I am traveling to Portugal the week of May 14th to speak at 2 universities there. One of my talks will be at the Internet Day Celebration at the Universidade de Aveiro and the other at the Universidade Nova Lisboa. I am beyond honored and thrilled about this opportunity.
  2. Teaching an online summer class for the first time.
  3. Attending AEJMC in DC in August (and hopefully presenting a paper we submitted).
  4. Working on a few research studies, of course.
  5. Reading and writing.
  6. Working to stay current in social media trends and teaching
  7. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.
  8. Spending time with family.

With all of that said, I will be blogging very infrequently over the summer. As always, you can find past blog posts, assignments, and syllabi via the blogroll or the navigation menu in the upper right of this blog.

Have a wonderful, rejuvenating, and safe summer.

See you in the fall!

Missed the Social Network Analysis Basics Webinar? Here’s How You Can Watch It

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Last Friday, April 13, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate with Kathleen Stansberry on a webinar about social network analysis basics.  The focus of the call was to introduce strategic communication and social media professors to social network analysis.

The idea for the call came out of a thread on my favorite resource for social media education: the  Facebook group  Social Media Professors Community Group.  (If you’re not a member, I strongly suggest joining! The people are generous, curious, and extremely supportive).  A member asked if anyone had insights on reading NodeXL network maps and the video conference call sprang from that.

Dr. Stansberry has some really impressive experience with social network analysis. As someone who considers himself a fan with much to learn, it was an honor to be invited to be on the call as a co-presenter with her.

I shared my knowledge of social network analysis basics and provided an assignment I teach in my Comm 435 Communication Research class. In that class, students use, which is an accessible online social network analysis tool (See my blog post about the Netlytic assignment).

I learned a ton from Dr. Stansberry and was inspired to dig deeper into social network analysis so that I can bring my knowledge up and do more with this fascinating method!

If you missed the live webinar, you can watch a rebroadcast of it anytime in full [you may need to download a plugin].

Below, you can find the handout and assignment that I shared during the call and the slides I shared on the handout.

Thank you again to Dr. Stansberry for inviting me to participate! And a big thank you to Karen Freberg and the Social Media Professors group for hosting this call!

– Cheers!

Reflection on my first National Millennial Community Trip

Students and I in Lockheed Martin

Over spring break, I had an amazing opportunity to travel with 2 outstanding Shepherd University strategic communication students, Ellen Buchanan and Sarah Burke, to Philadelphia and Washington DC.  We participated in the National Millennial Community (NMC) trip, and met with executives from major brands such as Comcast NBCUniversal, Lockheed Martin, Nestlé, and WeWork, top agencies such as Tierney, Vault Communication, Burson-Marsteller, and government entities, including the White House, the RNC and the Office of Personnel Management.

The trip was an incredible learning experience for me. It was an intensive professional development experience. The opportunity to be exposed to the work these organizations and corporations are doing in the communication space helped in several key respects. Below, I will share some key reflections and takeaways from this amazing experience.

Group in Comcast NBCUniversal main lobby in Philly

This trip offered myself and our students a voice in helping bring positive change to the conversation around the millennial generation. We provided feedback on ways these organizations can better harness the talents of young people and helped to counter existing stereotypes. An executive in corporate communication at one organization said to me that she was very impressed by the millennial generation and their level of engagement and caring.

We learned by seeing the research and development phases of communication campaigns. These are skills that we teach our students. For example, in my research class, students learn to conduct interviews and focus groups. In my campaigns class, students conduct interviews and focus groups to test the messaging they are developing. It was insightful to see how different companies approached this process. We were able to participate in focus groups and brainstorming sessions with several of the companies that we met with.  We offered insights into the news and information consumption habits of millennials to help organizations better adapt to changing consumer habits and demographics. It was clear to me that the companies truly valued our feedback and planned to take it into consideration. To have that kind of input helped my students see how what they are learning is used in the corporate world and the impact these techniques can have.

Group at Burson_Marsteller

We were able to see how several of the organizations we met with were striving to address key social issues that we discuss in my classes. Having this exposure takes an abstract classroom concept and makes it real. I am able to walk back into the classroom and demonstrate how these issues are being tackled outside of the university setting. For example, two of the organizations we met with discussed the importance of bridging the digital divide and getting high-speed Internet access to low income and rural areas. One organization approached this issue from a corporate social responsibility standpoint and another approached it from an advocacy standpoint.

Also, my students were exposed to key life lessons in leadership and professionalism that one simply cannot get in the classroom. The students and I had several discussions about the leadership styles we observed from senior executives at various companies. Students received input from employees at various companies on tips for interviewing, finding a company that is a good fit, and professional development. In another case, we received advice from an entrepreneur we met at WeWork on ambition, seeking opportunity, and lifelong learning. In fact, he encouraged us to read two books that I am already using in my classes. (#ProfessorWin!)

Group on WeWork rooftop downtown Philly

Additionally, I can’t say enough about how impressed I was by all of the students I met from over 2 dozen universities from Alaska to Wyoming to Massachusetts. Each student was dedicated, passionate about the mission of the NMC, professional, and engaged. Everyone was welcoming and sincere and the entire trip was filled with an energy unlike anything I have experienced. I left the trip with an enormous respect for every student I met and for the hardworking people who made the trip possible.

I want to thank all of the companies, agencies and government organizations that took time out of their busy schedules to host us. I also want to thank the Shepherd University President’s Club for generously providing funding for this trip. And of course, I want to thank Eljay, Edith and Bill Imada for all their hard work in making the NMC and this trip a possibility.

I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity to participate in one of the NMC trips.

Oh, and #lifegoal accomplished! We got to go see the Rocky statue in Philly! Anyone who has taken a class from me knows what a big Rocky fan I am!

having fun at the Rocky statue in Philly

About the National Millennial Community

Founded in January 2016, the mission of the National Millennial Community is to change the conversation about millennials. The organization has 37 member colleges in 37 states plus the District of Columbia. The organization has taken 18 trips to visit with corporate, foundation, and nonprofit executives.