Society & Culture

Grady to host third annual Connect conference

UGA to offer Connect public relations/social media conference in September

Athens, Ga. – Public relations professionals and academics alike are continuing to talk about how social media are changing what they do. Leading that conversation, the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will host its third annual Connect conference on public relations and social media on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Miller Learning Center on campus.

The conference, sponsored by Porter Novelli and the Grady College, is designed to bring together public relations professionals and educators to explore how social media is being used in public relations.

“We’ll be talking about whether social media should be integrated with traditional PR and marketing programs. And, if it should, how that might be done,” said Karen Miller Russell, Grady College associate professor of public relations and conference organizer.

Paula Berg, manager of emerging media for Southwest Airlines, will provide the keynote speech on Saturday evening. According to Russell, Southwest is the nation’s leading low-fare air carrier and has been one of the most successful U.S. businesses of the past 30 years.

Panel discussions on Saturday will match professionals and academics discussing important issues and practices within non-profits, business and industry, and government public relations. Speakers include Jeremy Pepper, Dan Greenfield, principal of Bernaise Source Media; Richard Waters, North Carolina State University; and Toby Bloomberg, Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing.

Adding a global perspective will be two speakers joining the discussion via the Web-Melanie James of Newcastle University in Australia and Tom Watson of the United Kingdom’s Bournemouth University.

Saturday’s luncheon will feature Lauren Fernandez, marketing coordinator at American Mensa and popular public relations blogger. Fernandez recently tackled a controversial subject when she questioned whether PR agencies should be executing social media plans for their clients.

Past conferences received rave reviews from participants. “Connect really changed my approach to public relations,” said Melissa Libby of Atlanta’s Melissa Libby and Associates. “I learned it all at the conference. Facebook, YouTube, Yelp and Flickr are now all in a day’s work at our company.” Public relations measurement professional Katie Paine called Connect “a very fun and fascinating discussion of social media.”

“Social media isn’t new anymore,” said Russell. “It’s time for organizations of all types to figure out how to make it part of their overall communication programs.”

Conference registration is $150 with a deadline of Friday, Sept. 11. Space is limited.

Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see