Back to Business Thursday Rundown

After last week’s birthday-themed Thursday Rundown it is right back to the random, boring rundowns you are used to. Here we go…

Social Circle is Back! – My own social media segment on our University television show, “Coastal Now,” was miraculously picked up for a second season! Not only did they ask me back but I got an awesome new virtual set behind me. For my season two debut, I talked about the major impact our brand new teal turf has had on our social media efforts. To watch the segment, just click here.

I have a new virtual set this year!

I have a new virtual set this year!

Lee Brice Tomorrow – After last year’s very successful Darius Rucker show, our Office of Philanthropy is once again sponsoring another concert. Like in 2014, Coastal will be going country again. Lee Brice will perform inside our HTC Center tomorrow night. Armed with my all-access credential, I will be covering the show for #CCUSocialMedia. I don’t go to many concerts anymore so I am excited to once again hear some live music from someone of Brice’s stature.

Lee Brice will play on campus tomorrow night.

Lee Brice will play on campus tomorrow night.

Public Speaking Class – I was once again inside a classroom today covering the action for #CCUSocialMedia. While today’s class might not have matched the abstractness of Monday’s acting adventure, the students I covered this morning still had to be creative. It was COMM 341, the advanced public speaking class on campus. I watched as seven students delivered speeches about their favorite destination in the world. After those speeches, classmates who did not speak on this particular day offered critiques. The professor, Elizabeth Muckensturm, who I have talked with about social media before, also gave feedback. I enjoyed not only covering the class but also knowing that I would not have to speak!

These were the seven students who delivered speeches in today's class.

These were the seven students who delivered speeches in today’s class.

New Clubs – My big birthday present this year was a set of golf clubs! Last Thursday I could hardly contain my excitement as I picked them up from Dick’s Sporting Goods. That Saturday we had our sixth golf lesson and then on Sunday, Sidney and I played our first round of golf together! We simply played nine holes at a Par-3 but it was great to get out there by ourselves and break in my new clubs. Sidney broke them in a little better than me as she beat me by a stroke!

I got my new clubs and Sid got her first win.

I got my new clubs and Sid got her first win.

Wedding Update #9 – This past Tuesday, Sidney and I had our first Pre-Cana class. We have an absolutely wonderful sponsor couple who welcomes us into their home for these classes. Tuesday we talked a lot about our families and how they have influenced us to be the people we are today. Yesterday, Sidney and I went to the community center of St. Andrew where our pastor, Father James LeBlanc, discussed holy matrimony in the Catholic church. He went over marriage, divorce, and annulments in great detail. While of course we are just focused on marriage, we wanted to get an idea on specifically what the church teaches about it all. It was also a great opportunity to hear the questions of others and to personally chat with Fr. LeBlanc.


This week has seemed to fly by. Enjoy your weekend everyone and, as always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Don’t Blink.

Those Who Do Facebook Right

Recently I wrote a blog post about unstable Facebook users. Not so recently I have also authored blog posts criticizing other ways in which people utilize the world’s largest social media network. Tonight I felt I should put an end to my negativity and shed light on a few of the people who use Facebook really well.

I have admiration for those people who use Facebook to convey life experiences in either an interesting, humorous, or helpful way. These folks, who really are few and far between, don’t leave a one sentence cryptic status or ramble on for 500 words. They don’t share a thousand memes a day or share their newest lame blog post on a nightly basis (self-deprecating humor). Rather, they usually write a paragraph (or sometimes two) of engaging content on a consistent basis, usually 4-5 times a week.

To me, these people have perfected the art of using Facebook. They have made their page almost like their own mini blog. I find this method to be effective. I think the users who practice this style come across as more intelligent, more honest, and more human. They receive better results as well. Look at anyone who posts short, informative/humorous content consistently on Facebook and you will quickly see that they are receiving above average comments and likes.

When I think of folks who practice the techniques I just briefly mentioned, I automatically think of three people on my friend list. If the Facebook algorithm isn’t already serving me their content on my newsfeed, I am manually typing their names in and checking out their pages. Let me briefly identity each one.

