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Temerlin Advertising Institute Holds Third Annual Digital Threads Networking Symposium

Students learned about the rapidly evolving world of social media

Students learned about the rapidly evolving world of social media and their place in it at the third annual Digital Threads, presented by Meadows School of the Arts on November 5-6, 2009.

Keynote speakers at Digital Threads 2009 included Terry Mackin, president of ForesightLab and an SMU parent; Larry Weintraub, CEO of Fanscape; Jimmy Dunne, president of Inspire and an SMU parent; and Tyson Wheatley, producer and news manager of CNN’s iReport.

As part of the networking symposium, visiting experts in the news, entertainment, advertising and communications industries – including many SMU alumni and parents – shared career advice and their experiences with Facebook, YouTube and other social media during classroom sessions and one-on-one meetings.

The guests included keynote speakers Terry Mackin, president of ForesightLab and an SMU parent; Larry Weintraub, CEO of Fanscape; Jimmy Dunne, president of Inspire and an SMU parent; and Tyson Wheatley, producer and news manager of CNN’s iReport.

“These are people who have the careers you dream about,” Meadows School of the Arts Dean Jose Bowen told the students filling O’Donnell Hall for Thursday’s keynote, “Social Media Changes Everything.” He also thanked SMU Trustee Royce E. (Ed) Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcasting, for his leading role in launching the symposium. “Over the last three years, he’s brought a remarkable array of people - professionals from America’s most important media companies,” Bowen said.

Wilson, the father of SMU graduate Royce Edrice Wilson Jr. ’09, said he conceived Digital Threads as an opportunity to showcase SMU students and academic programs. “This symposium connects our talented students with alumni, parents and leading companies across the country,” he said. Wilson also led a classroom session on using social networking technology for news gathering and dissemination.

During the keynote, Mackin, of global media consulting practice ForesightLab, discussed how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media are reinventing how people collaborate and socialize online, extending content to hundreds of millions of people and empowering grass-roots efforts.

“Social media is probably the hottest place to be, and it will evolve over the next five or 10 years,” he said. “It’s now leading strategies of companies instead of following. As you go out in the job market, if you can talk the talk of social networking and social platforms, you’ll differentiate yourself immediately.”

Weintraub, who said he receives hundreds of résumés for every job posting at digital marketing agency Fanscape, also urged students to stand out from the competition by using social media such as LinkedIn, the professional network, and a personal blog.

“Show me that you’ve embraced the social network,” he said. “You have to write about yourself. I need to know you personally, what character you are. You have to separate yourself. Show me you have passion.”

Patricia Alvey, Distinguished Chair and Director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute, who organized this year's event, said the symposium offered students new contacts and new ideas about potential career paths. "In the classrooms and networking lounges, students had glowing reports of their interactions with these remarkable professionals. The students were able to see the real possibilities of their contributions as journalists, musicians, advertisers and artists, even starting out in a tough economy," she said.

Senior cinema major Nathan Harris said the speakers opened his eyes to the possibilities of social networking, particularly as an aspiring filmmaker who will be seeking distribution of his work.

“I’ve been using Facebook for fun – I don’t even think much about it – but I’ve noticed older people using it as a marketing or advertising tool,” he said. “As a filmmaker, I’m realizing that I need to focus on marketing myself and my films. It’s clear that social networking is really just beginning, and it’s going to take off.”

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