Teaching Social Media

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Presentation given in a digital media strand at a public relations academic conference in Stirling, September 2009

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  • Strong insights and great information on how to approach social media in a PR curriculum or specialized course
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  • Thanks for sharing all those thoughts and great information.

    Patrice Leroux
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Teaching Social Media

  1. 1. Teaching social media Challenging the sceptics, not preaching to the converted Richard Bailey (Univ of Gloucestershire, PR Academy) Gareth Thompson (London Metropolitan University) Philip Young (University of Sunderland)
  2. 2. Structure Pedagogy (Gareth Thompson) Perspectives Richard Bailey Proposed Curriculum and Readings (Philip Young)
  3. 3. Pedagogy <ul><li>Importance of teaching transferable skills (Bridges 1994, Assiter 1995) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Used well, technology strongly develops the study and learning skills children need now and in the future, including the fundamentals of ‘e-safety’. (Independent Rose Review of Primary Curriculum’ 2009 p11) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Information and computing skills are an essential component of all undergraduate programmes and the wider process of lifelong learning.’ (Alexander and McAllister, 2003). </li></ul>Index
  4. 4. Pedagogy: two-way street <ul><li>Social media is an area of public relations practice where teaching can benefit from increased industry, practitioner and contextual inputs </li></ul><ul><li>Business people and other external contributors to social media modules are also often able to take away valuable learning from the students </li></ul><ul><li>Is the curriculum ‘about’ social media (French and Grey 1996) or ‘for’ social media (Macfarlane 1997)? </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge is to balance the theoretical aspects with the practical, “craft-based” elements that may require a training rather than an educational approach </li></ul>Index
  5. 5. Pedagogy: learning by doing <ul><li>Issue of behavioural change: it is difficult for students to learn about social media without actively engaging with online tools </li></ul><ul><li>This suggests going beyond theories to create an action-oriented module that helps students become more engaged as users of social media. Teaching should challenge and demand active (indeed proactive) student engagement. </li></ul><ul><li>A successful approach is likely to include the ‘cognitive and experiential schools of learning styles’ employed by postgraduate business schools such as Henley Management College and described by Ul-Haq, Stiles and Pond (2003) </li></ul>Index
  6. 6. Pedagogy: linkages <ul><li>Knight (2001) describes the problems that many undergraduates have in creating coherence out of the ‘curriculum disintegration’ that has resulted from modularity in the UK: ‘Some become sense makers on a grand scale, others are like flotsam in swirling waters.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Practically, this means the design of social media modules should achieve linkages between the topic and related areas such as marketing communications, strategy and advertising which students have already covered. </li></ul><ul><li>The design of a social media module should acknowledge, celebrate and deploy existing experience and make explicit links between what students experience outside university and the module </li></ul>Index
  7. 7. Perspectives: business <ul><li>Business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Public relations has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance these past few years. And it is well placed to get through what will be a rocky 2009… It seems to us that this will be driven by a number of factors: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First , the growth of social media, a natural territory for Public Relations .’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speech by Sir Martin Sorrell, Group Chief Executive of WPP, 8 November 2008 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But note winner of public relations award at Cannes for Queensland Tourism’s ‘best job in the world campaign’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growth of social media consultancies (eg Wolfstar won CIPR award last year for best small consultancy) </li></ul></ul>Index
  8. 8. Perspectives: academic <ul><li>Academics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ All practice, no theory’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Existing theory is robust enough ; new theory is emerging </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Much criticism of public relations within social media spaces (eg ‘PR is dead’ meme) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Not invented here’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of academic rigour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some poor books , but peer review and citations also work online </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems with Wikipedia </li></ul></ul>Index
