Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Without further ado, here’s what they had to say:
Why did you choose to use twitter?
Ross Bjork (@Rossbjorkad) Athletic Director- Western Kentucky University
I discovered how useful twitter was in aggregating news stories in summer of 2009 and found it very effective in keeping up with the latest news around the world of sports. Once I became an AD it was my philosophy to be as accessible as possible to our fans and community and I thought Twitter was the perfect way to share messages and comments about our athletic program in a real time and immediate format.
Jim Fiore (@JDFiore) Athletic Director- Stony Brook University
Over the past several years we have been in the process of revamping Stony Brook’s image through a multitude of marketing strategies, including the increasingly popular social networking media tools, Facebook and Twitter. The Internet has proven to be one of the most effective ways to reach a wide audience, ranging from students and alumni to friends of the University, and other key supporters. Sites such as Twitter allows us to reach out to massive amounts of students, free of charge, to alert them about not just sporting events, but even deadlines and press releases. Therefore, it was only natural to utilize this extremely powerful marketing and promotional tool. Its a great way for me as an AD to info share and give insights on a number of levels. Personally, I chose Twitter on a recommendation from a friend. For me its my initial source of information and news. Especially regarding my interests, hobbies and profession. I love it.
Jamie Zaninovich (@WCC_Commish) Commissioner West Coast Conference
While I was admittedly skeptical of a medium whose focus is "what's happening?" in 140 characters or less, I soon enough recognized that twitter is an important emerging technology. The fact that it allows any user to tell his/her story and/or relay important information in a very immediate, concise, and directed manner makes it very powerful.
Craig Pintens (@lsupintens) Assistant Athletic Director Marketing- LSU
I started our twitter account at Marquette and when I came to LSU started managing some of our accounts. I realized I was relying on twitter for breaking news and wanted to sign up for my own account. When I made the decision to start tweeting I wanted to provide insight into LSU Athletics and have it as an extension of our customer service.
Bill McGillis (@USFInsiderBillM) Executive Associate AD University of South Florida
Wanted to experiment with emerging technology and trend to determine if useful in communicating with our constituents at USF
Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck) Assistant Commissioner- SEC
Necessity really. I was admittedly late to the Twitter party, but it has become a source of instant information and news, and in our world, you are a step behind to ourselves and those we serve if our friends and family who use Twitter get news and information before we do. So it’s a must for any of us in this day and age, at least to follow people, even if you don’t send information. With that said, one of many negatives about Twitter is often some of that “breaking news” can be completely inaccurate without any repercussions. I’ve heard Twitter referred to as a necessary evil in 2010 – I would tend to sometimes agree with that.
Dan Butterly (@DanButterly) Associate Commissioner- MWC
I chose Twitter initially due to some friendly pressure from my friends at SportzFan radio in Melbourne Australia. (http://sportzfanradio.com/). I am on the show every two weeks giving a report on U.S. sports and discussing the latest in the Mountain West Conference. Mark Seymour and the guys in studio kept asking me when I was going to get on Twitter and finally did about 18 months ago. I just unlocked my “following” feature and am starting to get some people following my account.
Eric Nichols (@ericnichols) Director of Marketing University of South Carolina
Primarily to learn the medium. There was also a bit of communicating transparency to Gamecock fans with some self-branding sprinkled on top.
Mike Richey (@mikericheymsu) Associate Athletic Director- Mississippi St University
I started using it to follow others and slowly started sending out my own tweets. I had a hard time believing anyone cared about what I had to say. I was a late adopter but when I started sending out tweets and started picking up followers I started tweeting more frequently. Not long after the Gator Bowl invitation, Scott Stricklin was getting a lot of tweets asking for game and ticket info and he sent out something saying "for Gator Bowl ticket information, follow Mike Richey". I rest of the day my email blew up as I picked up new followers. It was incredible seeing them pop in. Really showed me the true definition of "viral".
