Beast talks new media, PR and kickoff

That first game may be a few weeks off, but I can tell it’s football season again. The closer we get to September, I’m seeing my wife and son a lot less, sleep is at a premium and that August buzz is in the air. We’re definitely here and none of the above is a bad thing.

A friend mentioned to me the other that he felt like the Wisconsin game was being pushed under the rug. I disagree. That loss I witnessed in a dilapidated Citrus Bowl still burns. That wasn’t the way any Cane wanted to finish the season. Not the fans. Not the players. Not the coaches.

The best thing about this time of year – it’s a chance to purge the system of all those negative vibes. Put last year behind you. Move on to something fresh and new.

As I sit here in my office-away-from-my-office (think of a national bakery-type chain with WiFi), I stare out the window at those partly cloudy Miami skies and know that big things are again on the horizon.

My plea to the fans? Be patient. Don’t let yourself get bogged down with the daily output of news coming from Greentree. As Canes305 mentioned a few days back, it can be information overload from all the media outlets, covering anything and everything practice-related – even when there isn’t a story.

Kylan Robinson at middle linebacker isn’t as big a deal as some of you want to make it and as Randy Shannon often says, “trust the process”. By kickoff on September 2nd, many issues will have worked themselves out. The depth chart will be in place and we’ll all have a good feel about who is ready to make an impact versus who will be left out of the mix.

Honestly, I haven’t gone to many practices this fall. I was down attending the open practice last week, but other than dropping by occasionally, I don’t feel it’s worth going. You can’t see anything, talking to players / coaches after practice is much more limiting than when you get them off the field and while “The U” should be commended for embracing technology, for credentialed, older school guys, it’s exhausting that everyone with a laptop is now invited into the world of practice.

When the season kicks off, I promise to be around Greentree much more. It will be apparent both on this blog and the Wednesday night allCanes Radio broadcasts as we’ll be writing and talking nothing but Canes football. This time of year, I just don’t see the purpose in getting so worked up over practice.

Shifting gears a bit, I want to talk for a moment about new associate athletic director Chris Freet. Chris’ arrival on campus has been beyond refreshing and his approach towards dealing with PR is something we’ve never see out of the SID office at UM. Are practices still closed? Sure. However I know more about this team than ever because Freet and his staff have a slew of access at my fingertips.

UM Football now officially has a blog, their own Twitter page and an oft updated YouTube channel. In the span of a month we’ve gone from an old school, archaic PR process to a forward-thinking approach that has Hurricane Nation psyched up.

I applaud the University of Miami for making these changes and hope Chris knows how appreciated he is so early in the process. Everyday, from the comfort of my home (or “office”), I am getting detailed practice reports. I’m seeing the big plays and scoring drives. Blogs. Tweets. I’m almost tired from reading it all.

A year ago this time, the only info you were getting was cryptic and via the message boards, if and when a student equipment guy provided the scoop from a laptop in his dorm room at day’s end. It’s still limited access (regarding the information put out there), but it’s been more information to come by.

Chris and I met one-on-one in his office last week and I let him know I love the direction he’s going. He assured me he’s doing everything in his power to make sure great stories about his players and coaches are out there for the public to hear. I offered to do anything in my power, through or allCanes Radio, to bring as much of this message to the fans as possible.

The old school journalist in me is obviously a bit cynical (and realistic). The message we’re being delivered, as fans, is obviously being filtered a bit – with UM letting out what they want us to hear. How do we really know that everything sent to our Inbox or RSS Feed is actually what happened? We don’t.

From the outset, I don’t believe the university is going to lie. They know that no matter what is said, the truth always eventually comes out. That’s why I’ve never gotten the notion of closed practices. The information is always leaked eventually. Someone’s brother or barber goes to practice, tells a friend and by nightfall it’s a ten-page thread on a message board.

Instead of a giant game of ‘Telephone’, it’d be better if a pool reporter (a select individual representing the entire media contingent) were allow to observe and report on practice. That person would not be allowed to report on anything deemed classified (like the infamous Triple Lindy play Mark Whipple has been drawing up), but they’d be there as a liaison, ensuring the gigabyte of info received every day is the truth.

My partner in crime, Phil de Montmollin, will be blogging here throughout the year, touching on the media and PR aspects of both this team and throughout college football. One point I know he’ll drive home; that UM absolutely needs to do everything in their power to stay relevant. With LeBron in town and with the Dolphins remaining the fan favorite as the pro franchise, “The U” won’t be the strongest brand – even if it’s winning and the other two aren’t.

Winning is key, but it’s not everything as far as fan support and media coverage go. If I worked at Hecht, I’d be saying “yes” to a lot more requests than I did in the past. Game to try more new things and welcoming more non-traditional ways of spreading the word. UM often gets the short end of the stick via the local and national media. Sometimes it’s bias and hatred. Other times it’s just good business to trash the Canes if your national viewers and readers still view UM as the bad boys.

With all going on in South Florida sports-wise, it’ll be even harder to get the good stuff out there – and to Freet and the SID office’s credit, at least they’ve put the car in gear. I’m hopefully optimistic and believe you should be too. (Those of you who know how things have been run in the past can absolutely get where I’m coming from.)

Also, we have TWO editions of allCanes Radio for you this week. We’ll be broadcasting live from allCanes tonight when “The U” DVD finally goes on sale. The party kicks off at 10pm, the broadcast starts at 11pm and the DVD officially goes on sale at midnight. Director Billy Corben, his Rakontur partners, several former players and a slew of Canes will be in the house, celebrating the occasion.

On Wednesday night we’re coming to you live from the 3rd Annual PreSeason Football Kickoff Party up in Boca at the Millers Boca East Ale House. allCanes will be selling gear at the event and we’ll be talking Canes with special guests like Don Bailey Jr., Steve Walsh, Lamar Thomas and Bennie Blades. This is an Alumni Club Of Broward County event and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

Lastly, for those of you who missed the interviews from last week, dig into the archives as there was some great Canes talk going on. Rohan Marley and Joaquin Gonzalez really took things to the next level – #2 sharing what it’s like to carry that Marley name while #73 went into the story behind Ed Reed’s now legendary speech, halftime at Doak in 2001.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at allCanes tonight and at the Ale House on Wednesday!



2 thoughts on “Beast talks new media, PR and kickoff

  1. Hey guys nice article about the new asst AD. I wanted to introduce a subject that has been bothering me for the last 3 years now and either has been unnoticed or nobody cares. The subject is that awful UM advertising spot been used on national tv every time the Canes are in a televised game. From my marketing experience I think the creative strategy is outdated and from a brand perspective it does not communicate the new UM image. I also don't understand why the same spot is shown over and over, there's no creative minds at UM that could produce a more updated advertising spot or at least 3 or 4 different spots for a nice rotation?. BTW, Shallala should be kept in her office, she does not project well in an advertising spot. Please take this issue with somebody who can do something about this. Being a UM alumni with a marketing degree it bothers me a lot to see this poor advertising efforts.

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