A new chapter …

I am thrilled to announce that I have joined the faculty of the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin as an Associate Professor of Media Analytics. I received all three of my degrees from UT so this homecoming is extra sweet! More updates coming soon as I adjust to my new role teaching media management and advising doctoral students.

Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations

Moody College of Communication

Still ranked # 1 in the nation!

Hook ’em Horns!

Looking at the Belo Center for New Media from the top of the UT tower.

Looking at the Belo Center for New Media from the top of the UT tower. (Photo credit: Ben Bright)


Last week I had the opportunity to attend a convening of the Information Trust Exchange Governing Association (ITEGA) in Brooklyn, New York to discuss trust, advertising, and data privacy. The sessions were co-sponsored by the Local Media Consortium and the Internet Society and had roughly 45 academics and industry specialists participating.

The main goals of this convening were to map out current problems with online advertising as they relate to consumer trust and privacy, identify how those problems overlap, and create a map for moving forward. To insure that all areas of the problem were discussed, a variety of stakeholders were present from ad technology companies to content providers to browser technologists to academics with specialties in advertising, communication, and computer science.

The consensus among both industry and academic attendees is that the current process that governs online content consumption is flawed – from the consumer privacy perspective, from the ad technology side, and from the publisher or content provider view. The online ecosystem that we live in today is driving down digital revenue, eroding CPMs, and creating an untenable environment for privacy management. Many stakeholders at the event noted that we need to focus on a “people based strategy” to improve the experience for consumers rather than focusing on improving the experience for the industry.

Moving forward, I will be working with the “Technology for User Data and Authentication” group to help bring a consumer privacy perspective to a technical topic that is often times overlooked by your average online content consumer. I must say it is quite fun to be jumping into the technology deep end after a long time away.

For those of you who might want to know more, here are some fun people and resources from the convening:

I will post more information here as things begin to take shape – until then, please enjoy this lovely sunrise photo of the NYC skyline (that pink glow!).

Make Your Bed and Other Important Lessons

To celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, I finished reading “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World” by the current Chancellor of the University of Texas system, Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret.). The book made me laugh and it made me cry but most of all it made me think about how hard we all have to work to get to where we want to be.

Of the ten or so main life lessons in the book, the few that rang the most true for me are:

1) Start your day with a task completed (Make your bed, damnit!)

2) Life is not fair – drive on (Hopefully in the right direction)

3) Failure makes you stronger (Something I wasn’t quite sure of until grad school)

4) Never, ever quit! (Seriously, don’t even think about it)

You can find the book and the rest of the lessons here.

I highly recommend taking an hour or so to read this and see what you can apply to your life. And, to answer your question, yes I made my bed this morning.

10 years in the books …

Yesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of defending my dissertation and being called “doctor” for the very first time. The clear memories of that day make it seem as if it happened yesterday although I still can’t remember what happened after my advisor opened the door to tell me I had passed – maybe that will come back one day! One thing is for sure, I will always be a longhorn :).

2018 STCO Faculty Retreat

On Thursday of this week, I had the opportunity to facilitate my first faculty retreat as Department Chair for the Strategic Communication faculty. The event included your standard fair of faculty items – curriculum discussions, committee appointments, forming an advisory board, and reviewing deadlines for the coming academic year. Overall, it was a productive half day spent with a fun group of colleagues.

At the end of the meeting I took the opportunity to “deputize” the faculty to go forth and continue being awesome leaders in our college. This activity was inspired by my long time mentor, Gene Kincaid, who used to deputize all of his interactive advertising students when we were ready for prime time (I still have my deputy sheriff badge from 1999 when I got mine!).

Here is the whole posse as we prepare to walk wide-eyed into a new semester – as one of our staff put it, we are deputized to strategize!

STCO Faculty Retreat 2018

Certified Public Communicator Program 2018

The Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU came to a close yesterday after an eventful week of programming and networking. This year Jacque and I graduated our fifth cohort in the program which brings our total count of CPC graduates to over 100 – what an awesome achievement!

Pictured below are the graduates from this year – 24 public sector communicators from cities, counties, and school districts across the country. We first started this program with Texas-based city communicators and have grown it to include students representing a variety of states from coast to coast.

Sabbatical Finale: April, May and June

My sabbatical time officially came to a close last week with the move of my office into the main Strategic Communication office at TCU – my role as Department Chair will begin in a few short weeks so July will be spent trying to get back into the swing of things. Luckily, my new spot is peaceful, air-conditioned, and has a sliver of a view.

My new office in Moudy South at TCU.

My new office in Moudy South at TCU.