Mary Pink- (@maryzpink) Associate Athletic Director- Iowa St University
I started using Twitter because I wanted to learn more about it so we could use it for our department’s social media efforts. I had heard that many people found it to be a useful way to get information each day in a short, concise manner.
Brian Bowsher (@brianbowsher) Director of Marketing & Sales- Marquette University
We started our @muathletics Twitter account in February 2009, shortly after listening to a webinar presented by Kathleen Hessert. I was not too familiar with Twitter at the time, but it seemed like a worthwhile tool to communicate with fans and share content from our official website. We started slowly, posting about once a day, and our involvement has steadily grown over time.
Matt Beckman (@matthewbeckman) Director of Marketing- Gonzaga University
Twitter allows us to engage fans in a different and more personal medium than our website. We are able to send quick messages (most have links) to promote, reward, or pass along inside information for the fans. Twitter also allows for messages to be passed to others giving us “free advertising” in a way that we normally would not reach specific individuals.
Caleb Whitted (@cwhitted58) Varsity Club Assistant- Ball State University
I choose to start using Twitter because I had heard through a number of people that it was a great tool to share and receive information. I also thought that I could use the medium as a networking tool to meet other athletic administrators around the country. One of my best friends works in music public relations and he has really helped me to navigate the twitter medium. We both share best practices with each other to improve our content on twitter.
What do you like about twitter and what has surprised you the most?
Scott Stricklin- (@stricklinMSU) Athletic Director Mississippi St University
I've found Twitter to be a useful tool to powerfully communicate in real-time. And although I know it reaches a (growing) audience, I'm always surprised by the immediacy of the reaction I receive to things that are tweeted.
Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck)
Having a direct avenue to communicate with fans is a big plus, but can also be a negative given the passion fans can have for their teams. Being able to use Twitter to help push your message is a positive, as is fans being able to see and hear a hint of the personal side of the individuals who make up their favorite university, conference office, etc.. I think you will also see administrators use Twitter more and more to “fight back” to what they view as inaccurate information that may appear in published media reports, as well as push their message to their fans, opine about issues they are facing, etc.. My biggest surprise is how dangerous Twitter can be given how the media is able to use it for quotes, something many student-athletes around the country have learned the hard way this fall. The biggest thing that stands out to me on Twitter from my world is it has given many media members who have in the past not being able to publicly voice their opinions on matters (i.e. reporter or beat writer) the ability to give their opinions on any issue (something historically reserved for columnists) using Twitter that don’t appear in their actual articles. That and 3500 people in 9 months decided to follow my feed, which was another huge surprise.
Bill McGillis (@USFInsiderBillM)
1) Instant communication tool; 2) ability to reach hard-core fan in direct way; chance to engage constituents in fairly personal way; 3) Opportunity to share USF story; 4) Opportunity to share and enhance USF brand nationally; 5) fantastic source of industry news and idea generation; 6) professional relationships. Surprises: 1) "Junk" followers/spammers; 2) ease and simplicity of becoming comfortable with it
Jamie Zaninovich (@WCC_Commish)
What I like about twitter is its emergence as the modern day "wire service." By "following" those entities and/or individuals that are most relevant to my specific interests, I can stay current with information that I value most. This is not an easy thing to do in today's modern world where we are all bombarded with information due to the proliferation of information technology. I have been most surprised by the pace of growth of Twitter in the last 12-18 months. Its relevance has grown exponentially over this time period to the point where it now has become, in many instances, the medium of choice for significant announcements/breaking news.
Mary Pink- (@maryzpink)
I love being able to keep on top of stories as they develop. At first, I didn’t like that you could only use 140 characters but now I like the way that you can deliver a message in a concise way and get your point across quickly. I have learned a lot from reading articles that have been shared through Twitter that I otherwise wouldn’t have read. Twitter has also helped me forge new connections with people that I didn’t know in the business or in other areas.
