South African-born Felicity Duncan @felicityduncan is a former Fulbright Scholar who worked for ten years as a journalist before transitioning to academia. She holds an MA from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests focus on digital communities and the ways in which communication tools support and enable them.
Felicity current role as Professor of digital communication in the Cabrini communication faculty in Philadelphia focused on courses for the new digital communication and social media major. She has worked in Ireland, her birth country of South Africa, as well as in the US. Felicity has authored “Exploiting Traditional Content through Online Platforms” for Revenue Generation for Robust African Media: Practical Ideas, Experiences and Innovations of Frontline Managers (2007) and co-authored “Pro and Anti-Americanism in Sub-Saharan African” for the International Journal of Public Opinion Research (2013). As a teacher Felicity provides her students with a “360 degree competence across all kinds of platforms”
Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
I’m a recovering journalist, a writer, a freelance marketing consultant, and an academic who spends a lot of time thinking about what our digital lives are all about.
Tell us about your typical day in communications/workplace?
My day begins with e-mail. Before I get out of bed I grab my phone to check my e-mails, scroll through Twitter, and take a look at my calendar. I spend my commute listening to podcasts on digital life like Note to Self and Reply_All, and then I head into the classroom to talk to my students about social media and the exciting things they can do with it. We may debate the ethics of sexting, or work on a social media marketing plan. When I’m not in the classroom I’m usually working on a writing project, or planning my next piece of research. When I get home, I may spend a few hours working on a market research project for a freelance client.
When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?
Probably when I was about eight years old and I would force my younger brother to sit with me at the living room table and draw advertisements for made up products.
Which tools can’t you live without?
So many! My phone, my tablet, and a million software platforms that do amazing things – Buffer, R, and a whole lot more.
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
Finding enough hours in the day to manage all the projects I want to work on.
What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?
When I started my career, we were in the earlier days of digital media. Things were moving online, social networking was emerging, but it was still an open question how things were going to evolve. I think the biggest change therefore has been the unfolding of the digital and, especially, the data revolutions. In 2004, when I started working in communications, we really couldn’t imagine the fascinating ways that our use of data and information would evolve as digital technologies matured.
What quality do you look for in your communication team members?
I really value people who know how to figure things out. Many time, I’ll ask someone to pick up an entirely new platform and run with it, and people who are able to figure out how to do that on their own are the best people. Knowing how to learn, being ready to learn through trial and error, and having the back-end technical skills to adapt to new platforms and tools – that’s my favourite quality.
What’s your favourite brand?
I think one of the most interesting brands I know of is Paizo. It’s a game systems publisher based out of Seattle, Washington. It’s a really interesting company. It has successfully built a really passionate, committed community, and it actively involves its community members in the product creation process. Paizo fans and users write source materials, they run Paizo events, and they play test new game components, all of it for free. Paizo also hosts a sprawling and well-trafficked online community, with thousands of highly active message boards. Really an interesting and innovative business.
What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?
I strongly recommend Dataclysm, by Christian Rudder.
What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?
Be brave. Everyone is as scared as you are!