Category Archives: Social Media

Kent State to Host Award-Winning YouToo Social Media Conference for Area Professionals, Students

by the College of Communication and Information

Communications professionals will discuss the role of social media in public relations and marketing at the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference Friday, April 10, at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a networking reception to follow at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. Professionals in public relations, communication and marketing, along with students studying these disciplines, are encouraged to register, but anyone can attend. Conference registration ends April 6 or sooner if seats are sold out. The event is a fundraiser for the YouToo Social Media Scholarship.

The opening speaker is Mark W. Smith, the editor for mobile web at the Washington Post. Smith is an expert in social and digital media in journalism. He worked at USA TODAY as the senior manager for social media marketing and at the Detroit Free Press as the assistant editor for digital media. While in Detroit, Smith built the newspaper’s social platforms and wrote technology columns that appeared in most U.S. newspapers.

Smith says that “by studying user behavior — and what motivates people to share, comment and like — we can learn how to craft a social message that is designed to be shared.” He will talk about what the rise in mobile web use means for those who create social experiences and how communicators can create a social experience that is built to be shared.

Gini Dietrich, the founder and CEO of integrated marketing communications firm Arment Dietrich, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dietrich is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, lead blogger at Spin Sucks and founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

She will address topics like how to communicate honestly, responsibly, openly and authentically with all client stakeholders; working with customers who control your brand; and understanding how the digital world affects public relations.

“We live in a world where content farms, Internet spiders and fake accounts have the potential to ruin one’s experience online,” Dietrich says. “But, just like the Justice League, we prefer to fight evil with good. And that’s exactly what my book, Spin Sucks, teaches you.”

Professional conference attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Dietrich’s book, Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age with paid admission. Dietrich will sign books immediately following her discussion.

Students will also have the opportunity to connect with public relations professionals during the student breakout sessions and at the post-conference happy hour event at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. Students need to register by Wednesday, April 1, and arrive before 8:30 a.m. on the day of the conference to connect with their mentor.

The conference is hosted by the Akron Area Chapter of Public Relations Society of America and the Kent State University Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America.

Sponsors of the conference include Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, Robert J. Events and Catering, Star Printing, Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, AKHIA, True Digital Communications, Evolve, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Triad/Next Level, FedEx Custom Critical, Regional Marketing Alliance, ADM Board, McKay Bricker Framing/Black Squirrel Gallery and Gifts, Akron Children’s Hospital, The Buzz Maker! LLC, InfoCision, Marcus Thomas LLC and Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies.

Conference proceeds support the YouToo Scholarship Fund, the Kent State University PRSSA Chapter and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter.

For more information about registration, conference pricing and updates, visit Find YouToo on Facebook,Twitter or via email at  

Autism Speaks — It’s Time to Listen

By Alyssa Mazey

The Beta Tau chapter of Alpha Xi Delta at Kent State University donated $36,333.24 to Autism Speaks from money raised at its annual Xi Man competition on Oct. 11, which incorporated facts about Alpha Xi Delta and autism into a five-minute skit and dance performance.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading organization in autism research, and Alpha Xi Delta chapters across the nation have raised more than $1 million for Autism Speaks.

Two students from of College of Communication and Information worked closely with this philanthropic event – Alyssa Mazey and Justina Kennefick. Currently taking “Communication and Influence” in the School of Communication Studies, the pair was given a semester-long assignment to create a campaign that would influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. Since they were already involved with Autism Speaks, and it was their sorority’s national philanthropy, they decided this would be a perfect project.

Both Kennefick and Mazey are public communication majors and hold positions in the Beta Tau chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. Kennefick is the social media chair, while Mazey serves as the fundraising chair. They used the knowledge and resources of the chapter, previous classes they had taken and assistance from COMM Assistant Professor J.D. Ponder, Ph.D.

Kennefick controlled the Alpha Xi Delta Twitter page, posting information about the different events. Mazey planned and scheduled events which allowed people to fundraise.

“Raising money and awareness for such an amazing cause was easy when you’re doing something fun,” Mazey said. “We did multiple things each week leading up to Xi Man on Oct. 11.”
Individually, Kennefick raised more than $950 during summer break. She also coached a fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, with its dance routine and skit. Kennefick and the rest of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon coaches expressed their connection and emotional stories to Autism Speaks, which resulted in the men of the chapter raising more than $550.

Kennefick also sent a press release to Anne Dudley, the marketing coordinator for both the Schools of Communication Studies and Visual Communication Design, explaining the philanthropic event, the connection to Autism Speaks and the chapter’s goal of raising $30,000. Dudley posted an article on the School of Communication Studies’ website encouraging people to donate to the cause. Due to Kennefick’s motivation and dedication to Autism Speaks throughout the summer and the fall semester, her individual fundraising total was acknowledged when she helped the Xi Man team present the total amount raised on stage at the end of the event. Three other members also were asked to present the total because of their hard work, motivation and large monetary contribution.

