Monday, July 09, 2012

Stepping out

Alright, time to close this one down, but here are some other places to stay in touch:
  • Twitter 
    • @tkell for me
    • @UHMCOM for the University of Hawaii School of Communications 

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Richard Branson talks PR theory (at least how I see it)

    This Q&A with Richard Branson about Virgin Atlantic's "social relations team" is a good case illustrating some points from theory and research.

    real interaction (i.e., contingency interactivity)
    "As a first step in addressing your problem, make sure your site is set up not just to handle transactions, but also for communication – and that when customers leave comments or send emails your team always follows up."
    distributed public relations
    "Beyond customer service, you may need to consider that the old divisions between advertising, marketing and public relations have broken down..."
    I like how he includes advertising, marketing and public relations on top of customer service -- the more points of contact with the organization, the better. It makes for a better ratio of communicators in the organization to communicators in the publics.

    recruiting/retaining the internally motivated (i.e., believers) for the job

    "To succeed, such efforts must be supported from the top. David Cush, CEO of Virgin America, freed up the management of these social media channels from the company’s classic hierarchy. His social media team is made up of 20-somethings who have been given broad guidelines and then let loose.These employees, who were 'born digital,' have placed Facebook and Twitter at the center of the company’s communication strategy."
    Also worth noting is how Branson handles his communication with Entrepreneur readers. He says he has tried to answer much of his own e-mail at Virgin. Obviously, he can't have one-on-one conversations with everyone, but along with the team mentioned above, the Q&A format shows a bit of voice.

    "Editor's Note: Entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly shares his business experience and advice with readers. What follows is the latest edited round of insightful responses. Ask him a question and your query might be the inspiration for a future column."

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    Editors' thoughts on social media issue of Journal of Public Relations Research

    Karen Miller Russell serves as editor of the Journal of Public Relations Research. I don't use the word "serves" lightly here, especially after taking on the job of guest editor for a special issue on social media. The issue is slated for publication later this year as volume 22, issue 3. She and I are now cross-posting to both our blogs on the experience from editors' perspectives. This is a good deal for me because her blog gets a lot more readers than mine.

    Karen's Perspective:
    Probably the most important decision an editor makes is determining which reviewers will get the manuscript, because reviewers have far more influence than they probably realize. Although reviewers ultimately provide only recommendations, and the editor has the final say, collectively the two or three reviewers per manuscript provide an assessment that would be pretty hard for an editor to ignore -- particularly because, if I've done a good job with selection, the reviewer is more expert in the paper's topic or method than I am. I typically invite two members of the editorial board, one with topic expertise and one with method expertise, to review each manuscript, and usually (but not always) invite a third, outside person. This gives different and often younger scholars an opportunity to participate in the process and allows me to compare their assessments with those of more established scholars.

    JPRR has four categories of recommendation -- reject, revise and resubmit, accept with minor revisions, and accept -- but I've learned to pay less attention to the recommendation and more attention to the reviewer's comments, because I've realized that one person's reject is another person's R&R, or one person's R&R is another person's minor revisions. Thus, if a reviewer asks for major revisions (such as calling for more data collection or reanalysis of the data) but doesn't give me a sense that the research will make a significant contribution to public relations theory development even if those revisions are made, I would consider that a "reject" even if the reviewer called it a "revise and resubmit." [Note: I'm working on revising the reviewing guidelines, and this will include some clarification of the categories.]

    After I receive the reviews, I read them carefully and then go back to the manuscript to compare my impressions with those of the reviewers. As I've written about before, the most important consideration is always the paper's contribution to theory development. I am willing to work with authors through two or even three revisions, and I've copy-edited manuscripts when reviewers have expressed frustration with the writing or organization, if the experts are convinced that it makes an important contribution to the literature.

    But that's the major difference between a regular issue, in which articles can be reviewed multiple times and the ulitmate criterion is quality of contribution to the body of knowledge, and a special issue, which has a specific deadline and a set number of pages that must be filled by that deadline.

