Company Culture: The Right Fit

Me Smile 2

My first post on the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) New Pros blog was published yesterday. It’s all about company culture and the importance of finding the right fit during the job search.

The topic came to me after a friend recently shared a horror story about her current workplace. Her experience made me realize how we young professionals so often focus on getting hired by a company when it’s equally important to discern if we’re the right fit for that workplace.

My parents always told my siblings and I to not only love what you do every day, but to love who you’re working for and the people you’re working with as well. During my short time in the real world, I’ve come to see just how right they were.

If you’d like to read the post, which you obviously should, check it out at prnewpros.prsa.org.

Nine-Year-Olds Got Nothing on These Nine Mascots

I taught nine-year-olds for two years coming out of grad school, and believe me, those kids had nothing on the nine mascots that took part in our recent CAA Basketball Mascot Tour in Baltimore.

The purpose of the tour was to help promote the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship’s move to Baltimore in 2014. I was tasked with manning the conference’s social media efforts during the tour alongside several members of a local public relations team helping lead the day’s events.

Needless to say, given the efforts (and antics) of our nine so-called furry friends, I think we got the word out.

The tour began at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, site of our CAA Basketball Media Day. Several mascots arrived earlier than the others, so while we waited, the mascots wasted little time finding their form, greeting (i.e. scaring the hell out of) guests as they got off elevators, getting spanked by security and even taking some time to check in folks at the front desk.

Elevator

Check In

Before heading out to our first stop, we corralled our cast of characters for a photo. The expression “herding cats” certainly applied here. They are a good-looking bunch, though, right?

CAA_0052

Waiting outside for us was Baltimore Trolley, which so graciously carted the group around for the day. There was plenty of room for the gang, including James Madison’s Duke Dog, who if it weren’t for his lack of opposable thumbs could probably start for JMU given that he’s a good 6’6″.

Mascots Trolley

Our first stop was the Under Armour Brand House, where the mascots did everything from play a little hoops to fold some of the apparel. There was also some fooling around with the checkout scanner gun. Oh, and this happened on the counter…

Doc Checkout

It was then off to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office. While we waited for the mayor to return from some important business, the mascots rested up and took in a little TV.

TV Mascots

We were then led into an immaculate chamber featuring artwork and furniture that had to be well over 100 years old. The mascots took full (and I do mean full) advantage of the space, with each taking a turn behind the podium, including Sammy, who’s got the whole politician thing down.

Sammy Podium

Mayor Rawlings-Blake arrived to quite a sight. After taking in the fur-filled scene and a little one-on-one time with the league’s lone female mascot, Hofstra’s Kate the Lioness (who had just finished dolling herself up in the 19th-century mirror), it was time for what was the day’s premier photo opp.

mayor

Following a quick return trip to the hotel to greet the media and their head coaches, the mascots joined us at Phillip’s Seafood in the heart of the Inner Harbor. A full spread had been set out for us, and it didn’t take long for the mascots to begin cracking crabs and making a complete mess. Even William & Mary’s Griffin was at a loss at the spectacle.

Griffin

At least Kate was there to help clean everyone up.

Duke Dog Kate

With everyone now stuffed full of seafood, we headed to Federal Hill. Along the way, Drexel’s Mario the Magnificent stumbled upon some long-lost family members.

mario dragons

We also discovered that Towson’s Doc the Tiger has some mad skills on the drums. We thought he was just cattin’ around when he first sat down, so this was a pleasant surprise to all of us and the other Inner Harbor visitors who gathered around for the impromptu show.

Doc Drums

A beautiful view of the city awaited us atop Federal Hill, making the hike up the several flights of stairs very worthwhile.

Federal Hill

It was important that we all stayed hydrated after that climb, as Northeastern’s Paws the Husky took to heart.

