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Taking Social Media By Storm

Students and professionals learn side-by-side during SMU’s Social Media Workshop

By Lillian Foster (B.A. ’14, Cinema-Television and Math)
SMU’s Division of Journalism hit the ground running for the fall semester, hosting the SMU Social Media Workshop on Saturday, September 11. Local professionals in the media field, including Mike Orren, founder of Pegasus News, Victoria Harres of PR Newswire, Jessica Nunez of Nunez PR, Ted Kim, reporter with The Dallas Morning News and vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association Texas Chapter, and SMU’s own Assistant Professor of Journalism Jake Batsell, informed and entertained a full house of students and local business employees.

Ted Kim and Mike Orren teamed up to kick off the event, introducing sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to the audience; almost 100 tweets about the workshop were sent by audience members within the first hour. In most cases, texting, tweeting, and updating Facebook are considered rude when listening to a speaker, but these behaviors were welcomed during the four-hour event.

Mike Orren said that last month, Pegasus News received more visits from Twitter and Facebook than from Google. An article that Pegasus News ran regarding foods exhibited at the State Fair tripled Pegasus’s traffic for three days; this was accomplished simply by the tweeting and retweeting of the article by readers. Although these tools are extremely rewarding and helpful to a writer or journalist, they are “not a replacement for good journalism – they just add to it,” said Kim. Mike Orren seconded that claim, saying social websites are “no substitute for picking up the telephone, or better yet, face time. “

Jessica Nunez and Victoria Harres continued the event, discussing how social media has influenced the field of public relations. “Social media is like a cocktail party!” was one of Jessica Nunez’s many fun quotes; she informed the audience that people will follow you on blogs and twitter if you share new and interesting things, and added, “don’t use social sites as platforms to talk only about yourself.” Public relations involves knowing your public and their interests, but also being aware of events and current issues happening in the world around you, the speakers said. They noted that websites such as Twitter and Foursquare, a location-based media tool, are quick and easy ways to learn about hot new topics, trends, news events and stories.

Mike D. Merrill, president of the Social Media Club of Dallas, closed the event with a presentation about how to leave a “personal brand” mark on the Internet. In his words, “your resume is no longer a piece of paper, it’s the Google search results of your name.” His presentation offered ways to combine the tools and tactics learned in the first two sessions, giving the audience members a head start in applying their “personal brand” through social media.

The Social Media Workshop was a helpful experience for Dallas locals as well as SMU students. Students sat among Dallas business professionals and they learned from each other in discussions of how to utilize social media for business and personal gain.

Senior Journalism major Aida Ahmed said, “SMU provides students with abundant networking opportunities, and the Journalism Division is really great at connecting students with professionals in their career field.” She said the Social Media Workshop was a great experience for her, and added, “We are a school, but we are taken seriously as professionals.” This was demonstrated as students and business people mixed and mingled together throughout the duration of the seminar.

A special thanks to the SMU Division of Journalism, The Dallas Morning News and the Press Club of Dallas, and Professor Jake Batsell for hosting an educational and entertaining event.

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