The Latest #CCUSocialMedia T-Shirt

As a marketer, I am a firm believer in branding. My affinity for “establishing a brand” filters down to the social media program I am in charge of. When I arrived at Coastal Carolina University, I wanted the campus community to know that the engaging and memorable content they were seeing came from an overarching source that stretched from our Facebook page to our Snapchat account to our LinkedIn profile to our various other channels.

We confined our brand to a hashtag, #CCUSocialMedia. It didn’t take long for people to realize that if a piece of content was stamped with the tag, it meant that it was created by the University specifically for #TEALnation.

It was important to develop a brand for our social media program at Coastal.

But how did we get word out about the brand? Well, we developed a website, came up with creative content, utilized brand ambassadors, and followed an organized plan.

Oh yeah, we also created t-shirts…

We announced our new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt today. Thanks to Katie, my social media intern, for being a great model!

Yesterday, I picked up our newest #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts. Designed to reflect the current social media climate, this shirt is the third version in our program’s history.

Me sporting the new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt.

The front is our brand. Actually, it is a 2-in-1. Not only does it contain our University’s social media logo but it also boasts our #CCUSocialMedia hashtag. Tricky, right? A logo that is, for all intents and purposes, your hashtag.

The front of the shirt features our logo/hashtag and is to the point.

But the back of the shirt is where it is at. Ron Walker, a designer in our office, polished the concept I gave him and created something really cool. In a live streaming world obsessed with “likes” and “loves,” we knew this shirt would need plenty of hearts and smiley faces. He placed our increasingly popular Chants Up sign inside the screen of a phone marked with our social media handle (@CCUChanticleers). He then let the instant gratification flow as the reaction emojis begin at the bottom and hover upwards to the top of the shirt.

I must say that Ron Walker did an extremely creative job designing this shirt.

Will this shirt be as popular as our Chauncey inspired Twitter design? Talk about a difficult task! We didn’t re-order those shirts TWICE for no reason. But judging by the reaction on social media, I think these shirts will rival the past ones in terms of popularity.

The past two #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts.

I know you want a shirt. All you have to do is participate in #CCUSocialMedia to win one. Sorry, they won’t be available in stores to purchase. As for me, I am excited to wear my new #CCUSocialMedia shirt and continue to spread the brand! Don’t Blink.

Behind the Games

To read the article that this blog post is based on, click here

This month, I celebrated four years at Coastal Carolina University. Consequently, it also marked four years since I have worked at the University of Montana. When I was employed there, I had the opportunity to do a lot, but nothing defined my time more than the work I did to enhance (or at least attempt to enhance) the gameday experience.

Being part of the gameday experience crew is an exciting, but very stressful, job. This is me with assistant athletic director Brynn Molloy during my last year at Montana.

Although I no longer play music for 26,000 people in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, develop crazy mascot skits, write public address scripts, or introduce in-stadium social media promotions, I still think about my “past life” from time to time.

I had the privilege of helping to put on the Gameday Experience while at the University of Montana. This is Christie and I up in the control room of the press box on Military Appreciation Day.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to remember what I used to do by living vicariously through the guy who is responsible for the gameday experience here at Coastal Carolina University. Alex Souza, who served as the director of gameday experience and promotions since 2015*, allowed me to shadow him up in the control room of Brooks Stadium during a couple of football Saturdays this past season.

I had the privilege of writing a feature for Coastal Magazine titled “Behind the Games.” Lots of props to our design team for creating this opening spread for the story (graphic from www.coastal.edu/coastal-now

No, I wasn’t creeping in the press box simply to satisfy some nostalgic itch of mine. I was assigned with writing another feature for Coastal Magazine. While planning the publication early in the fall, it was determined that an all-access story chronicling the amazing work put forth by Alex and his team be told. Based on my background, I was assigned to write it.

In this photo I am holding the Spring/Summer issue of Coastal Magazine. I once again penned a feature story for this publication.

I embraced the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the magic that Alex creates, hoping it would also pay tribute to the hundreds of other athletic department employees across the nation who work tirelessly to create engaging gameday presentations. As someone who is especially sympathetic to the reality, many times folks don’t know the planning and labor that is dedicated to making sure fans leave the stadium happy, win or lose.

