Beyond Blogging: Writing A Cover Story

Something came to reality this past week that I would count as a career highlight. Interestingly enough, it had nothing to do with social media or even digital marketing. Rather, it had to do with another skill I am passionate about.

On Wednesday, I was delivered a copy of Coastal Magazine, the biannual alumni publication at Coastal Carolina University. For those of us who have any knowledge of colleges, we know that the alumni magazine at any university is one of that institution’s premiere showcases, a major periodical that is the result of hard work, extensive planning, and the efforts of many.

When I was delivered the latest issue, I held it in my hands and took a long look at it, staring at the intense-looking NASCAR driver on the cover. It became apparent that soon thousands of people would open the magazine and learn his story, reading the words of a grateful CCU staffer who was given the opportunity to tell it.

This is the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Coastal Magazine issue.

It was my honor to write the cover story for the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of Coastal Magazine.

It was cool to see my name underneath the title of the cover story.

I accepted my position at Coastal Carolina because it gave me an opportunity to primarily focus on and manage the social media program of an entire university. However, I also made the best decision of my life because I knew I would be able to nurture other pursuits as well.

I had the honor of writing the cover story of the latest Coastal Magazine issue.

I serve on the magazine committee at CCU. I have the pleasure of contributing a regular social media section to the publication and I have written shorter features for it over the past few years as well. However, this was my first time undertaking the task of writing the cover story.

A look at the first several pages of the story.

I was asked to write it on Brandon Brown, a student at CCU who happens to be a NASCAR driver. I have become familiar with Brandon as I have traveled to a couple of his races and reported on his accomplishments via our social media channels. Additionally, this summer, he worked in my office once a week, learning about what it takes to run a social media program at an institution of higher learning. Because of my familiarity with Brandon, I was a good candidate to write the story. When our magazine editor asked me to take on the project, I enthusiastically accepted.

I have become familiar with Brandon over the past couple of years.

After significant research, two in-depth interviews with Brandon, and hours composing the piece, I submitted the story. Our talented University Communication team took it from there. Doug Bell, the magazine editor I have mentioned (he also serves as the director of media relations), polished my piece and made it better. Our photographers contributed incredible images, including the cover photo, to bring the story to life. Our graphics team came up with the layout of the piece and created an outstanding infographic to explain Brandon’s successful career. Our video production personnel put together content that allows the Coastal Magazine digital audience to cruise around in the passenger seat with Brandon.

A look at some of the photogaphy and graphics our talented team produced.

What resulted from the teamwork is a beautiful 10-page spread smack dab middle in the latest issue of Coastal Magazine. If not for the talents of my co-workers, the story of Brandon Brown would just be 1,000 words of text and no one would read it. To Doug, Rob, Regis, Scott, Judy, Jady, Ron, Caroline, Mona, Geoff, and others – THANK YOU!

Thanks to all involved for making the story look so good.

I realize I have a reputation as a blogger. I put together crappy top five lists and Thursday Rundowns. But underneath that blogging façade is a soul that enjoys the challenge of composing quality writing. I am thankful that I have an outlet to do that at CCU. Don’t Blink.

Pre-Labor Day Thursday Rundown

With Labor Day weekend right around the corner, I hope I find everyone in great spirits. If you are a fan of my blog, perhaps my latest Thursday Rundown will elevate your mood even more. Here we go with tonight’s five topics…

NASCAR Driver Brent Reser – For this first time in my life, I jumped inside a racecar this morning. Our University Communication team was doing a photo shoot featuring our NASCAR driver Brandon Brown and his #90 XFINITY car. With Brandon yet to arrive and the vehicle parked innocently right in front of our signature administrative building, I was encouraged to jump in. Believe me, I am not using “jump in” as a figure of speech. I awkwardly maneuvered inside the car and almost broke something clumsily exiting it. However, I got some pretty sweet photos and crossed an item off my bucket list.

This was me inside Brandon Brown’s XFINITY car this morning.

First FBS Football Game – Speaking of Coastal Carolina, our football team will play in its first game as a member of the FBS this Saturday. A major supporter of this move, I am stoked that CCU is now playing at the ultimate varsity level of college football. I will be on the sidelines for the historic game as I cover it for #CCUSocialMedia.

Me standing in Brooks Stadium on our teal turf after the September 26, 2015 game. On September 2, 2017, Coastal will play its first game as a member of the FBS.

Weeks Keep Flying By for Sloan – Tomorrow, Sloan will turn 24 weeks. The biggest development this week? Ha, that’s easy! Her new thing is spitting. Yes, I am not kidding. She is constantly sticking her little tongue out and making a sweet (well, that’s debatable) spitting noise. Sometimes stuff (spit, carrots, rice cereal, etc) comes out and sometimes it doesn’t. Other than that, her hair continues to grow and her smiles still come in an abundant supply.

Seriously lacking on the quality of photos this week…sorry guys!

Awful Concert – Seven years ago today, I attended one of the worst concert of my life. On Aug. 31, 2010, I watched Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp perform on a pleasant Missoula night in a minor league baseball stadium. Although the weather and venue proved satisfactory, I just didn’t find either performer that energetic or engaging. The sound was suspect and I found myself bored. Can’t win them all.

