Rolling Out the Modernized WSU Brand

I recently had the honor of being part of something for the first time in my higher education career. Last week, our University Marketing and Communications team rolled out a modernized brand for Washington State University.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 15, we started the soft roll out of our modernized brand at Washington State University.

In my 12 years working for universities, I have assisted with rollouts centered on websites, endowment campaigns, news shows, and more but never a brand. To have a small hand in such a major undertaking at a place with such a proud history is pretty cool.

But let me stress again my small hand in this effort. For nearly two years, a rather small team of my colleagues have worked extremely hard to bring this brand to fruition. Yes, I said my colleagues. Except for some web design help for the new brand website, everything was done in-house. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s quite the feat.

A screenshot of the vertical lockup of our modernized logo. The classic Cougar head is featured prominently.

Credit these hardworking people I get to call my co-workers and bosses for going about this major endeavor in such a smart way. They knew that our incredibly popular and recognizable graphic, the Cougar head, had to be a focal point of the brand. Thus, it is featured prominently in the visual identity of the rollout. The Cougar head is now paired with a more modernized typeface and it looks really good. But my team didn’t rely solely on traditional marks…they introduced a brand new secondary logo too. You can see it here.

A screenshot of our brand new Washington State University secondary logo.

Of course a brand just isn’t about logos—you need to have a narrative that ties everything together. Our brand narrative is centered on possibilities and how they embody our “Go Cougs” rallying cry. The attitude with which we communicate these possibilities can be expressed through five key tone words—spirited, resilient, original, welcoming, and down to earth.

This is the home page of our new internal brand website. The page features the signature Cougar head logo and scratches the surface of our brand narrative.

Additionally, we rolled out important brand assets such as video lower thirds, background patterns, a web developer style guide, icons, typefaces…and…a social media tool kit.

The social media asset folder includes profile badges for the professional Washington State University community to use based on what part of the system hierarchy their social media profile represents.

Ah yes, that is where my small part comes into play. I consulted with Eric Limburg, our creative director, in the creation of new profile badges, headers, and patterns for the WSU community to use. It is my responsibility to make sure everyone is using these assets appropriately and one way I do that is by serving on the brand training team. The group is comprised of the major players who created the new brand so I am very honored to be included on it. Throughout the month of September we have given presentations to WSU faculty and staff. These sessions will continue into October.

The social media asset folder/tool kit also comes with pre-made headers/cover photos that the WSU community can use on their social channels. If you look closely you can see that the “WSU” pattern is applied to the images. I love this use of another brand element! It is slick and adds legitimacy to the social asset because when our external audiences see the pattern overlay on the header they will know it is a true official social channel of WSU.

Whenever I talk to the WSU community members about our modernization, I proudly say that many of them will work with the new brand for the first time on social media and that in turn our external audiences will most likely see the new brand in action for the first time on social media. Because of this, it is important that we are on the same page and get it right. I am happy to lead this charge.

With our modernized brand, I really think our team did the rich tradition behind this timeless logo proud.

I can’t extend enough admiration and gratitude to the following people for their tireless work over the past couple years to make the brand modernization a reality: Holly Sitzmann, Eric Limburg, Larry Clark, Danial Bleile, and John Sutherland. I work with an amazing team. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of All-Time

After 10 years and 2,000 blog posts, I guess you could say this one means something. Today I am not counting down my top 5 favorite hard candies or my top 5 favorite fast food desserts. No, this one is a little more significant.

This month I took time to reflect on my personal favorite Don’t Blink blog posts from the past decade. I combed through the content and engaged in spirited internal debates about which ones meant the most to me. After much deliberation, I picked an extreme short list that comprises just .2% of the posts I have written since beginning this blog in 2011.

I am proud to present my Top 10 Don’t Blink Blog Posts. This countdown is all about my personal preferences and isn’t tied to analytics or the opinions of anyone else. These are my favorite pieces. What a journey it has been…

10. My Insanely Long Hair (February 13, 2014) – We open with a shocker. If I ever want someone to spit out their coffee, I send them the link to this blog post. Back in high school I had LONG hair that was thick, curly, and UGLY. It is definitely a sight to be seen and after reading the post you might either laugh or vomit.

i had some long hair back in the day and it made for an entertaining blog post.

9. Making the Cut: My Cameo in Darius Rucker’s Music Video (September 29, 2014) – Alright, now we go from not getting my hair cut to making the cut! It was a thrilling afternoon in the office at Coastal Carolina University when Darius Rucker released his video for “Homegrown Honey” which took place exclusively on the CCU campus and in downtown Conway. Seeing my goofy mug right next to the Hootie star himself made that day that even better. Besides my starring role in a short film that was showed on a jumbotron, this post is my very brief claim to fame.

I made the cut in Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” video.

8. Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year? (May 12, 2021) – Some of the blog posts on this countdown go back 10 years…this one goes back three weeks. Around the anniversary of Sidney moving to Washington, I wrote this blog post chronicling some of the major themes my wife learned from her move from the South to the West. It is lighthearted and fun, but it definitely implies that Sid is a rock star and made a major transition look easy.

It didn’t take long for Sid to adjust to Washington but she still learned things around the way.

7. $25,000 Dollar Man (October 19, 2011) – If there is a post that my loyal readers bring up more than all the others, it is the one I wrote about my brother winning BIG at the casino. On a single hand of Paigow he snagged $25,000. Not only do I describe the hand itself but I go into detail about the INSANITY that followed. Needless to say, it was quite fun to tell the outrageous story of a 21-year-old kid who blew the roof off a sleepy bowling alley casino during the wee hours of a snowy winter night.

Glen got real lucky at the table once.

6. A Man of Faith: Monsignor James LeBlanc (February 26, 2017) – I love writing profile pieces and have written numerous of them for this blog, but this one about the former St. Andrew (Myrtle Beach) pastor is particularly meaningful to me. Just the fact that Msgr. James LeBlanc married us is good enough to land him a special spot in our hearts but he did so much more than just that. He gave Sid her first true introduction to the Catholic faith and strengthened my own. About six months after he officiated our wedding, the Bishop of Charleston appointed him the pastor of a couple parishes in Columbia. After hearing the news, I wrote this colorful profile on one very excellent priest.

Sidney and I with Msgr. LeBlanc at his farewell party.

5. Farewells (April 2014 and February 2020) – For this portion of the countdown I must cheat a bit and offer my readers a 4-in-1. This is the spot where I want to include the final posts I wrote before leaving jobs. My top 10 moment entries for the University of Montana and Coastal Carolina University serve as perfect highlight reels for my time at both stops. I also hold my “final goodbye” posts at UM and CCU in high regard because I had the opportunity to recognize the people who made my experiences as a Grizzly and a Chant so amazing.

I have worked for some great employers and I tried my best to say “thank you” when I left.

4. Our Fierce Fighter (April 25, 2018) – At the end of April 2017, Sidney published something significant to Facebook. For the first time, a year after the fact, she made it publicly known that Sloan was critically ill with a rare condition called Pyloric Stenosis. It took us time to come to grips with the traumatic experience but on this particular night Sid wanted to speak out. Her purpose was simply to offer support to other families who might have a baby with PS.

Using Sid’s act of bravery as motivation, I followed up the next night with a blog post. I wrote about the emotions we felt as parents as we watched our baby daughter throw up all food that entered her system. I testified to the undeniable fight we watched Sloan exhibit throughout the entire frightening experience. I also made sure to offer education on what Pyloric Stenosis is and how it can be treated, heaping praise on Dr. Robert Cina (the head surgeon who performed Sloan’s procedure) and his entire crew at MUSC. This post put us in touch with parents who were going through the same thing we did with Sloan. Because I believe this blog post actually helped people (opposed to the 2,000 other posts that most people just find annoying), how couldn’t it be on this countdown?

This is Sloan being wheeled out of MUSC on a wagon after receiving a clean bill of health.

3. My Top Ten Photos From Our Wedding Day (July 17, 2016) – It is really tough to put into words the joy you feel on your wedding day. Although I tried to do so with several different blog posts, I don’t know if it ever did our special day justice. Thank goodness for pictures. In July, I wrote this post highlighting my absolute favorite images from June 11, 2016. Each picture says so much and helps to tell the story of that day in beautiful fashion. I still feel so much happiness looking back at this post. As a blogger, some might think that placing an entry so high on a countdown that didn’t rely much on actual writing would be a disappointment. Nope. Drafting up a blog post that uses the heart more than words is always more rewarding.

Less is more. Images over words. Counting down my favorite pictures from our wedding is one of my all-time favorite blog posts.

2. Long, Painful Process; Beautiful, Perfect Result (March 21, 2017) – Well, what can I say? These next two blog posts are going to be about the births of my children. Let me start with my firstborn. Delivering Sloan was not easy. We went through a week-long saga to meet her once Sid was admitted into the hospital. However, the drawn-out process was 100% worth it. In this post, I take you through the curvy road that started with Sid hooked up to a machine and me almost passing out to us walking out of the hospital on a sunny morning with our beautiful baby girl. This post focuses on the strength of Sidney, the gift of Sloan, and the point in time that our lives changed for the better, making it easily one of my top blog posts of all-time.

One of the best two days of my life.

1. Beau Meets World (February 17, 2020) – This wasn’t just my top post of 2020—it is my top post in the history of this blog. I tried to be raw and thorough as I chronicled the emotional 11-day journey from the moment Sidney’s doctor decided to operate to the Sunday afternoon that Beau was released from the NICU at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina.

