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2021 UT Social Media Week

Social Media Week - Smokey

The College of Communication and Information will host the 10th annual UT Social Media Week virtually Feb. 23-25. This year’s event features eight sessions exploring communication topics in social media from women in sports journalism to the use of the platforms by both social justice and extremism movements.

Adam Brown (AD, ’94), executive strategist at Salesforce, will serve as the keynote speaker Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. with the presentation “NOT WORKING: Why 2010s Marcom Skills Won’t Be Successful in 2021 and How the Shift from ‘Right-Brain’ to ‘Left-Brain’ Marketing Reinforces the Responsibility of Ensuring Marketing Equality.” 

See the UT Social Media Week website for the details on the guest speakers and panelists. 


UTSMW Kick Off & The Walking Dead: Journalists in a Social Media World

9:50-11:05 a.m.

#UTMSW21 will kick off at 9:50 a.m. with a welcome video from UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman, opening remarks from UT System President Randy Boyd, and declarations of UTSMW in Knoxville and Knox County.

As news consumption moves away from traditional media to social media, the financial viability of traditional journalism, especially in local newspapers, reduces both the number of independent media outlets and the number of those employed as full-time journalists. Media consolidation also contributes to this phenomenon.

These trends have serious long-term consequences for journalism, and to the vital role that journalists play in informing an engaged citizenry. What are the implications of a nation where social media are the primary outlets for news distribution, and how can journalists respond to preserve traditional journalism values in this new reality?

Moderator: Dr. Mark Harmon (UT Journalism & Electronic Media)

Panelists: Dr. Rick Dusey (Managing Director, BIA Advisory Services), Dr. Joy Jenkins (UT Journalism & Electronic Media), and Mr. Ray Suarez (Co-host, World Affairs)

 Social Media: Gatekeepers or GateSleepers?

1:10-2:25 p.m.

With a handful of dominant social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, these platforms currently have no legal responsibility for the content they carry. A 1996 law, still in effect, has enabled them to grow without any limitations on the content that they transmit.

Both political parties now are calling for this law to be repealed or modified, so that these social media platforms will be subject to greater regulatory scrutiny for who and what they allow online.  This could dramatically change the nature of these platforms, and the larger experience of social media. Social media platforms would be treated as editors, with accompanying legal liability for matters such as defamation. What are the benefits and drawbacks of revising the law to fundamentally redefine how social media operates?

Moderator: Dr. Stuart Brotman (UT Journalism & Electronic Media)

Panelists: Dr. Rob Frieden (Telecommunications & Law, Penn State University), Ms. Jamie Susskind (Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Consumer Technology Association), and Mr. Jon Adame (General Counsel, Senator Marsha Blackburn)

Pioneers in Sports Communication

6:00-7:00 p.m.

The field of sports communication, both within the journalism and public relations/advertising professions, has long been a male dominated profession, from play-by-play announcers to heads of sports information within organizations. However, some women have begun to break through this glass ceiling, and have paved the way for more women to balance the gender discrepancies that exist at nearly every level of sports communication. The current panel consists of those pioneers who are paving the way for future female representation in sports communication. Discussion will focus on how social media platforms can make it easier, or more difficult, for more women to enter this profession.

Moderator: Dr. Guy Harrison (UT Journalism & Electronic Media)

Panelists: Jessica Mendoza (Analyst, ESPN), Beth Mowins (Play-by-Play announcer, ESPN, CBS Sports), and Erin Exum (JEM ’10; Director of Communications, Vroom)


The Rise of Extremist Movements on Social Media: A Conversation with the Experts

Sponsored by the UTK School of Information Sciences

1:00-1:50 p.m.

