Monday, May 11, 2015

#uwLSC432: Social Media Lessons

As the semester comes to a close, I've been reflecting back on my #uwLSC432 class that I've been blogging for. It was a fun semester and I learned a lot about social media from my professor, Don Stanley, and the guest speakers that spoke to our class!

Since I learned so many valuable social media tips, I thought I'd wrap them up nicely into a short blog post, so you can benefit too! :)

1. Be helpful.

You are using social media to connect with friends, peers and professionals in your industry. Therefore, the key to successfully using social media is always being helpful. That means when you're reaching out to individuals, provide them with something valuable. Don't just ask from others, give helpful advice, share someone's article, retweet other's content, and it will go along way in building connections!

2. Provide valuable content.

Don't just post to post. Make sure that the content you're publishing is quality work and provides the reader with value. The value could be entertainment or informational, but just make sure it will benefit your reader! Quality over quantity, folks!

3. Be consistent.

Be consistent with publishing content that is consistent with your brand. Be consistent and post content regularly. While I'm good at posting content to Twitter, I have struggled to consistently blog (and I'm working on improving that!). As I learned in class, you need to post consistently to build a following base, to provide quality content and to increase engagement.

4. Use social media to build your personal brand.

Throughout the semester, we worked on building our digital brand. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest... all of these platforms go in to building your own digital portfolio. So make sure the content you're sharing reflects who you are and who you want the public (and employers!) to see!

Additionally, you can use platforms like Twitter to interact and reach out to industry professionals. I've connected with a lot of #SportsBiz professionals, and even built a nice little network through engaging on Twitter. This network and Twitter engagement helped me land some of my internships, so if used right social media can be a very powerful tool!

It's sad that the semester (and my undergraduate career!) is over in just a week, but the information I acquired over the semester in LSC 432 will be super valuable as I begin a career in the digital media industry. Big thanks to Don, Erin and my Reemo group for making it such a fun and learning-filled semester! 

Behind the Blogger: Life as a UW Athletics Communication Student Assistant

One. Day. Left.

After three years, tomorrow is my last day as an Athletic Communications Student Assistant for the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department. It's been an amazingly fun (and busy) three years, and I'm so thankful to everyone in Ath. Comm. for opening a door to the sports industry for me and teaching me so much about sports communications.

Friends, classmates and peers hoping to work in the #SportsBiz someday have always asked me, "What do you do at your job?" So I figured there's no better time to reflect on my position over the past three years and to provide #SportsBiz hopefuls with an inside look on what it's like to work on the communications side in collegiate athletics.

What the job includes:

·      Writing, editing, and publishing game recaps, weekly game notes, releases, feature stories, and media guides to the web

Writing is a big part of the job. The communications department is in charge of, wait for it, communicating! That
involves communicating schedules, previewing games, writing recaps, etc. to the public and media. Over the past 
three years, I wrote at least 250 previews, recaps, media guides and more! So knowing AP style and being detail
oriented is important for a job in communications!

·      Working 75+ football, basketball, hockey, softball, tennis, and volleyball games, and cross country and track meets during each academic year

I worked over 200 sporting events in the past three years... which is crazy to think about! You have to be
knowledgeable about not only the big sports like football and basketball, but many other lesser-known sports when you work for
a college athletics department. However, if you don't know everything about every sport, don't worry! I didn't
know much about golf or softball, but after assisting them for the past year, I am now an expert! And your
coworkers are more than willing to help when you have a question! :)

·      Updating fans on game status using social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and CoveritLive

Social media is a huge part of working in communications. It's also probably my favorite part! I loved updating fans
via Twitter during games. Also, posting pregame and postgame graphics to Facebook is important to keep fans
updated on the team's progress throughout the season. It's also fun to use the platforms to give fans behind-the-scenes
access to practice, events and road games that they can't attend!

·      Stats, stats, stats

Most people don't realize it, but stats are a huge job of the communications department. The communications
department takes stats at the games, coordinates getting stats to the media both during the game and after the game
and also keeps track of season and career stats for players. Most departments use StatCrew, which is a stats program
with a pretty large learning curve! So if you want to be a Sports Information Director for a collegiate team, see if
you can volunteer or work for your school's department! The sooner you can get exposure to working with a
stats program, the better! I only just learned the basics, but it was extremely helpful in my understanding of the stats
side of sports and also in my understanding of what it means to be an athletic communications assistant at the college

·      Conducting athlete and coach interviews at postgame press conferences

Interviewing players and coaches is a part of the job, as it's necessary to get quotes for your (and the media's) recaps!
After Badger football games, I would help hold microphones at the coach's press conference, then interview players
to get quotes for stories and for posting to the web. This part of the job really helps you understand the game,
because you get to listen to the sport's best talking about what they did well/need to improve on. And it also helps
you with memorizing rosters and putting faces to names!

