Tag Archives: Social Media

Traveling this summer? Don’t forget Flat Abe.

24 Jun

Balloons released with postcards.There are time honored traditions that every elementary student takes part in. I remember tying a postcard to a balloon and letting it fly, hoping whenever the flight ended someone would find my postcard, note where it landed and send it back to me. Some kids send out messages in bottles or the more traditional chain letter. The lesson in these exercises is to expand the worldview of the student. To show a child that there is so much more than their small insulated community. Similarly, the beloved children’s book Flat Stanley (by Jeff Brown in 1964) has evolved to the Flat Stanley project. In the Flat Stanley children’s books, Stanley travels the world in envelopes. Students who read the books send the paper doll and written notes to students in other parts of the world through conventional mail and e-mail. Children exchange ideas, photographs, questions and culture with students overseas. Once again, a world view is expanded and connections are made.

LMU’s Flat Abe project is aimed at providing a way for LMU students and alumni to share their blue and grey pride and document their travels. Flat Abe can be requested through the LMU Alumni page (alumni.LMUnet.edu/FlatAbe) and getting started is as easy as:

  1. Request Flat Abe
  2. Receive Flat Abe
  3. Take Flat Abe pictures
  4. Share Flat Abe pictures
Flat Abe in Zimbabwe.

Flat Abe visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe with Bill Hoffard.

As the alumni page explains, “Abe represents all of the LMU family and our impact on the world, because we represent LMU no matter where we are. Whether we are relaxing on the beach or volunteering our time on mission trips to underserved communities, we are carrying LMU’s legacy with us. And who better to bring with us on those trips but Abe himself?”

Since the program began Flat Abe has had some interesting journeys. He has celebrated important milestones including births, marriages and more. He has made it to quite a few locations including Labadee, Haiti; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; and US cities in Florida, California, Texas, Nevada, and Tennessee. Flat Abe also hung out with some famous people like Clare Bowen from ABC’s Nashville.

Clare Bowen and Flat Abe.

Flat Abe and LMU Alum Jamie Mihalko met Clare Bowen of ABC’s Nashville, where else? In Nashville at a Predator’s Game.

So if summer adventures are on your horizon, don’t forget to pack Flat Abe and share your journeys with the LMU community. LMU Director of Alumni Services Donnie Lipscomb did just that earlier this week when he landed in Shannon, Ireland on his way to Galway with the current LMU Alumni Travel trip to the Emerald Isle.


Honest Abe in the Emerald Isle.

Flat Abe arrived in Ireland earlier this week.


Emergency info… Where do you turn?

1 Jul
Current weather radar from WBIR. Source: WBIR.com.

Current weather radar from WBIR. Source: WBIR.com.

With thunder booming in the distance and my mobile device blowing up with emergency alerts, it’s fitting that today’s blog topic is access to emergency information at LMU. (Oops, and now the power if flickering here at Kresge. ) Severe weather, especially on the LMU Main Campus, can impact service to our students as well as daily operations on campus, so it is very important for everyone to know where to turn for accurate and up-to-date information.

I recently attended the College Media Conference 2013, where the preconference workshop was dedicated to Crisis Communication in a Digital Age. With session titles like “Navigating the Web of Tweets, Texts, IMs, Alerts, Posts, and More in a Campus Crisis,” “Designing and Implementing Effective Crisis Communications” and “Managing a Campus Event Inflamed by Social Media” social media took center stage and the case studies included schools impacted by Superstorm Sandy and even Penn State. The biggest takeaway for me was that staying silent no matter the crisis should not be an option. The new digital age means that you can easily push your message out through multiple channels and update it regularly.

And beyond updating often, it is imperative that we as communicators make sure our constituents know where to go for information. Regimented plans are important, but it is equally important to know where the plan could fall apart and how to move forward if that should happen. Public relations practitioners know that conversations and critiques will take place in the digital realm where everyone with a twitter account becomes their own news source. A reporter from USA Today even commented that reporters use twitter as a tip line.

