Social Media: Penn State’s Office of Social Media’s Geoff Rushton


I recently caught up with Penn State Office of Social Media’s social media manager Geoff Rushton to talk social strategy, trends and how social media has aided Penn State University in crisis over the past year. Geoff is a Penn State Class of 2001 College of Communications graduate with a strong background in journalism, public relations and new media management.

Established in the fall of 2011, the Office of Social Media is keeping a pulse of what is going on in the social sphere on and off campus as well as providing guidance and collaboration for individuals or organizations who want to fine tune their social efforts.

“The great thing for us at Penn State is that there are a lot of people here to learn from.” said Geoff of the benefits of exploring social media on Penn State’s diverse campus.

Dear Old State’s social media following boasts nearly 350,000 members. It’s the responsibility of the Office of Social Media to keep up with, what Geoff referred to as, a “wealth of content” ranging from the College of Agricultural Science to the Clown Nose Club. He also noted the challenges that the surplus of content brings.

When crisis emerged in the past year at the University, millions all over the world weighed in over the social media airwaves to publicize their thoughts. Geoff explains the approach the Office of Social Media took to facilitating conversations, disseminating news,  and responding to questions surrounding the “white hot” issues via Penn State’s social channels.

To wrap my conversation with Geoff I asked him a couple questions about emerging trends he anticipates in the coming year and his thoughts on the current state of the social media workspace. Geoff explains how anyone can make social media part of their career.

A very big thank you to Geoff Rushton for his time and  insight.

Featured Startup: PSU Pledge



Interview with PSU Pledge co-founder Cory Trimm

Q&A with PSU Pledge co-founder Garrett Miller

Q: What is and how does it work?

A: Put most simply, PSU Pledge is a Twitter-driven donations engine benefitting the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. PSU Pledgers simply “authorize” the PSU Pledge application to their Twitter account, make a pledge per tweet, credit an organization if you like, and watch your total pledge grow between now and THON – and see how your friends are doing as well. Once you reach the $50 threshold, you’re able to verify your pledge – lending some credibility to large donations. What’s unique about PSU Pledge is that we don’t handle your Twitter account information, or your payment information at all. We use Twitter’s OAuth API system for all Twitter functions, so we never see your password, and all donations are still handled through THON’s in-place donation system.

Q: When did you start working on

A: I began conceptual work on PSU Pledge back in late July, around the same time that the NCAA sanctions came out. Daily, all I saw was negative publicity surrounding the University community that I love, and in my frustration, I was inspired to do something impactful for Penn State. Since then, this has been a project I’ve worked tirelessly on in between sleeping and working full time, and while exhausting, was also immensely rewarding.

Q: What was your goal when you started developing the site?

A: Our goal was simply to create a new, innovative way for people to direct money towards the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, by doing something they already do, and making it fun. By “gamifying” it through allowing PSU Pledgers to compare themselves and their organizations against their friends, as well as share their pledge totals, we hoped that this would encourage users to perhaps tweet more, spreading the word about THON in the process.

Q: How has the goal changed?

A: The overall goal of PSU Pledge has not changed – to simply be a fun, innovative way to drive fundraising to a remarkable cause, all For The Kids. However, from the outset, we did have to make some scope changes simply based on time available to devote to the project. That said, we’re looking to the future, and still have plenty of ideas of what we hope is yet to come.

Q: What’s PSUPledge’s future OR What can we expect from this group of developers in the future?

A: PSU Pledge’s future is to grow – we want to expand our team, enhance our site and its functionality, and add support for other social networking platforms. To eventually move into the space of an even more comprehensive web application, more sharing options and better support for mobile devices, we think that PSU Pledge has a very bright future ahead of it – getting there just takes time and talent.

Follow @PSUPledge on Twitter | Visit to learn more

#LoveForLexi by Jerry Rizzo



The THON community is back at it, showering a little girl named Lexi with love and support as she fights for her life.

Lexi supporters took to Facebook and Twitter yesterday to help grab the attention of Taylor Swift, who happens to be Lexi’s idol. Lexi had recently attended one of Taylor’s concerts and was unable to meet Taylor after the show.


Many awoke to an email in their inbox and were encourage to share the message via email, Facebook and Twitter

In true THON fashion, Penn State students, alumni and other awesome supporters hit the social web with a flurry of posts and tweets to Taylor Swift or @TaylorSwift13 in attempt to persuade her to meet Lexi (Who is actually from Swift’s hometown.).

