Yesterday, these pictures were too good not to share. Overall, McNeese’s social engagement has significantly increased. The reasons behind this have been a combination of many things, but the main one is consistency. No matter what you are doing, you must be consistent in order to get the ball rolling and make a mark.
Social media brand consistency is very important because it allows people to verify the authenticity of your communications.
Tackling a “Redesign/Rebrand” on Thursday
People don’t go to a website like McNeese and expect to check out designs. I mean SideArm websites are so template anyway. People go to our website for 2 things…game info/results and to purchase tickets. The harder it is to read and the more cluttered it is for them to look at, the less likely they will return or the more they will complain. Thus, we went for a simple look and an easy to navigate layout.
It was not that we can’t design something better, but just a strategic decision that was made based on research that we did. We went through everything single sidearm website. During this time, we all took notes on websites that we liked and areas that we should highlight with our new redesign.
And thus, this was our breakdown and how we designed our website…
-http://texassports.com (the crisp look and layout)
-http://www.bgsufalcons.com (the sponsor reel and ticket central location)
-http://www.kuathletics.com/splash.aspx?id=splash_57 (social media feed look)
-http://www.cuse.com (in house ad size and placement)
-http://hilltoppersports.com (bottom schedule and how it was separated and gave links to everything)
The saying is …Content is king…right?
4 Goals of our website redesign project:
- Make it easier for fans to buy tickets
- Make it easier for fans to find links to live stats, audio, video, game reports, etc
- Make it easier for staff to maintain and keep a consistent crisp/clean look
- Make everything accessible in two clicks or less
After (the new www.McNeeseSports.com)
Last week after I blogged about McNeese’s spring promotional items and after the crawfish boil we held for the students, I had a handful of people in the industry reach out to me. Everyone wanted to know what is the McNeese Athletic Engagement Committee (AEC)?
Well, let me explain…
The AEC is dedicated to improving and increasing student attendance, engagement, and enjoyment of McNeese athletic events. A portion of the student self-assessed athletic fee (no less than $30,000 annually) is used solely for the benefit of McNeese students and to fund AEC’s endeavors.
- Comprised of nine members (VOTING: 1 SGA Senator, 2 student-at-large members not on an active intercollegiate athletic team roster, 2 student-athletes on active intercollegiate athletic team rosters, 1 full-time university faculty or staff member, 1 full-time unclassified University employee from the Office of Student Services —-NON-VOTING: 1 full-time unclassified Athletics employee, Director of Athletics)
- Follows AEC Constitution
The committee meets once a month to plan and discuss how the funds will be distributed and how to better engage the student population. Expenditures are only approved for programs or items which will directly impact the students. For McNeese’s AEC, these expenditures have been used on:
- Events (Student Tailgate Series (Football), concerts, and etc
- Cowboy Camp (freshman orientation)
- Athletics Promotional Items (All sports)
- Athletics Appreciation Day
- Student Appreciation Day
- Parents and Family Weekend Activities
- Southland Conference Baksetball Tournament Bus Trip
- FCS playoff tickets
- Baseball Game Crawfish Boil
In order for this committee to be successful, all students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to provide ideas for ways these funds can be effectively and efficiently utilized. Ideas and/or suggestions can be emailed to the student activities office or myself.
Overall, the AEC has been a vital part in our marketing efforts on campus. It has been a way for us to connect with students and a way for us to help create some demand in the community (people want to come to AEC events and want the promotional items). Bottom line is that it is SO important to keep students engaged and do whatever we can to make the most of their college experience because ultimately these students are our best candidates for season ticket holders and donors five plus years down the road.
Remember=Possibilities are really endless when it comes to student promotions.
Key=get to know your students & what makes them act. Find out what is unique to your school and area. Then, capture it and embrace everything about it (For McNeese, the “cajun” life is definitely one of my marketing tactics with the students)
Our most recent AEC event was a Crawfish Boil during a baseball game in our picnic pavilion.
It was a huge success. 570lbs of crawfish and 150lbs of corn/potatoes was consumed by 294 students in 26 minutes. Besides from football, this event set the record as the highest student attendance.
Find “A Brandon”
For those of you who do not know The Brandon Hays (aka @TheBrandonHays), you really are missing out.
I had the opportunity to work for Brandon as his intern during the fall of 2012 while I was at the University of Memphis. I was in this awkward stage of being the soccer GA, marketing intern, and grad student and he was in this awkward stage of moving to Ohio to reconnect with his fiancée (now wife) and was going to start in a new position at a much smaller school, Wright State University.
After I read Brandon’s first NACMA blog last week (READ IT: Don’t Forget About the Little Guy: My Experience Moving from Major to Mid-Major), I really got to thinking. Not only was I was so thrilled to see his personality shine through his words, but I was also thrilled to see him make such valid points. The guy is honest and real. He has been able to experience career advancement and success not through climbing the ladder of “titles,” but through climbing the ladder of personal balance and fulfillment. His eyes have been opened to a different side of college athletics…the small side, where creativity is key, duties have expanded, staffs are tiny, and budgets are limited. At the conclusion of Brandon’s blog, he reminded everyone who is in the midst of job-hunting to be open to opportunities no matter how big or how small they may be. It is the idea that career decisions should not be made by how good they look on on paper. Instead, career decisions should be made based on fit and on what skills you want to polish in order to be able to move to that next step, whatever/wherever it may be.
