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Welcome to my home page!

Please take a look around to see what I’ve been up to lately. I try to keep current as much as I can, but for more timely communication you can find me on Twitter: @hjhether

Hope all is well with you!

Heading into the Home Stretch – Fall 2016

My name is Dr. Heather Hether and I am a faculty member in the Department of Communication at UC, Davis.

This term I’ve been teaching Health Communication (CMN 161) — and it’s been a wonderful course. Even though the course is taught in the evenings, my students show up, ready to engage. We’ve had a productive term discussing the major areas of health communication, including doctor-patient communication, health campaigns, media advocacy, health disparities, social marketing, crisis and risk communication, and more.

I’ve also been busy writing, working on a chapter for an upcoming digital pedagogy textbook — a topic I’m passionate about, and also writing a case study on a media advocacy campaign. More details to follow.

This term I also attended two conferences: the Public Relations Society of America conference in Indianapolis, as well as the National Communication Association conference in Philadelphia. At both conferences, I was able to share my work with colleagues and exchange ideas related to both research and teaching. They were great trips — although both were too quick!

I wish you all the best as we push toward the end of the term!


Writing skills matter – even for your social life!

I have to share this Wall Street Journal article with my students on the importance of writing skills in the world of online dating:


Final assignments

It’s great to be back home after a very productive and enlightening time at the National Communication Association’s annual conference in Chicago. I presented my social network analysis of the Twitter networks formed around California’s five largest HMOs, and the work was well-received.

Here are a few pics that  I managed to grab, in between running from one conference hotel to the other!


Chicago skyline


Art Institute of Chicago


S. Michigan Avenue – reminds me of NYC!

Meanwhile, after seeing the end of the semester in sight for so long, it’s odd that it’s finally here! So, here is a recap of the final assignments that are forthcoming. I’ve also uploaded another copy of the Twitter and extra credit assignments here.

1) Live Tweeting reflection with Storify. You should upload your Storify link to your blog by 5pm tomorrow, Tuesday, November 25. We discussed the details of this assignment last week in class. Remember, the point of it is to have you reflect on the experience of live tweeting. How did it go? What were the challenges and opportunities this tactic provided? What surprised you about it? Did you get any engagement from other Twitter users? What do you think you could have done better? What went great? Do you think this is a worthwhile tactic for an organization – why/why not? How does it support the best practices we’ve been discussing all semester?

2) Final papers and presentations. Final papers are due in class on Thursday, December 4. You should refer to the assignment sheet to make sure you are submitting everything that is required. Also, make sure to give me a hand-out of your PP slides.

Presentations should be 10-15 minutes long, and should essentially go through your final papers. On Tuesday, December 2, Megan, Mac, and Gitaine will present, and everyone else will present on Thursday. Therefore, we will have 2 shorter classes.

3) Extra credit. Extra credit assignments (optional) are due on Tuesday, December 9, 12pm, via email to me. More information is in the attached file.

3) Graduate students: Your final Arthur W. Page Case study is due December 12, 12pm. It need only include the case analysis and teaching note. PP is not required by 12/12, but is required for submission in January.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the time with your friends and family.

Blog prompt for next week

I hope everyone is recovering from a busy last week and enjoying the weekend. Congratulations, again, to the Theatre Team for doing a great job with their plan. I hope you’re all feeling energized for the next phase of the project! Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the Music Team’s presentation this week.

As promised, here is your blog prompt for this week’s entry:

For this week’s blog post, you should critically reflect on the readings and this week’s topic of how to build and maintain online community and conversation. What are the lessons that Groundswell, in particular, teaches us about engaging online communities? What are your favorite case studies from the book that illustrate effective engagement? Furthermore, based on our other readings, our guest speaker, your own campaigns, what do you think are the critical components of engaging publics on social media? Where do you think most campaigns go wrong?

Plans, production, and pitches

We had a really productive and invigorating class last night, C193/293! It was great to see how engaged and thoughtful everyone was with their plans. As we gear up for your pitches, I wanted to share some additional thoughts on your work.

Social Media Plans. As you can see, your plans, while not very long in page length, contain a lot of thoughtful substance. Every part of your plan is important and each section sets up what follows. Therefore, while an individual team member may be managing a particular part of the proposal, you must make sure it all works together, and also make sure key decisions are undertaken as a group — i.e. narrowing publics; strategies; calendar; etc.

As you continue to refine your strategies, you should be mindful of both your content strategy — i.e. what you will post on each of the platforms – and most importantly, don’t forget about the relationships you want to cultivate. Remember, these media are best used to facilitate two-way engagement, not solely pushing content out to your key publics. You must also be mindful about  how you can encourage your publics to push content (i.e. “talk”) to you. Also, think about the communities you want to cultivate across your platforms. Try to move away from an old-model of one-way messaging to cultivating engagement/interaction with your Client, and also amongst your community members. Your strategies and tactics need to be very specific in terms of what you will post and how your will engage your publics.

Your key messages are also important. What is it you want to say to your key publics? Is there a call to action? Again, beyond promoting an album or show, think about how you want your community members to engage with you and each other on these platforms. I’m reminded of the Mini Cooper campaign discussed in Groundswell and how the campaign planners realized that Mini Cooper owners loved to talk to each other about their cars. What will your key publics talk about with each other? Which conversations will your campaign participate in? Have you identified hashtags for your campaign? This might help you focus and identify your key messages.

Production. As you map out the calendar, you should also prepare sample posts or topic ideas, and identify who will be doing what, when (from your team).

Pitches. I estimate your pitches should be around 20 minutes. Every team member needs to have a speaking part and exhibit confidence in your proposal! You do not need to go into all the background research, only do as much set-up as you need to, to support your proposal. The rationale for your campaign should be clear to your Client. They will be especially interested in your strategies and tactics — how you will engage key publics online and through which channels — so this section needs to be very well developed and well-delivered.

Pitches are a key part of the creative services business. Typically, you will have several firms competing against each other for a Client’s new business (i.e. if the Client issues a Call for Proposals, or “Request for Proposals” (RFQ) ). To get you excited about your presentations, I include two videos below for your viewing pleasure.

This one features Ad Executives discussing the process of pitching:

AMC, “The Pitch” excerpt

And, here’s an inspired concept pitch from the show, “Mad Men” discussing the Kodak slide projector:

Let me know what you think of these videos — do they inspire you or intimidate you? (Hopefully, the former.)

Keep up the good work!