Kate is a junior at Boston University studying Public Relations. She is a member of BU PRSSA's Digital Media and Blog Team where she is the TikTok Team Lead. Kate is also a member of Unleashed Public Relations and part of the promotions team on the Conference Committee for BU PRSSA.
From a relatively young age, I found myself enthralled with social media as a creative outlet and open space for self-expression. Through social media, I could break away from the sheltered existence I experienced as a pre-teen attending a Catholic school. It enabled me to gain greater exposure to and awareness of a variety of ideas, opinions, and different aspects of life and culture.
My growing curiosity about the power of technology and using technology as a means of creative expression fostered my interest in social media and led me to become the Social Media Chairwoman of Gamma Phi Beta. Stepping into this position in December 2021, I quickly became familiar with how social media can be used for public relations purposes by developing visually appealing content to attract the attention of potential new members and alumni.
Social media serves as a lens through which viewers can obtain a sense of the nature, activities, and values of a sorority or other organization. This became especially apparent with the rise of #BamaRushTok on TikTok.
#BamaRushTok, or the TikToks made by students participating in sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama in the summer of 2022, was immediately launched into the mainstream of TikTok and captured the attention of viewers because it offered them a glimpse of an experience that was new, different, and unknown to many and allowed them to observe it in real time. As potential new members documented their outfits of the day for each recruiting event, viewers gained insight into the stressful, emotional, and exhausting experience for students at schools where Greek life is a determining factor of their college experience.
The speed with which this topic gained popularity once again demonstrated the ability of social media to produce viral content. It showed how TikTok and other social media platforms can showcase a particular community on the world stage and spark debates and conversations among thousands of viewers.
Over a thousand miles away, I had to quickly and constantly adapt my strategies in an attempt to generate a buzz for my own sorority following #BamaRushTok and before attention was diverted to the next new thing. Consistent with my commitment to creating inclusive social media platforms for our chapter and my view that a person’s or entity’s social media should reflect who they are, I focused on highlighting our chapter’s diversity and inclusivity.
In the digital age, I understand that a strong social media presence is crucial for Gamma Phi Beta and other organizations to reflect themselves in a positive light. Social media can and, in fact, must be used as a key part of any strategy to reach consumers and to connect with an audience through a screen.
As I enter my junior year as a Public Relations major, I am beginning to appreciate how I can translate my interests into a career after I graduate. My interest in social media initially drew me to PR, as it provides a platform to advertise for and promote the values of an organization through the use of creative content and graphic design. The digital intersections on social media opened my eyes to my interests in art and expression, including photography, writing, music, and fashion, which I can soon incorporate into a career in PR.
Written by Kate Gerrish