A Sizzling Darlington Press Conference

It was another day to file underneath the “my job is so cool” file. This morning I set off with some of my University Marketing and Communication team members to Darlington Raceway.

We were heading to the race track for a car unveil and I was brought along to cover the event on social media. If you read this blog often, you are familiar with Brandon Brown, a NASCAR driver we have sponsored since his time as a CCU student. Now an alumnus of our University, we have continued our partnership with Brandon as he races fulltime in the Xfinity Series. Anyway, Brandon was unveiling his paint scheme today for the Darlington Throwback Weekend that takes place at the end of the month.

Brandon and I a couple years ago.

The unveil was done in grand fashion. Coastal Carolina University, Darlington Raceway, and Brandonbilt Motorsports (Brandon’s racing team) staged a press conference right at turn #3 on the track famously nicknamed Too Tough to Tame. With Coastal Carolina University track signage serving as the backdrop to the covered car, anticipation was high for the big reveal.

When we arrived, Darlington Raceway already had everything set up for the press conference.

Oh, wait one second please, there was another important piece I should mention.

Brandon Brown wasn’t the only NASCAR driver participating in the press conference. Joining him was NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. To be 100% honest, I was a little unfamiliar with the legendary status of Labonte but I was made aware of my ignorance when I told my father-in-law who I was going to meet today. He let me know that Terry is kind of a big deal in the world of racing. This guy won at Darlington twice and is a household name in NASCAR circles.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte (far right) also had a seat at the press conference.

But why was Labonte there? Well, for Throwback Weekend the active drivers turn back the clock and use a paint scheme from a driver of the past. This year Darlington is paying homage to the 1990-94 era and Brandon liked the idea of using a design that reflected the one used by the Hall of Famer. Terry Labonte was honored to let Brandon run (or race) with it.

Brandon and Terry at the press conference (photo courtesy of Lindsi Glass).

When Brandon, Terry, and Martha Hunn, our chief communication officer, pulled back the cover, a sharp-looking Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 1993 design graced Brandon’s ZL1 Camaro.

A look at Brandon with his Terry Labonte throwback car.

The No. 86 car looked great with the black, white, and bronze color scheme. On the hood, our Chanticleer athletics logo took the spot of the traditional Corn Flakes rooster. The reaction from the people in attendance and those on social media made it clear that the scheme was a hit. It was another great accomplishment by our CCU design team.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Twitter account was pretty complimentary of our design.

After Brandon and Terry took time to scope out the car, they gave interviews to the media chomping at the bit to get reaction from both drivers.

I snapped this photo of Brandon and Terry.

Did I mention it was hot? Oh man it was a sizzling South Carolina August day. But the temperature doesn’t really matter when you are sweating it out with your fellow co-workers. Besides Martha, I was joined by these other talented individuals:
Lindsi Glass, assistant vice president for marketing and branding, set the press conference up and handled all of the logistics.
Geoff Insch, one of our production assistants, took footage and will be releasing one of his trademark quality videos tomorrow.
Scott Dean, assistant photographer, braved the heat and captured some spectacular images.
Daniel “Scoops” Mableton, graphic designer, could be considered the star of the show because he designed the scheme.

It was another one of those days where we felt like we were truly succeeding at promoting the University’s brand. We enjoyed lunch together at a local Darlington café before returning to campus to continue to market the  institution we work for. Best of luck to Brandon on Aug. 31! Don’t Blink.

Another Season of #CCUfamily in the Books

Quite frequently, I accept invitations from professors to speak to their classes about social media. Often, a student will ask me why I love my job. I will reply that I enjoy formulating a social voice for CCU, that I embrace working in an industry that is growing each day, and that I thrive off the pressure of communicating clearly and effectively when it matters most. I will usually end my answer by saying that, best of all, I get to work with college students daily.

I enjoy speaking to CCU classes about social media.

Today we wrapped up filming the third season of #CCUfamily, a social media campaign that I pitched way back in 2014 when I interviewed for my job. The current incarnation of #CCUfamily debuted during the 2016-17 academic year and over the course of those three years, we have featured 270 students.

#CCUfamily has been a very successful social media campaign for our University.

