Life on the Lake

"A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable." -William Wordsworth

An Interview to Remember: Welcome to Athletic Administration

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During the past week, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the Senior Associate Athletic Director at North Carolina State, Sherard Clinkscales. He also happens to be the new Director of Athletics at Indiana State University.  He gave great suggestions and comments on the athletic administration industry.  The following are questions and answers that were discussed over the phone interview.

What is a typical week like for you?

Mr. Clinkscales: “You know, everyday is different.  I start out the day by returning emails, I often address different injuries to our athletes or I meet with our athletic director and answer any questions that they may have for me.  Everyday is different.”

Tell me about a project that you worked on and are especially proud of.

Mr. Clinkscales: “I was able to help implement the Wolfpack Leadership Academy, where we were able to bring in different speakers who talked about different aspects of leadership.  The leadership academy picked upcoming leaders from the teams and put on workshops throughout the year to help the students grow.”

What do you do to keep current in the athletic administration industry?

Mr. Clinkscales: “I talk to my colleagues, I stay in contact with the connections I have in coaching and administration, I read, things like that.”

What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in athletic adminstration?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Nothing, I wanted to get out of athletics, but getting out helped me appreciate how fortunate I was to be a part of athletics.. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s a good thing.  Maybe it is smarter to go a different route outside of athletics, which could make you well rounded.”

How important is writing in your career?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Writing is very important.  You are always in communication with others through email, so sounding professional is crucial.”

What three tips would you offer someone just starting off in athletic administration?

Mr. Clinkscales: “Be open and don’t make any assumptions about salary.  Don’t do it if you are just trying to be affiliated or just think it is cool, it has to be your passion.  It is important to remember that it is about the student athletes, not the title.  Don’t let money be the driving force.  The profession is bigger than the University.  Be hungry and willing to work.  Pay cuts may happen, but if you are passionate that will not matter.”

After interviewing with Mr. Clinkscales, I am much more likely to pursue a career in athletic administration.  Talking to him and hearing the passion in his voice really helped assure me that this is what I want to do.  I do not fear the monetary aspect of my career because I truly want to be able to help student athletes and uphold a universities name.  I think that could be the most rewarding aspect of my career.



Leaky Pipes: BP’s Oil Crisis

Oil spill
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In 2010 the Gulf of Mexico was the site of a massive environmental tragedy: The BP oil spill.  After 87 days the spill was stopped, but only after leaking 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  BP had a crisis on their hands, and John Kimberly of CNN believes BP blew their crisis management operation.

Instantly there was one problem with how they handled the crisis: they took too long to acknowledge the severity of it.  Some may ask, how can that be?  The CEO of BP claimed that he was out of the loop about what was happening on the oil rig.  Another mistake that they made was how they failed to empathize with the families and individuals who died or whose lives were put in danger.  Kimberly believes that because of those issues, management lost most of their credibility and drew an extreme amount of anger.

So the question now becomes, what could they have done differently?  For starters, the CEO is the face of your organization in times of crisis.  They must know how to deal with the media and the PR side of a crisis.  The media can be brutal when it comes to organizational crisis, so any missteps must be avoided.  In other words, they should have been prepared to act “swiftly and empathetically” during their time of crisis.

Another more difficult way to handle the crisis may have been a well thought out and carefully planned exit, as sometimes that can be the only option.  The CEO of BP was under heavy fire from the media and had caused extreme outrage throughout the country.  Kimberly acknowledges that the CEO is a very good executive in many ways, but after all of the outrage that he seemed to cause he hurt BP and he is now “baggage” to the company.

Recently BP has come out and tried to mend the bridges that they burnt, and have even started to acknowledge that they handled the situation poorly.

Reel em’ In: Writing an Effective Press Release

Fisher guy
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Like catching “the big one,” writing an effective press release can be difficult.  You have to know what you’re doing and what you’re promoting.  Zach Cutler at the Huffington Post has written some tips on how to write a killer press release.

It’s very important to have an attention grabbing headline!  Your press release needs to stand out in order to be noticed.  Just like in magazines, books, etc. the beginning of the press release is the most important.  By having an effective headline, searching journalists will be more likely to notice your press release.

Another tip is to make sure you get to your main point in the first paragraph.  It is crucial to not waste the journalists time, as they are busy people.  Use the first couple sentences to talk about your main point, and use the remaining paragraphs to support your first paragraph.

Professionalism is also very important.  Make sure that your press release has perfect grammar.  Not only does it give off a professional image, it lets the reporter know you care enough to be taken seriously.

Make sure to leave your contact information in your press release.  It is important to give your reporter a way to follow up with you if they choose to do so.  At the top of the page, you should leave your email address and phone number so it is easy to find.

A common mistake some people make is that they make their press release too long.  An effective press release will normally be one page long, or no longer than two.  Writing one page requires you to include the most important information and your press release instantly becomes more readable to journalists since they often go through many a day.

The last tip I will provide is often overlooked.  Make sure you provide access to more information for the reporter in case they choose to learn more about whatever you are promoting.