·      Maintaining online stats, athlete bios, rosters, performance lists, and school record books 
The communications department keeps all web content up to date. This includes updating athlete's bios, performance lists, season and career stats, and more! 

And there you have it, that's what is what being an athletic communications is all about! It's a fun and challenging job, with a lot of different roles. And if you enjoy a wide variety of sports, social media and writing, being a college sports information director may be the job for you! Also if you like traveling it's really the job for you. The primary communications assistant for each team travels to all the road games and tournaments, which means that the job involves a lot of traveling! My boss provided me with the valuable experience of traveling to a softball tournament in Florida this year, and you can read all about it here.

Thanks again to the UW Athletics Communications Department for a great past three years. I learned so much and wouldn't replace the late nights writing recaps or countless hours spent at the Kohl Center for anything! :)

If you have any more questions or are thinking of working in collegiate athletics let me know! Leave a comment or tweet me!

#SportsBiz101: What to Take Away from An Internship

Congrats- you've landed your dream internship! Now what?

With graduation only five days away, it's been fun to reflect on the past few years and what I learned from my internships while an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin. I'm so thankful to the Badgers, NBA & FOX Sports Wisconsin for giving me amazing opportunities. Working over 200 UW home games, writing 250+ articles, interning for the National Basketball Association in NYC & then for FOX Sports made it a crazy 3 years, but all of the friends and memories that I made along the way made it worth it. 

To help you prepare for a summer of hard work (and fun!), here's a list of four items that you'll take away from your internship at the end of the summer. 

1. (Priceless) Networks

You'll leave your internship at the end of the summer with an extensive network of professionals at all levels. Whether you're in the sports industry, fashion, or science, an internship is one of the best ways to connect to a wide variety of professionals in your field. I made connections all around the country (and world!) during my time as an intern at the NBA, Fox Sports and Wisconsin. And the best part is, if you show that your willing to work hard, these connections can turn in to a job after graduation! 

2. Friends for life

You don't only build good professional networks through internships, but also life-long friendships. Some of my best friends I met over the past three years! It's fun to work with individuals that have similar interests as you and that have the same goals. And the best part is seeing where all of your friends find jobs. Since all of my internships have been in the sports industry, I now have friends working across all professional sports leagues, scattered across the country. Not only are they fun to visit, but they are also good connections to the industry!

3. New skills

Internships are a great way to pick up new skills that you haven't learned in class! For example, I learned how to produce promotions using Final Cut Pro, create marketing budgets, and take notes at client meetings during my time at the NBA. I also gained new public speaking skills after working with FOX Sports Wisconsin as an emcee for their Brewers Live show in the Dells. You'll be stretched in 50 different directions and have to multitask a dozen projects, but that's the fun part! And it's exciting when you find organizations that trust you to do hard projects and to contribute to their company in meaningful ways.

4. Experience, experience, experience

As every job posting ever says, you need experience. And your internship is going to give you just that and more. Internship experience is truly invaluable and it gives you a chance to explore what parts of jobs you like and dislike. Don't be afraid to reach out to other departments or ask staff to lunch so you can quiz them on their job, they're more than willing to help! You have all summer to make connections and gain experience, but it'll fly by (trust me!), so throw yourself into every aspect of your internship and it'll reward you x1000. 

If you have any more questions about internships, my experience, or want to share where you're working this summer, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me! Thanks for reading, as always! 

Sporty DIY: Team Banners

There's nothing better than getting together your best friends to cheer on your favorite team! As a Wisconsin Badger, I often found myself heading over to my friend's house to watch the Badgers on the road or celebrate big victories (NCAA Final Four, anyone?).

As you probably know, I love DIYs, especially when they involve mixing sports and glitter. So this banner is perfect! I spoiled myself with a Silhouette Portrait cutting machine on Black Friday last November, so this project was super simple and super fun! And it doesn't require a whole lot of supplies or time!

What you'll need:

How to:

1. Cut out your letters! This is easier with a cutting machine like the one I have, but you if you're super talented you can cut them out freehand too!