The last three months of my sabbatical time were productive with regard to research and planning for the Fall semester – my department chair training has been completed, finally received the go ahead on an upcoming paper in Internet Research, and started a new project analyzing the #deletefacebook phenomenon that occurred earlier this year. I am thrilled to be working on this new project with my mentor from UT Austin – makes me feel like a grad student again which always makes me better with deadlines!

July will be a busy month with a conference presentation on communication planning in Nashville for the National Association of County Information Officers followed by the Certified Public Communicator week on campus at the end of the month. During this week, there will be 50 public communicators at TCU to learn about digital first planning, crisis communication, measurement, and media management. I am looking forward to spending another year learning from these valuable government communicators.

As I look back on my sabbatical time, here are a few things that I would recommend for faculty about to take one (or for myself before the next one!):

  1. Try to front load your projects so you have more spare time in months 3 and 4
  2. Don’t give yourself too many deadlines – leave time to explore new ideas
  3. Take time for your personal life – get things done that could never happen while trying to get tenure (i.e. a financial plan, a will, a garden!)
  4. Travel and catch up with family – it’s much more enjoyable when you are relaxed
  5. Read things that don’t matter – step away from the journal articles at some point
  6. Stick to a relatively normal schedule so things don’t go completely off the rails
  7. Enjoy it – that next semester will be coming at you faster than you think

That’s all for now – I’ll be reporting from TCU sometime in the next few weeks.

Sabbatical Weeks 7 – 10: Work, Travel, Rest, Repeat

It appears that I have taken a sabbatical from my sabbatical blog – whoops! But, never fear – there have been plenty of good things going on this month with regard to research, writing, and traveling so not all is lost.

March started off with the completion of the first round of my Oxford Bibliographies book chapter on “User Generated Content in Communication” – it was fun to revisit a topic that I worked extensively on while in graduate school as much has changed since that time. It is typical for me to only focus on the advertising side of things so this chapter was a nice change of pace since I had to include material from journalism, communication studies, public relations, and government communications. Now that it is submitted, the waiting game begins on the first round of revisions.

My reward for turning in my chapter was a trip to the Pacific Northwest and what a treat it was – hikes with waterfalls, Japanese gardens, delicious food, ferry rides, walks on pebbly beaches, and fun with family and friends. I got to see my first tsunami zone and take in the incredible views of the Oregon coast and completely fell in love with Wheeler, Oregon (pop. 414) – full disclosure, there was a hound dog named Birdie – who can resist that?.

Zen rock garden at the Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon

As March comes to a close, I will be working on the fourth round of revisions on a manuscript and fleshing out some new research ideas for conference submissions in the fall. The coming month will bring class prep for fall and time to rethink the projects and assignments completed in my Channel Planning course. It is always a challenge to keep up with new channels and how to integrate them into the planning process. Hoping to come up with some good materials after I dive down that rabbit hole.

In other news, Spring arrived in Fort Worth this week bringing birds to my garden, beautiful green leaves on the trees, blossoms all around the neighborhood, and lots of thunderstorms in true North Texas style. I am looking forward to digging in the dirt and planting some new perennials in the coming weeks – the garden center has definitely not seen the last of me for the season.

Lilies at the garden center, Fort Worth, Texas

Sabbatical Weeks 5 and 6: Finding my pace

Time has flown by the last week and a half – conference presentations happened – big decisions were made – research projects have continued to trudge along toward completion – yard work has been conquered – sewing room has been setup and organized.

The big news to report from here is that I signed on to become the next department chair for the Department of Strategic Communication at TCU and will start that three-year term in August 2018. It’s exciting and nerve-racking and a lot to think about so I have started ordering books, checking out online resources, and seeking advice from friends in these jobs – the preparation begins! I’m aggregating my online resources here – https://pinboard.in/u:lbrightphd/t:STCO-dept-chair-job/.

I have been continuing my digital wellness practices and have been reading more about this topic – during that effort, I found a few interesting perspectives to think about regarding research and teaching:

1) Running on fumes is no joke when it comes to trying to move ahead in your career – highlights why having boundaries is important in your approach to academic work: Why I collapsed on the job

2) In the last couple of years, I have done a little bit of research on privacy concerns and how they relate to social media fatigue as well as interact with consumers and their health data – this NYT piece talks about many of the same aspects and offers info on good tools to use: Limiting the influence of tech

3) I started teaching the year the first iPhone came on the market and have witnessed firsthand the shift students have made from being open and available in the classroom to being timid, closed off and immersed in their phones or laptops. Part of the problem relates to the lives they have created for themselves on social media and the pressure for perfection. This HBR piece talks about those issues and how to deal with perfectionism in the classroom – Perfectionism is increasing, and that’s not a good thing

4) I’m always looking for ways to get manuscripts together more efficiently – this is a hard sciences approach that seems promising and something I might try for my next project – Geo Cognition Laboratory Manuscript Writing Process.

