Social media is the big game-changer for the communications industry today, said Barbara Iverson, 2012 Chamberlin lecturer, and evolving with social media is how media companies will continue to thrive.
Iverson, the president of financial services industry practice group at Weber Shandwick, a leading global public relations firm, spoke to students, faculty and community members in Scheman Hall as part of the annual Margaret and L. Eugene Chamberlin Lecture Series October 2.
In addition to being selected as this year’s lecturer, Iverson was also awarded the James W. Schwartz Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism and Communication, making her a “double winner,” as Greenlee School Director Michael Bugeja said.
Iverson began her career as an undergraduate at Iowa State. At the beginning of her lecture, Iverson reminisced about her days studying at the Greenlee School and reporting for the Iowa State Daily, where she and her team made the then-controversial decision to publish a front-page photo of a streaker.
“I’m a huge advocate of the Greenlee School of Journalism, and I credit a lot of my career success to the training I received right here on this campus and in Hamilton Hall,” she said.
Iverson gave more credit to Lost Nation Press in Clinton County, Iowa, where she accepted her first job out of college as editor-in-chief.
“The ability to discern and think critically is at the heart of journalism, and it’s the training that has helped me and many others deal with the changes of the scale that we’re all enduring now,” Iverson said.
In the 36 years since Iverson graduated, she said changes in business, politics and education, as well as journalism and the way people receive information have been nothing short of transformational.
Iverson argued that social media are turning our world upside down, making attention to truth, the First Amendment and ethics more important than ever as more and more companies have turned to digital platforms to promote their brands.
“Brand journalism” is now the name of the PR game, Iverson told the crowd of almost 400. Compare this to “investigative journalism,” which she said was the name of the game in the seventies.
Traditional journalism, public relations and advertising are blending and blurring as each profession seeks to provide value and engage with an audience.
“Accurate, clear, transparent communication tactics have always been a part of safeguarding any organization’s reputation, and using these new digital and social media tools will help organizations stay ahead of the pack these days,” Iverson said.
Iverson stressed that the news industry is simply changing, not dying, and public relations in particular is a rapidly growing industry full of many opportunities for ambitious, smart, well-trained communicators.
“I prefer to think of journalism as an evolving profession that will offer many wonderful careers in the future. I’m here to predict that quality journalism programs like Iowa State’s Greenlee School and careers in PR are both big growth areas for the future,” Iverson said.
The Chamberlin Lectures are sponsored by alumni Margy Chamberlin and her late husband, Gene, who admired a similar program at South Dakota State. Margy said she and her family were so glad they could continue the program at Iowa State.