Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not interactive online? Then what's the hold up?

The sports information profession has endured a vast number of changes throughout the years. There was once a time press releases were hammered out on a typewriter, scores and stories were called in to newspapers individually and dictated and stats were done by hand.

Word processors and PCs made life a little easier in the late 1980s and 1990s as did the fax machine. And the gods smiled down on SIDs in the mid-1990s with birth of Stat Crew.

But the biggest advancement  (or headache, depending on how you look at it) to the profession has been the Internet.

When I joined Union in fall of 1999, athletics websites were not much to behold, especially at the NAIA level. When I look back, I cringe at the mere thought of some of the web software programs I used. Webber and MicroSoft FrontPage to name a few. When I signed up to a SID, I never realized I would have to become fluent in HTML code.

But technology has advanced greatly in the past decade. So much so that it used to take me 15-30 minutes to post a story online and make sure all the appropriate pages were updated with the new links, but now it just requires me to check the correct boxes and click 'update.'

I could go on and on about how things have improved, but that is NOT the point of this post.

What I'm wanting to know is: How connected are you?

Along with all the advances in technology which has allowed us to do our jobs better and faster and more instantaneous, the Internet gives us the opportunity to interact with one another better than we ever could before.

Used to be the only time SIDs really interacted were at games, over the phone, conference meetings and annually at the CoSIDA Convention. But thanks to the wonders of technology, we can connect 24/7/365.

Social media is vital for SID. Of this, I am a firm believer and not just for promoting your athletic programs.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three things I strongly feel every SID needs to participate in. But with each platform, there are different degrees and reasons as to why I think these are resources should utilize. (Please note, I will not be discussing the uses for these websites for promoting your institution but rather for personal/professional use.)

First, there is Facebook. This social network is good tool on several different layers. For example, it is a good way to keep tabs on your student-athletes and their activities. It is also sometimes the best way to contact them. I even have a couple of student-athletes who don't check their email but rather their Facebook in-box. Facebook is also good for connecting with the SIDs you deal with on a regular basis, deepening and strengthening those friendships and relationships. It really helps one keep their sanity when you see others in your profession dealing with the same issues as you, have a family and all that other good stuff. The ability to chat one-on-one with individuals on Facebook is also a plus as well.

LinkedIn is more of a professional website. To be honest, I'm still relatively new to this website and trying to really figure it all out. However, it appears to be a good place for professional development, to put your resume out there and to focus on the business side of things. It's a great place to share links and information on professional development.

Last, and certainly not least, is Twitter. Let me just say I love Twitter. While every SID office needs its own official Twitter account (or more depending on the size of your institution, the visibility of some of your athletic programs and the size of your staff to man all the accounts), there is no doubt I am convinced every SID needs their own personal Twitter account.

Now, I am not saying everyone should tweet like me. I just reached my one-year anniversary of having a personal Twitter account, and I had made over 25,300 tweets during that time. (FYI: That's just an average of just over 69 tweets per day. Scary part is that there were days when I did not tweet at all, if you can believe that.)

But here are some reasons why Twitter is great for SIDs:

  • Connecting with other SIDs across the country and across all divisions. I follow and am followed by SIDs from NCAA DI-DII-DIII and NAIA. 
  • Linking up with other PR professionals. There seems to be a TON of public relations pros all over Twitter. While they might not work in athletics, who's to say you can't learn something from them and apply it to what you do and vice versa.
  • Interacting with the media. More and more TV and newspaper reporters are on Twitter. In addition to dishing out the news, a good number of them converse and interact with other tweeters. Thanks to our local TV station sports reporters heavy activity on Twitter, it has helped the visibility and traffic to our website and helped us pitch and develop story ideas.
  • Good place to swap war stories, vent frustrations and help each other out. Going back to the first point of connecting with other SIDs, Twitter is a good place to talk shop and be yourself.

There was a time when it was nearly impossible to have regular interaction with your colleagues in the profession. But thanks to technology, those days are long gone.

All that needs to change to have you log in and sign on.

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