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'Social Media Social' draws interested students, panel discusses online etiquette, practical advice

By Farah Casalini
On November 29, 2011

  • Suzanne McDonald speaks about the Harrington School at URI and the students' future in communications. Alex Bouthillier


University of Rhode Island students and faculty and local business representatives attended the Public Relations Society's (PRS) "Social Media Social," featuring two keynote speakers, a panel discussion and a networking session with ice cream served.

PRS co-president Kari Lukovics said the idea came to her at 2 a.m. and after a month of a half of "pulling on networking strings" she said after obtaining sponsorship from the Harrington School of Communication and Media, the PRS was ready to host a dynamic for discussion and networking.

"We wanted to put something together as a collaborative effort to connect with the community," Lukovics said.

The Memorial Union Ballroom was filled with people eager to not only learn about the importance of Internet etiquette and self-promotion, but also to possibly find future employment opportunities.

URI professor of social media strategies Suzanne McDonald was the first to give a keynote speech, discussing the challenges of "digital natives" "non-natives" and ways for them to overcome their challenges.

"Both natives and non-natives have to figure out how to do things quickly," she said. "They have to be quick to skill up."

Director of Styleweek Shawn Simmons gave the second keynote speech, discussing the importance of digital self-promotion through blogging, creating an online portfolio and using social media.

Afterwards, four panelists addressed issues from both the audience directly and a live Twitter feed displayed on the screen stretched across a wall.

The panel was led by URI associate communication professor Adam Roth, 2nd also  featured Joannah Portman-Daley, the associate director of technology for the department of writing and rhetoric, Brian Hodge, social media manager at, Nichole Wardle, URI alumni and director of sales for Longwood Events, and Kevin Vine, head of interactive marketing at Dunkin' Brands.

The panelists discussed topics such as personal branding, correct social media use and the opportunities that are available to students because of their extensive digital experience.

"It's an exciting time," Hodge said. "We are the ones doing [the social media networking]."

"We are the lucky ones," Vine said.

Lukovics hopes that students will walk away from the event with better social media knowledge and possible career prospects.

"It's a great opportunity to meet, network and learn about a new and emerging technology," she said.

Junior public relations and communication studies major Katie Sanders said she enjoyed the opportunity to "learn from the best."

"The conference really illustrates the energy that the Harrington School of Communication and Media embraces," Regina Bell, director of the public relations program, said.

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