1Tell us about your role as the Media Relations Coordinator for Oklahoma State University. What does a typical day look like for you?
One of the benefits of the job is that there is not a typical day in my eyes. Not doing the same thing over and over again is one of the appealing aspects of the job.
At times, we are a catch-all for the department and get asked to do a variety of things. Versatility is a very important trait to be successful in this profession because you will wear many hats.
2Being a graduate of Journalism and Broadcasting at OSU, what brought you to this side of the industry (communications and PR) instead of the media side?
Like a lot of people who realized they won’t be able to compete as professional athletes and want to be around athletics, I was in search of something that would keep me close to the competition.
Initially, I thought I would stroll into ESPN and work as a SportsCenter anchor but quickly realized that wasn’t in the cards.
For a class project, we had to go on camera and I immediately froze. It didn’t take me long to realize that was not the side of the camera I was intended to be on.
I found my way to an internship at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Myron Roderick, who was a legendary wrestler and coach at Oklahoma State, gave me my start writing press releases, producing newsletters, and creating the honoree plaques among other things.
I got a taste of the versatility I previously mentioned and the thought of doing it full-time was appealing to me. He introduced me to a profession I didn’t know previously existed.
3How have you grown in this field having worked for OSU for over two decades?
I have been very fortunate to witness a lot of successes whether it be working with teams which captured national championships, seeing athletes fulfill their dreams of reaching the professional ranks, or reaching their goals beyond athletics.
I have also been on the flip side of that and seen the valleys that come from the unspeakable, having been around for the tragedies that affected our men’s and women’s basketball programs as well as other real-life situations which bring perspective to what we do.
Because of all of those situations, good and bad, I feel like it can’t help but affect you personally as well.
Steve Buzzard, who hired me initially as an intern, told me after the first plane crash which occurred in 2001 and resulted in the loss of 10 people associated with our men’s basketball program, that there was not a class you could take to prepare you for something like that. That entire situation was a real eye opener for me.
In 2011, tragedy struck again with the loss of four people, including our head women’s basketball coach, in another plane crash. Unfortunately, I now had experience in a situation of that magnitude but felt better equipped to handle it.
Through the good and the bad, I would say there really is no substitute for experience and on-the-job training.
With the curveballs our profession can throw at you, it is always good to have previous happenings to look back on to help you deal with what lies ahead. I can also say that everything I have seen or experienced has brought me to this point.
4How has communications and public relations changed since you first entered the field in the early 2000’s?
It seems like cell phones were new to the game and weren’t a key element of anything we did when I first started. Social media was nowhere to be found either. We still sent out postgame box scores via fax if that tells you anything.
Social media has changed everything completely.
The athletic media relations/communications industry has evolved more than any other aspect of college athletics and I don’t think it is even close.
I think the demands of the job have increased as well and that makes it as important as ever to make the best use of your time.
Managing social media while still serving the traditional aspects of the job is the new challenge faced by everybody now.
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5What principles do you believe are most important in ensuring that the information provided to the media is consistent with the mission and vision of the organization?
I feel relationships are key in everything.
Having good working relationships with the media makes everybody’s lives easier. At the end of the day, they have a job to do as well and you have to be respectful of that.
It is obviously important to have quality relationships with your coaches and athletes as well. They need to trust you and know that you are working to show them in the best possible light and promote them properly.
If those you work with and for know that you operate with integrity, they will respect you and the information you are sharing.
6If someone wants to be successful in communications and public relations, what do you think are the three most important skills or attributes they need to have and why?
Versatility. For the reasons previously mentioned this is key. We are asked to wear many hats and the ability to perform a variety of tasks is crucial.
Flexibility. Expect the unexpected. Things are not always going to go according to plan and the ability to adjust on the fly is a great trait to have.
Adaptability. The world is ever-changing and you have to be able to move with it. Ten years ago, we would have never thought it would look like it does today and we have no idea what it will look like 10 years from now.
Mike's Final Thoughts
Ryan Cameron, Oklahoma State University Media Relations Coordinator, reveals that the benefit of working in communications is that no two days are the same. He stresses the importance of versatility as a key trait to have if you want to be in this profession. Having spent over 20 years in media relations at his alma mater, Ryan has seen the way communications has evolved, especially with the emergence of social media. He values the importance of experience and on-the-job training in order to deal with all kinds of situations that may happen. Ryan also stresses the significance of operating with integrity in order to build good relationships with all the stakeholders that communications people deal with on a daily basis. Finally, Ryan shares what he believes are the three most important skills aspiring communications professionals must possess to be successful in the field.