This is what the opening spread looks like in actual print form.

So, as mentioned, I watched behind Alex’s shoulder as he directed a couple football games. Once again I was in a booth with a spotter, video board guy, P.A. announcer, and technical support personnel. It was like a time warp! It wasn’t just the people I was surrounded by that brought me back. I also felt the stress, excitement, pressure, and comradery that became all too familiar during my days at Montana working in a similar role.

It was a lot of fun to write this piece. Alex is great at what he does.

After the observation period, I had a long sit down interview with Alex. I questioned him as a reporter, making sure not to add any experiences or opinions of my own. However, I would be lying if I said that deep down inside I wasn’t relating with everything he said.

I thank Alex for allowing me to write this story on him.

The actual writing portion of the piece was fun but also challenging. It was a topic I very much wanted to write about but I wanted to portray Alex’s role as accurately as possible. Knowing that I could make no excuse for messing it up, I put pressure on myself to produce something that did the Coastal Carolina athletic department justice.

Thanks to helpful editors, a creative design team, and the perfect subject (Alex happily and promptly answered the numerous follow up questions I had) I think the piece turned out well. It was nice to write something that I felt a special connection to for such a prominent publication. Alex Souza is incredible at what he does and I thank him for letting me write Behind the Games. Don’t Blink.

*Director of gameday experience and promotions no more! Alex was recently promoted to assistant athletic director for digital initiatives.

My Pleasure

Hello, my name is Brent Reser and I have not uttered the words, “No problem!” for three years.

This past weekend, I ripped past my Friday the 13th Life’s Little Instruction page to see the latest one pictured below. It immediately made me smile and think about the customer service training I have received since arriving at CCU almost four years ago.

This was my Instagram post from my Life’s Little Instructions calendar this past Saturday.

Some people might be shocked to hear this (I know I was at first), but cheerfully telling someone “no problem” is frowned upon in the customer service world. Luckily, thanks to the Feel the Teal program at Coastal Carolina University, I have refrained from saying this troublesome phrase for the past few trips around the sun. “No problem” didn’t evaporate from my lexicon immediately, but the more I tried my best not to use it and the more I realized how bad the phrase actually is, it eventually stopped slipping off my tongue.

When someone says “no problem,” it insinuates that there is/was a problem. When someone expresses their gratitude to you, it doesn’t make sense to respond by saying something that doesn’t convey any sort of warmth or sentiment.

At best, “no problem” means nothing. How is it acknowledging what someone said to you?

This of course brings us to the preferred response when someone offers thanks. At CCU and thousands of other places where customer service is valued, the response “my pleasure” is encouraged. Although some people might immediately think of chicken sandwiches when you say it, the phrase is starting to lose its Chick-fil-A association and be recognized simply as the polite and proper way to acknowledge someone’s gratitude.

When you say “my pleasure,” it conveys a feeling inside of you. It lets the person know that the act or service performed was at your humble discretion. It is much more personal than a meaningless “no problem.”

My Life’s Little Instruction post generated a lot of interaction. Some people endorsed the advice right away while some wondered about alternatives (remember, always use my pleasure!). Please note, I never judge anyone who utters “no problem”. I understand that it is a common phrase in our culture and that not everyone associates a negative connotation with it. To some, “my pleasure” sounds too over the top. I get it.

But for those of us working in the customer service world, I think it is important to respond in a thoughtful way. Perhaps as a society we aren’t at the point where we automatically respond with “my pleasure” when we buy a friend a drink or lend someone a couple quarters for the vending machine. However, in a customer service setting, I think we can always respond in a way that is modern and appropriate. Don’t Blink.

At The Center of Starbucks Innovation

People are usually surprised when I tell them that I don’t drink coffee. As someone who grew up in a part of the country where you find espresso stands at every corner, some just assume I grew up with a cup of brew in my hand.

To be honest, you could probably fit all the coffee I have ever consumed in my life into a 2-liter soda bottle. The only reason why you might need a 64-ounce container to do it is because this summer I drank portions of a couple white chocolate mochas. While visiting Spokane in the summer, we ordered Sid’s favorite coffee drink at multiple coffee huts and on a couple occasions, at her urging, I got one too.

