Monday, January 24, 2011

COMM 675 Capstone

This program started out being one of the harder things I’ve done in my life.  I entered the program confident in my prior work skills and in my overall abilities, yet in my classes the first semester I felt as if I’d been dropped into an alien world where my normal abilities were useless.  Reflection brings perspective to my memories and points to something less terrible...I just didn’t know it all!  As I look back over the past two years, I find that this program has both increased my knowledge and profoundly impacted and changed me: I am better able to embrace the unknown and deal with change, and am now a more humble life-long learner.

I learned the value of research, of the discipline of reading about a subject, analyzing it, synthesizing it, writing it, and my Capstone project will give me an idea of how to actually conduct research.  It is the research, grounded in thought and theory, that looks at application and real-life impacts of communication practices.  I began my course of study having little interest in theory, but now see that theory informs practice and can actually lend credibility to communicative actions.  My critical thinking skills have developed beyond “prove it”, and include interest in the underpinnings of an argument or position - I want to understand  the “why” and “why not”, and have a framework that transcends particular issues which provides me with a broader way to evaluate things.

My favorite course subjects were Persuasion, Coaching, Crisis Communications, and Leadership.  I gained context in my Organizational and Employee Identity course, and was pleased with the social media knowledge and skills I learned from my Strategic Communications course.  I am grateful for the push to explore alternate communications mediums - I value that I can now create podcasts and video shorts as a result of my Masters program.

My goal is to use my learnings from this program and craft them into a personal consulting business.   I want to help businesses adapt to changes in the workplace and to rethink how their organization communicates; I see an opportunity in bringing social media to small business and would also like to incorporate some one-on-one professional business coaching.

Social media consulting:  The world is changing and small business needs to innovate in order to thrive in the new environment. Given the impacts of globalization, the widespread use of technology, the importance of two-way dialog and communities, shifting demographics in the workforce, and social change, effective communication is more important than ever for organizations and for individuals. 

Small businesses can benefit by incorporating the strategic use of social media into the way they connect with clients and customers, employees and affiliates.  Why social media?  Because it is one of the tools that can be used today to communicate with stakeholders.  Many business owners don’t understand how to use social media.  While everyone seems to be talking about it, there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to how to apply the broad concept of social media to specific business communications, workforce management, product/service development, and marketing plans.  To gain competitive advantage, companies need to adapt to the new realities.  It is my goal to help small businesses develop a social media strategy and therefore find the best way to engage in social media for their specific needs and objectives.

Coaching:  Initially I considered incorporating coaching into my consulting business endeavor, yet began to question how coaching would “fit” when I started laying out my Capstone project (which will be my personal business plan).  I want to continue to develop my coaching skills in order to ultimately provide coaching services to leaders, executives and small business owners.  I am empowered by my experiences in facilitating awareness and change in others.  Coaching, with it’s forward focus and action orientation, suits my personality and dovetails with my values. 

Yet I have to be strategic as I create my consulting practice.   I have to consider the consequences of what might happen if I pursued two paths, social media consulting and coaching, at one time.  I believe I cannot do both with excellence, and fear my efforts would be diluted.  The opportunities for social media consulting appear greater for me.  Focus seems important from a practical perspective; social media is changing daily and will require my full attention and time to keep abreast of developments.  From a business perspective it will be clearer to focus on one area when marketing and developing my business. 

There is a sense of urgency today with social media - businesses need help now to figure out how to best participate in this new avenue of communications.  I believe I can create and fill a niche in this area.  Because I don’t want to lose the skills, processes and values that I believe come out of coaching, I hope to incorporate coaching skills (asking powerful questions, listening, and driving to results) in my interactions with business owners during my social media consulting engagements.  So while my business focus will involve social media, my implementation will include skills from my coaching practice.

It is exciting for me to be at this stage in my personal and career development.  I had not foreseen this place, and would not be where I am if I had not chosen to get my Masters of Organizational and Strategic Communications at Queens; I am profoundly grateful for the journey that has led me here today.  I have enjoyed getting to know the people in this program, the students and the professors.  I love the divergent and differing points of view and varied experiences that I have been exposed to as a result of this program.  I value the warmth, generosity and caring that I have found across the spectrum of encounters with the people involved with the Knight School of Communications.  It is both with enthusiasm and sadness that I contemplate graduation and leaving school, but rather than say good-bye, I prefer a bientot...I’ll see you soon! 

Capstone Seminar in Communications Syllabus Capstone Syllabus


  1. Do you consider companies like GroupOn social media? They can certainly give businesses a boost, and have been 'blowing up' recently - they had a pretty tasteless ad during the Super Bowl last night.

    I don't use social media to figure out where to spend my money unless there's some sort of sale involved. GroupOn seems to filling that niche pretty well for now, and sites like steepandcheap, gilt groupe, and the clymb all offer sales on a limited time basis, similar to groupon. If sites like those got integrated into facebook, I'd start using social media to help me shop.

    Until then, social media will remain a place for pleasure, not business. For me at least.

  2. Social media is about connections, a place for conversations and communities, for pleasure and business. So yes, I consider Groupon a part of social media (as is Reddit with its social network).

    As for how you see and interact with social media, I suspect that will change as your situation and needs change. For example, it's a good place to investigate job possibilities and to network.

    I'll check back with you in 6 months!