Paws Fountain

The next stop on the tour was a highly anticipated one – M&T Bank Stadium, where the reigning Super Bowl Champion Ravens’ mascot, Poe, joined us for a shot in the stands. Love or hate the Ravens, they boast one of football’s cleverest mascots.

ravens

We followed up our trip to the stadium with a visit to the Orioles’ historic Camden Yards, which combines classic ballpark beauty and an updated modern feel to create a great stadium aesthetic. Enough about architecture, though, as we were joined by The Bird, who led our nine mascots onto the dugout for this sweet shot.

camden

A few of us got left behind (not because we were perfecting our dugout dances), so the mascots enjoyed some extra time at Baltimore’s Sports Legends Museum.

museum

The four of us stragglers quickly caught up with the group and we then set off for Baltimore Arena, home of the 2014 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The league hopes to see plenty of fans in these lines come March.

arena

Our last stop on the tour was the National Aquarium, where the mascots made friends with one of the dolphins.

Dolphin

Sammy made a friend on the way out as well. Yeah, this is pretty adorable.

Sammy Girl

All in all, it was a highly entertaining and ultimately successful day spent with our nine crazy mascots, thanks to a lot of teamwork…

Teamwork

and a lot of fun.

Scared Lady

You May Want to Grab a Kleenex

This fall a couple of my coworkers and I are traveling to each of our league’s 11 schools as part of our CAA Football On Campus initiative, which I liken to a small-scale version of ESPN’s College Gameday. One element of our initiative is producing a human interest series that we call Going Deep in which we feature the unique and often untold stories of a student-athlete (or coach) at each of our schools, which range from the University of Richmond right here in RVA to the University of Maine in Orono, which is in fact not on the Arctic Circle like most people would have me believe.

As I’ve told a number friends and fam, telling these stories is probably the most meaningful work that I’ve done to date in this profession. Given that we’re so accustomed to hearing about athletes’ performances on the field – or their wrongdoings away from it – talking with these student-athletes and sharing their manifold stories has been a true pleasure and makes every bit of the grind so worthwhile. We’ve also worked with Comcast to feature these videos during halftime of our television broadcasts, which helps promulgate the stories and what we’re doing to tell them each week.

We’ve visited five campuses thus far and have another six to go through the end of November. I wanted to share the five Going Deep features that my exceptionally talented coworker Alex Souza and I have produced thus far. They’re released along with our other On Campus content (you know I’m all about those campus tours) every Tuesday morning on CAA Football’s official Every Day Is Saturday blog. I’ll continue posting the videos here on the blog as well.

Disclaimer: Not only will you hear my voice in a couple of them (holla), but you may want to grab a Kleenex, especially for this first one…

Doggin’ on the Huskies: The Worst Half in History

Northern Illinois didn’t do my home state proud after putting up just four points in the first half of its game against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, resetting its own NCAA record for fewest points in a half (previously 5). The Huskies’ futile effort can be best summed up by one of the game’s TV analysts, who stated simply, “This is ugly, ugly basketball.”

This ESPN Stats Info tweet puts the team’s play into further perspective…

Nevertheless, I’ve got to give it to the NIU Athletics PR folks for finding a positive spin to put on all of this…

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 1.16.36 PM

Well done, NIU. Well done.

One Freakin’ Amazing Freakout


Please check out this phenomenal freakout by Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. Was this a tantrum? Indeed. But more importantly, was it effective? Undoubtedly, as Reeve’s Lynx responded accordingly and won the game to tie its WNBA Finals series with the Indiana Fever at 1-1.

I’m going to argue that we need to see more fire like this in the WNBA, and in women’s sports in general. While some fans are turned off by such displays (boo you whores), the vast majority of true sports fans enjoy seeing this kind of passion in their coaches. As evidenced in this case, players are often times receptive to this kind of behavior in their coaches as well.

Plus, coming from a PR perspective, it’s also an incredibly effective way to generate buzz around your team, as Reeve has done with multiple replays of her display on ESPN and well beyond in the realm of social media. While tantrums don’t always necessarily trigger positive storylines, they’re certainly memorable and women’s sports should be fighting for all the buzz they can get.

You go girl.