Rob Oviatt – No questions asked, I find no one’s Facebook page more interesting than the one maintained by Coach Oviatt. A man who served all over the country as the head strength and conditioning coach for numerous college football programs, we crossed paths when we both worked in the athletic department at the University of Montana. Because of Oviatt’s storied athletic history, he has come in contact with just about every big name not just in college football but really the whole sporting arena. Additionally, he has coached in hundreds of different football stadiums. He shares his experiences and insight on his Facebook page in a humble and honest way. One post he will talk about meeting Randy Johnson in an airport and the next he will share how Nick Saban showed him humility after his staff was fired at LSU. He just doesn’t cover encounters with famous people, however. He addresses lessons he learned and accomplishments of lesser-known athletes he knew over the years. I look forward to every post.

Coach Oviatt has hundreds of really cool stories to share. When he tells one on Facebook, his friends gather around the "virtual" fire to listen.

Coach Oviatt has hundreds of really cool stories to share. When he tells one on Facebook, his friends gather around the “virtual” fire to listen.

Jenna Holloway – The wife of my cousin, Jenna uses her Facebook page to discuss life raising five young kids. She routinely posts about the joys and challenges of raising a large family. What separates her from millions of other moms on Facebook, however, is that she doesn’t take every opportunity possible to boast about her three daughters and two sons. Of course she recognizes their achievements but it isn’t a deal where she is constantly laying it on thick. She has a terrific sense of humor that always comes through in her posts and I can always visualize exactly the scenario she is describing. Her Facebook content is always on point in length and in clarity.

Jenna discusses the challenges and joys of raising five kids.

Jenna discusses the challenges and joys of raising five kids.

April Betsch – When it comes to documenting one’s adventures in a funny and non-overwhelming way, I think no one is better at it on Facebook than April Betsch. Coined “BETSCHventures,” April often writes about the good times enjoyed by herself and her husband of a little over a year, David. She injects a funny twist into her content and does a great job at adding relevant (and hilarious) photos to tell the story. Believe me, just being friends with her on Facebook is a “BETSCHventure.”

You never know what is going to happen during the "BETSCHventures" of April and David.

You never know what is going to happen during the “BETSCHventures” of April and David.


Great work to these three on maintaining terrific Facebook pages. Once you become a Facebook friend with one of them, you will never press the “unfriend” button. Although some thought a couple years ago that Facebook would die, it really has just continued to get stronger. It pays to run an account that is engaging and authentic. Don’t Blink.

My Thoughts on Sarkisian and Spurrier

A head football coaching position in the NCAA is an amazingly powerful and scrutinized job. Stress, ego, expectations, and control dominate the profession. Your every move, both on and off the field, is scrutinized. With the major developments in the college football coaching industry, I did want to quickly weigh in with my thoughts.

I really believed Steve Sarkisian’s August incident was an isolated episode. I bought the explanation that he had a rough day and mixed his prescription drugs with alcohol. I forgave him. Even as a Washington State Cougar fan I wanted the former Washington coach to succeed with the Trojans. It seemed like this was his year and perhaps he would use the late summer embarrassment to fuel him and his team to the College Football Playoffs.

When I heard news about his Sunday appearance at team facilities I was taken aback. Like I said, I counted the previous situation as an isolated incident. But as the reports started to come in about other recent drunken episodes, including coaching the game against Arizona State while intoxicated, it became very clear that Coach Sark has a serious problem. Watching his status go from “taking a leave of absence” to “terminated” was tough to watch. I can’t imagine the additional stories of Sark escapades that will surely be leaked over the next several weeks. He had it all and blew it. Like I said, I take no joy at all in his fall from grace and I hope he gets well.

But who I want to recognize are the USC parents. I can’t believe how positive and supportive they have been during this ordeal. They want what is best for their kids, for the program, and for Sarkisian. Having watched parents of inferior athletes at lower levels whine and cry about much more trivial things, I take my hat off to these moms and dads who are trying to help everyone move forward. Well done.

I was completely shocked last night with the Steve Spurrier resignation news. I took to Twitter to voice that his decision to quit halfway through the season was much more surprising to me than the Steve Sarkisian implosion.

Steve Spurrier's decision to resign surprised me more than Steve Sarkisian's meltdown.

Steve Spurrier’s decision to resign surprised me more than Steve Sarkisian’s meltdown.

I have only lived in South Carolina for 17 months but I definitely knew that this was Steve Spurrier’s state. There was just that feel that he was king. Since arriving here, I have read the Columbia newspaper, “The State”, quite regularly. For those readers not from around here, it contains great Gamecock coverage, meaning it had Steve Spurrier quotes pretty much on a daily basis, even during months such as February and March. I really started to seem to get to know Steve and his one-of-a-kind personality.