  9. 9. Perspectives (students) <ul><li>Students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They use it, but don’t think about it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have not considered boundaries between public and private </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They ask for guidance and welcome direction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ I am a strong believer that social media should be taught to PR students at some point during their degree course.  Teaching students the theory and skills required for social media will allow them to increase their knowledge and confidence, and thus help them find work when they graduate.’ Natalie Smith, Leeds Met / Wolfstar, Behind the Spin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media is most popular topic for CIPR Diploma projects </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expect skills and expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do they need a social media strategy? </li></ul></ul>Index
  10. 10. Perspectives (other) <ul><li>Profession </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domains (eg PR or SEO?; design; overlapping marketing services) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethics and professionalism (codes of conduct, best practice guidelines) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology and media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical developments (internet, web, web 2.0) – technology timeline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media context and concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools and applications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sociological approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communities and networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identity, self and personality (Giddens) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Greater knowledge or dumbing down? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pluralism and public sphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Power, persuasion and politics </li></ul></ul>Index
  11. 11. Curriculum issues <ul><li>Special module, or embedded in curriculum ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ If you believe [social media] offers a set of tools that can be used to help spread a PR message and/or facilitate research, it should be taught as a tools and techniques class (of course, ethics and social and cultural effects would also be included). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ On the other hand, if you believe social media can be transformative to public relations, it must infuse the entire curriculum because it would need to be included in research, management, writing and graphics, and all of the other classes typically included in a PR curriculum.’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> ’ I do believe that the  principles  of participation in social media are different from those used in other forms of communication (including mass, controlled, and face-to-face), and therefore they change the way we should teach public relations.’ Karen Russell </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Should we separate social and mainstream media ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ I would favour a full integration of social media relations with mainstream media relations.’ Toni Muzi Falconi </li></ul></ul>Index
  12. 12. Curriculum issues <ul><li>Importance of teaching principles, not just tools </li></ul><ul><li>Key skills: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Storytelling across media (text, audio, video, slideshows) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical thinking and problem-solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News literacy (determining trustworthy content) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media principles, so students can apply tools for a specific purpose </li></ul></ul>Index Edelman New Media Academic Summit, 2009
  13. 13. A new public relations? <ul><li>‘ For public relations practice the unavoidable conclusion is that nothing will ever be the same again; the advent of an online world means almost every aspect of the discipline needs to be rethought.’ Phillips and Young 2009 p3 </li></ul><ul><li>‘ We would argue that a more sophisticated definition of public relations goes beyond reputation to be concerned with the broader and more challenging realm of relationship optimization , in which reputation clearly plays a part but which demands an understanding of a much more complex set of factors.’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Phillips and Young 2009 p4 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ In this new world of expression, public relations practitioners either evolve or die. We must shift our thinking and move from pitching to informing, from control to credibility, and from influencing elites to engaging the new influencers. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Most of all, we must build trust through continuous conversation and relevant actions. This is public engagement – the combination of policy and communications which enables corporations and organizations to engage credibly in a stakeholder world.’ Richard Edelman </li></ul>Index
  14. 14. Mapping corporate PR PUBLIC AFFAIRS MARCOMS INTERNAL COMMS FINANCIAL PR LEGISLATORS REGULATORS ACTIVISTS EMPLOYEES COMMUNITIES UNIONS CHANNELS INFLUENCERS CUSTOMERS ANALYSTS THE CITY INVESTORS M E D I A E H T ISSUES MANAGEMENT VISION VALUES BRANDS S O C I A L M E D I A Index
  15. 15. Sample assessment <ul><li>Blog for three months on theme of PR and social media </li></ul><ul><li>Hard measures (Google PageRank, Technorati authority, number of posts, comments per post) </li></ul><ul><li>Soft measures (writing style, content, focus, design, links) </li></ul><ul><li>Formative and summative assessment </li></ul>Index
  16. 16. Issues <ul><li>Blogging-behind-firewall defeats the object </li></ul><ul><li>This assessment is conducted in public and can be a permanent record </li></ul><ul><li>Power-law distribution in blogging is extreme (winner takes all) </li></ul><ul><li>One practitioner-student asked to use a pseudonym </li></ul>