The post is special to me because it displays Sid’s courage and Beau’s grit. It also conveys the important role that faith played throughout the saga. Tough setbacks are confronted and glorious triumphs are celebrated. It isn’t saying much because I consider myself a mere novice with the pen, but from a writing aspect I think this is my finest piece. But even if most serious writers consider Beau Meets World to be garbage, it sure means a lot to Sid and I. This trumps them all.

Beau was born at 1:37 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

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And there you have it. After 10 years, those are the posts that stick out. Let me again extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my readers who have read my work over the years. It has been a pleasure. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Most-Viewed “Don’t Blink” Blog Posts

As someone who makes a living analyzing the data, I know better than most that the numbers don’t lie. However, when it comes to my own blog posts, I like to think that the entries I write that are near and dear to my heart will perform the best. And when they don’t? Well, something must be wrong with the data, obviously.

To be honest, I don’t go that far, but I sure am glad that I have a decent analytics program on the backend of my blog that gives me the hard data. If not for that, I might convince myself that my readers liked my fortune cookie blog post more than they actually did.

Tonight, based on complete objectivity and in the spirit of the 10th anniversary of this blog, I am going to countdown my top 10 blog posts according to all-time page views. My personal top 10 blog posts will be revealed later this month but this evening is about you and not me. So let’s pull the 10 most-viewed blog posts out of the 2,000 that have been written over the past decade.

10. Why I Don’t Like Trivia Crack (Jan. 11, 2015) – Remember this app? Well, I hated it, and judging by the popularity of this blog post I think a lot of other people did too.

Remember this? I wasn’t the biggest fan of Trivia Crack.

9. Happy 32nd Anniversary, Mom and Dad (Aug. 16, 2013) – I think my parents just have a lot of friends because I have no other idea why a simple blog post like this would rack up so many views. Perhaps it was the clown photo? This summer they will celebrate their 40th anniversary.

8. To Buy the Bucket of Popcorn or Not? (Jan. 13, 2014) – In this post I debated back and forth about whether I should purchase a $19.75 tub of popcorn from Carmike Cinemas that would be refillable for just $3.75 throughout the year. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who faced the dilemma. Read he post to find out the decision I made.

A few years after writing this blog post, I ended up buying the bucket and refillable soda cup too

7. Feeling Bad for Coach Carty (March 31, 2015) – During the Spring of 2015, I wrote a series of blog posts in support of Sean Carty, my high school football coach who was screwed out of his job. The posts were widely shared in the Mead community and I like to think that they played a small part in Carty’s reinstatement as head football coach.

Me standing with Sean Carty in Missoula probably in 2012 or 2013

6. Our “Bar Rescue” Tour (March 1, 2015) – Sidney and I went on a nerdy tour that all “Bar Rescue” diehards dream about. We traveled to North Carolina and visited three different bars that Jon Taffer transformed on his show. What an experience!

Sidney and I inside Klick’s 22, one of the bars featured on “Bar Rescue.”

5. The Battle of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Creams (May 15, 2016) – It brings a smile to my face that this post still racks in the views on a daily basis because it was so much fun to write. Sid blind tested five different chocolate chip cookie dough ice creams and ranked her favorites. The results will shock you!

This is the lineup of different cookie dough ice creams that Sidney tasted.

4. Instagram Spam (April 9, 2013) – Hey, guess what? Instagram had a spam problem back in 2013 too. I sounded off about the different types of spam that plagued Instagram and by doing so struck a chord with thousands and thousands of other people who were fed up as well.

I wrote extensively about Instagram spam in a 2013 blog post.

3. The Pros and Cons of Living in Myrtle Beach (May 3, 2015) – This blog post helped establish me as some type of Myrtle Beach relocation guru. I can’t count all the direct messages I received (and continue to receive) from people asking questions about the city. The comments on the post itself are also vast. I realized the influence of this post one day when I was giving a presentation at CCU. After I finished, a new employee came up to me and said she had read my blog post, consulted with me about some questions she had, and then made the decision to move to Myrtle Beach based off the post and what I told her.

Living in Myrtle Beach is awesome, but it has its pros and cons just like any other place.

2. A True Professional: Barry Anderson (September 25, 2012) – Barry Anderson was the best mascot in the NBA during his many years behind the Benny the Bull mask in Chicago. Prior to the Chicago Bulls, Barry was Monte at the University of Montana. Although my time in the athletic department didn’t overlap with his, Barry would return for Homecoming during the years that I was running the mascot program. I got to know him and respect him. This blog post I wrote that highlighted the man behind the mask was read enthusiastically and frequently by the thousands of Benny the Bull super fans.

This guy is a hero to many.