 I made a "Badgers" banner and an "On, Wisconsin" banner for UW's run to the National Championship game, but you can do whatever you want! If you're cheering on a team in the NBA playoffs right now or in the NHL playoffs, this would be super cute for a viewing party! Or even a graduation party, as I will be using my finished products at my grad party this weekend! :)

2. Start cutting streamers. Glue them on the letters, then cut slits in the streamers to "pinata-fy" them!

This is the time consuming part, but it makes your banner extra cute! Adding streamers to the letters makes them more festive and you could even do them stripped to show your team spirit even more!

3. Tape (or hot glue) your letters to the twine.

Make sure you put your letters down in the right order ;)


It's that simple... it really is! And look how cute they are. Now invite over some friends, get out the chips and dip, and cheer on your favorite team! In my case, go Badgers!

Let me know if I inspire you to make a Fashionably Sporty banner! Or if you have other great decorating DIYs you've done that enhance your sports viewing parties, leave a link in the comments below so I can check them out! On, Wisconsin!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Twitter Mirror (March) Madness: Interview with the Badgers

Via UW-Madison/@jennashira

But first, let's talk selfies.

As a marketing major, admitted social media nerd and basketball lover, I couldn’t stop consuming everything #MarchMadness on social media during the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I especially found team’s use of the Twitter Mirror intriguing, as each program that sent out content via the Twitter Mirror saw lots of quality engagement. The Wisconsin Badgers were one of the several teams selected by Twitter to use the Twitter Mirror. 

Brandon Harrison, an Athletic Communications Assistant for the UW Men’s Basketball team, provided us with an awesome inside look at the Badgers’ Twitter Mirror content strategy during the NCAA Tourney.

It's good to note that the Badgers made it to the championship game (ultimately falling to Duke in a hard-fought game), and this gave UW plenty of great opportunities on social. The Wisconsin Badgers had some of the best social media numbers of the NCAA tournament. According to AdWeek’s Social Times, Wisconsin was the most-mentioned team with 109,624 mentions and this Wisconsin Badgers post had the most engagement of the entire tournament. UW also saw the largest fan growth on Twitter with +14,928 followers (second was Duke with just +1,438). Wisconsin also earned the title for “U.S Region with the Most Chatter.” So clearly the Badgers social strategy was very popular with not only Wisconsinites, but those all around the country and world.

Quotes on the Twitter Mirror from the #Badgers' Brandon Harrison:

On how the Badgers’ acquired the Twitter Mirror (and what it is!):

Brandon Harrison: "Prior to March Madness and the Big Ten tournament, Twitter reached out to our Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Patrick Herb and pitched the idea of our team carrying around with us a new device called the Twitter Mirror. In short, the Twitter Mirror is an iPad cased in a mirror-shaped case that makes it easier to take and share selfies from our @BadgerMBB account on Twitter. Twitter really enjoyed the personality of our team and also saw Wisconsin as a high-impact school in social media.”

The Twitter Mirror
On the team’s use of the device:
BH: “Our debut of the Twitter Mirror came after the team won the Big Ten tournament championship, as the team took a selfie together on the court with their championship hats and shirts on. We got huge engagement from that post and all future selfies taken with the Twitter Mirror did well above average, as far as number of retweets and favorites per post.

The Badgers' Twitter Mirror Tweets. Notice how much engagement the posts got!

BH: “One of our most spontaneous uses of the Twitter Mirror actually came during downtime in the team locker room at Staples Center while out in Los Angeles. One of the team’s most charismatic players, Nigel Hayes, is a big fan of Kobe Bryant and ended up getting to use Kobe’s actual locker. I pitched the idea to Nigel to have him take a fun selfie in the locker and we would then tweet it and mention Kobe to see if he would respond. Turns out Kobe did end up replying to Nigel later and tweeted, “LOL @BadgerMBB best of luck to you guys! #MarchMadness,” which brought a huge smile to Nigel’s face and got lots of play from national media and fans.”

On if it changed their social strategy:
BH: “The Twitter Mirror didn’t so much change our social media approach to March Madness, but rather complimented our coverage and was a great way to show off the personality and charisma of the team this season. Fans really connected with the selfies and they quickly became some of our most engaging posts ever.”

Thanks again to Brandon for the awesome insight. Now I want to hear from you!
Did you have a favorite post during #MarchMadness? A favorite team that created engaging content? What other content creation did teams do well during the tournament? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet at me, @BadgerRunner!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Four Things that I learned from Traveling With the Badgers

As you may know, I work for the Wisconsin Badgers in the Athletic Communications Department. I have worked as a student assistant for the past three years and I've had the opportunity to cover many sports, including football, both men's and women's basketball, hockey, golf, cross country, track and field, and softball and volleyball. It's been an amazingly fun job and it's taught me how to better manage my time because it can be difficult working up to 35 hours a week while going to school full-time!