So what is the LMU plan? And where will our emergency info be posted? Without going into specifics on the plan, weather-based decisions, such as delays and closures, will be posted to LMU’s internal Pathway site as well as the LMU website and Facebook page. The University’s main switchboard will also carry a recorded message with updates. You can also get updates from LMU’s official tweeters including LMU_Sam, LMUKate and LMUAmy. Additionally, I attempt to keep the Knoxville media updated on the LMU status but that can be complicated due to our 11 Extended Learning Sites which often run on a different schedule.

It’s important to remember that weather in East Tennessee changes quickly and varies greatly from one area to another. Many of our students, faculty and staff commute great distances and conditions at your home may be very different than those on campus. Personal safety should always be the determining factor in your decision to travel in adverse conditions. This winter I saw a lot of angry tweets about LMU operating when roads were icy or conversely why LMU was closed or delayed when roads were pretty clear. As someone who has been a target of some of the tweets, I ask that you keep in mind that in most cases I’m simply communicating a decision that has been made by someone else.

In most snow/ice events, the LMU message will be delivered through the channels discussed above. The main exception to this is when safety and security of the campus is jeopardized due to severe weather such as tornados, etc. In that case an alert will be broadcast through the University system. This is also the system that would send notification if there was a safety concern such as an active shooter or bomb threat on campus. This is a subscription-based system, so be sure you sign up to receive alerts by clicking here (http://www.lmunet.edu/curstudents/emergency/index.shtml).

Every crisis is different and they all offer different challenges. As one of the presenters shared at the College Media Conference, “We told everyone to check our website for the updates during Superstorm Sandy. But when we lost power, some of our hosting and updating abilities were taken away. The power outages were so wide spread that many of our constituents couldn’t access the web anyway. That is when Twitter became our biggest ally. As long as their charges kept, they could check Twitter on their mobile devices.”

So where do you go for LMU crisis updates? The answer is everywhere. Follow us on Twitter, check the website, call the main number, tune into the media and check your phones.

Free to Tweet

15 Dec

One of the greatest legacies our founding fathers left the United States were the ability to adapt and change the very foundation this country was built on. Two hundred and twenty years ago today the Bill of Rights were added to the U.S. Constitution.

Among the first 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights were important laws to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. Perhaps the most influential of bunch is the very first one. For over two centuries, U.S. citizens have been guaranteed the right to speak freely thanks to the First Amendment. No doubt, our forefathers could not have predicted the new world of communications that has evolved over time. With every generation, the First Amendment has preserved free expression and empowered the American people.

Today, there are many planned celebrations to honor this great anniversary. Yesterday on Twitter I found one that I feel embodies the legacy of the First Amendment in this new world of communication advances. It’s an online contest that will award 22 – $5,000 scholarships. Dubbed “Free to Tweet,” the contest encourages high school and college students nationwide to celebrate their First Amendment rights on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

Below is a summary of the contest –

Beginning at midnight on Dec. 15, students ages 14 to 22 can tweet their support for the First Amendment with the hash tag #freetotweet, which will enter them in the “Free to Tweet” scholarship competition. Students are encouraged to freely express themselves in their entries, which can be posted on any publicly viewable social media platform, including blogs. The Free to Tweet contest takes place throughout the day, Dec. 15, 2011, on National Bill of Rights Day. The First Amendment was born in the 18th century but it’s your ticket to expressing yourself in 21st century ways. It guarantees your right to write, tweet, blog, read, sing and perform. It protects you at school and in church, allowing you to be you. What’s the point? To help spread the word about the importance of the First Amendment. In a digital world, free speech is more important than ever. Go to Twitter and use the hashtag #FreeToTweet. It’s really simple. So tweet away, and encourage others to do the same. Read more, and if you’d like a reminder to tweet on Dec. 15, sign up for an e-mail reminder here.

It’s amazing how forward thinking the founders of this country were. Certainly, freedom of speech is something celebrated today and every day.