I’m continuing my work on a book chapter on user-generated content as well as the final edits on a forthcoming piece related to social media fatigue and FOMO. Speaking of which, I had a blast last week talking to two different groups at the Texas School Public Relations Association conference about social media engagement, planning, and replacing the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) with the Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO).

Presenting about Social Media Fatigue at the Texas School Public Relations Association annual conference in Frisco, Texas (2/21/18).

I’ll be back next week with more on digital wellness and how my work is going.

Sabbatical Week 4: Go West …

This week took me out to El Paso to visit family, friends, and the mountains – it was good to be back in my hometown. Most people I know either love or hate El Paso, no in between seems to exist. As for me, I LOVE El Paso and all of the incredible things that the high desert has to offer.

**Pssst – that tiny white line on the horizon is White Sands National Park**

Some of the top spots during the trip included:

H&H Car Wash – Best breakfast in El Paso
Charcoaler – Good old fashioned burgers
Old Mesilla, New Mexico – Check out the Silver Assets store – best one there for jewelry
Chope’s – Get the relleno
Double Eagle Steakhouse – The best bar in Old Mesilla, hands down
Forti’s Mexican Elder Restaurant – An old family favorite

Next week I will be back to business … until then, I will be dreaming about the mountains and mountains of green chili!

Chope’s bar and restaurant in La Mesa, New Mexico on the back road to Old Mesilla.

PS – All digital wellness activities continue with success – more on that next time.

Sabbatical Week 3: Replacing FOMO with JOMO

This past week I transitioned back to my home office in Fort Worth and tried to stay focused on a few digital wellness tactics that I started while I was gone. I have been experimenting with these ideas for about two weeks now … with varying levels of success:

      1) Keeping my phone charging in another room overnight (in my case, in the kitchen instead of the bedroom)
      2) Not checking my email until 8 AM (or later!)
      3) Moderating my social media use by deleting the Facebook and Messenger apps from my phone
      4) Waking up to a cold nose instead of an alarm clock (highly recommended … and Oscar does this at 6 AM every weekday)
      5) Not checking anything on my phone before I get out of bed (# 1 has crushed this habit)
      6) Setting goals for the day before I open my email
      7) Turned off all obnoxious notifications on my phone

I was not surprised by how much keeping my phone away from my bedside table helped with things – especially getting out of bed in the morning, NOT checking my email immediately, and staying off of social media and news feeds first thing. In fact, my new rule is no technology before my feet hit the floor in the morning. The more challenging tactics have been to not check my email before 8 AM and to set my goals for the day before checking my inbox. I suppose the old habit of letting my inbox dictate my priorities will be a hard one to wrestle but worth it in the end. As for my social media use, it has been nice to moderate my usage and not have the FB apps on my phone – my outlook on life always improves when I step away from social media for a bit. In that regard, I am replacing the fear of missing out (FOMO) with the JOY of missing out (JOMO). Maybe in the future when we speak in text language “sabbaticals” will just be called “JOMOs”?

Speaking of the future, it arrived in Fort Worth while I was gone … Curbside groceries at Central Market and parking availability signs at the new shopping center:

Can’t decide if I am going to let someone else pick out my produce for me? Probably not.

Parking meters at the new Clearfork shopping area in Fort Worth.

And, finally, a few fun things that I picked up along the way:

The Olympics start this week – Lindsey Vonn reminds us to be fierce

Fun slogan from an Olympics ad – ABFTTB – Always be faster than the boys!

An insightful article about the new album from The War on Drugs – if you haven’t indulged in this one, you really should!

A few good ideas here for an upcoming presentation on website engagement

See you next week – LB

Sabbatical Week 2: Balancing research and relaxation

This week was all about getting work done on my user-generated content book chapter while making time for learning new skills. I have been working from my mother’s house in Florida so it has been nice to take breaks that include walks on the beach, trips to my favorite childhood restaurants, reading new books, and lots of crafting activities. It has also proven to be an excellent time for rethinking my routines and approaches to work, writing, and getting things done.

Here are a few fun items I have stumbled upon along the way:

Pointers for morning routines that help with productivity

Many ways to motivate yourself to write

How to optimize your office for healthy working conditions
(I am a big fan of Blue Zones and Fort Worth is a Blue Zone city!)