“Most of my contributions to the event were backstage,” Mazey said. “I was in charge of setting up fundraising events, answering questions about fundraising and motivating the chapter to raise as much money as possible. My favorite fundraising opportunities were those that allowed the whole Greek and Kent State University community to come together.”

Mazey continued, “Without the support of the entire Kent State community, the Greek community and the sisters of Alpha Xi Delta, the $36,333.24 we raised and the amazing campaign that Kennefick and I organized would not have been possible. Everyone has a connection to autism spectrum disorders in some way, and it is an amazing feeling to know that so many people care.”

Kent State Professors Collaborate to Teach Course on Impact of Smartphones

By Nicole Gennarelli

A Kent State University student checks her smartphone while walking on the Kent Campus. A new interdisciplinary course titled “Be Smarter Than Your Phone” teaches students about the technology that has made smartphones such a success.
A Kent State University student checks her smartphone while walking on the Kent Campus. A new interdisciplinary course titled “Be Smarter Than Your Phone” teaches students about the technology that has made smartphones such a success.

Kent State University undergraduate students can now learn about the technology that has made smartphones such a success in a new course titled “Be Smarter Than Your Phone.”

John West, trustees’ research professor in Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute®, created the course based on his career in science and technology. West is teaching this course with two other professors – Gary Hanson, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Colin Campbell, an assistant professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration.

“My work on display and display technology made me well aware of the smartphone,” West says. “The smartphone has had such a broad impact I thought it provided an excellent opportunity for an interdisciplinary course that shows how technology is only worthwhile in its application.”

Three professors were chosen to teach this course because the Liquid Crystal Institute, School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Business Administration were the areas impacted most by the smartphone.

“The benefit of the collaboration between the Liquid Crystal Institute, School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Business Administration is to see how developments in each discipline affect the other,” West says. “The smartphone is a success because of how it facilitates our communications. It combines a variety of technologies to make a useful device, and, as consumers, we are willing to pay for it. Companies can make huge profits by either providing the services that make the smartphone possible or by using the smartphone to promote their business.”

Currently, the class is offered only to Honors College students.

“It teaches the interdisciplinary nature of the advancements that change our world,” West says. “In the end, it is a literacy class. Through the smartphone, the course teaches students a perspective on how different disciplines come together to make innovation possible and successful. It looks at past innovations for examples and gives a perspective on how to view innovation in the future.”

West believes that students should take this class because it allows them to recognize that owning a smartphone impacts every aspect of our lives.

“It is perhaps the most important innovation of this generation and will have a lasting impact on our society,” he says. “We are still early in the emergence of the smartphone, but its impact is already evident.”

Shel Holtz to Keynote Sixth Annual YouToo Social Media Conference Focusing on Social Visualization, 

Want a FREE seat? Tweet or retweet anything about the conference using #YouToo2013 until Friday, April 12, and you could win. Read contest details.

Communication expert Shel Holtz will discuss social visualization strategies and tactics as the keynote speaker at the Akron Area Public Relations Society of America’s YouToo Social Media Conference on Friday, April 19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall.

“The rise of social visual communication, with platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, require communicators to think about how images can convey messages, tell stories and engage audiences when they stand alone,” Holtz said. “Gamification also presents communicators with new ways to engage audiences, adding game elements to more mundane activities. The question for both is, how do communicators apply them so they won’t just be another shiny object in the communications toolkit but rather help move the needle?”

Five-time winner of IABC’s Gold Quill award, Holtz has nearly 35 years of experience in organizational communications in corporate and consulting environments. His experience includes corporate public relations, crisis communications, media relations and more. Holtz also has expertise in strategic communications planning, communications research and the integration of technology into communications strategies. He speaks frequently on different topics, such as strategic organizational communication and the application of online technology. Holtz just celebrated his eighth year of podcasting with For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report.

Kevin Dugan will serve as the opening speaker at the social media conference. Dugan is the director of marketing at Empower Media Marketing and founder of the Bad Pitch Blog. He has won six national awards for his work in public relations. Dugan is an expert in social media, marketing communication, public relations and media relations.

