Thursday, July 30, 2009

Talking Lumberjack Sports in an Online World

I still enjoy having a newspaper laid out in front of me on the kitchen table. It is the way I have started my day for as long as I can remember. But we now live in an online world. The days of reading the Sunday paper over a cup of coffee have morphed into something called a Blackberry that allows you access to the world online with your cup of java.

If you are not tweeting, you can’t hear the latest thought from NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal. He has 1,817,167 followers (including me) and has posted more than 2,000 tweets. If you are not on Facebook, you’ll never find your prom date from the glory days in high school. YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace; they are all some other forms to communicate online today. It is mind-boggling to get a grasp on it all. But if you don’t, the day your paper fails to show up because your local print edition went online, I will say I told you so. Maybe you don’t care. You should.

Why am I telling you this? I am not an expert but I am trying. My name is Steve Shaff and I am the media relations director at Northern Arizona University and the way I do my job has changed. And it is changing every day. I used to write press releases, produce media guides and set up interviews. I still help tell the story of NAU Athletics via the traditional media. Who won the game? What was the top performance? What did the coach think about the win? Fans want to read these things.

But, we are also doing it in new ways. We are no longer printing media guides. You can view them online. Scores can be found online in real time if you can’t make the game and are not within radio range or have the sports package on DirectTV. It was time to jump into the world of social media. Today the NAU Athletics department launched a new website with a fresh design with built-in tools to share the information. Lumberjack fans will hear from our coaches and student-athletes via traditional stories but also with video interviews and highlights available right after contests. We are also providing information via Facebook and Twitter. At this blog, you will hear from our coaches and student-athletes with their opinions on the topics in Lumberjack sports, college sports and the world of sports. It is the content only we can provide to give the inside look into our department.

We want to hear from you. Social media is exactly that. It is an online conversation. We are now talking but we want the conversation to go both ways. What do you want to see on our website at Who do you want to hear from? What video do you want to see? Give us a chance to provide it for you. Follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook while bookmarking our primary site for your Lumberjack news if you are fan or alum of the Lumberjacks.

I found my prom date on Facebook (she is married to a guy who was in my fraternity and has three kids) and I follow Shaq (he is pretty funny). So can you. Join the new world but don’t cancel your subscription to the Arizona Daily Sun.
Steven Shaff, Assistant AD for Media Relations, Northern Arizona University