Chamberlin Lecture: Barbara Iverson speaks of social media as the game changer of the future

Barbara Iverson speaks at the Chamberlin Lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Benton Auditorium of the Scheman Building. Iverson spoke about journalism and public relations and their connections to social media.

Madison Martin

Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication held its annual Chamberlin Lecture featuring Barbara Iverson on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Iverson is an alumna of the Greenlee School and is currently the president of Weber Shandwick’s financial services industry practice group. She will also receive Iowa State’s 2012 James W. Schwartz Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism and Communication.

Iverson took the podium and stated, “It’s great being here at Iowa State this evening. What a glorious day, a perfect day to be on campus. But I would say just about everyday is perfect at Iowa State.”

Iverson’s lecture, entitled “Social Media: The Game Changer for Your Career [A Sea of Change for Journalists, Public Relations and Advertising Professionals Everywhere],” focused on the impacts of social media in the ever-transforming world of news, advertising and public relations.

“I can tell you I still use the journalism training I received here at Iowa State everyday,” Iverson said. “It makes you a critical thinker. It makes you resourceful. It makes you be accurate and honest. It encourages you to be curious and well informed. And it’s about strong writing. We will never forget the importance of strong writing. Strong writing is key. All of these things are important in everything we all do.”

Touching on the evolution of electronic news and content, Iverson spoke about how “content is king.” She emphasized how demanding society is today and how “people want content at their fingertips, and they want it from wherever they are and whenever they want it. People are looking for everything online and on websites and through news feeds on their mobile devices.”

Iverson went on to emphasize on how important good writing is, stating that “quality journalism programs, like Iowa State’s Greenlee program, and careers in public relations are both big growth areas for the future.”

One might ask why. Iverson said, “Great writing, strong communication, good story-telling and rich content are pretty much the key to everything.”

On the main topic of social media, Iverson stated, “Social media is the major game changer. Nothing in decades has had an impact like social media. Social media is a part of nearly every discussion, every day, in every newsroom.”

With that, Iverson went on to discuss five trends her collegues, Chris Perry and Matt Dickman, wrote a summary about.

Five Trends in News Media

1. The stand-alone, text-based article is dying.

  • People want visuals. They want pictures, videos, infographics and applications. Most importantly, they want to have access to all the information digitally, and they want to be able to share it with other people.

2. Editorial is now democratized.

  • “Media companies recognize the need to deliver a wealth of content in this nonstop news cycle,” Iverson said. Companies have brought in outside contributors to run side by side with journalist-written pieces.

3. News feeds have become highly specialized.

  • Media companies are widening their horizons and even going further into certain subjects.

4. Consumer experience is highly personalized.

  • People expect to go to websites and be able to see only the things they want to. “The front page is no longer the same for everyone, even the inside pages for that matter,” said Iverson.

5. Sourcing is more socialized.

  • Companies are realizing that they need to be relevant. They are trying to take advantage of current, up-to-the minute trends.

Iverson went on to discuss how all those trends in the news media are changing the future practice of public relations.

“Social media is changing everything we do. Every project we do, every project we run,” said Iverson.

In closing, Iverson added that Forbes Magazine noted public relations as No. 8 in the hottest careers in the next 10 years. There has also been a predicted growth of 23 percent in public relations from 2010-20.

Iverson also spoke of factors she believes are key to success. Some include: great writing, internships, networking, technical knowledge, a thirst for knowledge, industry and ambition.

“You don’t survive in a public relations firm if you’re not industrious and if you’re not ambitious. It’s just the way it is. I think that is probably true for a lot of other organizations as well,” Iverson said.