Like I said, I didn’t “get to know him” for that long but it seemed to me that one thing was clearly conveyed: he would never quit in the middle of a football season.

That is not a knock on Coach Spurrier at all. As I mentioned above, there are heavy pressures on college football head coaches that many of us will never experience. I am sure he was pushed to the absolute brink and needed to get away from the nightmare season. He is 70 for crying out loud. But because of his larger than life persona and fiery nature, I never thought he would stop coaching the University of South Carolina during the month of October. Just like with Sarkisian, I wanted to see him go out in a different way.

True to Steve Spurrier fashion, he said he was “resigning, not retiring.” I love it that he is leaving the door open. After taking some time off he could probably find a position on any football staff in the nation. Who knows about Sarkisian’s future…his football future that is. But of course, as every analyst and colleague has already rightfully said, that is not what matters now. I wish best of luck to both men as they spend time away from football. Don’t Blink.

One Neat Class

One of the best parts about working in higher education is you get to observe firsthand the raw talent of college students. For me, since making the transition from overseeing the social media program of an athletic department to one of a whole university, I have enjoyed a much broader showcasing of talent. Many times I get to experience arts and disciplines that I have no background in. Today was no different.

I started a social media campaign at Coastal Carolina University simply called “Inside the Classroom” (yes, I managed to name a social media campaign without a hashtag). I pitched the initiative as a Facebook feature where I would poke my head inside a class at Coastal each week and quickly take a couple photos. However, starting with my first visit to a photography class in August, the professors made it clear that they didn’t mind if I did more than just “poke my head inside.” They literally opened up their classrooms to me.

What was supposed to be a once a week Facebook feature turned into a twice a week multi-platform spotlight. Instead of just spending a moment or two in these classrooms I was spending a half an hour covering the class via Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Periscope. A Facebook photo album followed afterwards. Soon, no longer was I seeking out professors to participate. Instead, professors were contacting me asking if their class could be featured.

This morning I covered my favorite classroom yet. Acting 150 is a class for our freshmen theatre students. While they might be young, they are incredibly talented. Our theatre program is nationally renowned. Hundreds apply, few get in. The students I observed this morning are the best of the best.

I observed these students in an Acting 150 class today.

I observed these students in an Acting 150 class today.

The class was taught by campus-favorite Robin Russell. A theatre professor as well as our host of Coastal Now, she is one of a kind. The class I visited today had some of the most talented students on campus but it also had one of the most talented professors as well.

Robin during today's class giving her students pointers.

Robin during today’s class giving her students pointers.

In order to understand what I witnessed, you would just have to throw out any preconceived notion you might have about what constitutes class. Even if you do realize that an acting class might be a little different than a traditional class, you would still be blown away by what went down in the Edwards Building this morning. Students today weren’t reading scripts or listening to Robin lecture about techniques. Instead, they were dancing, or, to use an even better word, performing.

The students engaged in an activity called flocking.

The students engaged in an activity called flocking.

Robin had the students do an exercise called flocking. This was a type of dance where the 13 students would follow what the leader was doing. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast. The leader is decided by who is in the front while the group continuously changes facings and directions. With Robin changing the music frequently and encouraging the students to break off in groups, the leader changed rapidly. For 30 full minutes, the students danced non-stop.

The students were concentrated and poised.

The students were concentrated and poised.

Obviously because of my non-existent background in both acting and dance, my lackluster explanations can’t even scrape the surface of adequately explaining this. Please click here to see the low budget Youtube video I made on my personal channel by stringing together my Periscope broadcasts from today.

The students had to feed off the energy of each other and perform as a cohesive unit. It looked to me as if the 13 young men and women had poured some serious time into rehearsing and choreographing what I was witnessing. Not the case. The whole thing was 100% improv. The class had simply woken up on a Monday morning, showed up to class, and performed on the spot. Robin remarked a couple times that she wished she could charge admission for what we were watching.

It isn't easy to stay together for 30 minutes.

It isn’t easy to stay together for 30 minutes.

It was fun observing the students work together while Robin shouted directions and encouragement. At one point she even jumped in herself and led the group! I admit it, the type of activity, movement, and music I took in today was completely foreign to me but at the same time it was also very enlightening. Even though I am out of school, I am still learning and broadening my horizons.

