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IJEA Blog: Use social media to maintain your extended family of students

One of the best parts of being a publications adviser is building a camaraderie with students that will endure long after graduation. As Sally Renaud has discovered, using social media to stay in touch with former students is a great way to make those bonds even stronger!

November 15, 2016

sally-photoI shared a video recently on Facebook of a journalism professor talking about teaching copy editing. He was very funny. Very soon afterward, I noticed that the post had 23 likes and comments, and a majority of them were from former students who had worked for the newspaper and yearbook I advised from the mid-1990s till a few years ago.

I have known most of them since they were teenagers. I saw them through their first interviews, bylines and page designs, their first complaint from a reader or source, and their first recognition for journalistic excellent.

But I also saw them through their boyfriend/girlfriend breakups, their first trips on a plane and their first time in a city like New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta or Chicago — wherever we were traveling for a national media convention or workshop.

I have attended their weddings, heralded the birth of their children, cheered them onto new jobs and consoled them when times were hard.

These staffers have gone on to be lovely adults in a variety of professions: high school and college journalism teachers, journalists, business people, public relations practitioners and the like.

And I could not be more proud.

With many I have written letters, exchanged cards. They are part of an extended family that every adviser has.

It’s one of the best parts of the advising job.

Of course, Facebook has created new ways to keep in touch with students long after they have leave your school. Staffs have created group pages that keep them together long after they graduate. Twitter accounts, Instragram posts and Snapchat let us know instantaneously of life changes, from graduations to new jobs to new homes and children.

How wonderful!

We all post things we think others from the staff will find informative, interesting or fun, from job prospects to changes in the AP Stylebook, to Throwback Thursday pictures from past end-of-the-year banquets and staff retreats.

Much is written about the joys of advising. A great example is a regular section called “Adviser Profile,” found in the Dow Jones News Fund’s publication, Adviser Update, which asks advisers to discuss their heroes, most often their advisers.

I will always be their adviser, but through traditional communication and social media, I also always will be their friend.

Dr. Sally Renaud, executive director of IJEA, is professor of journalism at Eastern Illinois University and interim chair of the EIU journalism department.

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