1. The Truth About a “Bar Rescue” Experience (April 17, 2016) – The opportunity came open to explore some questions I had about my favorite show and I was able to convert it into the most-read (by a large margin) blog post in the history of Don’t Blink. Each day this blog post receives tons of traffic, especially on Sundays when marathons and new episodes of “Bar Rescue” air. It is frequently linked on fan forums and reality TV message boards. I would like to thank Maria Bedient for telling me her story and setting the record straight on so many things. This is simply the blog post that keeps on giving.

Murphy’s Law in Reno is depicted on the fifth season of “Bar Rescue” and is the bar where Maria Bedient worked.

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Talk about random, right? One thing I have learned about authoring a wide-ranging blog is that you never completely know what will resonate with your audience. After 10 years, except for “Bar Rescue,” I am not 100% sure what will become a fan favorite for years to come and what will bomb. It is a good thing that I have patient readers who tolerate the many posts that don’t always hit the mark. This has been fun! Don’t Blink.

A Half Decade at CCU

On May 1, 2014, I started a new stage in my life. That morning I reported to work at a different college campus, thousands of miles from my previous one. A half decade later, that “different” college campus isn’t so different anymore – it is home.

I took this photo the morning of May 1, 2014 — my first day at Coastal Carolina University.

As I celebrate my fifth anniversary at Coastal Carolina University, I can’t help but feel fortunate that I found #TEALnation. Wanting to manage the social media program of a university at the flagship level, I graciously accepted the opportunity given to me by CCU and said goodbye to the athletic department at the University of Montana.

These are some of the kind bosses/co-workers who greeted me with such open arms when I arrived at CCU in 2014.

I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to come into. Working out of the Office of University Communication, my bosses gave me the freedom to build CCU’s social media program according to the vision I presented during the interview process. When I arrived, my main objective was to establish a social brand (#CCUSocialMedia) that told the stories of #CCU. Because of the support I received, social media at CCU flourished. #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards, earned recognition as one of the top higher education social media programs in the country, enjoyed exponential growth, and generated extensive media coverage.

Because of the freedom to take chances and because of the talented co-workers around me, #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards in five years.

But this blog post isn’t about individual accomplishments. In fact, the accolades above were only possible because of the people I work with (more on them soon). Rather, the purpose of this post is to recognize how proud I am to be associated with this institution. In the five years I have been here, I have seen our University open up multiple academic buildings, roll out doctoral programs, produce Fulbright Scholars, set records for fundraising, undergo a complete website redesign, grow at a strategic pace, make the major athletic move to the FBS, and win a baseball national championship…just to name a few. To have a front row seat for all these defining moments has been a pleasure.

The day CCU announced plans to join the Sun Belt Conference was a lot of fun!.

These CCU triumphs over the past five years paved the way for a constant stream of excitement that rushed through this entire campus. I tried to grab hold of this energy and make my own CCU moments. During my time as a CCU staffer I have appeared in a Darius Rucker music video, attended national conferences, traveled with the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, hosted my own social media segment, wrote a cover story for our alumni magazine, followed our CCU-sponsored NASCAR driver to a few races, experienced an eclipse at complete totality, covered the baseball team’s national championship parade/stadium celebration, and much more.

I have had so many memorable times while working at CCU.

Again, just like with the industry accomplishments, I would have been deprived of the memorable moments without my bosses and co-workers. If not for Bill Plate, Martha Hunn, and Matt Hogue I would not be here at Coastal. Those three comprised the hiring committee that ended up granting me the opportunity of a lifetime. If not for my incredible supervisor, Lindsi Glass, I would not have been able to grow as a professional and feel so comfortable coming to work each day. If not for Kim Harper, the best administrative assistant to ever walk the planet, many of our fun social media promotions would be derailed by red tape. And, if not for my talented and selfless co-workers, the success of our #CCUSocialMedia program would be non-existent. Because of our graphic designers (Rob, Jeanne, Regis, Ron, Scoops, Jady), photographers (Judy, Scott, Tad), video wizards (David, Geoff, Richard, Dennis, Josh), web personnel (Brentley and Marty) and writers (Caroline, Mel, Doug, Mona), we have incredible content to share each day. They take our social media presence to the next level and make me look good. Even more importantly, they are all humble people and trusted friends.

I have had the pleasure of working with so many great people in the Office of University Communication at CCU.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final joy of working on this campus: the students. In five years, I have had many motivated and savvy students work for me and I have met countless others who have participated in many of my wacky social media campaigns/promotions. It goes without saying that I am beyond appreciative – without students, I don’t have a job.

I have been blessed to be around some amazing students. This photo is of me with Eddie and Monica, two of my former student interns.

A lot has changed in five years. My title has changed, the name of our department has changed, and our top leader has changed. But one aspect has not: Coastal Carolina University is a great place to work. I am thankful to the CCU administration and the state of South Carolina for employing me. I look forward to the next five years. Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

It is time for the big blog post. With 2015 coming to an end, today I countdown my top ten posts of the year. In my 2014 edition, I had 253 entries to choose from. This year I have 252. How about that for posting consistency?