A few weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to travel as the primary Sports Information Director (SID) to Florida with the UW softball team. Generally students just work home games and help with covering away games from Madison, but my boss couldn't travel to the tournament because she had to cover wrestling at NCAAs, so I got to experience what it's like to cover a team on the road! (But SO to Kelli for still being so awesome and helping me while I was learning on the road! :) ) Traveling to the USF Under Armour Invitational in Tampa, Florida, gave me an opportunity to learn what it's like to work as a Collegiate SID and taught me a few valuable lessons that I wanted to share with you.

And if you're curious, the Badgers went 3-2... not bad!

1. Nothing ever goes as planned, so have a backup plan... or a few!
Anything can go wrong. Flights, game start times, stats, technology... you name it. Our flight was delayed, so we almost missed a connecting flight and had to RUN through the airport to make it on time (good thing Badgers are so speedy! :) ). Additionally, softball games are delayed a lot due to weather conditions and this tournament was no exception with times being delayed due to rain. Lastly, stats are a big part of being an SID and whether it's unreliable internet connection or lack of power outlets, one can always run into problems with stats, so make sure to have a back up plan!

2. Take extra chargers for your laptop and phone.
I am not joking when I say every charger of mine broke on the trip. Phone charger? Broke on the flight down to Florida. Computer charger? Stopped working on day two. It's a good thing that I took a backup computer and was able to buy a phone charger because it's pretty hard to do a communications job without technology! :) Also, make sure that your devices are all charged prior to games because you never know if you'll have a power outlet or not!

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Since it was my first trip, I was pretty nervous about interaction with the home SIDs. But they were awesome! They were so helpful when it came to handling all of my stats requests for our coaches and making the South Florida press box feel like home! Everyone is in the same position, so don't be afraid to ask questions and interact with home-team workers... they are there to help!

4. Is the life of an SID for your? It's a fun and rewarding job, but one that is filled with long hours and stress.
There's obviously no stress-free job and a good work/life balance is hard to find, especially in the sports industry since sports are going on 24/7. If you're a student that is considering applying to be an SID after graduation, you have to weigh what you prefer your work/life balance to be. Traveling for just four days tired me out and my days were often 12+ hours of work. Working all home and away events for several sports teams for a whole season can get tiring, so potential candidates have to really evaluate if that's the lifestyle for them. It can get stressful at times as a lot of multitasking and improvising can be needed, but it's a rewarding job and one that can be really fun and give you the opportunity to learn a lot about a sport, your team, and a league!

Always fun when your office involves 70 degree weather, palm trees and the Badgers!

The Badgers went 3-2 in the South Florida tournament
It was fun getting to know the team and giving the fans behind-the-scenes access of the trip!

Friday, April 10, 2015

#MarchMadness: 2015 Social Media Roundup

All photos via AdWeek

March Madness had everything. Close games, upsets, off-the-court fun (and a little bit of drama). From the Field of 68 to the Championship game between Duke and Wisconsin, fans were engaged with everything NCAA basketball. AdWeek's Social Times provided a recap on everything #MarchMadness social media that included this infographic.

What I found to be extremely crazy (and awesome) is that social media activity at Lucas Oil Stadium was up 547 percent compared to activity at the 2014 Final Four. Also, as a Badger and UW Athletics Communications Student Assistant, I think it's pretty neat that Wisconsin was the most mentioned team (March 24-April 7) with 109,624 mentions. Kentucky was No. 2 with 77,662 mentions... sorry Wildcats.

I pulled out what I think are the most interesting points from the infographic. It is really crazy how much engagement teams created in just two short weeks. It's interesting to note how much Twitter dominated the platform use.

You can't talk about social without hashtags! These are the top hashtags used during the tournament.

The sports industry has seen an increasing trend towards users engaging with content on mobile. While I was interning for the NBA during the summer of 2013, they informed us that 88 percent of sports consumers watch games with a second screen, aka a phone or laptop that is mainly used for social media. So it doesn't surprise me that over 80 percent of the interaction is on mobile!

It makes sense that #FinalFour schools would have the most engagement.

Again, you can find the full infographic here. Twitter also published two great NCAA tourney recaps here and here. What was your favorite part of March Madness? What do you find most interesting about the #MarchMadness social media results? Tweet me your response or post in the comments below. And On, Wisconsin! :)