Nigel Robertson broadcasts live from Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center for WYFF News 4.
Image Credit: Nigel Robertson

Clemson’s communication department is adding two lecturers this fall, one from the ranks of local TV news and the other from inside the university’s own executive leadership team. Nigel Robertson, an anchor and reporter for WYFF News 4, will teach a course on social media platforms and their impact, while Mark Land, Clemson’s vice president for university relations, will teach a course on public relations and strategic communications.

Robertson won’t be coming into the communication department cold; he’s already spent a great deal of time in its Social Media Listening Center covering the 2016 presidential election and other topics for WYFF through the lens of social media. Robertson said he was honored to be approached to teach a course on social media and looks forward to sharing his experience with students.

“I’ve always found social media to be a powerful way to communicate news, and I think the team at the Social Media Listening Center picked up on my enthusiasm for it because I practically lived there,” Robertson said, laughing. “Little did I know a few months later I’d be invited to become part of the Clemson family.”

Robertson plans to cover the creation and purpose of several different social media platforms as well as best practices in their use. He also hopes to tackle the impact social media can have on people’s personal lives and how social media has affected free speech, given power to individuals and affected governments.

Aspects of the course will revolve around sports reporting and coverage through social channels. Robertson plans to analyze Clemson Athletics’ social media use and how it became an integral part of communication during Clemson football’s national championship run.

“I think Clemson social media changed the game for other universities and it was amazing to watch,” Robertson said. “Fans were able to enjoy a great deal of the sports experience through social media, and I think the rule book Clemson established in that form of communication can be seen as a ‘how to’ for building excitement online.”

Image of Mark Land, new Clemson VP of University Releations

Clemson University Vice President of University Relations Mark Land.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Students in Land’s course on strategic communication will certainly benefit from his decades of experience in public relations, but they’ll also get a seasoned instructor. Land taught courses at Indiana University on public relations writing and strategy while serving as its associate vice president of public affairs and government relations, and he has over 10 years of experience teaching classes on topics ranging from reporting to media ethics.

Land’s course will explain the importance of understanding an organization and its many audiences so that communication can be effective and well timed. He plans to employ a combination of lectures and case studies which will inevitably lead to discussions about handling sensitive topics, but Land said he will be there to encourage critical thinking skills instead of preaching one correct view or approach.

“In order to represent an organization well, you have to be able to listen to what audiences are saying,” Land said. “The course will be about deciding what to take into consideration, how to frame an issue and how to deliver information to your audience. It’s not about convincing students that an answer or approach is the right one.”

Like Robertson, Land also hopes to explore the impact of technology. He describes advances in social media and communication technology as a double-edged sword that allows organizations to deliver unfiltered content, but one that also leads to magnified mistakes and more “noise.” Land said teaching has often allowed him to escape that noise.

“As a first-generation college graduate, I have experienced the power of education to change the course of one’s life,” Land said. “The time I spend with students really lends perspective to my work and helps remind me of the privilege it is to represent a great university like Clemson.”

Joseph Mazer, associate professor and associate chair of Clemson’s communication department, said he was thrilled that both Robertson and Land were open to the department’s invitation to serve as guest lecturers. Mazer said Robertson and Land’s fresh perspectives will be sure to challenge and enlighten students in equal measure.

“Teachers of this caliber can paint for students a realistic picture of how media works beyond the walls of a classroom,” Mazer said. “Getting a fresh perspective from media experts like Nigel and Mark who live and breathe this work every day can be truly inspiring for our students.”

Robertson and Land join communication lecturers Wanda Johnson, communication strategist in Clemson’s university relations department, and Eric Rodgers, director of Clemson Broadcast Productions, who offer courses addressing the latest issues and trends in broadcast production, media writing and storytelling.