It has surprised me how people can become the voice of a brand or situation through Twitter. Now, anyone can break a story or add to the story-Twitter has provided a voice for many others. As an example, Gene Smith was able to use his twitter feed to refute the story that Coach Tressel was leaving Ohio State. So, people really do listen to what you tweet and it can provide another great avenue for keeping your fans informed and customer service.
Craig Pintens (@lsupintens)
I feel like I have a better pulse of what is going on in the industry and with other schools. If there is breaking news, it happens on twitter, which has made me well-informed. The most surprising thing is how based on how and what people tweet you are able to get a small glimpse into their personality.
Ross Bjork (@rossbjorkad)
The part of twitter I like most is the instant release of information to a mass group of people. Surprises include how fast people respond to your tweets and what you say is taken very literally, so you can’t use too much humor or it could come back and bite you. I have also been surprised (and pleased) with how many of our student-athletes use twitter and follow my comments. When I say something about a Volleyball match, our kids love the support and know that you care.
Dan Butterly (@DanButterly)
I had some concerns related to privacy, but as I learned to use the system and realized what it is, I became a little more trusting of the opportunities it can offer. I was amazed at how much news and reporting you can get through Twitter versus full-time news and sports sites, as well as how much information you can get in 140 characters.
Jim Fiore (@JDFiore)
There are a number of reasons that make Twitter such a great marketing platform for relaying information. Not only is Twitter convenient, but often Twitter allows us to break news before anyone else. It helps us keep news fresh and exciting and can also create a sense of suspense when preparing for a special announcement or press release. We need people to know that once they’ve reached Long Island, they’ve reached Seawolves country. We can relay this information to all of Long Island through athletics and most importantly through the power of social media tools such as twitter. The most evident example was this past March 2010 when our Stony Brook men's basketball team earned its first-ever postseason appearance with a berth into the NIT. Even more incredible was the fact that our Seawolves were charged with hosting Big Ten member and top-seed Illinois in the first round. With only three days to sell out our arena, we took to Twitter to help advertise ticket sales for the game which resulted in a packed-out Stony Brook Arena and record 4,423 fans in attendance ---all without spending any money on print, radio, or television advertisements. What has surprised me the most is the huge reach and ease by which information is shared. The Twitter platform is perfect for a profession that has 18-22 year olds as its main constituents.
Eric Nichols (@EricNichols)
I have found I get 90% of my news from my twitter feeds. I like that I get bits of news as opposed to lengthy in-depth stories. My surprise would be my addiction probably.
Mike Richey (@mikericheymsu)
I like it just because of the speed of sharing information. I have been very surprised at the number of people who will initiate communication through direct messages rather than calling or emailing. Its impersonal but convenient.
Chris Syme (@cksyme) New Media/Communications/Marketing
I like the information curation function of Twitter the best--great source of information if you follow people who are mining info. Good way to get new info. Also, I like it for in-game but hasn't been as popular as Live Chat. What has surprised me the most is that more people aren't using it.
Brian Bowsher (@brianbowsher)
What I like best about Twitter is that it gives our department a channel to deliver extraordinary customer service to our fans. Twitter makes two-way conversation very easy, and our presence on the site gives fans the ability to interact with our department in a style that was not previously possible- tweeting with @muathletics makes fans feel personally connected with us on a 1-to-1 level. What has surprised me is just how actively our relatively small fanbase uses the platform and how online-savvy our fans are—the #mubb hashtag and/or Marquette is consistently the top trend in the city of Milwaukee on game days.
Caleb Whitted (@cwhitted58)
What I like best about Twitter is the speed with which communication can take place. Instead of waiting for the newspaper to come to my doorstep I can now check my Twitter account and be up to date on what is happening in the world of athletics long before the newspapers have had the opportunity to print the information on paper. What has surprised me the most about Twitter is the ability to connect with people from around the country and the sports industry. I have had the opportunity to interact with a number of athletic administrators that I would not have been able to interact with without this medium. Another surprising aspect of twitter for me was the ability to interact with donors and fans of the institution. For example, I may see where someone has posted a great pic of the football team. I am then able to retweet that picture and create a meaningful dialogue with that person.