    Tom's Perspective:
    One of many reasons I’m in academics today is that I dread the cold call. I’d get a knot in my stomach when I was an intern at Ketchum in Atlanta years back, knowing my day would be full of pitch calls to busy people with more important things on their minds. James McCroskey might call it “situational communication apprehension.” Given the choice of grinding out pitch calls or grinding out years of grad school I chose the latter.

    So one of my biggest concerns taking on this journal issue was how I was going to recruit reviewers. To my delight, my apprehension was unfounded. The vast majority of people I contacted fell into one of two categories: those who planned to submit an article themselves and those who were ready and willing to review.

    Social media experts with academic track records and accomplished academics with an interest in social media were quick to offer help. Not surprisingly Twitter and blog versions of the call were helpful recruiting tools. I also paid attention to methodological and content expertise in assigning manuscripts to reviewers.

    The same enthusiasm for the project that drove reviewers to volunteer also drove many of them to offer amazingly detailed critiques and suggestions. In turn, authors who were invited to resubmit took their lumps and vigorously revised (in fact most probably didn’t even see it as taking lumps). With each iteration, the special issue looked better and better.

    But this is where the unique nature of a special issue becomes most apparent. We had a calendar date when the revisions had to stop and a finite number of articles had to be selected. Until that deadline loomed, I was gratefully able to serve mostly as conduit between reviewers and authors. Later in the process though, I felt the gravity of being the only one with a full view of all the submissions and all the reviews through several rounds.

    Here are a few of the dilemmas that I think are unique to a special-issue project:
    • Figuring the right fit. One of the articles submitted reported an outstanding piece of research, but the reviewers and I did not feel that it fit the theme of the issue well. I had to refer that one back to Karen for consideration for an open issue of JPRR (if the author(s) choose to go that route). I hated to let it go, but "fit" with the specific topic ended up being a deciding factor.
    • Assuming anonymity. In one case, a reviewer saw an author’s attempt to block out a self-citation (i.e., XXXX, 2008) as an editorial oversight. When I mentioned that I thought the author had done this intentionally to preserve the blind review process, the reviewer wrote back, “I've never seen such a practice. And I don't think that would protect the anonymity. A quick Google search and I can find out.” Yet in a separate context, I've seen a JPRR reviewer complain that citing a newly in-press piece makes it too easy to identify the author. With this special issue centered around such a specific new area for scholarship, I’m certain that the contributors and reviewers are often familiar with each other’s work. As editor, I tried to avoid having anyone review another’s work if I knew the two to have a close connection. But the Google point is well taken. All three parties (authors, reviewers, and editors) have a role in trying to make the process work. Karen, this might be worth some consideration in the revised reviewing guidelines.
    • Editorial overrides on deadline. One of the most conscientious and dedicated reviewers will see in print both articles that he/she recommended rejecting. On four different occasions -- two rounds of review for two different papers -- this reviewer offered meticulous critiques. Based on how long it takes me to review journal submissions, I would estimate that this reviewer invested more than a week’s worth of research productivity in this issue (or a week's worth of vacation for those of you on spring break!). And the reward? Being overridden twice. If this had been a normal journal timeline, we might have been able to let the R&R process run its course a little longer before committing a decision. (See Karen’s comment above about one person’s 'reject' being another’s 'R&R.') Anyhow, the upshot is that the two articles are much better now than they were before the process, and the issue is stronger because of that.
    Generating interest was never a problem. No pitching required! In fact, the greater challenge was making the most of the exchange once everyone was engaged… Almost sounds like a topic for a paper on social media.

    When the issue lands in your mailbox, if you learn from what you read, thank the authors and the reviewers.

    Posted via web from Tom Kelleher's posterous

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Just missed the front page

    We're all glad the tsunami was a non-event. But we just missed making the front page of The Honolulu Advertiser today. At least Miles and Bud and I know we were in good company!