For both Brandon and myself, this past year and a half has been a CRAZY roller coaster ride with our professional lives. Transitions are never easy, but they are always interesting. The most encouraging part of a transition is having friend who is in a similar position. It allows for these two people to share experiences and to get feedback from another perspective. While we did not work together long at Memphis, Brandon and I have managed to stay in touch on a regular basis. From the big school to the small mid-major schools, our transition adventures have made for two great stories. From asking for advice to sending funny #SportsBiz snapchats to expressing future dreams to talking shop, we definitely have come to form a great relationship.
Thus, to piggy back off of Brandon’s job hunting advice, here are my words of encouragement…during the job search, be sure that you find “A Brandon.”
"A Brandon" is someone who will
- hold you accountable
- be completely honest
- offer comic relief when needed
- help you get to that next stop
- give perspective
- challenge you to do what is best for you
- check in and make sure things are on track
Tackling “Our Cajun Side” on Thursday
Well, spring has sprung and some of our new promo items are in. As I mentioned in my two promotional item blogs in the fall (POST 1 and POST 2), I believe in doing anything and everything with a purpose. And the same is true when it comes to purchasing promotional items.
REMEMBER: Promotional items should be relevant and desirable.
For our promotional items this past year, we took a strategic approach. Every promotional item can be physically worn. Our goals were to drive students awareness because there was money allocated to them through a committee, the Athletic Engagement Committee, on campus and to make fans question why students were the only ones getting these “awesome” promotional items.
So far, we definitely accomplished both goals. We were so successful with some promotional items that we ended up ordering more and selling them as a way to raise funds for our marketing foundation account.
This spring we decided to have a little fun with our Athletic Engagement Committee money. We are truly trying to embrace McNeese and the Southwest Louisiana culture that is all around us. Well for the spring, here is what we have to start with…
1. Tank Tops
For our baseball game next Friday, we are hosting a huge crawfish boil for all students. We will be providing students with 570 pounds of crawfish and drinks all for the price of FREE! Also, the first 200 students to make it through the gate and to the crawfish boil will get a custom McNeese tank top. I mean Zydeco, crawfish, and baseball, supporting a baseball team really can’t get any better than this!
2. Trucker Hats
For our baseball game verse powerhouse UL-Layfayette, we are having a “Biker Night” theme. To stick with the theme, we created some fun trucker hats to pass out to students and fans. We invited local motorcycle groups to bring their rides out and enjoy a night out at the ballpark. For the National Anthem, we will have 25 choppers join the team on the field and rev their engines following “home of the brave.” For all in-game promos, everything will have a biker twist. We are going to have a lot of fun with “Name that Movie, Name that Tune, and our Cowboy Challenge.”
Now, you can’t order these hats without having a little fun in the office and on snapchat. Check out our Cajun side…
So you wanna be an AD?
There are SO MANY young professionals that aspire to be athletic directors as soon as they possibly can. Not only does everyone want the opportunity to work for a well established athletic department, but also everyone wants the opportunity to lead this well established athletic department and be one of the youngest in the business to do it. While these aspirations are great, what are young professionals doing to prepare themselves to one day be in this position?
Yes, it is good to network. Yes, it is good to be the best in your current role and position. Yes, it is good to have a strong personal brand. And yes, it is good to be active in NACMA, COSIDA, NAADD, etc.
But when looking at this from a realistic perspective, there is more that young professionals have to do in order to make a “quick” jump to the top. It is more than just coming up with the perfect promotions, developing ticket strategies, and prospecting potential sponsors.
Being an athletic director is about so many things:
- having a vision and an understanding of where the athletic department is and where the athletic department needs to be
- managing budgets and raising funds in the most efficient and effective way
- building relationships with EVERYONE (coaches, donors, boosters, student-athletes, administrative staff, faculty, community leaders, etc)
- understanding APR and NCAA rules
- dealing with the microscope that is constantly on you and the margin of error that becomes smaller
- and the list goes on…
With this being said, here are 4 questions that we should all ask ourselves and be ready to answer as we continue to prepare ourselves to make our aspirations become a reality…
- What knowledge do I have to become an athletic director?
- What skills do I have to become an athletic director?
- What experience do I have to become an athletic director?
- What am I doing NOW that will help move me up the ladder quicker?
As part of my professional development and to listen to my post, I have started to dive into a few more things at work. My goal for this spring and summer is to learn the ins and outs to our budget and to managing a budget. With my current position (which I am blessed with and so very thankful to have) , I have a good understanding of how some things work with the budget, but I want to know more. I need specifics and want to gain a competitive advantage in this area while the opportunity is sitting in my lap.
Simple but True
Historically, trust has played a bigger role in advancing companies and societies than skill set alone. Only when individuals can trust the culture or organization will they take personal risks in order to advance that culture or organization as a whole.