Karen King

There are two qualities that Karen King teaches students that aren’t on the syllabus.

“The two main things I hope students get out of my classes are that I would like them to be strategic thinkers and I’d like them to be creative problem solvers,” King said.

It is this unique combination of instilling confidence in her students, providing them opportunities to work with industry partners and her love of media research that led to the naming of King as a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor.

King, a Jim Kennedy Professor of New Media and a professor of advertising at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, has worked in academics for over 30 years, all of it at the University of Georgia. She is currently teaching an advertising campaigns class and media planning classes to graduate students and undergraduates.

“Her teaching is inspiring,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “Students speak of her innovative teaching style, her ability to help them see what they are capable of and her commitment to making sure they learned. As one student wrote she, like UGA, creates successful leaders.”

One of the most important ways that King inspires her students how to work through challenges is by working with industry partners on real projects. King, who worked as a media planner and research supervisor at Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago before teaching, feels that by giving her students real situations, they will develop critical skills and build their toolbox.

“I always tell them at the beginning of the semester that my favorite phrase is ‘it depends,’” King said. “My job is to teach them what it depends on. You can’t tell them what’s up next year or five years from now. What you can do is give them the tools to analyze it and determine creative ways to solve the problems, then they have the tools they need to be successful.”

For this reason, she has helped develop several experiential learning opportunities.  For example, her two most recent campaigns classes have worked with Turner Entertainment Network on research projects for “Conan” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

King has shaped the six-month project that tasks a team of students to research a set of questions set forth by the international media agency PHD Worldwide, on media use and purchase behaviors of millennials. At the end, the agency flies this team of Grady ADPR students to New York to present their findings to the agency.

“Grady has always been committed to experiential learning,” King said. “With PHD Worldwide, our students get the opportunity to put together a very professional presentation.  It’s amazing to see them blossom as they are doing it. They blow away the audience of advertising professionals and clients with what they can do.”

King’s students thrive on these experiences, too.

“She takes great effort to instill relevant challenges into her lesson plans, ensuring that her students have experience developing and presenting advertising solutions to advertisers in the real world,” said Lucas Holt, account manager at Innovation Factory OMD and a former student of King.

It’s seeing this self-reliance in her students that energizes King.

“I’m always proud when my students do so well. When they are presenting and someone else gets to see how wonderful they are, and when they get to see how wonderful they are…it’s those kinds of things that make me proud.”

Date: April 12, 2016
Author:  Sarah Freeman, freemans@uga.edu