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Making any story a local story is one of the great challenges of both journalism and public relations work.
This semester in my Integrated Strategic Communication course, students were working on media releases. Seitel’s The Practice of Public Relations notes that most media releases either struggle to be well-written, localized, or newsworthy (and sometimes all three). My students were working on that second one – localized – and conducted a quick brainstorm of questions to ask that could successfully localize a media release in the city of Charlotte.
If you’re working on a release and it needs to be localized, these questions might just help. Take out “Charlotte” and insert the name of your community:
- Do people in Charlotte have access to the event?
- Has Charlotte hosted this event in the past?
- Will any significant members of the Charlotte community be in attendance (i.e. the mayor, local talent, etc.) ?
- Will the proceeds of the event benefit any local Charlotte organizations?
- How will the event benefit Charlotte?
- Is event focused strictly for Charlotte residents or is it offered in other areas as well?
- Has this event ever taken place in Charlotte before, if so how was the outcome of the event?
- Will any businesses in Charlotte sponsor the event?
- How will the event affect the local economy?
- Can I get a nourishing quote from a local person about this topic?
If those first ten didn’t work for you, wait until you read these:
- Why should this event be important to the people of Charlotte?
- How will this event impact the City of Charlotte?
- What local businesses, institutions or organizations are going to be involved?
- Any surprising data, statistics or (newsworthy) facts about a previous similar local event?
- What similar talents or events has the Charlotte area hosted? and, What was the attendee count of those similar events?
- How did the PR team(s) or event coordinators market those events as localized and worth attending?
- Is the current event featuring other local vendors or opening acts?
- Is the subject/host organization/individual based in Charlotte?
- Are any organization leaders Charlotte natives?
- Does the new release relate at all to any of Charlotte’s major economies (ex: banking)?
Surely you’ve found some connections by now to help localize your media release. Read on…
- Does it occur within driving distance of Charlotte?
- Will it effect Charlotte residents’ finances?
- Are these specific challenges that the Charlotte community is facing?
- Will it affect the growth of Charlotte?
- Will this event connect the community to the city of Charlotte?
And a final five, just for good measure and round numbers:
- Does the Charlotte community have access to this event?
- Does the event tie into the different cultures around Charlotte?
- Will this event be successful in gaining publicity for the city?
- Will the event help the environment around Charlotte?
- Does the event highlight any influential groups in Charlotte?
Remember that these apply to media release for things occurring in Charlotte, but more importantly, they help to localize media releases from outside the community that are trying to gain coverage inside Charlotte. This second piece is the key to good localization.
The article below was featured in Campus Technology Magazine and online on May 15, 2013.
Tiny Radio in Class: Podcasting Returns to Campus
By Dian Schaffhauser
When 99% Invisible blew through its fundraising goal on Kickstarter by four times, the “tiny radio show about design” brought renewed attention to the lost art of audio podcasting. It also piqued the attention of Associate Professor John McArthur, director of undergraduate programs for the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. McArthur had been seeking out a topic to try in a pilot seminar he was holding this spring as part of a department exploration to figure out how faculty and students might interact in a more collaborative way on campus.
And that’s exactly what happened. In the course of the seminar McArthur’s students used podcasting as a mechanism to learn how to compose arguments in the form of telling a story. Plus, it gave them a chance to interact with faculty in a mode that put them in the role of “producer.”
How a Podcast Report is Put Together
In an era of quickly produced videos that go viral on YouTube, the concept of producing a podcast may seem a bit antiquated. Why go audio when visual rules the day?
Exploring the Relationship Between Student-Instructor Interaction on Twitter and Student Perceptions of Teacher Behaviors
The latest issue of International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education features a research article by Dr. John A. McArthur and Kristen Bostedo-Conway. The article – “Exploring the Relationship Between Student-Instructor Interaction on Twitter and Student Perceptions of Teacher Behaviors” – examines the use of Twitter as a classroom tool. The abstract reads:
With much attention being placed on the use of Twitter and other social media in the classroom, educators are grappling with the question, “Is Twitter a valid tool to increase classroom effectiveness?” Yet, many responses to this question come from anecdotal and case-study-based information. The present study offers a preliminary quantitative analysis of Twitter in the classroom. A survey-based experiment (n = 144) was conducted to measure student perceptions of teacher credibility, immediacy, and content relevance alongside instructor Twitter-use. Results indicate significant, positive correlations between student Twitter-use and positive perceptions of teacher behaviors. These results indicate that Twitter may serve as a valuable tool to supplement more traditional forms of course instruction.
