This week, some of my co-workers and I are in Tampa for our annual CoSIDA Convention, a gathering of more than 800 collegiate athletic communications, media relations and sports information professionals from around the country. The convention provides numerous learning opportunities, a chance to re-connect with friends in the business and a little down time for a group of people who work as hard as any in the collegiate athletics field (yes, that is me straining to pat myself on the back).
At Wisconsin, we have been heavily involved in the organization that is CoSIDA. Tam Flarup, our director of Web site services has served on the board of directors and attended many conventions. Justin Doherty, our assistant athletics director for communications, is currently the second vice president and was heavily involved in the planning of this convention. Diane Nordstrom has attended a number of conventions and has been a member of a number of CoSIDA committees through the years.
Yesterday was a very busy day in the CoSIDA program as we had a number of great seminars running from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. In the afternoon, the convention program turned a pretty good shade of Badger Red.
To preface, we like to think our office is pretty progressive, from the things we are doing on uwbadgers.com to the way we run our office. I think that is recognized by our fellow CoSIDAns (CoSIDians?). I have run into a number of people down here who have complimented us on our Web site and said they are trying to implement some of our ideas. That is why Justin, Diane and I were asked to share some of our experiences during a couple of panels yesterday.
Justin started things off as part of the “Strategic Communications: How to take Advantage of Messaging Opportunities” panel. He spoke a lot about the things we are doing on our Web site, especially our blogs, our personality features (like Summer with the Badgers) and how we are trying to really focus on getting interesting and unique content on uwbadgers.com.
The next panel discussion was called “Blog & Stream – Using New Media for Your Message.” I was part of the four-person panel and talked in great detail about our blogs. I spoke about our philosophy of trying to give our fans a little more access into the day-to-lives of our athletes and coaches and trying to showcase more of our personalities, as opposed to just results and stats. I also talked about our live in-game blogs that we started last year and became increasingly popular (especially whenever I mentioned Erin Andrews). A number of people were intrigued by the in-game blogs and that’s what a lot of the questions centered around.
Following that panel, the group split up for what we call “Table Topics.” The name pretty much says it all as a number of presenters sat at round tables for a less formal, more individualized Q&A session. I expounded on the “Blogging SID” topic while Diane shared how we have become a “Paperless Office.” Basically, what that means is that we try to archive everything digitally, whether it’s a news release announcing a student-athlete award, a newspaper article talking about a coach’s success or a photo. We still have two rooms of file cabinets with historical data in them but we haven’t added anything to those in a number of years. We think it makes us a more efficient office, both economically and in terms of time.
As I said, we like to think of ourselves as fairly progressive and I know I spend a lot of time looking at other Web sites, not just college sites but also things sites ranging from ESPN.com to Awful Announcing to see how we can improve. Along those lines, if you have any suggestions, don’t hesitate to email Tam or someone in the Athletic Communications office. Our email addresses are available through the “Staff Directory” via the “Athletic Department” button on the left-hand side of every page.