These are super blurry photos but I wanted to include a couple images of when Robin jumped in and participated.

These are super blurry photos but I wanted to include a couple images of when Robin jumped in and participated.

After the 30 minutes expired, Robin cut the music and let the students get water. The class then huddled back together and discussed the exercise. After a long period of watching the students remain completely silent and focused on the task, it was really cool to see them open up and discuss what was going through their minds. They brought up challenges while also pinpointing what went right. As the talk was still at a high level, I had to excuse myself so I could get to a meeting. I usually stay in classrooms for 20-30 minutes…today I stayed for almost an hour.

Robin led a class discussion after the flocking exercise ended.

Robin led a class discussion after the flocking exercise ended.

Thanks to Robin Russell and her Acting 150 class for allowing me to visit today. The goal of Inside the Classroom is to show our audience learning in action while also giving our students social media coverage. However, a byproduct of these two things is that I become a more enriched individual. Talk about a perk of the job! Don’t Blink.

Cool Halloween Scenes in the Neighborhood

When I was a little boy I loved when October hit. It meant that we could decorate our house for Halloween. Now by “decorate” I mean we would just take out some cut outs from the closet and tape them to our large front window. But back in the day, it was a big deal for me. Getting our house “scary” was fun!

I don’t know if it is because of Pinterest or because of where I live in the country, but over the past couple of years I have seen houses go above and beyond when it comes to Halloween decorating. It is no longer about viewing a black cat shaped piece of card stock from someone’s window or even seeing one of those generic blown up pumpkins in someone’s yard. Rather, it is about experiencing Halloween scenes right in the middle of your neighbor’s lawn, at least in Sidney’s neighborhood.

This evening, Sid and I drove around her neighborhood and I snapped a few photos of some of the better Halloween displays. Is it possible that people will start paying as much attention to Halloween decorating as Christmas decorating? I don’t know the answer to that question but here is what we found…

Even to someone like me, this scene is spooky.

Even to someone like me, this scene is spooky.

I couldn’t hold back, I had to share my personal favorite right at the start. The witches joining hands to perform a séance is eerie. They are gathered around a fire that is illuminated with orange lights. I know if I was walking the neighborhood at night and I saw the scene I would feel a little spooked out. I bet little kids driving with their parents to school question their mom or dad about who is in that lawn and what is going on.

They erected a chain link fence to pull this cemetery off.

They erected a chain link fence to pull this cemetery off.

This particular display is neat because they have the oversized grim reaper and the witch (behind the grim reaper) for all to see but that isn’t the best part. What I like is the graveyard they erected. If you can’t tell, that is a chain link fence these people set up as the backdrop for their cemetery. They then draped it with cobwebs and placed a couple ghouls inside. Of course you then have the tombstones confined within the fence. A string of bones keep folks from getting too close. The display is visible at night as orange light is projected onto the cursed ground.

Those plots were just dug.

Those plots were just dug.

This is another cemetery in the neighborhood. However, these graves are just a tad bit more fresh. I love what they did to make four realistic plots right in the middle of their yard.

He needs a proper burial.

He needs a proper burial.

Here is the third and final graveyard. I don’t know if it was the flooding or not, but one of the departed became a little unearthed.

That is one big spider.

That is one big spider.

How about this house? They went away from death and skeletons so they could put a gigantic spider in front of their porch. If you have arachnophobia just look to the left and admire the large scarecrow.

This was definitely the most creative house.

This was definitely the most creative house.

To finish, I give you my second favorite display. Home of a family that takes pride in the color of their house (and Spanish 101), the sign reads “Casa Verde: Dead and Breakfast.” They have the lights and the tombstones just like the other neighbors but the real draw is the center column of the house. The picture quality is not the best because I had to reach over Sidney to take it but if you look closely you can see three skeletons up to some mischief.

Expect some more Halloween spirit from me in the weeks to come. I have a haunted house and a haunted forest that I want to get to. Have a great week, everyone! Don’t Blink.

My Most Memorable Birthday Parties

Well another birthday has arrived for me. For the typical person, turning 29 isn’t really that noteworthy or significant. However, it just so happens that this year my date of birth is on a Thursday Rundown! It took me some time to come up with the birthday-themed slant I would take this particular blog post but I finally decided on an idea. I have decided to write about my coolest birthday parties.