In the aftermath of the violent U.S. Capital riots on January 6, 2021, fringe conspiracy theory communities gained mainstream light. It led to many asking questions, such as: How could such a violent event happen, and what is the role of social media in its coordination?  While many were shocked by the events, the malicious and extreme online behavior that led to the riots is nothing new to the experts. In fact, social media’s impact on the physical world had been warned about well before the events of January 6. In this panel session, leading researchers in informatics, computer science, and public policy will broadly discuss the roles of social media in extremist movements. Specific topics include the impact of content moderation on major social media platforms, the growth of fringe, alternative social networks, and how both contribute to the spread of disinformation, manipulated media, conspiracy theories, and extremism. Our hope is that this panel creates awareness and healthy discussion among the UTK community about the dangers of unchecked social media platforms.

Moderator: Dr. Ben Horne (UT Information Sciences)

Panelists:  Dr. Jeremy Blackburn (Binghamton University), Dr. Cody Buntain (New Jersey Institute of Technology), and Dr. Joan Donovan (Harvard University)

Tips and Tricks of the Influencer Economy

3:30-4:45 p.m.

This panel, featuring influencers at three different influencer marketing tiers, will explore some of the interesting and/or surprising aspects of influencer marketing: follower counts, engagement metrics, product endorsements, and more. Whether you are an individual who wants to become an influencer or an agency who needs to hire one, these panelists will enlighten.

Moderator: Dr. Matthew Pittman (UT Advertising & Public Relations)

Panelists: Rachel Rednor (Instagrammer, @lolabarksdale; Executive Director & COO, Fixed Income; Morgan Stanley), Hannah Logoski (AD ’20; freelance social strategist), and Casey Federbusch (influencer marketing professional)


The Importance of Social Media to the Social Justice and Diversity & Inclusion Movement

9:50-11:05 a.m.

Join us for a discussion with Soon Mee Kim, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for Omnicom Public Relations group and one of the PR industry’s leading global DE&I experts and advocates as we discuss last year’s Black Lives Matter and social justice movements, the response of corporate America and the important role social media continues to play in advancing equality and justice.

Moderator: Ed Patterson (PR ’89; Managing Director, Head of Global PR, State Street)

Speaker: Soon Mee Kim (Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Omnicom Public Relations)

Pivoting in a Pandemic – First to Close, Last to Open

1:10-2:25 p.m.

As the first to close and last to reopen, the music and entertainment industry around the world has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Join members of the Country Music Association’s team to understand how they were forced to pivot and adjust to continue supporting the ecosystem from the artists you know and love to the many people behind the scenes who make everything happen.

Presenters: Mary Overend (AD ’09; Director, Marketing & Consumer Engagement, Country Music Association), Michael Farris (Business Intelligence Lead, Country Music Association), and Tiffany Kerns (Political Science ’07; Vice President, Community Outreach, Country Music Association)

UTSMW 2021 Keynote Presentation

NOT WORKING: Why 2010s Marcom Skills Wont Be Successful in 2021 and How the Shift From Right-Brain” to Left-Brain” Marketing Reinforces the Responsibility of Ensuring Marketing Equality

6:00-7:15 p.m.

The transformation from what we used to call “right-brain” to “left-brain” marketing is upon us. The past decade has seen this shift from the marketer being seen (primarily) as an idea person, who’s cleverness is measured by their number of industry awards, to that of a more data-driven thought leader. In few industries has “what makes a person successful” changed so much, so fast.

With this data-first approach, marketers have the ability to precisely identify and target their audience.

Back in 1905, marketing pioneer (and department store founder) John Wannamaker said, “I know I waste half my marketing, I just don’t know which half.” So, we’re doing better at that targeting than we ever have…

But with this ability to target also comes the by-product to exclude audiences. Either intentionally or unintentionally, some audiences may not receive a marketing message. Or a discount. Or other content. What if we’re marketing a job opportunity? What about a lower-rate mortgage? What about a product category (like cosmetics) that has been traditionally marketed based on traditional gender identification. Is this discriminatory? Is this wrong? With this power comes responsibility. Adam Brown will share insights learned from conversations with CMOs from across the globe in our keynote session for the 10th anniversary of UT Social Media Week 2021.

Presenter: Adam Brown (AD ’94), Executive Strategist, Salesforce