Friday, November 28, 2008

Sam Adams School of Communication

Organizing groups of insiders who can carry the message of the athletic department into the social media appears creepy, if not down right controlling, to many. These folks break down into two groups – those who do not want visible ties to message management and those who do not feel it necessary to engage those people on the boards.

I will argue that it’s not only proper, it’s American.

You mean you’ve forgotten Samuel Adams? The colonial governments needing to get word out to supporters and potential recruits required an alternate means of spreading information. The crown printers were not about to issue the news favorable to the insurgents. Thus, Committees of Correspondence were formed on an ad hoc basis until Adams formalized the system.

The Committees would carefully repeat the news of the day and mail it on to the next member for local dissemination, either by word of mouth or by circulation of the letter itself.

Sound familiar? How different were the Town Cryers used by the Obama campaign? Not one bit.

There are several groups waiting for the athletic department to utilize. Existing booster groups – tipoff clubs or swatters clubs – are a great source. Scholarship donors or foundation members are another important group. The network need not be formal – it can be as simple as a short list of trusted fans that can be informed of events.

Not everyone can employ the technique, and it has to be understood by the leadership. They must be comfortable enabling others to speak for the department. The ones that understand the control of the brand exists within the fan base rather than within a marketing or media relations office will be the administrators most willing to engage.

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