Dr. McArthur is an associate professor of communication in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Ms. Bostedo-Conway is an alumna of Queens University of Charlotte, graduating in 2012 with a Master of Arts in Communication. The pair are working on a follow-up study on the relationship between Twitter use and non-verbal communication measures.
The following column was featured on
the national blog of the Social Media Club on May 4, 2013
University professors hear a lot of commencement speeches. But one I heard this weekend was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.
By combining the power of digital media, passion for philanthropy, and mobile technology,graduating students at Queens University of Charlotte helped the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation give away $100,000 on the spot during their commencement speech. The experiment was the brainchild of graduation speaker Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of Knight Foundation.
During Newton’s address, the audience watched three videos from Communities in Schools, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, and Loaves and Fishes. In the videos, representatives from each Charlotte-area organization explained how they would use a $50,000 grant from Knight Foundation. Graduates were then invited to text in their votes to decide which organization would receive the grant.
Graduates awarded the grant to Communities in Schools, and the other two organizations were awarded $25,000 grants by the foundation.
For the campus community, the event demonstrated the ability of individuals to make a difference in their communities through digital technology. “Remember the night that your lives were both noble and digital,” Newton remarked to the graduates. Even on a night of celebration of their own successes, the Class of 2013 were reminded to give back to their community.
Queens and Knight Foundation have a partnership established in 2010 with the naming of the James L. Knight School of Communication at the university. The school has a special endowed mission for strengthening digital and media literacy in the Charlotte community. The partnership has created the website digitalcharlotte.org and launched the new online Journal of Digital and Media Literacy.
“We wanted to create an interactive and fun way to connect people to their social media – and show how it can cause some introspective reflection,” remarked Taylor Nelson, one of the designers of the project. “It was a short, simple, and sweet way to interact with people on campus. And the quiz took less than a minute to complete – a definite plus for the busy-bodies around Queens!”
Students in the digital literacy seminar at Queens University of Charlotte designed an interactive experience for their peers on campus as a class project. The student-designed project was simple in concept: create a quiz that offered twelve outcomes to define a person’s “ideal” social media use.
The rationale for designing a quiz was to demonstrate to users how they interacted with the technological world (i.e. varying forms of social media) and how that could affect their time spent. Ultimately, the quiz encouraged reflection about personal connections to the digital world. According to Renee Hobbs, reflection is one of the five key components of digital and media literacy. Hobbs’ white paper, Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action was one of the key readings in the digital literacy seminar, led by Dr. John A. McArthur, an associate professor in the Knight School of Communication.
The quiz was created using the online tool inklewriter which allows writers to design “create-your-own-adventure” type experiences incorporating text and image. The quiz is still available online here.
The team, made up of students Nick Alito, Hannah Fraser, Greg Jaudon, Taylor Nelson, Douglas Sewell, and Katelyn Smith set up a table near the university cafeteria, with varying devices on which passers-by could take the quiz (iPads, cell phones, QR Codes, laptops and links). Candies and funky stickers proclaiming results from the quiz served a approachable rewards for participation.
“We hope that through our project others can become aware of their interactions on social media. We want them to be able to use social media effectively and enjoy the results of it.” Student Hannah Fraser continues, “Our project gave people a social media identity that best suited their interests. Whether people were most interested in current events, keeping up with friends via text or through photos or creating their own videos there is a place for everyone in the social media world. Discovering what you want to get out of it is how you decide which site to invest your time in.”
The twelve results used in the quiz were derived from six mainstream social media outlets and represented two extremes for the use of each outlet:
- Facebook Creeper
- YouTube Sharer
- YouTube Director
- Pinterest Dreamer
- Pinterest Hoarder
- Job Seeker (LinkedIn)
- Job Connector (LinkedIn)
- Hashtag (#) Horror
Below are some images of happy quiz-takers proudly displaying their results:
The digital literacy seminar at Queens University of Charlotte is part of the university’s interdisciplinary exploration seminar initiative intended to enhance faculty-student interaction on campus. Read about other projects and initiatives created by this seminar in past semesters.