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    John Temple, Editor of Peer News, to speak to COM 201 Students

    In COM 201, Introduction to Communication, we spend a lot of time talking about how technology and demographic trends are challenging the functions of journalism and communication that are so important to our democracy. Indentifying the problems is the easy part. Finding solutions is a little harder. One of the most interesting ideas on the solution side is Peer News. John Temple was hired as its first editor by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. On his blog, Temple quotes Omidyar to explain the direction this project is taking:

    Key quote: "Our goal is to create the new civic square. We want to provide a platform for people to come together as a community. We hope to encourage people to become more engaged in the world around them and provide them with ways to respectfully discuss important issues with their neighbors."

    And they're looking for interns. This could turn out to be an all-time case of right-time-right-place.

    Related Links:



    Posted via web from Tom Kelleher's posterous

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Testing posterous

    View from office window (Diamond Head behind tree).

    Sent from my iPhone

    Posted via email from Tom Kelleher's posterous

    Internship Availability

    Begin forwarded message:


    I hope all is well!  We haven’t talked in a while about internship opportunities.  Please pass this along to your students.  We have a few new updates for McNeil Wilson Communications, and some great opportunities for students this Fall semester.  Please note the new details and contact below.  We are always looking for bright minds and new talent.

    Nathan Kam
    Vice President, Travel & Tourism
    McNeil Wilson Communications
    1003 Bishop Street, 9th Floor
    Honolulu, HI  96813-6429
    Main:    808.531.0244
    Direct:  808.539.3471

    McNeil Wilson Communications Internship Duties: Interns will assist account executives and coordinators on the following: create press releases, fact sheets, mailings, etc.; assist with media scanning, media clippings and reports; participate in conferences and client meetings when possible.  McNeil Wilson Communications has two types of public relations internships – one focused on travel & tourism, and the other is focused on public affairs.

    Application Instructions:  Send an email to with ”INTERNSHIP REQUEST” in the subject line.  We will send students a form to fill out, requesting a brief resume/qualifications.  

    Please let me know if you have any questions!


    Posted via email from Tom Kelleher's posterous

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    Balancing Voice with Professionalism

    In the Public Relations Tactics class today, we'll discuss online profiles. The tricky part for professional communicators at any stage of their careers is how to speak with a real voice and stay relaxed with social media while also the avoiding pitfalls of mucking up your online presence. A couple of links for discussion:

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Special Issue of JPRR on Social Media -- More details

    Manuscripts for the special issue are due to the Journal of Public Relations Research manuscript central site at by September 1, 2009. (See prior post for call for submissions.)

    If you've been invited to serve as a reviewer, please enter "social media" as a keyword when you create/update your reviewer profile.

    If you are submitting a manuscript, please note at the top of the abstract and in the appropriate space in the online submission form that the submission is a "candidate for the special issue on social media."

    Also, if you know of anyone else doing research in this area who would be good to review or to submit work, please let me know or ask them to get in touch with me. I need all the help I can get to make this important issue of JPRR go over as well as it deserves to.


    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Special Issue of Journal of Public Relations Research on Social Media

    Stoked. Last week Kaye Sweetser mentioned that Karen Miller Russell may be interested in running a special issue of Journal of Public Relations Research on social media next year. A few tweets later (with @kaye and @KarenRussell), it appears I'm lined up as guest editor.

    Any public relations researchers out there want to help? I'm already looking for reviewers and trying to get people thinking of ideas for good article submissions.

    I'm working on the initial call for submissions. Let me know if you've got any suggestions. The call may sound a little stuffy at the moment, but I do want to get articles that go beyond the breathless buzz-hype type reports I get every morning in my e-mail. (If you're on the same PR trade mailing lists that I'm on, then you probably know what I'm talking about.)

    The Journal of Public Relations Research seeks scholarly articles for a special issue on public relations and social media.

