I think, therefore I #TWEET

Meet Prof. Karen Freberg, Communication department, researching and teaching social media and crisis communication. She was recently featured on WLKY “Disconnecting in a digital age" and was a Plank Center Educator Fellow for General Motors this past summer.
I think, therefore I #TWEET

Prof. Karen Freberg

Meet Strategic Communication Prof. Karen Freberg

Prof. Freberg teaches a unique social media class in the Department of Communication that is one of only a few in the country. She has recently been featured on WLKY “Disconnecting in a digital age” and on WDRB “UofL offers social media course to undergraduates.” Prof. Freberg brings a unique perspective to UofL, offering expertise in social media, crisis communication, and reputation management. She worked this past summer with General Motors on their crisis communication team as a Plank Center Educator Fellow.

In this Q&A we learn about Prof. Freberg’s goals in communication, public relations and social media, and that her love of coffee might help her stay focused during screentime.

Department: Communication

Years at UofL: 5

Current Research Interests:
For research, I tend to focus on areas within public relations, social media, crisis communication, and reputation management. Specifically, I am interested in the specific personality and situational attributes that play as a main factor when complying with crisis messages on social media in different situations and among different leaders. This research has allowed me to branch out not only in collaborations with fellow scholars, but also in practice resulting in some great consulting opportunities with the CDC, Hootsuite, and even the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition, the research I have done in social media measurement and influencer marketing in particular was one of the deciding factors that allowed me to be part of the Plank Center Educator Fellowship this past summer with General Motors. While at General Motors, I was able to apply my research into recommendations on what they need to do in terms of measurement in social media, understanding the systematic approach needed in influencer marketing, and evaluating and preparing for crisis events via social media.

Degrees: Ph.D. Communication, University of Tennessee (2011), concentration: Public Relations, cognate: Marketing; M.A. Strategic Public Relations, University of Southern California (2007).

What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?
I feel my role as a professor is to make a difference in research, teaching, and mentorship. This difference can be made through helping fellow colleagues in research, or through mentoring the future generation of social media and strategic communication professionals at UofL.

Biggest achievement in your career thus far?
This is a hard one! I'd say seeing former students achieve their goals, and get their dream positions in the industries they want to be in. I have several students from UofL who are now working at some of the biggest brands and teams in social media and sports, and excelling. Samantha Hughey (’15) is working for Team USA in digital and social media. Lizelle Lauron (’13) is working as a social media coordinator for the Dallas Mavericks. Aaron Martinson (‘13) is now with Cision.

Seeing students grow and be successful after graduation is one of the most rewarding parts of being a professor.

Who or what events have influenced you to become a professor in Communication?
Both my parents have been professors – my dad taught accounting and marketing and my mom (the original Dr. Freberg) is a professor in psychology and neuroscience. I always knew I wanted to be a professor, and I feel with PR and Strategic Communications, I have a mixture from both of my parents.

Tell us about your time as a NCAA student athlete.  What is the longest distance you have thrown Shot Put?
Yes, as I tell my students, I used to "throw things for a living." I was a student-athlete for the University of Florida (2003-2004) and the University of Southern California (2005-2006) and competed in the throwing events, but the shot put was my main event. The farthest I have thrown the shot put was 57 feet 7.5 inches, which is still the USC school record ten years later. I retired from track in 2006 and finished my career as a four-time All-American, two-time SEC Champion, USC school record holder, and a 2004 Olympic Trials finalist.

Tell us about growing up in southern California.  How did you hear about UofL and what's your first memory of UofL?
Growing up in California was wonderful – great weather and lots of things to do outdoors. I always heard great things about UofL and Louisville as a community, and I applied for my position when I was a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I remember my first memory of UofL was during my campus visit and seeing the school and the city. It was spring and the city was vibrant, active, and everyone was very welcoming. This spoke volumes to me about the culture and environment among the students and faculty in the Department of Communication.

Really happy to have joined the faculty here at UofL!

What was the best meal you have ever had?  Also I know you are a coffee connoisseur; what and where was the best cup you have ever had?
Hee hee! Yes, coffee is a MAJOR food group for me. I am a fan of the coffee and lattes from Please and Thank You, but I also am a fan of the Maple Spice Latte from Quill's as well.

However, as long it is not decaf, I love all coffee! Louisville has a great coffee scene and there are still places I need to go.

Finish this sentence.  I think, therefore I #...
tweet, snap, insta and drink coffee!