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Patterson Establishes Lecture Series on Power of New Media

Patterson OpenerIn late 2008, Ed Patterson learned the true power – and potential – of new media. While working in Atlanta as an executive with the powerhouse PR firm, Edelman, a client who made baby products came under withering attacks for a defective item. The negative bombardment wasn’t caused by the New York Times or CNN, but rather a network of “mommy bloggers” who posted and linked to each other’s sites, setting the baby web landscape on fire.
“We literally went into crisis mode,” says Patterson, who now works for Cox Communications. “The bloggers began talking about it, then mainstream news media picked up on it. We had to engage the bloggers and talk about how to rectify the situation. Then we had to convince the company’s executives to talk to the bloggers like they would a reporter from the New York Times.”
Patterson graduated from UT in 1989 with a degree in journalism and a keen interest in communication and writing. Bonnie Hufford was one of his primary influences, even though he initially thought her editing course was pointless. “I thought it was a dumb class until I had to edit someone else’s copy,” laughs Patterson. “Now I think the world of her.”
While quality writing and editing skills are still necessary tools for communication, you’d have to be orbiting Pluto to fail to realize that bloggers and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized how people consume news and pass along information, ultimately giving the user more influence.
With that in mind, Patterson has made a generous donation of $25,000 to fund the “Patterson Lecture Series on New Media.” With the money, Patterson will help secure speakers who will not only give the cursory one-hour talk, but also spend the day with both faculty and students, bringing them up to speed on the latest developments in new and social media.
As a college student, being well versed in Facebook and Twitter is one thing, but as an employee being ask to devise a social media strategy is a completely different animal. “In this industry it’s not a luxury to be new media savvy in an entry level person, it’s a necessity,” says Patterson. “Students need to understand how to influence opinion and realize that consumers want to be interacted with. Consumers hold all the power. Then, how do you as a marketer know when to step in? I hope this series will help students and faculty answer that question.”