    This issue will include research that conceptualizes social media clearly and offers empirical evidence to build public relations theory. While the technologies of social media change rapidly, the underlying implications of participatory, interactive, ‘de-massified’ media on public relations are more permanent. This issue will offer a venue for discussion of what social media mean for public relations.

    The guest editor encourages articles serving the interests of professionals looking to make sense of how social media influence their day-to-day work, and how their work in public relations influences the development of social media. Critical approaches are welcome too. In any case, the long-term value of such contributions hinges on the journal’s primary mission to deliver scholarship that creates, tests, or expands public relations theory.

    details on process, deadlines, etc. to follow…..

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Forrester Report on Blogging & Trust

    Forrester today released a new report on corporate blogging and trust (registration required, but free). I'm glad to see they ask, "Is a corporate blog worth doing?" Rather than just assuming that everyone should be blogging, Josh Bernoff and his co-authors actually acknowledge that some blogs are not worth the effort. Of course, that's a hard point to ignore when they report that only 16% in the survey said they trusted company blogs.

    Among the tips offered:
    "Honest and transparent blogs will get noticed. Those who write in a corporate voice will be ignored and ineffective. What types of blogs will consumers trust? Those that reveal tidbits about what’s going on inside the company, those that comment intelligently on customer problems and competitor products, and those that speak like people. Robert Scoble pioneered this technique at Microsoft years ago, but it’s still hard for companies to figure out."
    Thanks to Steve Rubel <@steverubel> for tweeting this and Mihaela Vorvoreanu<@prprof_mv> for re-tweeting.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    ZDNet series on how Fortune 500's use social media

    Jennifer Leggio at ZDNet is doing a series on how Fortune 500s are using social media. Her latest entry on Newell Rubbermaid features an interview with Bert DuMars, VP of of e-business and interactive marketing.
    Our strategy is to listen to our consumers first, understand how they would like to engage with us and/or how they would like us to engage with them... This has led us to start small, experiment and see what works. We then expand the particular tactic based on consumer feedback that they are receptive and that we have developed a level of trust with them in the conversation.
    Applied theory: two-way conversation leads to trust as a relational outcome, which leads to more conversation. It's also analogue to social penetration theory.

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    NYT on corporate blogging, bad news and PR

    In an article from this morning's NYT:
    "Unlike more traditional firms, many of today’s Web companies were built on the mission of creating transparency for users. Executives have lived that mission, blogging about company successes. Now that bad times are coming, some of them feel the need to make that public, too. A blog post also comes across as more heartfelt than a press release with canned quotations."
    This reminds me to mention that my article in queue for Journal of Communication won't be out until next year's first edition. In the meantime, I believe I can send a copy of the 'in-press' manuscript if anyone's interested (this was the larger-scale follow-up to the JCMC study).

    Here's the abstract:
    Organizations face unique challenges in communicating interactively online with publics that comprise dauntingly large numbers of individuals. This online survey examined the perceptions of people who had experienced interactive communication with a large consumer-tech-industry company via organizational blogs. Those reporting the greatest exposure to the blogs in this study were more likely to perceive the organization as communicating with a conversational voice. Conversational human voice and communicated relational commitment (relational maintenance strategies) correlated positively with trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality (relational outcomes). Building on prior research, this survey supports a model of distributed public relations – one in which key outcomes of public relations are fostered by a wide range of people communicating interactively while representing an organization.

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    UH PR Tactics Class Samples SMPRs, Yogurt

    We've been working on our social media press releases (SMPRs) in COM 459, Public Relations Tactics. This is part of what has turned into a multi-week assignment. For the first part, we wrote traditional news releases for a local yogurt store that just opened across the street from campus. (News releases for class use only, not for real distribution.) Then we discussed the difference between social media releases and traditional releases. We decided we needed to take a field trip over to Yogurtland to collect some multimedia resources and sample the product. Being the conscientious teacher that I am, I made sure to pretest the product before proceeding (yum!).