Before I dive in, let me preface the below five events by saying this: I didn’t really have much to choose from. Growing up as a kid I usually had Halloween-themed parties at our house. Always fun and all, but nothing to really get crazy about. Then, throughout the majority of the past 15 years I was either working late on my birthday or simply just didn’t do anything. With that said, here we go (in chronological order).

Limousine Cruise – For my 8th birthday, my parents surprised my friends and I with a limousine! My parents staged what seemed like a typical birthday party at the house. Once all of us came inside, they told us to look out the window. Waiting for us was a stretched limo. We had a fabulous time. To get the full details, click here for the blog post I wrote in August of 2014.

Major throwback to when I had a limo at my birthday party. In this photo I am wearing the hate of the limousine driver.

Major throwback to when I had a limo at my birthday party. In this photo I am wearing the hate of the limousine driver.

Laser Quest – In my day I have played laser tag at numerous locations. However, I have never played it at a better place than Laser Quest in downtown Spokane. Strategically built with three floors and high quality equipment, this was the place to go when I was younger. My parents reserved the party room where we got to hang out in between the TWO rounds of laser tag we played. It was a great 10th birthday.

My 21 Run – I had heard everyone talk about how awesome their 21 run was prior to embarking on my own and I honestly didn’t know if the hype was for real. It was. Turning 21 was one of the best times I have had in my twenties. I became acquainted with the downtown bar scene in Missoula that night. I turned 21 on a Monday but my group was nice enough to still take me out at midnight on Sunday. In those two hours I managed to consume the magic number everyone shoots for on their 21 run* while surprisingly remembering most of it. My birthday group that night was made up of various people of different interests and backgrounds. But all got along and made it a special night.

This was me 8 years ago on my 21 run. I am holding up my ID to show that I am legal.

This was me 8 years ago on my 21 run. I am holding up my ID to show that I am legal.

Pizza Free-For-All – You can only do a 21 run once, so I made sure to dramatically scale back when I turned 22. Although some might call it a “hangover birthday,” I had no problem having 13 people join me for terrible food. The location of this feast was at a place called Freemo’s Pizza, an all-you-can-eat $5 pizza place in Missoula that couldn’t even hold a candle to Cici’s. It was one of those places where people would go just to make fun of the food. We practically took over the joint as we pushed a bunch of tables together to make us all fit. With the outdated arcade games and the bicycles hanging from the roof as a backdrop, it was a great way to start that particular year of my life.

The First of Many – Of course birthdays don’t get much more memorable than when you celebrate them with your soul mate. My first birthday in Myrtle Beach was spent with my fiancé (who was my girlfriend at the time). After work, Sidney and I went out for drinks and then dinner. We came back to her house and I opened up gifts. She then presented me with a huge candy bar cake that she made for me. With my family joining via Skype, my loved one on the east and my loved ones on the west sang me “Happy Birthday.” It was a great kickoff to the many, many more birthdays I will celebrate with Sidney.

Last year I spent a very memorable birthday with Sidney.

Last year I spent a very memorable birthday with Sidney.


I am off to enjoy the evening. My second birthday in Myrtle Beach will be very much like my first. Thanks to all for the texts, calls, and social media posts. Don’t Blink.

* I don’t condone binge drinking. However, on this night I was able to take 21 shots. Thanks to great friends with safe habits, I was always in good hands.

My Top Five Emoticons (Non-Faces)

I am an emoticon user. Over two years ago I detailed my relationship with them. Since then, I think my usage has evolved quite a bit. A year ago to this date, I wrote a blog post about my favorite emoticon faces. Because I had so much fun with that, I decided I would honor the other emoticons that I use often, you know, the ones that aren’t yellow and round.

With that said, I have picked the five non-face emoticons I like the best and use the most. Welcome to my world.

The Boy

This was an emoji that was designed for me.

This was an emoji that was designed for me.

I have to start out with the emoticon that they designed in my likeness. Okay, maybe when they created this emoji they weren’t exactly thinking of a youthful Brent but it does appear that way. I use this little guy to represent myself in text messages. I can use it to start off a message and then put a wide array of other emoticons after it to show exactly what I am thinking or doing. Others accept it as well  and use it in their texts to represent me.