I am making a small change to this year’s top ten. Instead of going in chronological order like last year, I will list the posts countdown style. Yes, this year I will name my top post of 2015. Before we reveal the best of the best, I want to give a genuine thank you to all my readers. I sincerely appreciate your loyalty and support. Each year readership goes up and my motivation to write becomes greater and greater. Thank you.

As I did last year, I went through all my blog posts I wrote in 2015. From there I wrote my favorite 20 on a piece of paper and then selected finalists. Although my top favorite was never in question, it was competitive filling out the rest of the countdown. Enjoy.

10. Top Ten Mistakes Made By Social Media Professionals (November 17): I start my top ten list with another top ten list. In November, I wrote a blog post listing the ten mistakes that plague social media professionals the most. While I thought the content itself was good and helpful, this post stands out because I got a little creative/weird. I created and starred in a meme for each blunder, an endeavor that was both fun and time consuming.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

9. Premium vs. Knockoff Showdown (June 7): Needing a blog post idea one Sunday, I went to the store and filled my cart with name brand snacks such as Cheetos, Pop Tarts, and Fruity Pebbles. I also threw in the generic counterpart of each product as well. I then took it all to Sidney’s house and gave her a blind taste test of the real deal and the knockoff. It was a fun experiment with a very definite result.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

8. A Visit From Santa and His Elf (December 23): Although I wrote this just a week ago today, it is memorable and special enough to make the countdown. My brother was nice enough to let Sidney and I come to his workplace, the Northeast Youth Center, and visit the kids. However, we channeled our alter egos for this particular appearance. I dressed up as Santa and Sid dressed up as an elf. Once at the center we surprised the children and then read to them. The hugs we received after we passed out the candy canes will be something we always remember regardless of whether I wrote this post or not.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

7. The Best Way to Prepare for Marriage (November 25): At the conclusion of our Pre-Cana classes that Sidney and I took to prepare for marriage, I wrote this blog post about how enriching the experience was. Having a great sponsor couple in Tim and Kathy McCormick was a huge blessing and left us very happy that we took this route to allow us to marry in the Catholic church in June. I think my enthusiasm is evident in the post.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

6. The Fake Brent Reser (May 13): This particular blog post makes the countdown because it illustrated the power and dedication of my readers. In May, I was alerted by a friend that a fake profile of myself was circulating on Facebook. It used my name and likeness but contained loads of bogus information and corny status updates. I asked you to help me out and report the profile to Facebook. Thanks to my readers, within 24 hours the impostor social media account had been removed.

5. A Great NCAA Tournament Experience in Omaha (March 22): I had the honor of traveling with the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament in March. As I have said on numerous occasions, attending the Big Dance in a working capacity is a major highlight for anyone with a career in intercollegiate athletics/higher education. I had a terrific experience as I enjoyed my time in Nebraska with many great people from the Chanticleer athletic department. Every moment (except for the loss to #1 Wisconsin) was great, but perhaps my best highlight was engaging in a Twitter dialogue with the rival school that generated lots of positive attention for CCU.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

4. Twins or Not? (March 3): I still get made fun of for this one! I hired twins to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Well, rather I hired a person to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Billed as a video ad starring two twins, Sidney immediately called “fraud” when she watched it. She bluntly told me that it was the same girl playing both parts. I asked my readers to weigh in and they overwhelmingly supported Sid. I was duped!

I had my leg pulled.

I had my leg pulled.

3. Blog Takeover: Dating a Blogger (August 9): This year, after much convincing from my fiance, Don’t Blink debuted a new feature. Each month on a Sunday, Sidney writes a guest post for my blog. Although I have loved every post she has written, her initial one will always hold a spot in my heart. She explained the “peaks and pits” of dating a blogger. It was so funny and honest that it became an instant classic in Don’t Blink history. It was after the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this post that we decided to extend the “blog takeover” concept to a monthly basis.

2. The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community (May 22): During the spring, I blogged several times about Sean Carty, the former head football coach at Mead High School. Starting with a post titled Feeling Bad for Coach Carty, I did what I could to keep my former high school football teammates and other community members updated on the road Sean took to fight back against the screw job inflicted upon him by a few bitter parents. When the truth came out and the motives of the small number of moms and dads were exposed, Coach Carty was reinstated as the head coach. This blog post captured the sweet feeling of vindication and what can happen when the community unites together. After the battle was won and the message sent, Carty would later gracefully resign to spend more time with his family.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

1. The Proposal (June 24) – There was never a doubt. By a large margin, this is my top post of 2015. When you write about the best moment in your life, the words just come easy. The Proposal was written with love and euphoria. It received an amazing social media response and it will be something that Sidney and I look back on and read for the rest of our lives. It is #1 for another reason too. Shortly after Sidney and I got engaged, her grandmother passed away. Sid’s mom told me that the family used the blog post to give them some relief and joy during the difficult time. When I write my top posts of the decade in 2020, The Proposal will probably be #1 as well.

