all semester brings more blogging and social media exercises to my classrooms. This semester, as with all in the past, I’ve tried to do something new with the hope of catching the imagination of each student.
I have a story, but first – some background.
The PR Writing class is reading David Meerman Scott‘s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Then, they are writing about it in their Fall 2007 class blogs. Along the way, the students are also exploring social media releases, online release portals and more. You’ll be happy to know that they are doing a lot of other writing, too. Releases, features and more are weekly exercises. Finally, they will create an online newsroom for a nonprofit client … a real client.
I’ve never said, and never will say, that social media will replace tried and true public relations practices. It does offer a new way, sometimes a more appropriate and successful way, of serving a client’s interests and those of their stakeholders. And, developing an understanding of online release writing and delivery is certainly useful.
So, the story is that - as usual - many students are skeptics. Jackie
is was one of them. But, she recently had an ah-ha! experience.
Understanding, Ah-Ha’s, and Intuition: To us humans, an “ah-ha” means that at a particular point in time we do not have the solution of a problem, or even an understanding of it, but a moment (a few hundred milliseconds?) later we have a solution or a clear idea of how to reach one, and a feeling that we know why it will work. (Source: Stanford Discussion Group)
It all started when Jackie was researching her client for the final project mentioned above. Her client, the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative (ACHMI), was having a conference and she attended to meet, greet and listen.
Long story short, Jackie was listening to those attending the conference discuss how they might best get their message out to their key audiences. After awhile, Jackie couldn’t restrain herself any longer and she started to talk about what we are covering in class.
Here is the kicker. This ACHMI initiative is an $8.2 million dollar project. It was a student, just learning about new media, that caught the interest of these conference attendees … so much so, they asked her to speak at the conference. Jackie, bless her heart, stepped up to the challenge and spoke to the crowd about what we are doing in class.
It gets better.
Remember those posts of Jackie’s? Well, David found the post in his Google Alerts and dropped by to comment. But, he didn’t stop there. David wrote about it in his blog, WebInkNow.com. His post is entitled The New PR Generation. It even shows up on the Amazon.com page for the book. Two of David’s readers came by to comment, too. One is from Washington, D.C. and the other from Saint Joseph’s, Missouri. Elsewhere, we’ve seen comments from South Africa, The Netherlands and points coast-to-coast in the USA.
It gets better.
Tonight, I receive an email from an Auburn colleague, Michael Tullier. He serves on the PRSA Universal Accreditation Board. A colleague of his, from that board, sent an email stating, “FYI. This was circulated among our “Legends” group of APRs in San Diego. It speaks highly of Auburn.”
Talk about a long tail and six degrees of separation. Talk about buzz. Talk about an unintended, yet positive, result from a classroom initiated meme. Whew!
You know, this isn’t just any ol’ book and any ol’ author we’re getting the students involved with, by the way. Right now Scott’s book has a sales rank at #503 overall in Amazon.com’s Books section. The book is in the top 100 for business books at #92, as of the last check (the ranks are updated hourly). And it is now sitting at #4 in the Marketing category. Is it just me, or doesn’t that deserve a mention? The book isn’t just great … it is also a best seller.
So, that’s good news. Yea! for our team. Yea! for the students. Yea! to David Meerman Scott for taking an active interest. Thank you!
But, you know what? I still find myself in the position of having to (a) justify what we are doing in class, (b) defend the value for the students, and (c) convince people that we should continue the practice. Of course, I’ve been paying for it all out of my own pocket all the while, too. (Sorry, just a little venting.)
You know what, I find myself wondering if it is all worth it for me. I know it is worth it for the students. I know that it has helped, is helping, and will continue to help the department, college and university. But, me … I’m getting tired. Sigh.
Update: All that being said, I really do want to encourage you to visit the student blogs for this semester. The list of the student blogs for Fall 2007 is located on the Loveliest Village site. Students are also posting features and videos there, so check them out as well.