1Tell us about your role as Assistant Athletics Director of Digital Strategy for the University of Miami Athletics. What does a typical day look like for you?
Usually, my day winds through meetings with coworkers to discuss daily, weekly and upcoming content plans and posting strategy concerning our football channels.
After those discussions occur, I’ll check in with our digital and communication teams to ensure we’re working through items we’ll need to address, whether that’s special events or other stories we need to promote or distribute.
After we’ve discussed the distribution and publishing of items, we’ll discuss analytics throughout our digital ecosystem to see how we’re doing and make decisions on what we need to do differently.
Then, working with our video and graphics teams, I’ll make sure I’m publishing our football content for the day or scheduling it for distribution based on when it’ll do the best it can.
Obviously, as things have changed for everyone across the spectrum, we’re meeting all virtually however sometimes capturing content in person, safely when there is football practice or travel for football games.
2The University of Miami is a HUGE brand within collegiate athletics. With that being said, what are the fundamental components you and your team harness in order to give the University of Miami a competitive edge? Why is such brand identity so important?
For us, it’s got to be the harnessing, understanding and implementation of authenticity when it comes to the Miami brand. We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of things that our fan base resonates with all the time.
Things like fantastic weather, beautiful scenery, a budding art culture, incredible diversity and swagger – all things we’ve highlighted in campaigns and more – always strike a chord.
We know, also, that our fans are hungry for innovation mixed with culture, whether that’s music, art or otherwise, we’re trying to hold to those pieces of authenticity.
I think something that is also very clear, especially when you’re running brand accounts that have a larger fanbase, is when your fans like it or don’t like it.
The one interesting thing about social, the feedback loop is immediate and sometimes harsh, so – although that’s not the end all be all, it’s definitely something that can help assess whether your post was on brand.
3The University of Miami may attract hundreds of thousands of fans however, digital strategy is still extremely important for both fan engagement and retention. In today’s digital sporting world, how do you capture the attention of an audience that has so many options and avenues to choose from?
This is a great question and probably should be asked more, especially here at Miami. We have a lot to compete with.
Those same things we take and make a part of our authentic storytelling are the same things we compete within a regular year. Compound all the festivities, weather, culture with the other pro sports teams in the region, including a brand new one in Inter Miami and you have a lot of competition.
We know we can’t combat all of that, but we can diversify and multiply to be in as many places as we can in the digital space.
We’ve put a heavy emphasis on a mobile app that is continuing to see new functionality and new ways to deliver content. We have an AppleTV app that is directly connected to all of our videos. We continue incredible upkeep of our YouTube account, which is seeing a reassurance as people watch YouTube on their connected TVs.
We continue to deliver compelling content on our website for all sports, pushing it via mobile app notifications, email and social to ensure we’re covering out basis. It takes a lot of people who are focusing on digital to make sure all of this is getting the attention it deserves.
4Often, people think content creation is an in the moment, reactive process. Being in a role like digital strategy, explain how you plan and strategize the content and coverage of the Miami Hurricanes.
Well, like many, we tend to get a little caught up in the day-to-day as we go from event to event and ensure we’re on top of it if we see a big win or a magical moment.
One thing that has come out of the continuing pandemic is the realization that digital is so important, therefore the more people involved, hopefully, the more you can plan.
We try to utilize the tools at our disposal to help plan and strategize as much as we can – Wrike for project management, Teams for document sharing, communication and content calendars and Zoom for meetings.
While this has been a major shift in how we’ve done things in the past, it’s forced our entire communications and digital team to plan more and more while all folks have eyeballs on it.
So, we know when we go into our meetings who’s working on what and what we can do to enhance those pieces of content. We’re also looking at more long-term projects, so we’re forced to think about things in that sense than before.
5Digital and social platforms are constantly changing – always moving forward and quickly moving from one trend to the next. How do you get ahead and stay fresh and creative?
If someone out there has the magic serum, please have them contact me at 720-38…. I’m kidding but, this is the million-dollar question.
It’s hard to continue to keep your palate fresh with new and creative thinking and I think that’s why you see a lot of rip, reuse, redo and recycle – it’s really hard to innovate where everyone has the same tools, the same methods, the same rhythm (events, practice, etc.).
I would say a piece of innovation moving forward for us is going to take engraining into things people don’t normally see sports engrained with – like art, fashion, music and other pieces of culture.
I also think we’re going to be willing to try things we never would have tried in the past due to the pandemic.
Thinking outside the box and continuing to engage folks who might be burnt out on consumption or might not go back to consuming the same way as before. It’s going to be really interesting to see what consumption looks like after this is all said and done.
6Looking ahead now, where do you see the future of digital strategy and sports media in collegiate athletics going?
Well, we’re seeing it before our eyes in the industry and I think at Miami we may be a smidgen late adopting this but, I don’t think the differentiation between SID and digital strategist is going to last much longer.
We have several SIDs on staff who are videographers, photographers, getting deeper into content strategy and distribution which is incredibly helpful as we look to the future.
As the SIDs continue to get better and think about digital in a more applicable way, as a part of their job description vs. an “oh, dang, I should post this” it’s going to help everyone and enhance our digital presence as a whole.
I also think you’re going to see even more buy-in from management as many realize eCommerce, retail and digital business partnerships are becoming lucrative. It's a way to make money moving forward outside of the traditional game set up.
7Content creation and digital strategy are so much more than just social media posts – for those reading who want to work in digital strategy, what should they be doing in college, or their early career roles, to prepare themselves?
First, it’s important to know that everything is digital, and all of the pieces of that ecosystem things can be a part of brand strategy.
Seems simple but there is a big difference between being on digital platforms and consuming them vs. analyzing consumption, understanding how digital integrates across mediums, how to take advantage of those platforms and eyeballs.
Second, there are two things that are important for an incoming employee – No. 1, have a knowledgeable skill set when it comes to using the Adobe Suite. It’s going to be vitally important you can contribute to content creation at a high level. No. 2, if you know how to leverage digital to create or make revenue, you’re miles ahead of many younger people in the industry.
Whether it’s influencer marketing or driving website clicks or eCommerce, you will be valuable to the decision-makers. If you can combine all of that, create content that is really well done and make money off of it, that’s the pinnacle.