Last Thursday, Aidan King and I were able to go to the UNH Alumni Executive Forum at the Omni Parker House in Boston. As work study students involved with New & Emerging Media as Social Media Associates, we represented the University and spoke with alumni about their experiences in school and how that affected their career choices.
The star of the show was Mike Proulx, a UNH (’95) alum and current Senior VP and Director of Social media at Hill Holiday. He spoke about his successes in social media,as well as about his new book, Social TV. Recalling his days at UNH, Proulx impressed upon the room of alumni, staff, and students that it wasn’t necessarily his classes that made him who he is today, but rather his experiences. Of all of his experiences, though, he will forever remember the late Don Harley, a faculty member (Treasurer of the Student Activity Fee) who was his mentor during his time in student government.
One of his favorite Don Harley quotes was this: “It has been said that there are four kinds of educators. Those who see students as widgets passing on an assembly line, those who see students as vessels to be filled, those who see students as un-molded blocks of clay, those who see students as lamps to be lighted. All great teachers should strive to be a lamplighter.”
Proulx dedicated his book to Harley, noting that his “lamp is forever lighted due to the mentoring he received.”
UNH, according to Proulx, sets a foundation for a community. Upon arriving Thursday morning to the Forum, he recognized the same excited buzz he used to hear from students on campus back during his studies. When asked to provide advice to students regarding their time at UNH, Proulx was adamant about student involvement on campus. Proulx believes that through student organizations students can go beyond their course-load to put the skills and theories they learn into use. “You’ll never regret not partying harder.” Proulx insisted, “Now is the time to take risks.” During a student’s time at UNH, Proulx says, students should be active. They should be curious, publish content, be thought leaders and interact with their environment and the people within—as a student, a mistake will cost you less, and teach you more. Lastly, Proulx encouraged students to work in teams, and to learn technical skills. To look under the hood of what you’re studying, and dig deeper than just the bare essentials of what you’re learning.
As Katie said, much of Proulx’s speech was focused on encouraging and inspiring students. He wanted to not only light a fire beneath the students in attendance, but pave the way for his fellow alumni and show how to be a successful role-model and leader.
Once his initial words of motivation were finished, Proulx attained a different look in his eyes – a spark. You could see an amplified wattage in his stare. He was about to delve into his forte; his niche: Social Media, New Media, and the future of entertainment. They are all cogs of an intricately intertwined machine. One that emphasizes inter-connectivity, engagement, and some savvy technological advancements.
This is what his book – Social TV – was all about. How the internet revolutionized television, rather than how it “destroyed it” as many predicted. Rather than fill your screen with pedantic details, I think it’d be best to give a brief (and amateur interpretation) of his message. Be wary, these thoughts are my own, and I in no way am saying that Mike Proulx is a Snooki lover. For all I know, he could prefer JWOWW.
1) TV viewers want to be connected. If you’re a diehard MTV junkie, you’ll be able to talk to those around you about the latest episode of Buckwild or that little gremlin on the Jersey Shore. You could also be one of those viewers who ONLY has cable “because of sports.” Or maybe you prefer watching the plot-driven, high-quality TV dramas (Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, etc). Or, perhaps you use television as your major news outlet (probably a bad idea, unless you want to hear about how Obama launched a meteor at Russia to prove global warming is real) — Please note, that last image is photo shopped, and is a JOKE.
The point is this: excessive TV is bad, yeah, but when used in moderation, not only can it be a great form of entertainment (both intellectual and stupidly funny), but it serves as a way of bring mutual viewers together.
2) Combine that with the power and vastness of the internet, and you have a very powerful form of connecting people. Social Media is the future. It’s revolutionizing the technological world right now, and from a business perspective, you better be sure that you use it properly. From a media perspective (and for those who use Twitter and Facebook as strictly personal outlets), it’s the prime way to share thoughts, musings, and information about the media you consume.
Personal interjection: Please keep your Instagram pictures of food off my timeline. a) I’m hungry, and that’s just cruel and b) I simply don’t care.
However (WARNING, Walking Dead AND Sherlock SPOILERS BELOW), if you have a theory about whether or not Merle and Daryl are going to stay loyal to the “group” in the Walking Dead, or how exactly Sherlock successfully faked his suicide AND managed to kill off Moriarty, then by all means, Tweet away!
That’s more of a tease than anything. Social media has no rules. With the exception of soliciting any illegal activity or harassing fellow users, feel free to use it as you wish. But keep in mind, your generation is the most technologically advanced and “tuned in” since the advent of mankind. Don’t squander that privilege. Carpe Diem! Sieze the day! And send a Tweet. On second thought, maybe go for a hike first. THEN unwind by watching some TV.
Make good use of your time at UNH. Take advantage of the environment around you. The world is in a constant state of change. Do what you love, and love what you do. One of my favorite stats is this: There are more Facebook users TODAY than there were internet users 10 years ago. You’re fortunate enough to be a contributing factor to that stat, as you read this article on a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. Technology is booming, now more than ever. All businesses need media management. All industries need it ,too. Keep an open-mind and put in the work; the opportunities will present themselves to you. If they don’t, Mike Proulx has already promised he will take FULL responsibility (and all that entails) for your failure. But you didn’t hear that from me!