UGA’s Grady College to offer second annual Connect social media conference

Athens, Ga. – Social media is on the minds and at the fingertips of public relations professionals and academics, creating new opportunities and challenges for the practice of public relations. To address these issues and create dialogue, the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will host its second Connect: Social Media and Public Relations Conference, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19-20, 2008.

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 have an amazing lineup of speakers and panelists this year,” said Karen Miller Russell, Grady College associate professor of public relations and conference organizer. “We’re zeroing in on issues that are important to both professionals and educators.”

Peter Himler, founder and principal of Flatiron Communications in New York, will provide the keynote speech on Friday evening, addressing the digital forces that have changed the modern practice of PR, as well as the core competencies that remain valid in spite of these changes. He has extensive agency experience, having worked for Edelman, Burson-Marsteller, Cohn and Wolfe, and Hill and Knowlton.

Panel discussions on Saturday will pair professionals and academics to discuss important issues and practices within public relations. Discussion topics will include measurement, law, branding, and relationship building. Speakers include Kami Watson Huyse, principal from My PR Pro; Jim Fetig and Kathi Wallace of Institute Communications and Public Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and Paul Vogelzang, senior vice president at Porter Novelli in Washington, D.C.

Saturday’s luncheon features Bert DuMars, vice president of e-business and interactive marketing for Newell Rubbermaid, who is responsible for directing and coordinating e-marketing, interactive marketing, social media marketing and e-commerce initiatives. He plans to discuss Newell Rubbermaid’s experimentation and implementation of social media marketing strategies and tactics.

The 2007 conference received rave reviews from participants.

“Connect 2007 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.”

The conference also will include a half-day boot camp on Friday for participants new to social media. These sessions will focus on the tools necessary to explore more in-depth discussion and implications during Saturday’s sessions. Topics will include tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and RSS, as well as social media ethics and etiquette.

“The most exciting thing to me is that several of last year’s speakers are coming back this year as attendees because they don’t want to miss out on the conversation,” said Russell.

Conference registration is $150 with a registration deadline of Friday, Sept. 12. Space is limited. For more information and to register, see www.grady.uga.edu/connect.

UGA’s 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 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 www.grady.uga.edu.