Interesting piece about George Soros and his anti-social media speech at Davos

Insights into social media bots and the “Follower Factory”

Tips on how to open up your heart chakra
(Bonus: you get to say an awesome Hawaiian word as part of it)

Learning about how to “Brave the Wilderness” from Brene Brown

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay?
  • Was I reliable? Did I do what I said I was going to do?
  • Did I hold myself accountable?
  • Did I respect the vault and share appropriately?
  • Did I act from my integrity?
  • Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?
  • Was I generous toward myself?

These have been particularly helpful for me as I try to moderate my social media use as well as my phone use as I learn more about digital wellness.

And, for those of you that are curious about the crafting part of my week, I learned how to make a pattern, cut fabric, and sew a Japanese knot bag from scratch courtesy of Fran Bright (PS – I might have a new YouTube sewing star on my hands!).

First Japanese knot bag complete! And, it’s reversible too :).

Sabbatical Week 1: Off we go …

Classes began at TCU this past week and I officially started my research sabbatical – what a thrill :). These last few days have been all about organizing my projects for the coming semester, deciding what to tackle first, and finishing up two projects related to social media fatigue.

As part of this process, I did my annual email clean out and unsubscribed from newsletters that I don’t get much out of anymore and found some new things to check out. I also took some time to catch up on my favorite podcasts and have the best tidbits from those shows listed below.

Interesting finds this week:

Time Well Spent Movement
*This is a new movement focused on raising self awareness of smart phone usage.

Taking control of your phone!
*This page offers specific tips for controlling your usage.

The “Note to Self” Podcast – Advice Episode
*Lots of great tips on managing information overload, securing your data online, and beating the FOMO blues.

The “Note to Self” Podcast: Black Mirror Episode
*Fascinating themes about AI, death, social media, and politics in this episode featuring the creators of the show Black Mirror.

Some cool newsletters to subscribe to:

Axios Media Trends
The Ann Friedman Weekly
Barking up the Wrong Tree
We Are Next
Dave Pell

This week I will be continuing my work on an Oxford Press Bibliography on “User-Generated Content in Communication” that will come out later this year. If you have any fun suggestions for that, send them my way :).

See you next week!

Sabbatical begins now …

This semester I will have my first academic sabbatical to work on research projects related to big data, social media fatigue, and citizen engagement in digital spaces. Excited to see what this time brings … for now, I am working on the weirdness of not creating syllabi and prepping for classes for the first time in a decade :).

Luckily, I have this joker to keep me in line and motivated!

STCO in London – Fancy that ;)

Excited to be in London for the month of June with 18 students from the TCU Strategic Communication program. We will be exploring the city and surrounding area and doing a variety of cultural activities including visits to the Globe Theatre, British Museum, Windsor War Rooms, Oxford, Windsor Castle, the Brand Museum, and the London offices of Ogilvy & Mather ad agency. It is going to be an active, fun-filled trip!

Certified Public Communicator Program graduates 23 students in July!

We graduated another talented group of public communicators from the Certified Public Communicator program at TCU in July. This group consisted of public sector communicators from agencies across the nation, including cities, counties, school districts, and regional education offices. A total of 23 students graduated this year in Cohort III, with another 25 communicators beginning the program as Cohort IV. For more information, visit www.certifiedpubliccommunicator.org.

2016 NSAC Competition

Last weekend, I traveled with a team of 17 TCU students to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition in Lubbock, Texas. This competition is sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and TCU competes in the 10th District with roughly 18 other teams from Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. This year we finished fourth in our competition bracket and received the award for “Best Media Plan”. Go frogs!


Central American Study Abroad Programs

I am excited to attend the American Academy of Advertising conference this coming weekend in Seattle, Washington to discuss how to develop study abroad programs with digital technologies embedded into the curriculum – I will be there with our tour guides, Tony and Oscar, from Explore505 in Nicaragua. They are helping us develop an interdisciplinary study abroad program in Central America with visits to both Panama and Nicaragua. The program will run this May and is a collaboration between myself and Adam Fung from the School of Art. Students will be able to complete courses in New Media as well as Advanced Drawing. Off we go!

An academic panel with Jong-Hyuok Jung (moderator), Jane Kucko, Jacqueline Lambiase, Catherine Coleman, James Ebel, Huizhen Du, Wonsun Shin, Laura F. Bright, Karen Lancendorfer, Spencer, Anthony, and Oscar Gomez (2016) – Entitled “Strategies for Developing Study Abroad Programs in the Global Era” at the American Academy of Advertising Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington, March 17 – 20.