This semester I am once again teaching PR Writing — and incorporating digital media into the course by having the students use SCVNGR, a geolocation-based mobile gaming application, to help promote a local nonprofit organization. For more on this project see my other blog: Discover Baton Rouge with SCVNGR.
I also have the chance to teach PR Campaigns for the first time. I am thrilled with this service-learning course. Even though I have a strategic communication background (and my professional experience was in sports PR and advertising) my research is mostly about pro-social or behavioral mass media messages. Thus, service-learning, where we can work for the betterment of socially conscious nonprofit organizations, is very appealing to me.
My research is really taking off too. This semester I was assigned an amazing graduate student, Ellada Gamreklidze, and we are starting work on how people use social media to cope with loss (a joint venture with Dr. Sara Magee at Loyola University in Maryland). I also have a second graduate student interested in working on a cognitive processing study we are going to run through Manship’s Media Effects Lab (MEL).
So far, when it comes to service I’m helping update the PR division curriculum and (hopefully) giving some useful suggestions to the updates for the advertising division curriculum. I’ve also been assigned to advise the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) at LSU. The organization has 110 members, a student-run PR firm (PRestige), is updating its Constitution and Bylaws, planning for a regional conference next year, and inducting three new officers. In the fall I will be taking on both PRSSA and PRestige (which will be involved in the Manship centennial celebration, Bateman Competition, creating a crisis communication plan for the PRSSA Chappter, fundraising, service, and other national competitions). Whew!
It’s going to be a big change from running an online program with 90+ classes and 40+ online faculty, but I think I can manage:). My main concern is that I don’t try to micromanage everything the students do – that I step in when I am needed and I remain hands-off when I am not. I hope that this approach will leave me with time to accomplish my first two roles: teaching and service.