Twitter Name(s):


Which social media networks do you use consistently?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, PROpenMic

I also blog – both on my own WordPress blog and on Tumblr.

You can follow University of Oregon PR instructor Kelli Matthews at

What was your “Aha” moment regarding social media (when/why did you decide to become engaged)?

I was doing some research for a presentation and the results for my searches were frequently blog posts. I knew a tiny bit – I’d had guest speakers come in the term prior to talk to my students about blogging (in about March of 2006) – but it really hit me that these were useful tools and I should figure out how they worked.

The first two blogs I subscribed to and still read regularly were Kami Huyse’s Communication Overtones and Nedra Kline Weinreich’s Spare Change.

How has Social Media impacted you personally? How about professionally?

Oh wow. Social media have had a tremendous impact on both. And it’s hard to separate the professional from the personal, quite honestly.

I’m insatiably curious. Social media have presented an almost never-ending source of things to learn for me. I’ve also always been a gadget girl, so it was a natural fit with my interests and abilities, too. I was among the first of our faculty to embrace, use and integrate social media into classes. I started incorporating social media into client work fairly early, too (at least in my market). As an early adopter, I was able to establish myself as a resource for others (I’ll never say I’m an expert) and create a position as a thought leader to some degree.

That has resulted in tremendous growth for my agency (much of what I do now is social media related) and I’ve been able to build curriculum focused on social media. In addition, I have a contract to co-author a book on social media and PR that’s based in-part on one of my courses. My co-author is Michelle Honald at Denver University.

You teach at University of Oregon School of Journalism – how long have you been teaching PR?

I just celebrated my 6 year anniversary teaching at the UO.

How has social media changed your job?

Doing PR is dramatically different today than it was 10-ish years ago when I graduated.

I’ve never been exclusively focused on media relations, but certainly that was an important part of the work I did as a young pro and entrepreneur. My work is much more diverse now – I have many more “channels” at my disposal and I get to help clients tell their story directly and build relationships directly without gatekeepers. To me, that’s exciting. And I get to keep learning new stuff.

Some teachers are leery about becoming “friends” on Facebook – how do you handle this? Do you “friend” students or keep things separate?

I don’t ask, but I will accept students as friends.

I completely respect teachers who make different decisions. I’m pretty open with my students (and with everyone) and honestly, not that interesting. So I don’t have a problem being friends with students. I look at it as an opportunity to role model lots of things – how to behave, what kinds of things to post and even what it’s like to be a young professional/working mom/entrepreneur, etc. That’s my life. Welcome to it.

How do you use Twitter? How about Facebook? Do they serve similar or different roles for you?

Facebook is more personal and family/friend oriented for me than Twitter. But I still use it for networking and business reasons, too. I tweet much more than I update my status on Facebook.

Have students taught you any cool social media tips?

I can’t think of any offhand. It’s a bit of a misperception that students know more about the technology than the grown-ups do. I’ve not found that to be the case. I’m sure there are instances where I’ve shared ideas and tips with students and vice-versa in a collaborative way. And likely times when students have asked about new tools that I might not have been familiar with. But not very often.

The U of O School of Communication is seen as one of the leading schools. Can you give us a sense of how this impacts your role?

The impact has been very positive. Because we’re a leading school, I have the latitude to try new things and make sure that our students are prepared to get jobs in public relations. And they are!

In addition to teaching, you’re also a consultant – and a mommy. How much of a challenge is it for you to juggle all those roles?  How do you do it?

Skinny vanilla lattes.

I joke. I have an amazing partner who is a stay at home dad who keeps our household running so I can teach and run my business. He’s my high school sweetheart, we’ve been together 18 years. Honestly, without him, I’d be useless.

Do you think PR students should be thinking about using social media to help build a  “personal brand?”

I worry about using the term “personal brand” with students. I think it connotes a sense of putting how they want to be perceived above all else. And in public relations, that’s a dangerous place to be. As a practitioner, your reputation and your integrity is your currency. That reputation has to be based on the work – doing good work, getting results and providing good counsel.

Yes, my students are crazy smart and they are going to be amazing PR pros. And yes, they need to be findable through social media. I encourage them to be very intentional about what and how they share info. They must be strategic and think about their social media efforts holistically and as tools to how they present themselves to the world.

And maybe that’s how some would define ‘personal branding.” The term just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Do students understand the value of social media as a professional tool or is it mostly for socializing?

My students understand it as a professional tool – at least by the time they graduate. MOST students (outside the JSchool) use it mostly for socializing. We’ve really created a culture in the JSchool that has resulted in students who are social media savvy and understand how to use social media tools strategically.

Who is a better tweeter – you or @bradnelson?

Well, if we were playing a numbers game, I’ve got him beat.

Brad clearly gets to do more fun stuff than I do. AND hello? Starbucks. Mmmmmm…. Starbucks….

Now that BCS National Championship Game is over and the Ducks lost – are you worried about a football depression hangover with the students?

There were some pretty glum faces in the building on Tuesday. But hey, we have a shiny new arena that just opened, so we’ll move on and be just fine. And there’s always next year!

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing jobs/roles in social media?

DO social media every day. Figure out the tools, try stuff out, read, read, read. Find people who are doing the job you want and follow them. Figure out what it takes. Oh, and take my classes.

What can professionals learn from students when it comes to social media?

LOOSEN UP! Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Cut the corporate/PR/Marketing speak and be real, be human. (That doesn’t mean be inappropriate, of course)

Funniest Social Media moment?

I mistweeted from a client’s account as I was leaving Vegas once (in the plane, flight attendants coming through to shut off electronics); “Oh my god, this plane smells like beer.” I was in a dead panic trying to delete the tweet before the plane took off. In hindsight, it’s funny. Was not funny at the time.

Biggest Social Media pet peeve?

I would say (not-so-delicately) that diarrhea of the mouth is my biggest pet peeve. We don’t need to know EVERYTHING. Filter, people.

Any Parting Shots?

Best advice regardless of where you are with social media? Have fun! There’s something out there for everyone. Find your community and enjoy.

Thanks for participating Kelli!

2 Responses

  1. Kelli is the most amazing instructor I’d ever had. And I have absolutely no idea how she juggles her life, but I’d like the secret some day! Between Teaching, running her own business, Advising Allen Hall Public Relations and being a Mom, Superwoman doesn’t even begin to describe Kelli.

    Kelli has been such an amazing influence on my life and my career. She’s continuing to give back to her students. She can be your biggest supported and best ally. Kelli helped me get my first industry job and talked me through my first lay-off. If it weren’t for her inspiring words and “Go-get-em'” attitude I’d probably be working at Starbucks rather than in a Job I love.

    Kelli is an innovator. She’s always a head of the trends and ready to jump-in head first. She’s brought the Public Relations Major at UO to where it’s at today, and without her… I would not be where I am today.

    Kelli is such a wonderful Mentor to highlight for all of her accomplishments! I’m so proud of her book, I cannot wait to read it. Thank you to my Mentor and Dear friend Kelli Matthews for always being there for me… Through EVERYTHING!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *