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Marist College Adds Social Media to its List of Successes

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Chris S. Cornell
Chris S. Cornell
This past Tuesday, a TweetUp was held at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. This event, held in the student center on a rainy April evening, was attended by more than 30 students and faculty, and a few outsiders like myself who were invited by the event organizers.

The event — which was organized by Marist junior Marissa DeAngelis as a project in her public relations class (PR370, taught by Associate Professor Mark A. Van Dyke) — was a smashing success in its own right. It featured insightful and useful social media presentations from students and Marist faculty, included live Tweets projected throughout the event, and generated a lively discussion from the audience.

Having been involved with the organization of social media events over the past two years, I realized right away that there was far more going on in Room 349 that night than the obvious learning about social media that was taking place. The ripples created during the nearly three-hour presentation will continue to travel outward — both online and offline — and will lead to new friendships, networking opportunities, career options and much more in the coming years. Many of the people who will be most affected were not even in the building Tuesday.

I know this to be true, because I’ve seen it firsthand — in my own life, and in the lives of dozens of people I’ve met and become acquainted with because of social media over the past couple of years. In life, one can never fully comprehend how many people he has influenced, nor the extent of those influences. Social media provides additional leverage to the equation.

I’ve lived in Dutchess County for the past seven years, but never gave much thought to Marist College until I started following the Tweets of Tim Massie about two years ago. Massie — the Chief Public Affairs Officer and Adjunct Professor of Communication and Religious Studies at Marist College — had an interesting Twitter feed, and although his was not the official account for Marist, he has been a constant ambassador for the school. Through Massie, I learned about the school’s fast-rising repuation among American Universities. Massie posted links and info each time Marist was named to a prestigious academic list, and he kept his followers up to date on other Marist news, including the sports teams. I soon found myself actively rooting for the Red Foxes, and even attended a few basketball games with my wife and kids.

Because of Massie (and a few other people I followed at the time), I became curious about how all types of organizations could leverage social media to build a community around a common set of interests. I began organizing communities in the Village of Pleasantville where I worked, one thing led to another, and I never looked back. With a few people I met through Twitter, I helped organize a string of TweetUps in Westchester. (My fellow organizers included Adam Stone, the publisher of this newspaper, and Chris Dessi, who recently delivered a social media presentation at Marist.) After we booked Be the Media author David Mathison to be our keynote speaker at the third TweetUp, I sent Massie a direct message on Twitter, inviting him to the event.

The Third Westchester TweetUp, held at the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Media Arts Lab, was a huge success — and exposed more than 80 people to Mathison’s unique perspective on social media. It provided me with the chance to meet a handful of knowledgable social media practitioners, including Massie, who months later shared some of his vast PR and social media knowledge with me when I was hunting for a job.

So when Massie messaged me on Twitter last week, telling me about the groundbreaking Marist TweetUp, I knew I had to come witness it for myself. To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement. DeAngelis coordinated the event wonderfully, and managed to keep a stream of Tweets going throughout the evening from her laptop.

The audience had the opportunity to hear presentations from students Alyssa Bronander (a senior PR & Comm Studies Major with less than 30 days left as an undergrad) and Luke Shane (a junior studying public relations and running marathons). It should be noted that Bronander, Shane and DeAngelis all maintain blogs and regularly update their social media accounts. You can find links to their blogs on their Twitter accounts.

Massie, VanDyke and Dean of Admissions Kent W. Rinehart also delivered powerful messages about the goals and objectives of social media, for both individuals and organizations. Massie warned students of the permanence of their digital footprints, and how one misstep can undo years of hard work. He also stressed the importance of transparency and integrity when it comes to building a successful social media presence.

Rinehart, who manages the official Marist Twitter account (with help from Brian Apfel) spoke about the myriad ways Marist is using social media to reach its target audiences, including prospective students, current students and alumni. Marist has a page on its website called Marist is Saying…, that features Twitter updates from students, faculty and alumni. The Marist site also features videos and links to each of the university’s social media accounts.

It became clear before the night was over that plans are already underway to hold another TweetUp in the Fall. One attendee suggested that the next event include local organizations and individuals beyond the Marist community. That’s the kind of thinking that is going to insure that Marist will reap big rewards from its efforts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marist develops a national reputation for its social media program in the not-so-distant future. Stay tuned.

MORE DUTCHESS NEWS — If you live or work in the Hudson Valley and you are interested in the development of social media, you are likely aware of the Westchester Social Media Facebook page. Now, thanks to Dutchess County resident Rich Kleban, there is a Dutchess County counterpart. It’s called Dutchess Social Media, and I encourage you to give the page a “like”. Kleban has some great plans for the development of this community, so I encourage you to support his efforts.

Chris S. Cornell is the Director of Social Media at Thompson & Bender — a Westchester-based PR, advertising and marketing firm. He manages several online communities, and consults, speaks and writes about social media. You can follow Chris on Twitter, or join the community he manages on theWestchester Social Media Facebook page

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