Public relations educators and industry experts from across the Southeast joined together at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication to participate in the Edelman Digital Bootcamp March 1.
“As more organizations begin to adopt social media tools like podcasts, blogs and social networking, we as educators have to make a commitment to the industry to deliver,” said Kaye Sweetser, assistant professor of public relations at Grady College.
At the event, educators focused on sharing ideas and encouraging the adoption of new media in more communication classrooms throughout the Southeast. They had the opportunity to discuss the practicalities of teaching new media and a chance to share social media lesson plans.
“Edelman recognizes the role that social media plays in effective communication strategies and how important it is that every practitioner be trained in at least the basics of this growing medium,” said Erin Caldwell, senior account executive at Edelman. “The only way that we’ll eventually get to that point—where social media is taught in every communication curriculum, just like traditional media—is for professionals to partner with educators to make it happen.”
This event was unique in that practitioners and educators came together to discuss social media and its integration into traditional curricula, while also providing students with social media training.
Public relations students from across the Southeast were dispersed into teams, and Edelman practitioners directed them in a mock campaign. They had the opportunity to work one-on-one with Edelman facilitators to research, design and implement a social media solution for mock clients.
Social media skills are essential in educating the next generation of pubic relations practitioners, according to Sweetser.
“Time and time again, I’ve heard professionals from the public relations industry say that they are looking for our graduates to leave college trained and ready to know how to use social media tools ethically in their practice,” she said. “An event like this shows the joint commitment of Edelman and Grady College to ensure ethical practices of social media integration.”
But more than that, contributing roundtable panelist Mihaela Vorvoreanu, assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Clemson University, said teaching social media was a necessity in today’s diverse media environment.
“Imagine that communication professors would not research and teach about newspapers and television. Unacceptable, isn’t it? Similarly, communication scholars and educators cannot afford to ignore social media,” said Vorvoreanu.