Matt Beckman (@matthewbeckman)
I like the fact that we can update items quickly, engage fans, etc.Twitter allows for promotion, increased customer service, and twitter’s growth and adaption experienced a large jump in 2010. I believe facebook will still have more interactivity but twitter will remain a nice outlet to get short messages links out especially in the mobile realm where smartphone usage continues to grow.
What advice would you give other athletic administrators about using twitter and other social media platforms?
Craig Pintens (@lsupintens)
The best thing you can do is give a little personality. It isn't all Joe Friday with Just the Facts Ma'am. It needs to be an interaction with your fans and colleagues. If it isn't this, you are missing the boat. Also, if you are going to do it, treat social media like a press conference. If you wouldn't say it in a press conference or media interview than you probably should keep it to yourself. I am going to sound like a grumpy old man (I am getting older), but some of the younger people in our profession don't grasp this at all. Once you are in the public eye, and I would argue anyone in athletic administration is no matter what the level, you have to be careful of what you send out. What might be an innocent joke among friends could become a huge issue if picked up by a fan or media outlet.
Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck)
I think as long as you know that anything you write can and will be attributed as a direct quote as though you were talking to a media member, then that would be top advice I would give. Which can be difficult at times. Twitter makes it tempting to be more personal and open than you sometimes should be. I’ve been guilty of not following this as well at times! Twitter can be a very valuable resource, but as I stated already, can be dangerous as well. There’s not much of a filter on Twitter/social media. Education about the dangers of and do’s and don’ts of social media a university sets for it’s student athletes and staff would be advised (or coming up with a policy if don’t have one). Many of the SEC AD’s use Twitter actively, many of which can be very open, honest and humorous in their posts, as well as very informative. Many in our league use Twitter to break news, which they follow with stories on their website, blogs, etc.
Dan Butterly (@DanButterly)
As noted previously, it is a tremendous resource to get news and reports on the latest in your organization. I would encourage any athletic administrator to sign-up and test the service if they feel a little uncomfortable with the technology. See what others are doing in the industry and then start to Tweet on the latest in what is going on with your area of responsibility. It is a great marketing and PR medium.
Scott Stricklin (@StricklinMSU)
An AD's twitter feed is only as good as the audience that feed has gathered. The more relevant people view the information, the larger the list of followers becomes and the more effective twitter becomes. I try not to waste my followers' time. I think twice before I tweet out something of a personal or humorous nature to make sure it's appropriate and interesting.
Bill McGillis (@USFInsiderBillM)
1)be patient while getting a feel for technology and opportunities that twitter presents; 2) be consistent in communication; respond to as many as possible, if not all, direct messages and mentions as quickly as possible; 3) recognize that Twitter can be one more tool in the tool box when trying to reach and grow your fan base.
Jim Fiore (@JDFiore)
If your not on it....get on it....if you are on it...utilize it and promote it. BUT be careful and be smart because once you hit send what you wrote is public forever. It is essential that today’s college athletic programs utilize all available social media opportunities as a part of their marketing plans if they hope to attract a large, enthusiastic fan base. Twitter and other social media platforms have become an integral part of our marketing efforts, and there is no question that they are a powerful force when it comes to marketing Stony Brook Athletics and our University.
Mary Pink (@maryzpink)
Get on social media! I have told administrators in athletics that if you want to be an AD, twitter and facebook are important for building your brand. I really like how AD’s have used Twitter to inform fans about their program and achievements but they also need to have a personal touch and give out new insights (what are their goals for the department, what is their philosophy, what is their decision making on an issue or what books do you recommend reading or advice you have received). Make a conscious effort to follow the people who follow you in the business (you can make some great connections and learn new ideas), thank people for following you and retweet things that you like that are worth reading.