The “Okay Sign”



When it comes to the hand gesture emoticons, I use the “okay sign” a lot, many times in substitution for the “thumbs up” emoticon. For whatever reason, I have always taken the thumbs up emoji as a sign of sarcasm. I can’t exactly explain it but that is how I feel. On the other hand, in my head, I attribute the okay sign as meaning much more than just okay. I think of it as a well done or perfection emoticon. In my mind I always have a scene playing out where I do something really well in a setting where you can’t talk. Someone then makes eye contact with me and makes an okay sign while nodding in approval to mean that I nailed it. Because of this visualization, the “okay sign” emoji is my big stamp of approval. 


The monkey is perfect to surprise someone or just to be silly.

The monkey is perfect to surprise someone or just to be goofy.

When it comes to the animal emoticons, my favorite is by far the monkey. However, I don’t use it solely because I like monkeys. I also use it because of the expression on the face. It pretty much yells out “SURPRISE” or “GOTCHA.” If I play a joke on you, tell you something really cool, or just feel like acting annoying, I will send you three rows of monkey emojis.

Two Beer Glasses

Goal achieved! Time to celebrate.

Goal achieved! Time to celebrate.

I don’t use this because I am an alcoholic, I use it because it symbolizes a triumph over something. If a long work week just finished, if I performed well on something, if my brother was going to visit me, or if a loved one or myself reached a goal I would send out the two beer classes. It just means that the hard part or the struggle is over and the relaxation and good times are about to begin.

The Music Note 

Music to my ears.

Music to my ears.

If I ever want to respond to someone with song lyrics, this emoji will make sure that the reference will never be lost. With the music note you immediately convey to the recipient that you are singing, whether it be an established song or your best attempt at one of your originals. The best part is that once you open up the message your brain processes the text in song. Because of this, you just aren’t reading, you are listening to music.


Simple enough, right? I will be back tomorrow with the Thursday Rundown. Don’t Blink.

Dealing With a Crisis on Social Media

For social media professionals, it isn’t always about the glory. It isn’t just about developing spectactular content, introducing the newest channels to your audience, and making things go viral. One of the biggest aspects of the job, if not the most important, is how your social media program responds during crisis.

When a storm comes through, whether it be a weather phenonmenon or a tragedy/scandal/unforeseen event, people understandably expect their schools and employers to make decisions. The leadership teams of these entities get together and do all they can to take the absolute best course of action. Believe me, they investigate all possible scenarios and agonize over every little detail. After all things are considered, a decision is made.

Once a direction is taken, it is time to relay it to the public. Press releases are drafted, e-mails are sent, and text alerts hit thousands of phones. Then there is the social media piece…


At the University of Montana, I oversaw all social media accounts for the heavily followed athletic department channels. I was at the helm when, out of the blue, our athletic director and head football coach were fired on the same day. Because at the time our athletic channels were more followed than the main university channels, the public also looked to our social media program for updates when a ferocious avalanche-inducing winter storm hit the area and when the campus went on lockdown because an armed felon came close to the premises.

Here during my time at Coastal Carolina University we experienced a winter storm earlier this year that resulted in the cancellation of classes. We also experienced a couple other situations that required decisions be made and the public be notified. However, the unprecendented flooding over the past several days gave our university and myself something that up until that point we had not dealt with.


As opposed to press releases, e-mails, and text alerts, social media is completely different. With social, if you are doing it right of course, it is a live dialogue with your audience. They can question you, they can commend you, they can condemn you. There is absolutely no hiding.

Aside from the actual decision/announcement itself, the most intensive work a social media professional will do is addressing the lead-up to the actual decision/announcement. Here was the deal: We canceled classes and closed campus on Monday. We then delayed classes on Tuesday. On both Sunday and Monday we started receiving inquiries regarding the status of the next day several hours before the decision. A social media program simply can’t ignore the questions and concerns. On both days, we made sure to let our audience know that we were aware of the situation and that an announcement would be coming soon.

Right when decisions were made, we made sure to post the information on social media. Our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts carried an approriate version of the announcement. Once the posts went live, the engagement blew up.

Sunday’s announcement to cancel classes on Monday was popular. Pretty much our whole audience voiced approval. Don’t think that means a social media employee is finished, however. People (again rightfully so) want to know how the decision impacts them. Questions ranging from dining service hours to the work schedule of employees to shuttle service availability to anything else you could think of were all asked. It was my goal to make sure not one question went unanswered.

Questions come from everywhere. On the main post. In the inbox. Off of other posts not related to the subject…and these are just on Facebook! It is easy to get a little overwhelmed because when you refresh your social media accounts, the inquiries keep building up. But it is crucial to just buckle down and respond.

