PR Open Mic connects students, faculty, and practitioners

Posted on April 14, 2008 9:55 am by | Presentations | Social networks

Shel HoltzRobert French, the social media-promoting PR professor at Auburn University, has launched a Ning-based social network for PR students and faculty called PR Open Mic. He’s also thrown the door open to practitioners in hopes that a dialogue will emerge that ultimately improves PR curricula and benefits students.

As of this morning, the group boasts 382 members (including me). And, unlike some Ning networks that almost instantly enter stagnation mode, PR Open Mic is off to a vibrant start.

Phil Gomes, the Edelman Digital stalwart, has started a group called “Ask Phil.” And rather than just answer questions, he produces videos. In fact, one of the first questions—Kaye Sweetser, from the University of Georgia—came in the form of a video asking about the real value of research in PR. (I’d bet my iPod that Kaye knows the answer, but figured a reply from a practitioner would make an impression on students.) Phil’s answer included an interview with Edelman US CEO Matt Harrington:

Find more videos like this on PROpenMic

A few of the other groups have emerged around geography—one for European issues, another for students for whom English is not their first language, another for UK members. Robert has posted an item addressing the global diversity of the membership, which shows about one-third of the sign-ups come from Europe. Additionally, there’s a faculty group and one for sharing PR syllabi and resources.

Students ask good questions, as evidenced by the discussion forum, which is host to queries like, “What do PR writers REALLY have to know about AP Style?” and “Maximizing PR when there really is no budget.” The events section is getting loaded up with conference and podcamp info, and nobody seems shy about uploading photos and videos.

As with all Ning networks, anybody who joins PR Open Mic gets a blog, although there hasn’t been much time for many members (other than Robert) to post to them.

I emailed Robert about his goals for PR Open Mic:

I’ve dreamed of a network that will connect public relations faculty and students from around the world.  One of the truly positive aspects of social media is the beneficial impact it may have on education. Connecting all of these people in one site will, I hope, create an environment of sharing and learning in a casual informal way. I actually believe that the site may, on its own, serve as a seminar or colloquium for colleges and universities.  Faculty can pool enough resources and, with the aid of streaming video or audio, create an entire class interviewing practitioners, faculty and students on PR practice around the world.  Beyond that, the site may serve as a connection point for finding internships and employment.  Realizing all of the students I’ve had who have already found jobs (or jobs found them) through their blogs, this aspect of the site offers great promise, too.

A lot of the usual suspects have joined from the PR social space—Elizabeth Albrycht, Jeremy Pepper, Constantin Basturea, Kami Huse, Paull Young, Eric Eggertson…the list goes on. I’m looking forward to interaction between these voices and those in the academic world.

Hat tip to Phil Gomes.



  • 1.Thank you, Shel. Very happy you have joined us in PROpenMic. Here's hoping we don't enter that stagnation stage. That's a worry I've had, too.

    Since we started this at the conclusion of a semester (and before summer), I believe we will see greater growth when summer classes start. But, it is Fall, actually, where I see the possibility for the site to really mushroom with membership growth and activity. We'll see.

    Thanks again.

    Robert French | April 2008 | Auburn, AL

  • 2.My involvement and joining has less to do with the crowd, and more to do with my involvement and sometimes mentoring that I have done the past three years (is it three, Robert?) with Auburn students.

    Robert told me about it, and I joined.

    Jeremy Pepper | April 2008 | LA

  • 3."The usual crowd" is a pretty impressive group, Jeremy, and I doubt any of them joined because others did. Rather, I think smart people who are willing to share their expertise in this field tend to gravitate to some of the same venues.

    Shel Holtz | April 2008 | Concord, CA

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