I would drink a bottle of water before I ever would consider taking a sip of coffee.

Yep, despite being the son of two heavy coffee drinkers in the most coffee-dependent state in the country, it never grew on me. Milk or water please.

Why do I bring this all up? Just to illustrate a little bit of irony…

Even though I now live far away from the birthplace of Starbucks, the world leader in coffee is still very much on my radar. At Coastal Carolina University, we have a Starbucks presence on campus. Okay Brent, so what? Doesn’t every campus?

Wait, let me finish. Yes, we have a traditional Starbucks shop on campus, just like a million other universities across this great nation. But, what sets us apart is the creative relationship CCU has with the coffee giant.

For whatever reason (probably because we are a great university with a trendy student body), Starbucks likes to experiment with us and introduce pilot programs. Let me give you two examples…

1. Our campus community went bonkers in 2014 when a Starbucks TRUCK was sent to #TEALnation. This coffee shop on wheels would spend the morning at one location on campus and then hang out at another location in the afternoon. Sometimes, it would set up shop at a CCU-owned apartment complex that is off main campus. Only three universities in the country had the fortune of being served by a Starbucks truck. After several months, the trial program ended.

It was pretty cool to have a Starbucks Truck at Coastal Carolina University.

2. Many of our current students weren’t enrolled when the Starbucks truck was on campus. Well, they don’t have to feel like they missed out because we now have a Starbucks BIKE (#StarbucksBike) on campus. Debuting last month, this concept serves nitrogen cold brew, a perfect option for a university in the South that enjoys many hot and humid days. Like with the truck, we are one of only a few locations in the United States to boast the latest coffee dispensing technology from Starbucks.

A photo of the Coastal Carolina University Starbucks Bike that I took today.

Although I think it is really cool that Starbucks thinks so highly of our Coastal Carolina, I am still not a coffee drinker. I wonder if Sloan will be? Don’t Blink.

A Thursday Rundown on Holy Thursday

I always enjoy writing the Thursday Rundown before Easter Sunday. Always so much anticipation and joy. I present to you this week’s five topics…

Holy Thursday – I just mentioned it is the Thursday before Easter so that means it is Holy Thursday. Today we remember the final meal Jesus shared with his disciples, referred to in art and pop culture as the Last Supper. It was during this dinner that Jesus Christ established the Holy Eucharist, a sacred rite that has since been commemorated for over 2,000+ years, a cornerstone of the Catholic faith. During Holy Thursday mass, the priest washes the feet of parishioners, and many times parishioners wash the feet of fellow parishioners as well. We do this to imitate our Savior. During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, providing us with the best example there is of serving and loving others.

Jesus set a great example when he washed the feet of his disciples.

Happy Birthday, Miranda! – Yesterday, my sister celebrated her 34th birthday. Miranda is the oldest child in our family and I can now relate to the love my parents have for her. With Sloan’s birth, I know I will always have a special love for our first born daughter. Little girls are just so special! Although her birthday is March 28, she celebrated with everyone on Sunday with a Chinese dinner and ice cream cake. Thanks for being a great sister, Miranda. Love you!

The top photo is of Miranda and I as babies and the bottom photo is of Miranda and I with our babies. Happy Birthday!

Ice Cream Rolls – Speaking of ice cream cake, I have been made aware of another ice cream incarnation. A place recently opened in Spokane called Yummy Ice Cream Rolls. As you could probably guess from the name, the business specializes in ice cream rolls. But what is an ice cream roll? It is a combination of Cold Stone and Sub Zero Ice Cream. A creamy based is poured onto a freezing steel surface and toppings applied. It is then rolled up by hand using a scraper and drowned in sauces and other toppings. The photo below shows what the final product looks like. I want to try it!

Who wants an ice cream roll?

