On the Fly: Promoting a Hot Team

This has been the kind of week everyone around athletics lives for. Of course, we have jobs to do no matter whether the team wins or loses, but let’s be honest here: we like winning much better. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. With that said, having a hot men’s basketball team coming home adds so much more energy around every office in the Sports Arena. It’s been obvious around the building and growing since the start of Sun Belt play.

It actually reaches much farther than just 125 Decatur. We’ve seen a significant uptick – a buzz – in social media in the past week, so we know the students who just got back on campus and the fans and alumni who follow us are ready for more. I was even on campus for a meeting with the communications directors from each of the colleges and the University communications staff last week and everyone wanted to hear more about what’s going on with the basketball team. It is pretty amazing how sports can bring people from so many walks of life together.

Having been in college athletics for more than 15 years, this is not the first time I’ve been around a hot team. I’ve been lucky to work directly and indirectly with numerous NCAA tournament teams, teams that were ranked in national polls, and individuals who have won national championships. But it still never gets old. And it doesn’t only affect the coaches and players. Everyone steps up their game when one squad catches lightning in a bottle. Coaches love seeing other coaches doing well, and it pumps them up. If you don’t think it creates an air of competition, you haven’t been around people who make a living relying on 18- to 21-year-olds to execute under difficult circumstances, sometimes against great odds.

Within the communications office, we always talk about being ready for success. You can’t wait to be successful before you decide how to handle a situation, you have to expect success, have a plan about who will be doing what, when, where and why, and then you have to see it through. It doesn’t always go according to plan – kind of like the games on the court – but when it does, it’s extremely gratifying and I believe one of the reasons people stay in this profession for so long.

For us, this week has been a key example about being prepared, and being able to adapt efficiently and quickly. We had no idea the team would be coming home for two games with a 3-0 league record and sitting in first place. But, we hoped that’d be the case. So we were ready for it once the Panthers did their part at Western Kentucky (SIDENOTE: GSU teams must have a thing for the road in the Sun Belt as I’d be remiss by not giving a shoutout to the women’s team that was down three starters Tuesday night and won on the road at first-place Arkansas State. Nice job Panthers).

Our office shifted into overdrive on Friday last week, altering our predetermined weekly plans for written, video and social media content to put more of a focus on men’s hoops. We had a video practice report on Tuesday along with a 30-second promo video for the week (the first we’ve produced on the fly this year, something you will see more of if the winning keeps up). Wednesday we have this blog and a Prime Numbers with some of the top statistics R.J., Curtis, Manny, Ryan, Devonta and the guys are putting up to date. Thursday I’ll have a feature story in the morning and we have the game that night. And Friday will be a Q/A with one of Panthers heading into Saturday’s doubleheader (women at noon, men at 2:30 p.m. Be there). None of these pieces were on the schedule as of last Thursday, but it’s what we need to be prepared to do when a team gets hot. You’ll see more content around teams as they continue to win, be it men’s basketball, softball, sand volleyball, football, men’s soccer or any sport. We’d love to be changing things on the fly every week in this scenario.

One thing we have been planning for since early December (and now the timing could not be better) is a student-only event on campus Wednesday afternoon. One of our communications interns, who is also an RA on campus, came to me about putting together a proposal for a program in the Commons. It sounded great, so I ran it through our external unit, checked with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and now we’re set. Minus players who are in class, both teams are going for an hour to sign autographs and interact with on-campus students from 5-6 p.m. We haven’t had many opportunities like this in the housing units and we hope we can grow it in the spring and fall with other teams (for you on-campus students who may be reading, hint, hint: show up and make this a great event so we can do it with football too). Hopefully it becomes a staple for our student outreach.

With this event and the great promotions set up for Thursday and Saturday by the marketing department, we expect some great crowds. Don’t get me wrong: they will not be there because of the communications and marketing. They’re there for the team on the court. But the team behind the scenes needs to do its part too, and it’s been great to see everyone step. Hopefully we’ll need to step it up even more for the next home stand in a couple weeks.

Until then, come out and join us as we enjoy the ride. And enjoy some of the new content on GeorgiaStateSports.com.

— Jerry Trickie, Associate AD – Communications

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