Socially Speaking: A Visit from Christy Perry Toughey

Christy Perry Touhey, an adjunct professor and web content manager at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, joined our class to give us the low-down on everything social media. As a communications student exploring the realms of people-to-people communication, it is essential to understand how to get information to our publics in meaningful ways. How do we use social media? How do we use social media from a company and personal perspective? How do we engage our audience? Touhey spoke about the law of the social media land provided great perspectives for incoming social media users.

Although I already have extensive personal and job experience using social media, I found Touhey’s insights useful from a business perspective. She offered advice about engaging your audience by responding, asking questions, and sharing information. With her background in public relations and journalism, she also explained how social media helps people share expert advice and increase awareness about your brand. As students studying public relations, I am glad she stressed that social media has transformed how the message gets to people and how we lack control over the message. This is an important point for us to understand and her advice offered our class a means of helping to shape the message and respond to the negative and positive feedback.

Her most eye-opening points came from her explanation of social media’s impact on social change, for example in Tunisia and Egypt. These examples displayed that social media is more than just a communications tool, but truly the way to change an industry and even the world. Effective communicators need to realize that this method of communication isn’t going to leave anytime soon, so we must learn the ins and outs of these media channels to reach our publics in effective ways.

Something I wish she spoke more about was personal branding and the idea of empathy. In today’s market, we are selling our personal talents and skills as public relations consultants. We are our own brands on social media, and touching on the importance of promoting ourselves and networking would have been extremely beneficial to the class. Additionally, the idea of an “ROI on empathy” is equally important because it shows that brands care about their customers and are working for the people. If explained more, I think it would make the importance two-way communication and understanding more apparent. We cannot just tweet and post content if it isn’t beneficial to our publics (internal and external), and this needs to be stressed to the top communicators and students.

Overall, I enjoyed Touhey’s perspective on social media and feel it was a great jumping off point for students like us preparing to communicate with people in the digital world.


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