Some Sloan Photos – I thought I would share some quick Sloan photos with you from the past week. Let’s start with the top right hand corner and rotate clockwise. The first image is of Sloan cruising in her brand new car she received for her birthday. She took it for a spin this past weekend and honked the horn (yes, it has a horn) the whole way. The second photo is Sloan wearing the outfit she took her individual day care pictures in yesterday. Can’t wait to see how they turned out. The next photo is Sloan sitting in her very own chair that Sidney’s mom gave her for her birthday. The toddler-sized piece of furniture has a “S” on it. Finally, the photo in the top left hand corner is my favorite. It is Sloan and Sidney both looking beautiful on Palm Sunday.

Some of the latest Sloan photos for you to enjoy.

Soar At CCU – Every month or so I have to brag about our beautiful campus at Coastal Carolina University. After sharing this video, I don’t think I will ever have to again because it is a mic drop. David Russell and CCU Video Production outdid themselves by using their drone to showcase the gorgeous sights of #TEALnation. Please watch to get a feel of the beauty, growth, and uniqueness at Coastal Carolina.

Make sure to watch the drone video of our gorgeous campus at Coastal Carolina University.

————————–

Happy Easter to everyone! May you have a joyous weekend filled with praise and love. Don’t Blink.

Cultural Thursday Rundown

Thank you for taking time this evening to visit Don’t Blink. You picked a great day to do it because my latest Thursday Rundown is ready to go. Here we go…

Not a Baby Anymore – Sid has spent this week coping with the fact that Sloan has reached a new age bracket. In the pediatric world, she is no longer considered a baby but a (shut your eyes and cover your ears, Sid) toddler. Some big developments have transpired. The doctor advised us to not give her bottles anymore, a blow to Sidney because she used bottle time to bond with Sloan. Additionally, our daughter will move up in daycare starting next week, leaving the babies and joining the 1-year-old classroom. Seeing her transition from the easy life of cribs and toothless friends to the “real world” of mats and walking toddlers has Sidney a bit stressed. But as the pediatrician told us, all these changes impact the parents more than they actually impact the baby (I mean toddler). We will be just fine!

Sloan turned 1 and is now a big girl.

Facetime in the Classroom – I was in the middle of something at work this morning when I looked down at my phone to see that Sidney was Facetiming me. Surprised and a little worried, I immediately picked it up. When I did, I found myself in the middle of a 2nd grade classroom. Mrs. Reser was teaching her students about different cultures and wanted to use me as an example. She was explaining that different regions in the country have their own distinct cultures. Telling the students that I am from the west, she asked me several questions about how life in South Carolina is different from life in Washington and Montana. She had hooked up her phone so that I was projected onto the large classroom screen. The kids were so excited and it was a nice way to help Sidney with her lesson. It made my day!

Sid Facetimed me today so I could talk to her class about culture.

St. Patrick – For her birthday, Sloan received many thoughtful and fun gifts ranging from clothes to toys to books. After her presents were opened, Sid and I gave Sloan a special memento we purchased from the gift shop at our church. It is a mini St. Patrick statue that also comes with a St. Patrick holy card. We feel it is important for Sloan to be proud that she was born on the feast day of one of history’s most beloved saints. Although clothes will become too small, toys will break, and books will be handed down, hopefully Sloan will keep track of her St. Patrick’s statue as the years go by.

We gave Sloan a St. Pat figurine and a St. Pat holy card as a birthday gift.

The Facebook Scandal – I feel a lot of people are confused about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal so let me try to explain it in layman’s terms. A company used a personality test (I have discussed these before) on 270,000 consenting Facebook users. However, those users not only gave the company (Cambridge Analytica) access to their own profile information, they granted access to their friends’ profile information as well, giving the company info on over 50 million Americans. Cambridge Analytica was then able to sell this data to clients (such as the Donald Trump campaign) for social media advertising use. Facebook is on the hook for allowing companies the ability to harvest data from non-consenting users. To top it all off, Facebook had a delayed and disorganized public relations response.

Congrats, Coastal – Our baseball team defeated Clemson this past Tuesday in “grand” fashion as Lee Sponseller smashed a bases loaded home run to defeat the Tigers. However, it wasn’t the first time this athletic season that CCU got the best of our in-state rival. The men’s soccer team eliminated Clemson from the NCAA tournament in November. It isn’t just that our university is competing with an institution that is double our size and 70 years older than us, it is that we are actually beating them. Coastal Carolina University continues to rise and I am very proud to be a part of #TealNation. Go Chants!