Jamie Zaninovich (@WCC_Commish)
My only advice would be that you don't have to totally understand it or even have a clear sense of where it is going to start using it. The past decade has proven to us that different technologies are worth "early adoption" as many of them will evolve into essential components of our industry (e.g. Online secondary ticketing, google search, etc.).
Mike Richey (@mikericheymsu)
My advice for other administrators, especially young ones, is to minimize personal information shared via Twitter. I feel like when things get too personal, people tend to tune you out. I try to keep all tweets related to MSU Athletics (except the occasional birthday wishes) and keep personal information restricted to Facebook.
Thorr Bjorn (@thorrbjorn) Athletic Director- University of Rhode Island
If you are going to use any sort of social media/social networking then you need to USE it. Just like any website, if your information is not updated or fresh, people will stop coming back.
Ross Bjork (@Rossbjorkad)
Be real about your messages and keep things consistent as much as possible. Our jobs as AD’s are to be positive voices for our athletic programs so I don’t tweet about negative stories or situations. That’s not to be disingenuous about reality but our student-athletes need to know that we are 100% behind them at all times since so many use twitter. I would say that you need to stay up to speed on current issues and news so your messages don’t become stale or boring.
Eric Nichols (@EricNichols)
Take the humble hat off for a little while and view yourself as an educator/mentor for those “beneath” you in the business. I am not great at that just yet, but that is what I am working on. The reason I am working on that is because I want that from ADs, While it is nice to know a little about the day to day stuff, I am also interested in the decision making processes, etc. Most AD accounts are very boring after a while, but some are really good.
Bill McGillis (Assoc AD at USF) is good, Mark Hollis at Mich State is good.
Chris Syme (@cksyme)
Have a strategy first. Don't do anything that is purposeless. Always ask "why are we doing this? What value does it add to our fans/department/student-athletes/dept. mission? Know the tool box--Twitter is a good broadcaster, Facebook is not. After strategy, get a policy in place that includes personal branding for coaches. Get outside help in doing the first two steps and then be sure you have the time, people and resources to implement your plan before diving in. Know what you're doing. Some school Facebook pages I've looked at are awful and embarrassing. Don't do it because "everyone else is". If you do it, make it strategic and do it well. Have metrics in place to see if it is accomplishing what you set out to do. In short, know what the heck you're doing. If you don't, hire somebody to get you trained (and this isn't your 14-year-old nephew). Invest
Brian Bowsher (@brianbowsher)
My best advice to other administrators is to have a mindset that social media is an opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your fans. Too often I see brands using Twitter to simply push out content. Tweets and facebook posts, etc, should instead be conversation starters. The rub, of course, is that the people managing these sites must then be willing to participate in the conversations that arise and quickly respond to any questions.
Matt Beckman (@matthewbeckman)
If you are new to social media, create an account and start by just following others. Get a feel for what social media is all about. Start to post, re-tweet, comment, etc. Social media is only going to grow and adaption is key, even on a low level.
Caleb Whitted (@cwhitted68)
The best piece of advice that I think I would give someone new to social media is to be yourself when using Twitter. While I wouldn't recommend tweeting about your escapades at the local tavern I think it is very important for your own personality to shine through your tweets. Twitter, especially is a communication medium that allows for you to show the world what interests, motivates, and intrigues you.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I’m not sure many people outside of the industry know what a sport administrator does. There isn’t a simple job description. It’s similar to a General Manager of a professional sports team but without the same type of involvement in player personnel decisions. You wear many different hats: judge, cheerleader, mediator, evaluator, and confidant. The sport supervisor is the ultimate caretaker of the program.
If you ever have the opportunity to be a sport supervisor, I offer a few suggestions:
1. Go on an away game trip with you team- Traveling with the team allows you to interact with the coaches and student-athletes off the field. There is no greater way to get to know someone than by spending a few days with them on the road. You get a feel for the team dynamic, you see first hand how the student-athletes have to balance school responsibilities and on the field competition, and don’t underestimate the value in the team getting to know you on a personal level and seeing your engagement in the program.
