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.