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School of Journalism and Mass Communication Builds Social Connections With International Students

Posted Oct. 8, 2012 | Katie Fickle
enter photo description
Recent Kent State graduate Color L. Kang created a social
media presence for the School of Journalism and Mass
Communication on Chinese social media platforms to build
relationships with international students as part of her master's
capstone project—"A Bridge to China." Kang conducted several
interviews with alumni and media practitioners to create content for
the social media sites.

Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication is using social media to build relationships with potential students overseas with the help of a social media strategy.

Color L. Kang, recent graduate from the school, created a social media presence for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Chinese social media platforms to build relationships with international students as part of her master's capstone project—"A Bridge to China."

Kang became involved with this project when she saw a need for communication between international students and the university while interning at Kent State University’s Beijing Center.

“I wanted to enhance international students’ experience,” Kang says. “When they come to the university, it’s a culture shock, so I wanted to make them understand campus life and American culture before they arrive.”

Public Relations Professor Gene Sasso worked with Kang to build this social media presence. Sasso explains that he thought this project would be beneficial for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the university as a whole.

“When I first read Color's master's project proposal, I thought, 'Wow!'” Sasso says. “I knew immediately this could be something we could apply. Turning theory into practice happens all too infrequently, and Color's work represented that kind of unique situation.”

Connecting With Chinese Students

Kang explains that she wanted to tap into the social networks most commonly used by Chinese students; therefore, she created accounts on RenRen (similar to Facebook), Weibo (similar to Twitter) and Youku (similar to YouTube).

Kang explains that since the sites went live in summer 2012, the school has gained hundreds of followers and fans in China. The websites are building conversations including subjects ranging from journalism and mass communication courses to grocery shopping options.

“Students are engaging in peer-to-peer conversations,” Kang says. “These interactions are providing students with friends, and familiarity with the university to feel more engaged with Kent State, and generally, more welcome.”

With the rise of social media, Sasso says that these communication platforms would be an effective form of communication for the university to recruit and retain international students. He also says that the strategy is setting the university apart from other schools by showing foreign students that the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Kent State want to build long-lasting relationships with them.

“Before we created this new social media presence, international students were forced to communicate through email,” Kang says. “It’s appropriate for professional conversations, but not as convenient for simple questions about the PARTA bus system.”

Sasso explains that the journalism and mass communication course site is a significant tool for researching information about the school. With this new social media strategy, students are able to engage in two-way communication that is building relationships with and between international students, giving them more confidence in choosing Kent State as their school and their home away from home.

When Kang came to Kent State, she found it scary at first as she became accustomed to living and studying in a country that is considerably different from her native country.

Kang says that she wanted to work on a master's project that she felt passionate about and that would ultimately benefit the university.

“I wanted to create this project because I want to make other international students’ experiences easier. At the same time, I thought that creating a social media presence would, ultimately, benefit the university, possibly for years to come,” Kang says.

For more information about Kent State's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit http://jmc.kent.edu/.