Monday was more challenging. The decision to delay classes was not popular with our commuter population. Once again, I made it a priority to respond to each post. If you let it play with your head, the unhappy comments can really start to wear on you. But I tried to not let it get to me. I knew the people commenting were in tough positions. With support for the decision but with empathy for those students who had to decide whether or not to travel to campus, I did my best to provide a response to each person. I knew I couldn’t please each social media user with my reply but at the very least I could confirm with them that Coastal saw and read their comments.

The texts of encouragement from co-workers and the support of my fiance, along with my love for #CCU, gave me an extra drive to do the best possible job I could with the situation. I felt bad knowing that a portion of our social media audience was angry and disappointed but I also kept in mind that regardless of the decision that was made, some people were not going to be happy. Such is the nature of higher education.

Even tweets from sympathetic students helped!

Even tweets from sympathetic students helped!

Did I do everything perfectly the past couple days? Heck no!! When you respond to hundreds of comments, sometimes a reply doesn’t come out the way you wish it would have. I hope to improve next time. But with the assurance that I did try my absolute best at the time, I can sleep well tonight. Yep, social media isn’t just about posting photos and giving shoutouts. Don’t Blink.

Not Needed in Church

In the past I have talked about etiquette issues in church. However, a situation occurred yesterday morning during mass that I felt was too good not to write about.

As I addressed in my Sunday blog post, our area has experienced severe flooding. Because of this state of emergency that South Carolina has found itself in, we have received a few alerts on our smart phones. By alerts, I mean emergency alerts. With iPhones, there is a whole different setting you need to activate to silence them. Just because you have no tone for your texts, social media notifications, and phone calls does not mean your emergency alerts will be silenced as well.

Sidney and I attended the 9:15 a.m. mass at St. Andrew Parish yesterday. The service started off just fine and after the gospel was read, Father James LeBlanc started to deliver his sermon. A little ways in, a tone filled the church. At first I thought it was a type of emergency alarm activated inside St. Andrew. However, as Fr. LeBlanc stopped to let the cacophony play out, I realized it wasn’t something that the church had installed. Rather, it was a sound I had heard before.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

It suddenly made sense to me that the tone was created by the simultaneous iPhone emergency alerts going off. As I could hear the rain fall on the roof of the building, I knew what it was about. After the disturbance, Fr. LeBlanc went back to his sermon. About five minutes later, the phones started going off again as yet another emergency alert had been delivered. This time it was even more annoying as phones seemed to receive the alerts at different times, creating quite the nuisance.

The first time it happened, Fr. LeBlanc responded with humor. He said the noise ushered in a good spot for him to stop talking and let a point settle. However, he wasn’t joking the second time the noise started. Fr. LeBlanc doesn’t get angry but you could tell he was a tad bit annoyed by the additional disturbance.

“What is that?” he questioned.

A woman in the front, who was an iPhone-in-church violator, spoke up. It was tough to hear exactly what she said word-for-word but she did get the point across that it was the emergency alerts going off. Without missing a beat, Fr. LeBlanc responded.

“But you are here. You are in a church. Why would you possibly need emergency alerts? There is no safer place you could be.”

And he was right on. There is absolutely no need for a person to have a phone on them in church. Emergency alerts are important but if you are attending a service you don’t need them. This is especially true at St. Andrew where there is a whole staff of people out in the vestibule and other non-worship space locations that would immediately notify all if a dangerous situation was near.

After his stern reasoning on the pointlessness of having a phone in church to receive emergency alerts, he complimented it with some of his trademark humor. He then ended his second detour from his homily by asking everyone to please completely turn off their phones.

Turning off your phones when entering a church is a good start but I recommend doing what Sidney and I do; just leave your electronic devices in the car. Open your glove compartment and throw them in there. I hope Fr. LeBlanc knows that he won’t have to worry about any phones going off when he marries Sidney and I on June 11. Don’t Blink.

An Unbelievable Flood

What a day!

Although all of us in the Myrtle Beach area had braced for heavy rain, the byproduct of Hurricane Joaquin, I don’t think we expected this. Big time flooding impacted the Grand Strand today and it has thrown a wrench into the upcoming work week.

Little did we know how crazy things were about to get (NOTE: That is a street behind me).

Little did we know how crazy things were about to get (NOTE: That is a street behind me).