That magic moment.

That magic moment.

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It was quite the year for Don’t Blink! If you have any memorable posts from 2015 that I did not cover, please let me know. Enjoy the rest of 2015 and be sure to catch my first post of 2016. Don’t Blink.

Reflections on My First Year at Coastal Carolina University

It is funny. Often times you can look back on a period of time and not quite know if it flew by or seemed to last. If you are like me, sometimes you end up deciding it was a little of both. Today I celebrate my one year anniversary at Coastal Carolina University. For the most part, the last 365 days passed quickly. But then I realize that next week I will cover my fourth commencement and it makes me feel like I have been around campus for a little longer.

This is my one year anniversary photo!

This is my one year anniversary photo!

On May 1, 2014, I reported for my first day at Coastal Carolina. I spent that Thursday in new employee orientation learning about policies and procedures. It was an uneventful and low key day. That would be the last one of those. From the end of that initial day on out I had the opportunity to go full speed ahead and that is exactly what I did. I arrived on campus just before the start of graduation week and went right into covering the craziness of it. I covered a lot of events and met a lot of people. Those first ten or so days really helped set the tone for my first year.

My rookie debut at CCU was a good one. Yes, it was successful. Our social channels grew exponentially, #CCUSocialMedia became a brand, we won an award, and we received far more media coverage than I could ever imagine. But that is all I want to say about job performance. My one year reflection blog post is much more than that.

What I want to really hit on is what a good fit this position has been. I came from a job where I wore a ton of different hats and had little free time. For the past year I have showed up for work at a place where my focus is much more defined and my time out of the office much more adequate.

From the start I said I took this job because I could concentrate on social media. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t grown in other areas. Although I might not have 15 different responsibilities to tend to on a given day like at Montana, I have been able to embrace a diverse set of opportunities that improved me as a professional. Encouraged to create my own news show segment, assigned to write for our alumni magazine, requested to serve on working groups, and asked to help out on search committees, I was enabled to expand my reach. Aside from running our social media program, I relished these additional roles.

Another part of the fit has been the energy and culture at CCU. Our university is growing, both in terms of physical structures and student enrollment. We are an institution on the rise and I wanted to be a piece of that. Additionally, and I truly mean it when I say this, Coastal is just different. We are built on customer service and this attitude is reflected from the top down. There is a pride and a vibe here that is special, one that I relate to and embrace. Our “Feel the Teal” mission motivates me at work each day.

Most importantly, this arrangement has worked because of the people. It all starts out with our Vice President of University Communication who had the guts to hire me. Bill Plate brought me from Missoula to Myrtle Beach and I am so glad he did. He had the vision and rationality to know that a social media position was needed at CCU and he made it a reality. So many other people helped me (and continue to help me) after Bill and I wish I could recognize them all. Although this is not possible I do want to thank a few people really quickly. Thanks to our administrative assistant Kim Harper for helping me with pretty much every office task and organizational logistic you could think of. Thanks to April Betsch for reaching out to me at one of the first events I worked and taking me around to meet many of the key people I would end up working closely with. Thanks to Eileen Soisson for teaching me what it means to Feel the Teal and for going out of her way to support me. Thanks to Matt Hogue, Seth Horton, and Kevin Olivett from athletics for treating me so well and for genuinely caring about my ideas and input.

Year #1 is in the books and it was great. I am appreciative of the opportunity Coastal Carolina University has afforded me and I can’t wait to improve. Don’t Blink.

Modernizing: My Website’s New Look

It is with great excitement that I introduce the brand new look for my website. Last month I reached out to my audience asking if anyone would want to design a new banner for me. In the post I was very specific that I wanted something that incorporated the area in the country where I live while also telling the story of who I am. The person who stepped forward knew exactly what to do.

Say bye bye to this banner that graced by website for 3 years.

Say bye bye to this banner that graced by website for 3 years.

My co-worker and friend Jonathan Ady (aka Jady) took time out of his busy schedule to usher in the new era of Don’t Blink. A graphic designer here at Coastal Carolina University and creator of the “I Love SC” merchandise line, I knew I was in great hands. We met and discussed specifics of the project and then he went to work.

Jonathan Ady and I at our work's Christmas party. "Jady" did an awesome job designing my website's banner.

Jonathan Ady and I at our work’s Christmas party. “Jady” did an awesome job designing my website’s banner.