Dr. John A. McArthur is an associate professor of communication and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. This article and the accompanying photographs were produced by students in the digital literacy seminar, spring term 2013.
This semester, students at Queens University of Charlotte embarked on an exploratory learning experience in episodic, podcast-based radio.
The resulting “Royals Radio” is a product of Queens University of Charlotte, and Dr. John A. McArthur and was produced by students and faculty in an interdisciplinary studies class at the university. Each episode has a different producer and topic, but every episode studies the 30 acres of the university’s campus and the stories that can be found within. Listen to past episodes of Royals Radio below or on SoundCloud via the directory found here.
Season One of Royals Radio was produced in spring 2013 by William Boyd, Moiah Faulkner-Wheeler, Max Kaczynski, and Brittani Pedersen as part of a university-wide “exploration seminar.”
“What colleges have been doing isn’t wrong or irresponsible. But, it is insufficient.” These opening sentiments from Dr. Terrel Rhodes, AAC&U’s Vice President set the stage for considering the change facing higher education at the 2013 conference on general education. The meeting’s setting along Boston’s Freedom Trail was a telling metaphor for for a conference both honoring the vibrant history of collegiate work and calling for a revolutionary momentum required to rethink higher education.
Opening speaker Dr. Bobby Fong, President of Ursinus College, asked attendees to consider the benefits and drawbacks of technology as a driver of change in higher education. He fears the development of a class-based system of higher education where some choose liberal learning while others are offered career credentialing. In his words, “Knowledge mastery does not equal learning…There is a real-world serendipity at play that leads to learning.”
Plenary speakers Peggy Maki and Sarita Brown both presented visions of the future of higher education. Maki, a higher education consultant and author of Assessing for Learning, suggested that the future for faculty is to become learners of misunderstandings, misconceptions, and errors in logic. Our role, she says, is to invest ourselves in the knowledge synthesis and application business.
Brown, director of Excelencia in Education, laid a framework for meeting and welcoming the post-traditional undergraduate student to higher education. Excelencia focuses on the successes of Latino students, inviting colleges and universities to work with the demographic changes in the American population.
Closing speaker, the renowned psychologist Dr. Robert J. Sternberg, advised attendees on the need for measuring college-level learning through multiple measures, both direct and indirect. Not only must we cause students to learn, we must be able to show that they did. And, this learning is the goal of the college experience – not just the college classroom.
Throughout the conference, presenters in sessions shared their work on campuses from New Hampshire to Southern Utah in general education. During these sessions, some key takeaways for me regarded the need for general education to incorporate student choices and student-directed learning opportunities.
I’m continually excited to be considering general education as a subject of study and brainstorming about how colleges can move their work forward into a new mindset.
The following article was featured on
the Social Media Club’s national Social Media Education blog
on February 19, 2013:
As a professor who studies digital media, many people often ask me how I stay current in the field. Studying social media and digital media can be a tricky business in that new things are always being added to the market and new strategies proliferate for employing tools that exist.
In my practice, staying current is about three different components: Keeping up with the newest developments, experimenting with digital tools, and innovating in the classroom.
Keeping up with the latest tools
Keeping up with the latest tools is about finding a tool that will curate information so that I can most easily access and process it. You might be surprised that, for me, this tool is the (relatively old) standby, RSS. RSS, or real simple syndication, was developed to deliver information from the web to people who subscribe to that information. For example, most blog sites are equipped with RSS feeds which allow a user to subscribe to the blog and have the blog material delivered in a variety of formats.
I use the RSS reader in Google Reader to manage my subscriptions so that I am staying up to date with the most current research and trends in digital media. For me, though there’s a catch. I find the process of logging to access the content to be a little clumsy on my mobile devices. Instead, I need a more convenient way to digest this information on the go. I found two tools that make that simple. First, I often read blogs in between other things that I’m doing during my day when I have my phone available. On the iPhone, the Feeddler appbecame a great resource for me to manage the blogs and podcasts that I plans to read or listen to. The app alerts me when there’s new posts to read and I can quickly scan through the titles of the posts to see which ones capture my interest or relate to my learning. Second, sometimes I prefer to read posts in a more magazine-like style, especially on my iPad. In that case, I turn to Flipboard. Flipboard takes the RSS information puts it into a visual display like a magazine that you can scroll through by turning pages and clicking on articles to read the most recent updates.