The conference, co-hosted by Akron Area PRSA and the Kent State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), also will have breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon as well as panel discussions by experts discussing social visualization more in-depth. Other speakers include:

  • Luke Armour, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and coordinator of Flash Communications, Kent State University
  • Carolyn Fertig, digital producer, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • King Hill, senior vice president, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Allison Peltz, Social marketing strategist, Rosetta
  • David LaBelle, director of photojournalism in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent State University
  • Scott Linabarger, senior director, multichannel content marketing, Cleveland Clinic
  • Katelyn Luysterborg, social marketing specialist, Rosetta
  • Amy Martin, vice president of marketing and communications, The Centers for Families and Children
  • Heidi Modarelli-Frank, vice president/public relations, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Phong Nguyen, art director, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Kelly Piero, corporate communications, Diebold Incorporated
  • Jenn Yokley , manager of corporate communications, Quicken Loans Arena

Students can attend the conference for just $40.

“As a student who has attended past conferences, I can say from experience the YouToo Social Media Conference is a great way to network with professionals and learn more about the industry,” said Taylor Titus, a senior public relations student who is the student co-chair of the event. “I also gained a lot of tangible knowledge I can use now in my school work and future career. The conference is a great experience for upcoming young public relations professionals, and I highly encourage you to attend.”


Students will benefit additionally from this year’s student-only development track at the conference. A student-only morning breakout session provides a unique Q&A with Holtz as he talks about how he got into the industry and relates his experience to the students. An afternoon wrap-up session hosted by the Akron Area PRSA Young Pro’s group for students will help put the day in perspective by helping students apply what they have learned during the conference to their school work and internships.  View the entire schedule here.


Benefits for attending the conference include:

  • Learning about the latest trends in social visualization.
  • Networking with professionals from around the Northeast Ohio area.
  • Gaining hands-on experience for students from the student-only development sessions.

To register for the YouToo Social Media Conference, visit Registration closes at noon on Thursday, April 18. Also, find YouToo on Facebook and Twitter.

The Akron Area Chapter of Public Relations Society of America is part of the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals helping to advance the profession and the professional. Its nearly 115 local members represent business and industry, counseling firms, independent practitioners, military, government, associations, hospitals, schools, professional services firms and nonprofit organizations.

The Public Relations Student Society of America is a national public relations organization that provides professional development opportunities for students. PRSSA aims to develop highly qualified future public relations professionals. The organization has more than 10,000 members at hundreds of universities across the country. PRSSA Kent is an active student organization on the Kent State Campus.

Class Teaches Social Media Skills for Business and Professional Use

By Nicole Gennarelli

Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest and Instagram are apps people access everyday on their smart phones or tablets without thinking about how it can benefit them and their careers. Social media has grown and will continue to grow, changing the way that people communicate day-to-day.

Social Media Strategies, an online course that allows students to engage in many hands-on and useful learning activities, was introduced to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in spring 2012.

This course, which will be offered again this summer, from May 13 to June 29, is intended to help students and faculty understand the impact social media can have on businesses, society and culture. The course curriculum shows students how social media can benefit their lives by incorporating research, literature and technology into assignments.

“JMC Public Relations Associate Professor Bill Sledzik started the process for this class, and we worked together to outline the course content. From there, I created the content and online lectures,” said Stefanie Moore, JMC assistant professor and instructor of Social Media Strategies. COMM Associate Professor Jeff Child, Ph.D., also assisted in the early planning stages of the course.

At the end of the course, students will develop a strategic social media plan for personal and professional use. This course is open to all majors across campus wanting to learn more skills or perfect their existing knowledge in social media.

“Students have sent me notes saying how much they enjoyed and valued the course,” Moore says. “One of my smaller successes is when students participate in an online discussion that isn’t even required because they enjoy talking about the topic. Social media and technology impact all of us, not just PR majors.”

The class occupancy started with less than 30 students the first semester it was offered and is now full at 50 students, with several students waiting for a seat. The course will be offered again this summer beginning May 13.

Elizabeth Holton, senior advertising major, says she is a social media addict in her personal and professional life. “I say that in the most positive way possible. My passion for media, marketing, and advertising made this course especially intriguing. After completion of Social Media Strategies, I was able to take my prior knowledge of viral marketing and improve it by generating creative, personable, and original online marketing approaches.”

Holton currently works for Undergraduate Student Government as the director of programming where she does a lot of online strategic marketing for upcoming concerts.

“One of the most beneficial things I learned to do was how to advertise via promotions on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,” she says. “These tools help me to promote my organization, concert and myself.”

Social Media Strategies takes everything you will learn in a communication, advertising, PR, and writing course and implements it into one online course that is practical for those students who want to work in the world of mass communications, says Holton.

“Personal branding is something that has been incorporated into a lot of my social media work,” Holton says. “I continue to use the skills I’ve gained in this course in my personal life, school work and job.”

Moore says in addition to the two major projects in the class, she looks for critical thinking and clear and effective writing in the online discussions.

“All students are looking for a job when they leave college,” Moore says. “It’s helpful for them to know how to network and market themselves to potential employers both online and offline.”

Summer registration is available online via Flashline. For more information about the course, email Moore at