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Communications Professors without a Social Media Clue

Communications Professors without a Social Media Clue

Several years ago I contacted one of my old professors from American University.

We were working on a corporate webinar theme and I thought he’d be a good fit.  A published author, an associate (not an adjunct) professor (but without a Ph.D.), he had a lot of real world experience with political communication.

It had been about 10 years, but I could still remember the slide overlays he used in class to stimulate discussion.

Those slides were great back then but today it’s the problem.  He has no social media presence.

How can a professor of communication profess to be an expert in teaching the skill if he’s not using the latest tools that are so widely adopted, and in many ways, have turned the idea of (a very weak) communications theory on its head?

They can’t.  You cannot teach communications course if you don’t have a clue about social media. Prospective students should avoid their classes. The university should drop you from the program.

“I’m a very private man,” he said to me when I asked him directly about his lack of presence.

You don’t have to share intimate details on Twitter if you choose not to.  You do have to understand its impact on communications.

He next sniveled at the idea of having to provide a PowerPoint presentation.  It began to dawn on me this wasn’t just a social media problem, it was a generally weak knowledge of common technology that everyone in business uses.

Now I’m a big fan of theory and every student should have to slug through and summarize 30-page journal articles.  It’s hard work, but it does sharpen thinking and writing skills which many ways are synonymous.

Every student should also meet the challenge of statistics classes for developing a scientifically valid survey (I recommend PR pros get an MBA and not an MA because it’ll open so many more doors).  But to the point I’m making, I’m not advocating getting away from the core foundations of theory.  What I am advocating for, is that if you can’t teach the application in today’s world — the real world — then your value as an educator is significantly lower.

There are 17 professors on my list of PR and marketing professors:  theory combined with real-world experience.  That’s what students today need.

How many of your professors don’t have a clue about social media?

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  • Leigh_Andrews

    Such a great post, Frank! You’ve inspired me to write about this issue at some stage too, as it’s huge.

    •  @Leigh_Andrews Thanks Leigh!  I suppose pointing out this isn’t isolated.  Recall back to your old comms text books, check out the author’s name and then look for them in social media.  Very few can be found.  Even among some of the most renown academics in our little industry.   

      • Leigh_Andrews

         @Frank_Strong  Agreed! It’s very true and very sad. I also find that the public relations professionals who are meant to be guiding their clients into the social media space tend to be hesitant of doing so. Could be a generational thing?

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