2. Develop a good relationship with the support staff- Get to know the trainers, strength coaches, and academic advisors assigned to your sport. These individuals can give you invaluable insight into the innerworkings of the team as they have as much interaction with the student-athletes as the coaching staff. The perspectives you gain from these relationships are invaluable when making important decisions about the program.
3. Build an honest, candid relationship with your head coach. In many ways, I see my job as making sure the head coach and I mutually agree on a set of realistic expectations for the program in all areas. I also believe I need to give my coaches the tools and resources they need to be successful in reaching those expectations. The pressure on college coaches is at an all time high and I don't see that trend ending anytime soon. Coaches experience the highest of highs after a win or the signing of a key recruit and lowest of lows after a loss, key injury or an off the field issue. You need to be a steadying influence and support your coach during those low times. You and coach need to have the type of relationship where you can have a two-way conversation about any aspect of the program in a safe and confidential manner. There will be times where you are going to have to deliver a tough message and the relationship you have with the coach will play a significant role in the outcome of those difficult conversations.
4. Find the gaps in the program and close them. No matter how successful the team is performing there are always areas that need improvement. The more you are around the program, the more you can identify where improvements can be made. You have the influence to affect change but you need to be informed, engaged and willing to use your influence to make the improvements necessary to move the program forward.
It’s not common in college athletics to have responsibilities on the external and internal side of the department but it’s extremely valuable. It’s absolutely made me better at what I do. To my many friends on the external side of the business, find a way to get more interaction with student-athletes. I know it will inspire you to continue to promote and generate revenue for your athletic department.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Shortly after Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh signed as free agents with the Miami Heat, the organization made a significant but much less covered "decision" that caught my eye. They decided to fire their ticket sales staff. Click here to read the article. From my vantage point, many NBA organizations are the leaders in proactive ticket sales models, staff development and training, innovation and strategies planning. Our ticketing department at
For the 2nd consecutive season we have the good fortune of selling our entire football season ticket allotment at
Our ticket sales guys are revenue generating specialists
In football you can’t have enough speed on your team and in athletic departments there’s no such thing as having too many good revenue producers. If you are selling out, there is significant interest in your product. If you have a staff of professional sellers that have existing relationships with your season ticket holders, you are perfectly equipped to upsell your fans to other items of interest surrounding that sport. Here’s one specific example. We are constantly striving to grow the tailgating culture surrounding
We value relationships
Never take a sold out situation for granted and more importantly never take your season ticket holders for granted. One of the most important things our sales staff does is service their accounts after they make the initial sale. We want our fans to have a relationship with their account representative. When they have a question or a concern about
Sellouts are not diamonds- they don’t last forever.
In college athletics, to achieve long term success, championship teams never take the status quo for granted and stop recruiting. I think the same holds true in ticket sales. As soon as you begin to think you can just show up (send out season ticket renewals) and win (sellouts will follow), its just a matter of time before you get a rude awakening.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I’m not advocating that athletic director seek the limelight but I do believe that there is great opportunity in social media and in particular on twitter. The beauty of twitter is that it’s quick, easy to use and the reach is limitless. With all new media it’s important to know why and how you plan on using it instead of doing it because everyone else is. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but I think it gives four tangible reasons for athletic directors to start a twitter account or use it more strategically.
1. Introduce yourself to a new community. A new athletic director spends a great deal of his/her first year gathering information, meeting with internal and external constituencies and getting a lay of the land before implementing strategic directives to improve the department. Not only is the AD getting to know his new community, his new community is shaping their beliefs on their new leader. A new AD will accept as many speaking engagements as possible to begin to engage and seek support for his vision . Consider twitter as a daily speaking engagement with an opportunity to reach hundreds or potentially thousands of fans who are actively looking to hear what the AD has to say. The more information and personality an AD gives them, the more substance they have when forming an opinion on what type of leader the AD is and how much they want to support the program.