The images on the banner come directly from Jady’s camera. The beautiful ocean photo of Myrtle Beach gives an accurate and expressive depiction of where I now call home. The other photo is of Coastal Carolina University. It highlights the center of campus with Blanton Park and the Singleton Building, the latter being the actual structure where I go to work at each day. In the center of the banner is the goofy author of this blog, photography also done by Jady. I wanted to make sure I was showing off my support for CCU and my super comfortable white Adidas Chanticleer jacket was the perfect way to do it. As with my previous banner, the title of my blog and my social media handles are included only this time they look professional.

I am very pleased with the new banner of my website.

I am very pleased with the new banner of my website.

For those of you who pay close attention to detail, you will also see that I made a switch to my background. I eliminated the PNC Park image and replaced it with Myrtle Beach ocean clouds. I think it gives my website a classier, less distracting look. Tomorrow I will update my Facebook banner with the custom graphic that Jady also provided me with.

I took the clouds from this image of me on the beach and used it  for the background of my website.

I took the clouds from this image of me on the beach and used it for the background of my website.

Thank you so much to Jonathan Ady for modernizing Don’t Blink. I am pleased with the results and am no longer embarrassed with an outdated look. If you would like to inquire about Jady’s services or order “I Love SC” merchandise, you can contact him by clicking here. My website is looking good for the new year! Don’t Blink.

My Own Segment: The Social Circle with Brent Reser

To see my segment in Coastal Now, click here and go to the 26:22 mark

Today marked an important day at the Office of University Communication at Coastal Carolina as we released our brand new show titled Coastal Now. This program was the result of countless hours of brainstorming, debating, and collaborating. Intending to appeal more to our student population, we wanted to introduce a modernized version of our former show, Coastal Today. By modifying the show’s format, introducing hipper segments, and rolling out fresh graphics, we achieved our objective.

Here is the funny part: As part of the show’s revamp and the mission to grab the attention of our digitally obsessed students, it was decided that I would receive my own segment.

I was given my own segment. Let me introduce to you the Social Circle with Brent Reser.

I was given my own segment. Let me introduce to you the Social Circle with Brent Reser.

Say what?! Like, seriously…I was going to be trusted with developing my own social media segment?…For the University’s news program?…And then actually present it on camera? Talk about an intimidating and humbling proposition! Although a little timid to come up with a package and then nervous to tape it on set, I went ahead and accepted the opportunity because of the amazing team I have around me.

The week before filming, I sat down with Martha Hunn, our Director of News and Public Affairs. A former hot-shot news anchor in the Myrtle Beach/Conway area, I knew I was in good hands as we started to plan my segments. Using an idea-sharing approach we talked out the beginning and end of my first two show packages. After our discussion, half my script was written in Martha’s iPad. She then gave me the freedom to write the meat of my segments myself. With the great start she gave me, I filled in the middle portions and my first two scripts for Coastal Now were complete.

The next week at the studio I felt a little nervous as I waited in the greenroom area. I watched our host of Coastal Now, Robin Russell, film her pieces and interview a couple guests. It was then time for me. I walked into the filming area and stood in front of the green screen. Our media services crew cued me and I hit it. I stumbled a couple times resulting in new takes. However, the whole time throughout the shoot I had Martha and Robin rooting me on and assuring me that I was doing a decent job. To have two veterans of the news business in your corner makes things so much easier. You know what else makes things easier? A teleprompter! It was so nice to read a script with no fear of your brain turning off and your voice disappearing.

Me on set of Coastal Now.

Me on set of Coastal Now.

All the times in the past when I had gotten in front of a camera I always dreaded the end product. However, after filming my first segments for Coastal Now I actually felt good about what the outcome would be. To make it even better, I had a great time during the filming. This past Friday our office had a premiere party in the studio. We sat around a TV and munched on snacks while watching the historic first show of Coastal Now. The finished product was amazing. Our media services team did such a great job shooting and piecing the show together. Segments were fresh and fun. The 30 minute show seemed to fly by. They even managed to make me look somewhat respectable. It was cool to see a group work so hard on something and have their efforts pay off.

If you care to watch me, the Social Circle with Brent Reser starts at 26:22. I want to thank Martha Hunn, Robin Russell, David Russell, Bryan Stalvey, and Josh Chesson for the help with creating/filming/producing my segment and for all the encouragement. This so far has been a great experience and I can’t wait to help out with more shows. Don’t Blink.

My Look-Alike: Russell Wilson

You don’t understand. Rarely does someone tell me that I look like a celebrity. The couple times it has happened the comparisons have been, how shall I put it, less than flattering. Howard from “The Big Bang Theory” and Dory from “Finding Nemo” are the person and fish that I supposedly look like. So, after over a quarter century of life without ever hearing someone tell me that I look like a desirable famous person that all changed on Sunday night.

I don't like being compared to these two.

I don’t like being compared to these two.