Sidney and I knew the storm had really arrived this morning. We arrived at church and got soaked by something other than holy water as we made the short walk from my car to St. Andrew Parish. By the time the service had ended, sheets of rain were violently coming down. We made it to my car completely drenched and made the challenging drive back to Sid’s house. We ran inside and ate brunch. After watching maybe 20 minutes of TV, Sidney looked outside and yelled at me to come join her.

Her home street, located in a very nice residential area, was completely flooded. It was as if the pavement had been magically replaced by a river. A short time after this discovery, Sidney got notice that Horry County Schools, the district she works in, had canceled classes for tomorrow. With Horry County making this move, I knew our Coastal Carolina University social media channels would be blowing up with inquiries on whether our campus would shut down.

One second there was pavement, the next second there was water. This is the street right off of Sidney's house.

One second there was pavement, the next second there was water. This is the street right off of Sidney’s house.

Shutting down a university is a much more complex process than most people realize. For the next couple hours I kept our CCU audience updated on smaller campus developments (shuttle stoppages, safety tips) until the big decision to cancel classes was made. When the call to pull the plug on tomorrow was official, I was able to get word out on what everyone really wanted to know.

But back to the scene in our neighborhood. The body of water on our street had receded so Sidney took a chance going over to her parents’ house as they live close by. She took my car while I stayed at her place to work on the CCU developments. She didn’t get far. As soon as she turned off her street she encountered gigantic pools of water in the middle of the roadway. There was no way she was getting anywhere in my Toyota Solara.

Driving in this is stressful and dangerous. This was when Sid and I drove over to her parents' house.

Driving in this is stressful and dangerous. This was when Sid and I drove over to her parents’ house.

She came back to the house and after about 30 minutes we got in her RAV4 and took a very scenic drive to get to her parents. Even though we bypassed a lot of the insane water, we still gritted our teeth as we went through huge pools and said a prayer as we went by neighborhoods that were completely flooded. After eating a fantastic roast meal cooked by her mom, we ventured back out in the “ocean.” While on the voyage back we encountered a scene so wild that we had to pull over the vehicle and get out. At the entrance to a flooded neighborhood was a jet ski maneuvering through the waters. It was saving possessions and people from flooded houses.

In the distance you can see the jet ski going out to save people and possessions.

In the distance you can see the jet ski going out to save people and possessions.

We got back home and rested for a few minutes as Sid made cupcakes and I continued to work. After getting caught up, we decided to do exactly what Governor Haley said not to do…go exploring!!

I took this low quality photo as we passed one of those washed out neighborhoods on the way to Sid's parents' house.

I took this low quality photo as we passed one of those washed out neighborhoods on the way to Sid’s parents’ house.

On foot we left Sidney’s house and started walking around the neighborhoods. Wearing grubby clothes and shoes we walked down the river, um, I mean the streets, as we took the whole spectacle in. The water reached well above our knees as it took effort to walk as the established current ripped opposite of us.

This is me in the water during the expedition that Sid and I took.

This is me in the water during the expedition that Sid and I took. It would get much deeper than this.

We walked by the unfortunate houses that were prone to flooding. Everyone was out in front of their homes putting bricks or sand bags in front of their garages to prevent too much water from seeping in. A family had an inflatable that their toddler was floating on. I talked to one of my media aquaintances who was interviewing folks. A couple kayaks floated by. Emergency vehicles were stacked up at the end of one of the streets.

People were literally floating by in kayaks.

People were literally floating by in kayaks.

I did a Periscope broadcast of the madness and at one time over 180 people were on it. They could not believe the scene I was showing them. Questions, well-wishes, and a whole bunch of hearts dominated the time I was live. Sidney and I shook our heads in disbelief at cars that attempted to bulldoze through the flood waters.

Sidney hanging out in the water.

Sidney hanging out in the water.

We turned back and came home. Words can’t describe how thankful we are that Sidney’s house nor her parents’ house has been susceptible to this nasty storm. As night has fallen, we are now shut-ins. We plan to relax and just be safe. Although I thought today was going to be my first day off in two weeks, I feel #CCUSocialMedia crushed it when it came to notifying our audience, especially legions of terrified parents, about what was going on at Coastal Carolina University. Thank you all for your support and be sure to watch the Weather Channel for live reports on what is going on in our neck of the woods. Stay dry. Don’t Blink.