As a communication student, I never knew there was a class on social media and PR at UoP. After conducting my survey on the impact of social media among Afghan youth last summer, my faculty advisor, Dr. Qingwen Dong recommended that I take the class.
Now after 14 weeks into the course, I think Dr. Dong’s advice was a sound one. The course has completely changed my perspective on PR, and communication in general. In a world that is so rapidly changing, catching up with the revolutionary developments in communication and online interaction is consequential for anyone, let alone for students who are majoring in communication.
What is also very unique about this course is the mix of academic and hands-on experiential methods. I not only learned concepts, processes and techniques, but also had the opportunity and time to put all the things I learned into practice. I am finishing off this course with two major take-aways. First, my understanding of the groundswell and how it is continuing to change social interaction dynamics across online world, its implication on both social and professional life, and application as I move on in my academic and professional journey. Second, the application of all the platforms and tools enabling me to operate in this emerging field.
Most of the concepts on social media and PR I learned in this course comes from the book Engage and the Groundswell. Both these books, especially Groundswell, encompass very clear and practical overview of the social media essentials and their relation to PR. Some of the main concepts I have learned are the POST, Social Technographics, personal branding, talking, listening, embracing, energizing and supporting. These concepts taught me that social media is not a one way communication channel, but a two way medium where talking is not enough (even detrimental) and individuals and organizations need to engage, provide support and listen. The techniques I learned in this class that are vital to implementing social media strategies are content curation through platforms such as Pineterest and Storify, photo sharing and management through Flicker, and location based platforms such as Foursquare.
As with every communication endeavor, analysis and impact assessment are key to the success of communication and PR. I learned a great deal about social media metrics and the tools such as Socialmention, Klout and Google Analytics that allow communication and PR professionals to gauge their performance and the impact of their campaigns.
Aside from these concepts, tactics and tools, I am now walking away with two very important social media platforms that I always ignored. Twitter was an absurd social networking platform in which I didn’t see any purpose. The term blogging was always ringing a bell, but it was never a clear concept and I never took the time to understand what its purpose was. Now, I have a Twitter account and a blog with a good understanding of both platforms and their application. These two platforms along with other ones will be great support throughout my future career.
To summarize, I am walking out of this course with a totally different perspective on social media and PR. I recommend this class as compulsory for all communication students and even suggest other students to take the course as an elective. Regardless of what field we are interested, at some point in our life we would need to have some basic understanding and skills required to comprehend the environment around us and the get the word out about ourselves, our business and our institutions.