I was in Provo Utah last week, guest lecturing at BYU's
School of Communications and it was the most beautiful place I've ever been invited to speak.
It was also the best lens into the future of public relations and communications that I've had in awhile. BYU has made serious investments into the technology needed to train students in the future of communications. (Including the very sophisticated digital camera they loaned me to take these pictures.) There's a full TV studio, state of the art newspaper offices, a top-notch in-house ad agency and some very sophisticated measurement tools as well. (Of course they're not using our DIY Dashboard yet, the way the students at the University of North Carolina do, but we're working on that.)
In terms of social media, they're not quite at the level of the University of Georgia which hosts its own social media conference but they've added a blog to their daily newspaper and BYU students are pretty active on Twitter these days.
All of which made it a great learning experience for me. My talk was the usual "PR Measurement in the 21st Century" -- but it was the student reaction that made it so special. They really got it. They understood why taking statistics is an important part of Public Relations. They saw the value in studying web analytics and regressions and correlations and applying what they've learned when they go out into the world and do PR.
It gave me faith that this next generation of communications practitioners will finally bring science and accountability to the profession. That instead of just being "people persons" and "flacks" the next generation will be made up of accountable, strategic communicators that use data and research to plan programs, and use metrics and evaluation to continuously improve their results.
Thank you to Brad Rawlins and all the faculty at BYU for giving me hope that one day, my job might easier.