Current examples: Greg Byrne- Arizona , Ross Bjork- Western Kentucky, Mark Massari- UC Santa Barbara
2. To share the vision of the athletic department. All ADs have a vision and want to share it. Many athletic directors write a consistent column, answer constituent questions, or even host a video chat. This content is emailed to constituents and/or posted on the official athletic department website. Twitter is a great distribution platform for this content. Because of the high profile nature of the position and because people want to follow people of influence, a well-maintained engaging athletic director twitter account is the most likely administrative account to build the highest number of followers and the greatest amount of influence. Wider distribution of the department vision can result in potential connections for future engagement and support.
Current examples: Thorr Bjorn- Rhode Island
3. Personalization. While never the primary reason for an AD to start a twitter account, it’s a great opportunity to show everyone that you are a real person. Due to the public nature of the position, ADs have to be careful about what they say and how they say it but allowing others a glimpse into your thoughts and actions can have a significant impact. Many times transparency leads to approachability. The more approachable you are internally and externally the more relationships building opportunities are created. Relationships play a major role in the effectiveness of an AD and social media is a great platform to make initial connections.
Current examples: Mark Hollis- Michigan St , Mike Hamilton- Tennessee , Scott Stricklin- Mississippi St.
4. Recognizing the accomplishments of former and current student-athletes, teams and coaches. Everyone knows about the on the field success of the football and men’s basketball programs as they are covered in detail on the Internet, TV, radio, and just about everywhere these days. These sports deserve the recognition they receive and they absolutely should be celebrated by ADs on twitter. But what about recognizing the on and off field accomplishments by student-athletes, teams and coaches that aren’t covered by the mainstream media. What about connecting with your former student-athletes and showing how you value their accomplishments? How much more recognition would these individuals receive if the leader of the department was personally promoting their success? More importantly, what better way to show your appreciation for their accomplishments than by thanking them publicly.
Current examples: Sandy Barbour- Cal , Mitch Barnhart- Kentucky, Steve Cottingham- Marquette
I'd love to hear your thoughts about athletic directors and twitter. Maybe you have another great strategic reason for ADs to tweet or you follow an AD on twiter that does a great job in one of these areas that I failed to mention.
Friday, July 2, 2010
- Whenever you get a chance to listen to Dutch Baughman, do it. He is the Executive Director of the Division 1A Athletic Director's Association. He has a great perspective on the landscape of college athletics because of the number of years he has been in the business, the amount of research his organization compiles and his interaction with ADs around the country. My favorite quote and of the themes of his presentation was "talk about what you know, not what you think." Given the high profile and speculative nature of college athletics, you have to be very careful about what you say and how you say it. He also turned me onto a great resource to find newspaper articles around the country in an efficient manner- http://www.ussportspages.com/
- At the risk of being repetitive, whenever you get a chance to listen to Sandy Barbour, do it. Sandy is currently the Athletics Director at Cal and you can follow her on twitter. Her presentations are always articulate, well organized and she speaks candidly about the tough issues that we face as athletics administrators. She spoke on justifying the importance of intercollegiate athletics to a skeptical campus community. She talked about not getting sucked into the firefights, the importance of "attacking the persuadable middle," using donors to deliver your message on campus, and the vital role athletics can play on "regionally challenged" alumni.
- I'm getting less and less intimidated by these large conventions and as a result I've found ways to get more and more out of each NACDA convention I attend. Click here for my NACDA convention philosophy. I sat in on a few sessions with (CABMA) business managers, (NAACC) compliance directors, (NAADD) fundraising professionals and (NACMA) marketing gurus. It really helps me gain a better perspective on the challenges each of these groups face in their positions. I picked up a few tricks, caught up with old friends and met some new ones. The college athletics administration community is a great group of people that share an amazing, unique work environment. Long hours, below average compensation, high scrutiny, heavy competition and very little recognition- it may not be glamorous, it's definitely a lifestyle and I believe it's one of the best professions in the world. I absolutely love what I do and I can't imagine doing anything else.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I wonder how many ticket offices are part of the social media planning and decision making process within an athletic department? If your ticketing operation focuses on having conversations with your customers, building relationships and expanding your customer base, I would strongly encourage you to include them in the discussion. Ticketing professionals interact with customers everyday. With their expertise in customer service, ticket managers can play an important role in the department social media strategy sessions.
