For my first semester in UOP pursuing my master degree, I took “Social Media for Public Relations” class, which is a good start for my study in communication and public relations. In this class, we examined social media technologies and study their applications in contemporary public relation practice.
In this class, I have chances to examine social media technologies and strategies from a theoretical perspective by reading some useful books and materials. Groundswell is the most useful book I read this semester, from which I formed the concept of “POST” planning process, observed how companies listening, talking, energizing, embracing and supporting the Groundswell with positive gains; mastered the characteristics of various social media tools. Until now, I still clearly remembered some classic cases in this book. In the future, when I asked to do a social media proposal for an organization, the spirit of “Groundswell” will immediately come to my mind.
The most practical part for this class is that I engage first-hand with all kinds of social media tools. This is the first year I came to United States, although I am an active social media participant in China, I am not familiar with social media tools in the U.S. This class offered me a golden opportunity to know all kinds of social media as well as develope a strategic understanding of these tools. I posted blogs on blogger every week; I kept my own Facebook and Twitter profile; I signed up for photo sharing platforms such as Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest; I utilized content curation tools such as Google and storify; I located myself through check-in application Foursquare, etc. Thanks to the class, I quickly assimilated into the social media community in the U.S.
In addition, the exciting part of the class is that I tried to build my own image on social media platform. Through the assignment “personal branding”, I examined and established my own personal brand through social media network. I absolutely embrace personal brand, through which I was able to figure out what exactly differentiate me from others. For me, personal branding is not only a strategy of self-promotion, but also valuable spiritual experience. I will spare no effort to build a unique brand for myself in the future.
Besides in-class learning, this class also provided me some extra-curricular experience. For example, I attended a Social Media Panel about “Creating Online Communities to Build Brand Enthusiasm and Loyalty”, hosted by PRSSA. This is a remarkable experience, for I was inspired by what the guest speakers said and I was able to connect the panel to what I have learned in class, to see how social media can actually work for a company. I am excited to hear some items I have learned in class such as “content curation” and “strategy & tactics” repeated by these PR practitioners like Corin Imai, the marketing operations manager for Hewlett-Packard; Josh Morgan, the vice president of Edelman Digital is a passionate speaker, and Jeremy Neisser, the marketing director of Stockton ports. This panel also made me to realize the importance of integrating theory with practice.
Overall, “social media for PR” is a fresh start for me to start my exploration in the field of public relations. Our generation is coming of age in an amazing time. We live in an information age of communication that social media is extending men in a global embrace. Social media tools provided a different way for individuals to communicate digitally, reshaping patterns of social interaction, politics, and economic activity. By developing a strategic understanding of social media for the purpose of building relationships and creating conversations with key publics, I held a deep insight into the powerful of social media and the essence of PR. Ultimately, technologies will come and go, but an understanding of how to use social media strategically enables practitioners to adapt to changing environment.