Professionals, students discuss effects of social media at YouToo Social Media Conference

Jessica Darling

Students and media professionals gathered Friday, April 10, for the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference on Friday, April 10.

The Kent State chapter and the Akron Professional chapter of Public Relations Society of America organized the event, hosted by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“It is just a really good chance to network and brand yourself,” said Taylor Meade, sophomore public relations student and Kent PRSSA/PRSA liaison. “We have speakers all day that are from different sectors: public relations, communications, marketing and business.”

The day consisted of seven different sessions with professional speakers breaking down specific things to do with social media.

“I hope today really breaks down how things are done in the public relations field,” Meade said. “I want students to take away what they could potentially be doing one day.

“I hope this helps them figure out where they want to go with it,” Meade said. “There’s so many professionals here, and I hope students can connect with someone and it can lead to something in the future.”

The all-day event started with keynote speaker Mark W. Smith, mobile web editor for The Washington Post.

“I do sort of want to set the tone by saying social media isn’t even that terribly interesting,”  Smith said. “People think that when we go to social media, we have to completely repaint how we communicate to each other. We have to use certain words — there’s a certain trick to display things there, but it’s really just the new digital marketplace.”

In today’s society, it is easy to say people have lost the skill to communicate because they do not communicate face-to-face as much,  he said.

“People are building new skills,” Smith said. “Yes, they are different skills, but it’s too easy and too quick to say they do not know how to communicate. They’re just doing it in different platforms.”

The second keynote speaker, Gini Dietrich, author of “Spin Sucks,” later talked about how easy it is to receive both true and false information due to the different platforms of communication.

With the media platforms for communication, different publications rush to be the first one with the big scoop on what is going on, Dietrich said. This leads to publications publishing false information because they do not wait for legitimate proof before publishing.

“Really dig into the facts,” Dietrich said. “It takes time. You won’t be the first one there, and people are not going to be knocking on your door to figure out where the news will be coming from, but you’re going to have long-term effects.”

Dietrich said it is better to wait for the long-term effects rather than the short-term effects.

“You’re going to build trust, credibility, authenticity and engagement,”  Dietrich said. “This is what we want.”

Students agreed with what Dietrich had to say about honesty and credibility.

“Honesty is the best way to get things across,” said Ohio Northern University junior multimedia journalism major Ashlee McDonnell. “Don’t focus on short term because that might work not, but it’s not giving you lasting results.”

McDonnell also said that credibility is something that’s pushed onto students while in school.  

“Seeing someone in the real world, saying you need to focus on long-term, not right now, because your credibility is at stake,” McDonnell said. “That’s one of the big things I took away.”

Along with the two keynote speakers, there were also opportunities for students to attend breakout sessions that suited their personal interests throughout the day. Some sessions included “I Hate You, Signed, Anonymous,” “Dazzle the District” and “Bridge the Gap: Be the Smartest Millenial in the Room.”

Jessica Darling is the CCI reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

*Editor’s Note: Taylor Meade is also a reporter for The Kent Stater.