It’s one of the most important ventures I’ve engaged in during the last twelve months. Our ticket operation jumps at any chance to interact with our customers and develop better relationships. The interaction opportunities that exist in social media are a blessing to better serve our customer needs and have given us an opportunity to expand our customer base. We’ve utilized facebook and twitter for ticket sales, promotions, customer service, and to have an ongoing dialogue with our season ticket holders. We didn’t need to reinvent our operation because our social media presence and philosophy is just an extension of what we are doing when customers come to the box office, call us on the phone or email us.
What does a ticket office involvement in social media look like? At Utah, we have a standing weekly meeting for all the members of our new media committee. In my role as Director of Ticket Operations, I attend these meetings along with our Sports Information Director, Director of Marketing, Director of Compliance, Director of Video Operations along with our new media staff. We talk social media for an hour- anything from content priorities, distribution, brand management, emerging trends, customer engagement, etc.
We’ve been meeting weekly for almost six months now and I’ve observed that the three primary participants gravitate toward natural roles.
Sports Information as “The Protector”
Expertise: Policing content, policy creation and enforcement, reputation management, crisis management, media communication
Marketing as “The Entertainer”
Expertise: Creative content creation, growing distribution
Ticketing as “The Interactor”
Expertise: Customer relationships and interaction, distribution of content
I value the collaborative nature of our approach. Each of us are cognizant of the importance of protecting, entertaining, and interacting in social media but we have a particular expertise in one area. Our sports information staff is charged with the reputation management of our department and getting our message out to the media. There is no better group at emphasizing the importance of the protector role in social media. Our marketing department houses our creative geniuses who are constantly creating content to drive excitement for Utah Athletics. They naturally gravitate toward the entertainer point of view during our discussions. Our ticket department builds relationships and serves our customer’s needs everyday. It’s no surprise that we emphasize the importance of interaction and dialogue with our fans during our meetings.
We recognize the strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the meetings but within that group we have our best Protector, Entertainer and Interactor in the department. We don’t have everything figured out (Who does?) but I think we have the right people at the table.
I’d love to hear how other athletic departments are tackling this issue. In the rare instance that you work in college athletics and you read to the end of this post, please share what your department is doing!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
A year ago, a friend of mine tweeted the link to a John Wooden speech at the 2001 TED conference on the difference between winning and success. The speech was simple and powerful (as all John Wooden speeches and quotes are) and after watching I discovered the website that was storing the speech- ted.com. I’ve visited ted.com hundreds of times since then and have enjoyed watching inspirational video after inspirational video.
TED’s mission statement captures its essence:
“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”
I use TED.com for personal inspiration and growth but I also utilize it frequently in my job. I love to show a thought-provoking ted talk during staff meetings. It gives us a chance to get out of “day-to-day” mode and do some personal reflection. It allows to staff to hear from someone much smarter than myself and it usually leads to some great discussions. I place a strong emphasis in the personal growth of my staff and ted.com has been one of my most valuable tools.
In the spirit of TEDs vision to share knowledge, here are ten of my favorite TED talks.
Dan Pink- Science of motivation. Intrinsic motivation- autonomy, mastery, purpose
Steve Jobs- Commencement speech on how to live before you die
Elizabeth Gilbert- Nurturing creativity
Seth Godin- Standing out
Randy Pausch- The Last Lecture
Malcolm Gladwell- Choice and happiness through spaghetti sauce
Barry Schwartz- Our loss of wisdom. Be an ordinary hero
JK Rowling- The fringe benefits of failure
Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity
Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
So if you find something that inspires you, share it with others or, at least, share it with me.