Pandemic Teaching

This semester took an abrupt turn on Friday, March 13th as we began to feel the impacts of the corona virus pandemic in Austin – our campus shut down, students moved out of the dorms, and we began work to move to a completely online teaching environment by Monday, March 30th. Overall, it has been an amazing process to watch and an interesting experiment in providing mentoring and teaching to graduate students over online video platforms while also keeping research teams going.

Many of the interactions I have had with students during this time have focused on academic progress and mental health – how do we stay sane and keep going in an uncertain world? How do we maintain focus on academic work while worrying about a pandemic day in and day out? Will we ever get to go back to a normal campus? These are hard questions with few answers right now which makes the waiting even more challenging. My best advice has been to focus on self care, exercise, connect with others, and do the work when you are feeling motivated and engaged.

Here are some of the resources I have found most helpful in creating online course content and managing students:

Additionally, I made a small investment in creating an online teaching studio in my home office so that I could look a tad bit more professional during my meetings and lectures. We will be teaching online this summer as well as doing hybrid courses in the Fall so I figured it was worth it. The items I ordered have worked out very well and are easy to setup:

Total Investment: $154.89

Home studio setup for virtual teaching.

Hopefully, we will be back on campus together soon – until then, I’ll be Zooming my life away and finding joy in the little things like new virtual backgrounds.
Picture in front of Zoom background

The finished product – Ready for summer school!

#DeleteFacebook Project

Given all of the recent Facebook news, I am excited to announce the release of a new publication in the Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing. The manuscript entitled “#deletefacebook and the Consumer Backlash of 2018: How Social Media Fatigue, Consumer (Mis)Trust, and Privacy Concerns Shape the New Social Media Reality for Consumers” is now available online in Volume 7.

Here is a brief overview of the research findings from the abstract:

“Facebook’s rise to popularity over the last decade came to a dramatic halt in March 2018 after a massive data breach, including improper use of consumer data, was revealed followed by the most significant one-day stock devaluation in recent history. The business model on which Facebook has sustained itself for years had a fatal flaw, and consumers were the ultimate victims – their backlash began swiftly and was categorized online under the #deletefacebook hashtag. To assess the impact of the #deletefacebook consumer backlash, this research will examine the user-generated content (e.g., tweets) created by consumers during the days immediately following the Cambridge Analytica crisis. This analysis will provide insight into the emergent themes surrounding this brand crisis for Facebook and how consumers wish to move forward in their interactions with the platform. This study used textual analytics to identify topics and extract meanings contained in an unstructured textual dataset composed of Twitter data (e.g., tweets). Data was analyzed using the text analysis software, SAS Text Miner V.12.1. Themes surrounding privacy, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), helpfulness, and account deactivation emerged from the analysis. Managerial implications for advertisers are presented.”

Thank you to my co-authors Dr. Gary Wilcox and Hayley Rodriguez for their work on this project.

As a follow-up to this piece, we are currently working on a Facebook devaluation timeline that will examine consumer generated social media content from March 2018 to March 2019 as it relates to various Facebook scandals that have been covered in the press. More coming soon!

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 by 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.