    We did run into some obstacles:
    1. the computers in the class lab only run Safari browsers, which did not work well with PRX Builder, and
    2. even with other browsers, students (and their professor) had trouble loading multimedia elements.

    For those of you on PROpenMic, you might want to check the site for another SMPR builder in the works that might be worth a look.

    Anyhow, I modified the assignment to allow students to hand in mock-ups of the SMPRs in MS Word that illustrated how the writing, feeds and multimedia components would work together.

    This week, we'll continue to discuss:
    • technical issues, and lessons learned from these issues,
    • pros and cons of SMPRs vis-a-vis traditional press releases, and
    • the broader function of social media tactics in public relations strategy.
    For more details on this, check out the SMPR I did on the SMPR assignment (a meta-SMPR?). See also Kaye Sweetser's SMPR assignment at UGA.

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Issue tracking via Twittter

    Got a call and e-mail last week from a reporter at one of the local dailies who was working on a story about the very public debate over building a rail transit system in Honolulu. (Just Google "rail transit system Honolulu" if you're wondering.) She was particularly interested in how pro- and anti-rail groups are using online media.

    This sets us up well for a discussion of our title topic for our summer class, COM 459, Special Topics: Public Relations Tactics. The idea is to learn about traditional public relations tactics as well as their online offshoots.

    Anyhow here's class activity #1:
    Issue Tracking via Twitter

    Primary Objectives
    • Practice using social media technology (in this case, twitter)
    • Identify traditional public relations tactics used in a locally contested issue
    • Identify online public relations tactics in a locally contested issue
    • Use social media to track issues in real time from disperse locations
    • Discuss ethics and effects of tactics identified
    • Discuss use of social media for issue tracking
    1. Discuss social media in class (perhaps with trade publication reading for intro; i.e., To Tweet or not to tweet)
    2. Demonstrate twitter online with on-screen example
    3. Students sign up for twitter accounts as necessary
    4. Students find and follow each other's tweets online (see Karen Russell's 48 hours of Twitter assignment for one method of doing this)
    5. Students tweet at least once every 12 hours before next class when they find an example of a public relations tactic related to the issue.
    6. Follow up with in-class discussion of:
      1. Public relations tactics related to issue
        • range of tactics
        • efficacy of tactics
        • ethics of tactics
      2. Class social media use
        • reactions to twitter in general
        • assessment of technology for issue tracking
        • benefits/downsides of working as a dispersed group
      3. Implications for public relations practice
    • Success in setting up accounts/following others?
    • Met "tweeting" criteria?
    • Identified appropriate examples?
    • Quality of follow-up discussion
    Mahalo to Kaye Sweetser and Karen Miller Russell for sharing their ideas on how to use twitter in PR classes. See Kaye's teaching tweets and Karen's Teaching PR: "48 Hours of Twitter" class assignment for more.

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    "More journalists moving to PR"

    It's sad to hear my hometown paper (The Palm Beach Post) is cutting back, but I'm not surprised at the other angle mentioned by Sarah Schewe of Editors Weblog - more journalists switching over to public relations.

    With Web 2.0, the skill sets of journalism and public relations may overlap even more than they used to. The values, however, are still different (i.e., public relations people do value advocacy). And there's no shortage of advocacy online. Fairness and balance may be the first casualties of shrinking newsrooms.

    For what it's worth to those outside academe, we're still trying to teach those values and an understanding of the differences between reporting and advocacy.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    ICA paper presentation on Slideshare

    Kelleher ICA 2008

    From: tkell, 1 minute ago

    Tom Kelleher's ICA presentation on experiment with organizational blogs and public relations contingencies (for ICA on May 25, 2008) Key finding: Not all PR people are hyped on social media.

    SlideShare Link

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    School's out

    Just posted my out-of-office reply. Kenny Chesney lyrics ringing in my ear:

    School's out and the night's roll in

    Man, just like a long lost friend

    You ain't seen in a while

    You can't help but smile