Los Angeles New Media PR Workshop at UCLA Extension, Taser Guns and Crisis Communications

Ironically, right after they had their own PR crisis online and off, I’ve been hired to teach the university’s first class on the power of new media for marketing, PR and corporate communications at UCLA Extension‘s journalism, public relations and fund-raising program. In fact, the workshop, which starts Jan. 24, 2007 and continues through Feb. 21, 2007 for 5 Wednesday night meetings at Dodd Hall, is right across the quad from the library where the mishap occurred.

I’m beginning to think I should use the consumer generated video that exposed the UCLA police brutality incident in which an irate Iranian-American student was handled very sadistically (in Football we’d call it unnecessary roughness), as a case study of how social media affects popular opinion and am considering reaching out to few of the leading mainstream and online PR measurement vendors to see if they’d like to collaborate a research project. I wonder if others would be interested in seeing the chain events plotted out against the amount of time that transpired between the original video post to YouTube to the mainstream media coverage, the university’s PR team’s response, what people said online and whether or not the tone of the MSM changed?

Who knows. Perhaps such a study might also prove valuable to the Chancellor’s office, as they consider how their organization needs to adapt it’s external communications policies, as well as their policies concerning how campus police apprehends suspects. And more importantly, such a study might also enlighten the University of California that public relations is much more than just a vocation.

Interestingly enough, in spite of the fact that I live in Los Angeles and subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, I heard about this from Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on For Immediate Release. They were discussing a post on Desirable Roasted Coffee about the event, written by Allan Jenkins who blogs from Copenhagen. So while it happened less 5 miles from where I live, I heard about it from someone more than 5000 miles away. This is why social media makes the world a smaller place.

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