If Russell Wilson ever needs a double to walk through the streets of San Francisco for him, I am his man! Yep, you heard it right. Apparently I strike an uncanny resemblance to the NFC Champion quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Forget that the Seahawks are my favorite professional team and that I am a huge fan of Wilson myself, I am just beyond pleased that someone would say that I look like an athletic, good looking guy.

I would like to introduce you to my double, Russell Wilson.

I would like to introduce you to my double, Russell Wilson.

Let me fill you in on the backstory real fast. On Sunday night I was engaged in a Twitter conversation. One of the participants in this conversation was Mike Nugent (@MikeMNugent), a respected realtor in Missoula. While talking about Super Bowl preferences he noted my resemblance to Russell Wilson. Taken aback I asked him to confirm it and sure enough he did!

It was confirmed that I look like Russell Wilson.

It was confirmed that I look like Russell Wilson.

This excited me a great deal! In fact, it led me to hastily put together a collage comparing myself with Wilson. I then tweeted it out asking if anyone else could verify Mike’s belief.

I sent this out to my Twitter followers.

I sent this out to my Twitter followers.

I tagged my harshest critic, my brother, just so I get his sarcastic and mean tweets in response to my new discovery. Of course he delivered by entirely shooting down Mike’s thought and insulting me along the way. However, all of Glen’s barbs at me couldn’t match what my dad responded with when my brother asked him about the resemblance:

Classic response from my dad.

Classic response from my dad.

Just because my own family doesn’t buy into the Russell Wilson/Brent Reser comparison doesn’t mean it lacks validity. I have known Mike for about eight years now dating back to when we both worked for Residence Life. He has seen me in person numerous times and even though he wears glasses he is not blind. In fact the other person involved in the original Twitter conversation, Jordan Treece (@JTreece13), also agreed with the resemblance. Sounds like we are onto something here!

Jordan confirmed everything.

Jordan confirmed everything.

That night I did spend a little time in front of the mirror analyzing my physical traits. Acting impartial here, I actually saw some similarities! Our eye features are similar and our hair both turns the same type of curly when it starts to grow out. Although I am naturally not as dark as Wilson, give me an hour out in the sun during the summer and we have the same complexion. Standing at just 5’11 he is only two inches taller than me and weighs about twenty-five pounds more. I am sure we bench the same and he might run the forty just a tad faster than me.

You have to be convinced that we are pretty much twins by now, right?

You have to be convinced that we are pretty much twins by now, right?

No, I would not say the comparison of looks between Russell Wilson and myself is a big stretch. I appreciate that Mike identified my doppelganger for me. What do my readers say? Think I would pass the look test if I suited up in a #3 jersey on Sunday? If anyone wants to pay a modest sum to have a Russell Wilson look-alike come liven up your Super Bowl party on Sunday let me know…I am still working on the impression. Don’t Blink.

Trying Not to Settle For My Subpar Work

Tonight I got home and after I had some dinner and got caught up on the MLB playoffs I sat down to write a blog post surrounding an idea that came to me a couple days ago. I labored through the post, trying to make each sentence flow perfectly and working to make sure I crafted the passage in such a way that it would really drive my point home. I spent more than a couple periods just staring at my computer screen contemplating what words I should add next. I struggled through the whole thing. Compared to my average post, I spent much more time and wrote much more on this one. I then made a decision:

I decided not to publish it.

After taking about as much time to scrutinize and think about the post I had just written as it had taken me to draft it in the first place, I decided that I would not publish it to Don’t Blink. I came to the conclusion that it just didn’t fit my brand and that it probably wasn’t my best work. Yep, even though I did spend a lot of time on it that toil didn’t quite translate to Grade A quality.

I am glad I have come to the point where I can recognize work that is subpar and then not go with it. I definitely have not always had this discipline. I can glance through my almost 400 posts in Don’t Blink and see pieces that are garbage. Either my topic sucked, my writing lacked substance, the structure was off, my voice wasn’t coming through, or all the above. But my desire to “get something out there” that particular night led me to publish it. I have a plan in the near future to go through my blog and delete some of the dead wood that I should have never of put my name to.

I think in this day and age we as a society have this conception that we must get “stuff” out there. I am sure most of you have heard someone say or said yourself “we just need some content.” Without even thinking about quality many of us just want the mediocre feature or the lackluster post to take up space. As I just admitted with my blog, I have triumphed this thinking too many times myself. But I am trying to get better and tonight was a good step.

Just because we work on something doesn’t necessarily mean that what we created was a success. We need to be honest with ourselves and honest with who we are. If we create something that doesn’t sound like us or that doesn’t reflect who we are and we go through and make it live we are deeply damaging our personal brand. No amount of time spent on a project that doesn’t meet standards could ever justify posting it at the expense of the reputation that we have worked so hard to build. Don’t Blink.