Know What You’re Fishin’ For

Fishing Boat
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One reason to research when developing a PR campaign is to measure the attitudes of the clients you are trying to connect with.  By measuring their attitude about whatever product and/or issue you are trying to promote, you can allow a base for measuring attitudes in the future.  You can measure the attitudes over intervals of time to ensure that you keep up with attitude changes of your clients.

Another reason to do research is to see how you compare with your competition. By comparing your campaign to your competitors you can look at the strengths and weaknesses that they have, and try to take that knowledge to improve your own campaign.  For example, in fishing it is important to look at strategies other people use, and it isn’t bad to take different bits of information to help you put together an effective plan to catch your own fish.

One more reason to research  when building a PR campaign is to keep up with different trends that are taking place.  Keeping up with trends allows you to measure market issues and catch anything that could be a problem or could influence your decisions in the future.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, keeping up with trends can also allow you to monitor situations that could be beneficial and open up opportunities for your campaign.  It’s almost like watching the waves for the right time to fire up the boat, but after all, that’s just life on the lake.



PRSSA=A Bulky Resume

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PRSSA is a fantastic way for students to get involved in Public Relations while also building a resume.  PRSSA provides a detailed summary of what it is and benefits it contains for students, in and beyond the classroom.

The acronym PRSSA stands for Public Relations Student Society of America.  PRSSA has a large number of chapters, over 300, spread across North and South America.  These 300 chapters have over 11,000 students withing them.  The organization has a headquarters in New York City, New York with a National Committee.  The committee is actually made up of members of PRSSA and PRSA members.

Being a member of PRSSA has many benefits, including enhancing your education.  When a student joins PRSSA, they will also have many opportunities to find internships, find places to study public relations, and compete for scholarships.  Being in this organization also allows a student to network with professionals.  Not only will students connect with public relations professionals, they will be able to connect with other PRSSA students and chapters.  The relationships formed while in the organization can form into lasting professional relationships when looking for a career.  PRSSA provides many outlets for connecting to other students, chapters, and professionals through member directories, etc.

The most significant impact PRSSA can have on a student is the ability to have a successful career.  As a member, students will have access to PRSA Jobcenter which updates with different public relations employment opportunities throughout the entire world.  Between the education, networking, and career opportunities PRSSA provides, it seems to be a valuable asset to public relations majors for a successful future in the field.

Got Bait?: Elements of an Epic PR Campaign

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Every day people see PR campaigns, most of which go unnoticed.  Like a good fishing story, PR campaigns need to have that “special something” in order to make them stand out.  E-releases and Mickie Kennedy provided a list of such characteristics to help get your PR campaign started right.

What do all good PR campaigns have in common?  They have goals.  Like fishing, it is important to have goals for your campaign.  The goals should be specific, measurable, and have a timetable in order to make sure deadlines are met.  At the same time, the goals that you set should be realistic.  For example, if you were to be starting your campaign in a small town, it would not be wise to have a goal that includes reaching the entire state right away.

Let’s say that you were to start a campaign on why spear fishing during the winter months is bad for local musky population in Michigan.  Your goal could be to raise awareness to cities bordering musky lakes and encourage people to cease spear fishing.  The next step in an epic PR campaign would be to map out a plan to establish that goal.  In this case, would you utilize social media, show up and speak, reach out to local media, or all of the above?  When asking this question, something that should be thought about is what media would be most effective in spreading the message.

Once your plan is set up, the most important thing a good PR campaign can do is to adapt.  Situations will change throughout time and different challenges will present themselves.  It is imperative that you are willing to adapt to the situation.  In the musky example, if you were to start your campaign focusing on ice fishermen and found that the results just were not good enough, it may be smart to focus on spring/ summer fishermen.  It could raise their awareness that the musky population they fish for is being diminished in the winter.  But after all, that’s just Life on the Lake.


To Catch the Big One

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Blogging and fishing are not that different at all… Apart from the water and boats and fish themselves.  Okay so they might be different but many strategies that make fishermen successful can also make a successful blogger.  Some of the following tips come from Life Hack by Joel Runyon.

Like fishing, you should have a good reason why you are going to start doing it.  Whether it is just because you love doing it or you are doing it to get better, you should have a reason.  For example, a person shouldn’t go fishing just to say they went fishing.  Instead they should love doing it or want to perfect a certain technique; in other words, it should not be a burden.

Any fisherman can tell you that you should not be afraid to experiment with different styles of fishing.  The same can be said for blogging.  You should not be afraid to post different kinds of writing.  Sometimes it is better to get out of your comfort zone, so instead of posting your preferred type of post you could post a story or maybe put a different tone to your writings. “There is no one correct way to catch a fish.”

The most important thing to remember when fishing, writing a blog, or doing almost anything in life is to HAVE FUN! Enjoy what you’re writing about and don’t be afraid to be passionate about it.  If you are not having fun your readers will be able to tell through your writing.  People enjoy reading posts that have personality and passion, so do not take your blog posts too seriously.

If you follow these basic tips, blogging will be a blast for you.  Who knows, you might even save enough time to do other things, like grab a rod and go fishin’!  But after all, that’s just Life on the Lake.

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