The flurry of messages, photos and videos went viral into Thursday night and supporters have not relinquished into today.

The official Love for Lexi: Meet Taylor Swift Facebook event is now boasting over 3,000 attendees.

Below is the original email that sparked Love For Lexi  and instructions on how you can help Lexi Barnett’s dream come true:

Hi everyone,

Recently, Lexi Barnett, the Singing LionsFour Diamonds child, went
to a Taylor Swift concert in Newark.  She’s been in a lot of pain for
a long time now and they didn’t even think they could get her to the
concert, but when they told her she was going to meet Taylor, she said
she didn’t care and went anyway.  Record producers ended up not
letting her back to see Taylor and Lexi is now on a pain pump and
can’t leave her bed, so meeting her at another concert is out of the
question.  Lexi has stage 4 Neuroblastoma and is on hospice.

All she wants is to meet Taylor Swift and my org is determined to make it happen.

Here are the 3 quick ways you guys can help:

1) Post one of the following videos on Taylor’s Facebook (some have
had problems posting on her wall, but post in her picture comments or
ANYWHERE – as long as the message is somewhere she might see it)

and include the message “A little girl named Lexi recently went to one
of your concerts.  She is very sick and would LOVE to meet you.”
2) Tweet at Taylor: @taylorswift13 A little girl named Lexi recently
went to one of your concerts. She is very sick and would LOVE to meet
you #loveforlexi…if you want to make it really easy, I’ve been tweeting this from
@J_Farinelli for a while now, so you can simply go and retweet it!

3) Forward this email to former committees, your org, and anyone you
know who might help us out!

Integration 101: What’s Fueling Your Feed? by Jerry Rizzo


I’ve been frequently asked when I tell people about my interest in the social web, “How do you find the time?” or “What do you post?”.  To avoid delving into deep detail about my social media strategy I typically respond with “It doesn’t take much time” or “I post all sorts of stuff”.  The truth is that I’ve used cross platform integration to fuel my social media feeds.  When done correctly you can generate interesting content for your feed in your sleep.  Literally.


Auto-connect to:, WordPress, Tumblr. and LinkedIn


Auto-connect to: Twitter


Auto-connect to: Twitter


Auto-connect to: Tumblr. and StumbleUpon


Auto-connect to: Twitter


Auto-connect to: None

Auto-connect to: Twitter (Will post in your sleep. Told ya.)


 Auto-connect to: None.  I’ve found that Facebook integration is tough.  Too much content and your audience tunes out or un-friends you.  Still searching for the perfect way to fuel my Facebook feed.

5 Memorial Day Weekend Must Haves by Jerry Rizzo


It’s Memorial Day Weekend at last and oh how sweet it is to be on the heels of summertime once again.  Whether you’re cutting out of the office early to venture into the wilderness or you played hooky to beat the traffic down to Sandy Hook, there are a few common things that all of us look forward to indulging in every Memorial Day Weekend.

I’ve compiled a short, but vital list of must haves for having the ideal Memorial Day Weekend.


You already know what’s on the menu this weekend.  Something sweet. Something spicy. There’s something for everyone when the charcoal is lit.  From brats to burgers, there’s never a better time to feast on good grillin’ than Memorial Day Weekend. is a great site for grille masters to round-up a few recipes that will really wow the crowd this weekend.


Now’s your chance to show off that hard earned beach bod or lack there of, but either way who cares? It’s time to heat the beach or “the shore” to some.  It’s time to open up the old beach house, kick back, turn up the Tom Petty and relax.  The sights and sounds of the ocean grant instant clarity after a long time apart.


Mother Nature’s nectar.  Nothing beats a cold brew or two (or twenty for some). Before you purchase your usual light beers this Memorial Day, consider investing in some of these Summer ales.  Your taste buds will thank you.  One of my personal favorites is Shock Top’s Raspberry Wheat Belgian-Style Ale. Dare to be bold in your beer selection this weekend and always drink responsibly.

Yard Games.

Here’s a list of yard games to get your party started this weekend.  Best of luck to you cornholin’ maniacs!  I heard Aunt Millie has been working on her underhand toss in the off-season.

Live Music.

Nothing like live outdoor music to tap your feet to in the Summertime.  Whether it’s a local act or Prince himself make it a point to take in some tunes this weekend.  With that said, I am going to leave you with one of my all-time favorite Summertime feel good anthems.  Ladies and gentleman, the Zac Brown Band live!!! (Applause)