  17. 17. MA: Social Media and PR <ul><li>The University of Sunderland’s MA module in Social Media and PR describes itself as examining “the impact on public relations practice of a range of social media platforms and channels from both theoretical and practical perspectives. It will encourage a critical understanding of key concepts such as reach, porosity, transparency and aggregation and assess their relevance to reputation and relationship management. Students will gain the practical skills needed to produce content for a range of platforms and engage constructively in social media discourse surrounding organisations, products and services.” </li></ul>Index
  18. 18. Outline curriculum <ul><li>Week 1 What is social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of technologies and contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Markets as conversations, ten years of Cluetrain </li></ul><ul><li>How to use online tools – delicious etc </li></ul><ul><li>Week 2 Brand of me </li></ul><ul><li>Building reputation in the online world </li></ul><ul><li>Week 3 Reach, Transparency, Porosity, Aggregation </li></ul><ul><li>Key theoretical concepts needed to understand online PR </li></ul><ul><li>Week 4 Getting noticed </li></ul><ul><li>Building content and reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Week 5 Crowdsourcing and Wikinomics </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Mass Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Week 6 We the Media: How news is changing </li></ul><ul><li>Rethinking news models. Implications for PR </li></ul><ul><li>Week 7 Sociology of Social Networks/ Blogger relations </li></ul><ul><li>Who are the influencers? Who to talk to. Risk management </li></ul><ul><li>Week 8 Net, Blogs and Rock ‘n’Roll </li></ul><ul><li>What the music industry tells us about search and discovery </li></ul><ul><li>Week 9 Integrating social media into corporate communications </li></ul><ul><li>Why the business plan matters </li></ul><ul><li>Week 10 Privacy 2.0: Ethics and transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any boundaries to personal space? </li></ul><ul><li>Week 11 Social media and social change </li></ul><ul><li>How activism is using new technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Week 12 Future PR: adventures in time and space </li></ul><ul><li>How to plan for the unknowable </li></ul>Index
  19. 19. Essential reading <ul><li>Brown, R (2009) Public Relations and the Social Web London: Kogan Page </li></ul><ul><li>Gillmor, D (2004) We the Media USA: O’Reilly </li></ul><ul><li>Jennings, D (2007) Net, Blogs and Rock’n’Roll London: Nicholas Brealey </li></ul><ul><li>Phillips, D and Young, P (2009) Online Public Relations 2nd Ed London: Kogan Page </li></ul><ul><li>Scoble, R & Israel, S (2006) Naked Conversations New Jersey: Wiley </li></ul><ul><li>Shirky, C (2008) Here Comes Everybody London: Penguin </li></ul><ul><li>Solis, B & Breakenridge, D (2009) Putting the Public Back into Public Relations London: Pearson Education </li></ul><ul><li>Zittrain, J (2008) The Future of the Internet London: Allan Lane </li></ul>Index
  20. 20. Recommended reading <ul><li>Allan, S (2006) Online News London: McGraw Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Anderson, C (2007) The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand London: Random House </li></ul><ul><li>Blood, R (2002 ) We’ve Got Blog: How Blogging is Changing Our Culture , Perseus Publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Howe, J (2009) Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business London: Random House </li></ul><ul><li>Keen, A (2007) The Cult of the Amateur : How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy London: Nicholas Brealey </li></ul><ul><li>Lax, S (2009) Media and Communication Technologies: A Critical Introduction London: Palgrave </li></ul><ul><li>Li, C & Bernoff, J (2008) Groundswell Boston: Harvard Business Press </li></ul><ul><li>Van Loon, J (2008) Media Technology: Critical Perspectives London: McGraw Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Young, P (2006) The New PR: Does Aggregation Demand a New Theoretical Perspective? in Journal of New Communications Research, Vol1 , No1 Palo Alto, CA: SNCR Press </li></ul>Index
  21. 21. Pedagogy references <ul><li>Alexander, S., and McAllister, G., (2003). Key aspects of teaching and learning in information and computer sciences. In Fry, H., Ketteridge, S., Marshall S., ed, A Handbook For Teaching And Learning In Higher Education. London: Routledge Falmer, pp278-299 </li></ul><ul><li>Assiter A., (1995) Transferable Skills in Higher Education , London: Kogan Page pp7-20 </li></ul><ul><li>Bridges D., (1994 ) Transferable Skills In Higher Education , University of East Anglia: University of East Anglia </li></ul><ul><li>French, R. and Grey, C. (1996 ) Rethinking Management Education . London: Sage. pp 2-13 </li></ul><ul><li>Macfarlane, B., (1997) In Search Of Identity: Lecturer Perceptions Of The Business Studies First Degree. Journal of Vocational Education and Training , 49 (1), pp5-20 </li></ul><ul><li>Rose, J (2009) Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum: Final Report, DCSF Publications pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Ul-Haq, R., Stiles, J., Pond, K., (2003) Learning expectations and learning process design. Active Learning In Higher Education , 4(2) pp168-180 </li></ul>Index
  22. 22. Technology timeline 1983 2009 2000 1990 IBM PC (UK Launch) & MS-DOS WORLD WIDE WEB / MOSAIC BROWSER DOT COM CRASH WINDOWS 3.0 GOOGLE / XML YOUTUBE TWITTER WINDOWS 95 & INTERNET EXPLORER EBAY & AMAZON FIRST BLOGS / MP3 / FLASH PODCASTING / WIKIPEDIA iTUNES / FIREFOX / FACEBOOK Personal computing Networked computing Web 1.0 Web 2.0

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