It was great to see Coastal beat Clemson again.

——————–

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. Enjoy the NCAA Tournament and always make sure to count your blessings. Don’t Blink.

A December Weekend

Even though the holiday weekend isn’t until next week, this weekend that is now just wrapping up still had a special holiday feel to it. Tis the season for Christmas magic! In an attempt to hold myself back from spending all my energy looking forward to this upcoming short week, I wanted to briefly look back at the weekend that was.

On Friday night, I spent the evening working. It was fall commencement at Coastal Carolina University so I was covering the two ceremonies held by our campus. It was a thrill for me as I had the opportunity to watch Eddie and Monica graduate. As my old interns were walking across the stage, I had the pleasure of grooming one of my new ones. Katie, a CCU freshman, made her #CCUSocialMedia debut and did a fine job.

On Friday night I worked commencement at Coastal Carolina University and got to watch Eddie and Monica graduate (Photo creds: Image above taken by me, Eddie photo taken by Dennis Davis, Monica photo is from her sister).

After a long week at work I arrived home late Friday evening ready to see my wife and daughter. We watched “Christmas Vacation” while enjoying the aroma of our Christmas tree, which seems to be smelling better and better each day.

Sloan awakened bright and early on Saturday morning. We played those early hours away while Sid ran errands. I also had the chance to finish sending out our Christmas cards. We then embarked on the main event of the day: the Christmas celebration for Sid’s extended family on her dad’s side.

Sloan and I hanging out yesterday.Coastal

We headed over to my sister-in-law’s house for the family event. Around 24 of us (counting three babies) gathered for some holiday cheer. We ordered takeout from Olive Garden and feasted on different pastas, salad, breadsticks, and those really good chocolate mints. The time then came for our Chinese gift exchange. The madness went for 21 rounds as I came out with a brand new wall charger and car charger while Sidney drew the coveted last number and selected an LED cinema light box. We concluded the evening with dessert, enjoying cheese cake and brownies.

A look inside the Christmas celebration we had with Sidney’s extended family last night.

This morning, we headed over to Sidney’s parents’ house to meet family members who came in from Jacksonville. Sid’s aunt, uncle, and nephew from her mom’s side were all in town to visit. We visited at the house and then we went out to lunch at Carolina Roadhouse. I enjoyed the only thing I have ever ordered there, the KILLER DOG. As usual it was delicious; and, as usual, I ate about a quarter of it.

Sloan looks on this afternoon as I prepare to dig into the Killer Dog at Carolina Roadhouse.

We came back to our home and rested for a bit and then we went to St. Andrew for 5 p.m. mass. We celebrated the 3rd Sunday of Advent this evening and Fr. Morgan delivered a great homily reminding us that even though Advent is a time for meditation, it is also a time for rejoicing. We don’t usually go to the 5 p.m. Sunday mass but the singing was beautiful and Sloan was a perfect little girl.

As we conclude a nice weekend, the three of us are back home watching “A Christmas Story Live” and eating Christmas candy.

Now we find ourselves back home in front of the TV watching A Christmas Story Live and eating holiday treats. What a weekend! Life is good and it is only going to get better this upcoming week. Don’t Blink.

Two Special Students

This afternoon at around 3:30 p.m., our social media team at Coastal Carolina University will decrease by 66%. At that time, President DeCenzo will be telling the students gathered in the HTC Center to move their tassels from the right to the left. When Eddie Harris and Monica Trepiccione follow the President’s instructions, they will effectively conclude their time with #CCUSocialMedia. I am a little sad about that.

I was very lucky to have Eddie and Monica serve as my social media interns.

Although I am lucky to work with incredible content creators within our University Communication department at CCU, I only have two people working directly in the social media program with me. Eddie has served as my intern for two years and Monica for one. They have both contributed to our social media program immensely and their services will be sorely missed (click here to watch the tribute video we made for Monica and Eddie).

I am going to miss these two!

When I speak to classes, I always tell them my job is awesome. I brag that I have the privilege of interacting with thousands of people via their computer or smart device each day and that I get to represent a first class university in a very public/visible manner. However, I then add that while both of those job duties are cool, nothing is better than the opportunity I have to work with students. Working with Eddie and Monica has reinforced this incredible perk even more.