I took these photos of a lackluster concert. Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp just didn’t do it for me.

Latest Big Brother Reaction– Although I know some people don’t feel the same way, I am a fan of Big Brother 19. Pretty much everything has shaken out exactly how I want it to. From the beginning, I wanted to see Christmas and Kevin do well and currently both are still in the house and will be safe at least through the week. However, the house guest I am rooting for the most is Paul. To watch him lose in such an unfair way last season was tough and I want to see him earn redemption. I think all of us can take our hats off to how he has played the game thus far. Even with the huge target on his back from the moment he entered the house, he has not only survived but thrived. Paul is the ultimate puppet master and I am getting a kick watching him pull all the strings. I really hope he makes it the distance.
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Organize a cookout, bust out the cold drinks, and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Thank you for your constant support of my blog. Don’t Blink.

A Thursday Rundown For Your Reading Pleasure

Let me start off by thanking Sidney for filling in for me last night. I have arrived back in Myrtle Beach after a quick trip to Tennessee, just in time for the Thursday Rundown. Here we go!…

Trip to Bristol – This afternoon I returned from Bristol, Tennessee. If you remember from a couple days ago, I was there with two other Coastal Carolina employees to cover one of our students who races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. We spent 16 hours at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday as we shadowed Brandon Brown as he went through his practice runs, the qualifying round, and the actual race. In between all of that we shot a couple of interviews with Brandon, hung out with his crew, sat through a rain delay, and more. It was a great experience that resulted in gold mine of content for our CCU social channels.

I had a good time in Bristol.

I had a good time in Bristol.

A Memory From Five Years Ago – On August 18, 2011, I met a celebrity. However, I met this country superstar in a casual environment and not some rushed meet-and-greet mess. I attended a Toby Keith concert with my brother and former boss at Northern Quest in Spokane. Keith performed the show at Quest’s outdoor concert venue. A few hours after the concert we were walking through the casino when I spotted Toby Keith and his entourage at a three card poker table. We went right over and met him. What I will say here is that his voice was unmistakable and he was enjoying a Michelob. If you want more details, read my blog post about the encounter by clicking here.

“Suicide Squad” – On Friday night, Sidney and I went and watched “Suicide Squad.” Despite the bad reviews, we wanted to give it a try. To be honest, I didn’t think the film was that bad and I actually really enjoyed Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker. I also give two thumbs up to Margot Robbie for her portrayal of Harley Quinn. What really rubbed me the wrong way, however, was the main villain. An enchanted witch is the nemesis in the film but the special effects used in the main climatic scene to enhance her fell waaaay short. The story itself is intriguing and the dark humor is good. But don’t kick yourself if you don’t make it to the theater to watch it.

Back to School – Sidney welcomed her 2016-17 second grade class yesterday. I saw photos of her 17 students and they look adorable! Fall classes will begin at Coastal Carolina University on Monday. That means Move-In Weekend starts tomorrow as we welcome thousands of new and returning students to campus. It will be a busy next several days for me but it will also be a lot of fun. Best of luck to students at all levels on a successful school year!

Top Seven Movies – Earlier this week, a popular hashtag ripped through Twitter. Called #fav7films, people were asked to name their top seven favorite movies. Of course I bit the bait. I did it without really putting much thought into it so that is why a certain Slyvester Stallone film is included:
Forest Gump
Rudy
Goodfellas
Varsity Blues
Rocky IV
Lone Survivor
Angels in the Outfield

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Hope you weren’t too disappointed that I am back and Sid’s next post won’t be until a month down the road. On the bright side, at least you won’t have to hear from me for a couple days. I will touch base again on Sunday. Have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

Working In Tennessee

This evening I find myself in the lovely state of Tennessee. Specifically, I am in the town of Johnson City. This is ironic because four years ago I found myself here when I was working for the University of Montana. I was part of the travel advance unit for our football team and we spent the night in Johnson City as we waited for the players and coaches to arrive the next day. We then made the trip to Boone, North Carolina, for a game against Appalachian State.

To be honest, I never thought I would see Johnson City again.

But I thought wrong. I am once again in Johnson City and I couldn’t be more excited as I am here to represent Coastal Carolina University. Earlier today I drove over from South Carolina with our Vice President for University Communication and one of our production managers. We made the trip to cover and support the driver of the NASCAR Truck Series that our university sponsors. But he isn’t just any driver, he is an actual student at Coastal Carolina. Tomorrow we will get in the car again and drive to Bristol, Tennessee, where we will watch and cover Brandon Brown as he competes in the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series Race. If the weather cooperates, and it should, it will be my first ever NASCAR race (I went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in late May but the race was rained out). I am ready for this experience!

As we will be at the track all day tomorrow leading up to the evening’s race, I won’t be publishing a Wednesday blog post. Don’t get sad though because Sidney will. Yes, my wife has gracefully accepted to fill in during my absence and provide a special middle of the week guest blog post. Look for that tomorrow night.

So from Johnson City, Tennessee, I wish all of you a great night. Thanks for your support of this blog. Don’t Blink.