Photo (c) Robert K. Elder. All rights reserved.

In preparation for a recent workshop regarding the use of social media in crisis communications, I invited a Chicago-area journalist to join our panel. That journalist, Robert K. Elder, was entertaining, informative and provocative—exactly what I had hoped he would be.

Elder was one of two journalists on the panel. The other was Teresa Schmedding, managing editor for digital at the Daily Herald Media Group. Both Elder and Schmedding attracted the bulk of questions from among the 50 attendees of the May 17 workshop, “Crisis Communication Planning in a Social Media World.” But Elder’s obvious interest in, and comfort with, social media tools and techniques resulted in the opportunity for attendees to see how they could incorporate social media into their communication planning and personal use.

The workshop was organized by the PR Council of Lake County. I’m a member, and was a bit embarrassed when Elder (kindly) pointed out privately at the beginning of the event that we didn’t have a Twitter account. Fellow PRCLC member Donna Antu quickly registered @PRCLakeCounty, and we were tweeting before the workshop ended.

I appreciated Elder’s desire for PRCLC to “walk its talk” about social media. He obviously does, as evidenced by his Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., etc. accounts. I felt that Elder was encouraging  workshop attendees to experiment with social media tools. In the context of crisis communications, he pointed out how journalists are monitoring social media sites for news tips. It obviously behooves company public relations professionals to be ready to engage in online conversations.181455_503850032997599_406437246_n

After the workshop, I enjoyed digging a bit online into Elder’s professional pursuits outside of his day job as an editor for Sun-Times Media. He is an author of several popular books and teaches journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School and Columbia College. Read his bio.

Another great professional connection made, thanks to PR Council of Lake County.