This is Eddie and I at a senior recognition event in April.

I don’t know where our social media program would be if not for Eddie and Monica; surely not one of the best in the country. Both of these young people brought creativity and perspective to the office each day and helped keep CCU current and fresh in the higher education social media world.

Monica and I (and Ethan) at a #CCUSocialMedia event in October.

Don’t think they hung out and tinkered around on Facebook for the duration of their internships. They did the dirty, grassroots work needed to keep a social media program afloat. I had them running around campus each day, recruiting students for campaigns, covering events where they stuck out like a sore thumb, stringing together lengthy Snapchat stories, perfecting content for me to post on our major channels, and much more. They worked non-business hours, they covered events that I couldn’t attend, and they even worked from home.

I wish both Eddie and Monica the best of luck.

But besides just excelling at their jobs, both were genuine and compassionate people. They asked me about Sloan, inquired about Sidney, patiently explained trends, joked around, and always asked what they could do to further assist. What more could I ask for?

Eddie and Monica didn’t just have an impact on #CCUSocialMedia, they had an impact on me. I can’t wait to watch them graduate today and then keep tabs on them as they find plenty of success in the future. I am extremely appreciative for all they have done and I will always remember them fondly. Don’t Blink.

Yet Another Great #CCU Holiday Video

To watch the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video, click here

A true test of talent can be found in versatility. Sure, we are all good at certain techniques and areas within our respective jobs. However, are we gifted enough to produce positive results when we decide to switch gears?

I pose this question to celebrate the success of the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video.

Today at noon, we released our latest annual installment of digital cheer. This year’s holiday video came after a string of successful predecessors, culminating in our 2016 hit that took our campus by storm and smashed view records.

The 2016 #CCU Holiday Video was a massive hit and left a lot to live up to this year.

The task to follow up last year’s viral sensation fell on the shoulders of the duo who created the monster in the first place. Our senior marketing director, Lindsi Glass, and our production manager, Geoff Insch, teamed up again to produce the 2017 version.

What would these two content creator geniuses come up with this time? Having built a successful reputation for creating catchy and creative videos that go outside the norm and push the envelope, did they have another idea up their sleeves that would once again include an original song, a well-known pop culture theme, and over 200 extras?

It is to relief of many that I only appear in the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video once. My cameo comes at the very end when I hold up the letter “H” in the word “Holidays.”

Not this year.

Instead of piggy-backing off of 2016, they pulled a 180. Rather than go for the funny bone, they went for the heart. To say the least, it worked.

This year’s video stars an 6-year-old girl named Lilly. A real life member of the emerging population of young people growing up with teal blood already circulating through their veins, Lilly writes a holiday letter to President DeCenzo. As he starts to read it, a voiceover by Lilly clues in the audience about what was written. Penning the letter in a very eloquent manner for someone just 6 years of age (with perhaps a little bit of help), she expresses what makes Coastal Carolina so special while exclaiming “there’s just so much to be proud of.”

The video centers on Lilly, a natural star.

During the voiceover, our beautiful campus is showcased and some of the people who make it such a great place are featured. But between the beauty shots of #TEALnation and the images of President DeCenzo and Mrs. DeCenzo gushing over the note, there is a heartwarming dynamic that plays out between Lilly and the person who sticks close to her side throughout the video.

Caroline Smith is our university editor and Lilly’s mom. She was nice enough to stand in for a crucial supporting role in the production. The mother-daughter relationship is hinted at throughout the entire video but it isn’t fully revealed until the very end. When the connection is finally disclosed, it is done in the sweetest way; a way in which has made our #CCU community tear up all day long, a way in which makes it mandatory that you watch it, a way in which will truly make you appreciate what Lindsi and Geoff accomplished.

Lilly and Caroline work together to provide a classic and touching performance.

It was no simple task following up last year’s video, especially with a completely different concept. But our University Communication staff pulled it off and once again made our entire CCU community proud. To Lindsi, Geoff, Caroline and, last but not least, Lilly – great work! Don’t Blink.

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.