Both Flipboard and Feeddler use Google Reader as their source of information, so all of the material that you read on any of these three tools syncs with the others. Therefore, when I mark items that I’ve read in Feeddler, they are also marked as “read” inside Google Reader and Flipboard. I also find it valuable to be able to share an article using Feeddler or Flipboard through Twitter, email, or other vehicles that allow me to connect these articles to my students and colleagues.
Experimenting with digital tools
When I read about a new digital tool that looks interesting, I usually try it. Often, this classifies me as an “early adopter” of technology among my colleagues. But through this willingness to experiment, I’ve tried out a variety of social media tools (as well as other digital media tools) in the classroom. My students have experimented with Facebook,Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Storify, MindMeister, Goanimate, Audacity, and a variety of iPad and iPhone apps, to name a few, that allow them to connect to me and to each other in the classroom setting. Some of the links embedded above will take your articles I’ve written about these specific experiments.
Innovating in the classroom
For me the leap from experimenting in the classroom to innovating in the classroom comes at a point of confidence with the digital tool that I’m using. In a classroom experiment, I’ll try out the digital tool to see what might work what might happen and how students respond to the tool and its uses. Then, innovating with the tool in the classroom is about taking a tool and applying it to the course work in a way that generates learning for students. This is a widely unstudied body of knowledge in research literature mainly because the tools and practices are so new. As we move forward into an age of digital teaching and learning, researchers of instructional design should be able to consider the ways that innovations in digital technology can shape classroom learning.
In our graduate program in communication at Queens University of Charlotte for example, our faculty are innovating with the ways that media technologies can be used in the graduate classroom. Sometimes our students knew more than the professors about these technologies but other times the professors are introducing students to technologies being used in ways that they had not envisioned. And students are constantly making the connections between the major theories and concepts presented in the program, and the application of digital tools to those concept. This is the kind of work that will enhance and create opportunities for better and more sophisticated research into technology innovation in a variety of settings.
These three strategies are my way of keeping current with the changes in digital media technology and the ways they affect my classroom. We are all learners and, as a mutual learner with you, I’d love to hear about the ways that you stay current. You can contact me by leaving a comment here, by tweeting me at @JAMcArthur, or by going to my website and contacting me through one of the other channels there.
Thank you to the faculty members at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico for being excellent hosts. This week, I facilitated two faculty development workshops at the university. The workshops focused on (1) integrating technology into the classroom and (2) digital and media literacy.
The slides and resources for workshop participants are below:
Resources mentioned during the session:
- Putting Pinterest to the Test
- Sample student projects in digital and media literacy:
- Building a Class Twitterfall
- Community 2.0
Puzzled? My students are. At least in name.
This semester at Queens University of Charlotte, I have the pleasure of designing and facilitating an “exploration seminar” in the art of puzzling. The “Puzzled” course gives students the opportunity to learn and think about a variety of problem solving strategies, not the least of which is codebreaking.
Students in the course range from freshmen to seniors, but all participants are already challenging their assumptions about how classes operate. In the first two sessions, students worked together to solve group puzzles which tested their problem solving strategies. The first required them to define the rules of the puzzle, and the second used their assumptions about the rules to challenge their decision making processes.
Later puzzles will challenge participants to attempt problems using algorithmic, heuristic, trial-and-error, and brute force strategies, to name a few. And then the course will move into cryptography.
Cryptography (the study of “secret writing”) might be a topic you’d hear about in the halls of MIT, the Naval Academy, or training sites at Langley. But here in Charlotte, students will be getting a taste of the basics of secret writing, codes, and ciphers using Simon Singh’s popular The Code Book as a guide.
Over the course of the semester, students, will study, decipher, and encipher messages of their own, and connect their learning to current digital encryption strategies.
Puzzled is a one-credit-hour exploration seminar in puzzling and codebreaking at Queens University of Charlotte.
Exploration seminars at Queens are intended to contribute to faculty-student interaction within the university by providing opportunities for faculty-student teams to investigate topics of mutual interest. These topics are typically interdisciplinary (or non-disciplinary) in nature. Other past examples at Queens have included seminars in topics like digital literacy, philosophy of the body, the “ordinary heroes” project, latino tastes, and random acts of kindness.