The more impressive social branding you are creating, the more likely it is your brand is talked about offline and carried into the “real” world.
Assistant Media Relations Director
The University of Texas
The interview with Jocelyn VerVelde was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as the Assistant Media Relations Director for the University of Texas. What does a typical day look like for you?
At Texas, I work with volleyball, men’s golf, and the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. They are all extremely successful programs that have completely different wants and needs for their programs.
Volleyball is very social heavy, but are on TV for almost every game, so there is a balance between game notes, conversing with the TV talent, and creating content. With men’s golf, because of their status, I am often reached out to by outlets like Golf Channel, Golf Digest, and other golf-specific entities.
So, it is relaying the stories of our athletes and our programs to them to get the stories across. With the swimming and diving programs, they aren’t on TV as often, so it is pumping content to social media and to local and swimming specific news outlets to get the stories of the student-athletes out there.
There is never a “typical day” in college athletics. The most “typical” thing is if it is a game day, your game day routine is usually the same. A regular day usually involves me planning social media of some sort for one of my four sports, answering emails, scheduling interviews, updating media guides, stats, game notes, the website, or meeting with my creative team to come up with the newest and next great idea.
We noticed you were a student-athlete during your collegiate career at both NDSU and CMU. Do you think being an athlete prepared you for your professional career in media relations?
100-percent believe my time as a student-athlete prepared me for my career in media relations.
First off, I would never have gotten into the field without a push from my assistant coach, who encouraged me to reach out to our Sports Information department at Central Michigan for my internship.
Second, I medical red-shirted as a student-athlete, I transferred, and I went through some really hard times throughout my career, so now being able to look back on those moments, has really helped me bond with different student-athletes throughout my career, because they know I’ve been there.
Also, specifically for volleyball, as a volleyball SID and a former volleyball player, who was recruited, had little sisters get recruited, and having a mom who is club volleyball and former high school coach, it has made my ability to help coaches with recruiting content and social media content a lot easier because I am naturally more familiar with the sport.
In your role, you’re the primary contact for Texas Volleyball, men’s golf, swimming and diving. How do you stay organized between these programs when managing tasks and responsibilities related to each?
Delegation when possible. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing students, and they make life significantly easier.
On top of that, it’s just time management. On top of that, it’s balancing what is important for now, what is a ‘no’ for now, and what is a ‘must be done’ right now.
What communication skills are most important to a media relations professional? How did you acquire these skills?
I think the ability to write is very important. It may not seem like it, but even when it comes to copying tweets or Instagram posts, the ability to construct written words is extremely important.
Also, the ability to talk to others. Good working relationships are the key to success, both with your colleagues and your coaching staff.
Communication with your coaching staffs help you know their values and priorities for their programs, and then in this industry, sometimes you don’t have the benefit of giving a colleague an ample amount of time for an ask of them, but if you keep a strong line of communication and a positive relationship with them, they will be willing to help out on short notice.
Aside from your communications tasks, you also manage social media and even have amassed the largest following on Instagram in college volleyball! How do you continue to increase Texas’ brand presence and why do you believe it is important to cultivate a community on social media platforms?
I have a great team around me to help create content and help guide ideas, and I mentioned it earlier, but I have been in the sport of volleyball for my whole life, so just having an innate sense for what the volleyball fan wants, has been extremely helpful throughout my career.
The Texas volleyball brand specifically is very in-your-face, and we’ve been able to continue growing that by upping the ante on fun and creative content that you might not expect from a sports account.
I believe it is extremely important to cultivate a community on social media. The more impressive social branding you are creating, the more likely it is your brand is talked about offline and carried into the “real” world. Our social media game increased significantly this past year, and in 2019 we set a home match attendance record. You could choose to believe that is a coincidence, but odds are it isn’t.
Finally, what would you say is the right attitude to be successful working in collegiate athletics?
Each person is different, but being able to work with people and problem solve is something that has to be in anyone who is willing to work in college athletics.
It is very fast-paced and ever-changing, so being flexible and having the ability to change on the fly, is invaluable.
Hayley's Final Thoughts
As a former volleyball player, Jocelyn VerVelde knows what volleyball fans want to see in the content the University of Texas athletics department distributes. Moreover, she has a great grasp on recruitment as she’s also been through that process and been exposed to that type of content. However, Jocelyn’s role is not limited to volleyball. Jocelyn VerVelde also works with men’s golf, swimming and diving. Each sport has its own wants and needs, and Jocelyn VerVelde ensures both are achieved in each respective sport.