Ah yes, the key word is students. Out of all the ways I have the privilege of connecting with students on campus (internship program, social media advocate council, speaking engagements, etc.), nothing introduces me to a larger or more diverse group as #CCUfamily.

The goal of #CCUfamily is to develop engaging digital profiles of our student body. We publish three profiles per week that are published in unique ways on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels – an integrated campaign at its best! But of course the content doesn’t create itself. In order to be successful, we need full cooperation from the students we feature. There is a lot of coordination that goes on with the students prior to filming but the interview day is definitely the most satisfying part. This is when we meet our talented Chanticleers and catch them at their best. Connections are always developed that last until they graduate and beyond. It is rewarding.

I would not be able to do #CCUfamily without Geoff Insch. This afternoon we took the below photo after our final shoot to celebrate the end of a great season.

Notice how I keep referring to “we” in context of this project? Aside from our subjects, I don’t do this alone. Geoff Insch, one of our production managers, is the guy who keeps this campaign afloat. He films the interviews and then edits each one into an enticing package. This semester, a third member joined our #CCUfamily team. Anthony Bowser, our social media specialist, does behind-the-scenes work and writes some of the student profiles.

The three of us really enjoy doing these shoots. As I mentioned, meeting the students is awesome. However, it is also fun for our little production gang to converse about the students after they leave. We marvel about how talented they are and how further along (at least compared to me) they seem to be at that age than us (me). Students are nominated to participate in #CCUfamily, thus ensuring that those profiled are high quality individuals. It is a pleasure to meet the best and brightest of Coastal.

It has been a pleasure working on #CCUfamily. Here is an example of one of the profiles we did last month.

After three years of interviewing 270 students, Geoff and I have a lot of stories! Every now and then, we reminisce about the unique moments of our #CCUfamily journey. Good memories have been made and even better work has been produced. On Friday we will release the final #CCUfamily profile of the 2018-19 academic year but don’t get too sad – it will be back in 2019-20. 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.

Low Carb Pizza Thursday Rundown

Peace be with you! I hope you have had a nice week and that you are fully recovered from your Super Bowl parties. Let’s get started with tonight’s five topics.

Keto Snack – I usually don’t eat anything keto-related, but I made a recent exception. What you see below is tortilla pizza, a dish that Sid made from the keto cookbook that Sloan gave her as a birthday gift. You simply take a low carb tortilla and layer it with sauce and cheese. Sid then cooked it on the stove. Although this is too light for a meal, it sure made for a great snack.

This is the tortilla pizza that Sidney made.

The Claw – This morning I saw a story about a unique situation in Alabama. A toddler managed to trap himself in a claw arcade machine. Do you know what I mean? I am talking those games where you position a three-pronged claw to grab a stuffed animal or other toy long enough so it is dropped and dispensed. The boy crawled up through the dispensing door, finding himself right in the middle of toy land. He required rescue assistance from the fire department.

I remember when I was 7 or 8. I was at a Safeway with my mom. As we were leaving, I watched an adult woman play a claw machine. She put a dollar in and failed at both attempts. She put another dollar in. No luck. Then another dollar and another dollar. Still another dollar. After what seemed like $20 (far more than any of the prizes in the cage), she managed to capture a stuffed animal, the claw successfully grasping it long enough to dispense it. Without saying more than two words, she grabbed her hard earned prize and handed it to me as she walked out into the parking lot.

This boy trapped himself in a claw machine.

Sloan Update – Just the latest ramblings on Sloan…she is turning into an accomplished singer. She has about 6-7 songs in her repertoire that she will perform for us. She has her ABCs down and her favorite letter is S. She can finally say her name after learning the names of everyone else in her life first. Her daycare has taught her so much, including animal sounds and table etiquette. She constantly says “church” but sometimes she can’t stay still once we actually arrive and sit in the pew. She loves cats but dislikes dogs. She lives a good life.

Some recent Sloan photos…the top image is with her friend, Riley.

Getting GIPHY With It – At #CCUSocialMedia, we know GIFs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we realize they are as popular and versatile as ever. We have plunged head first into the new brand accounts offered by GIPHY. Thanks to our new social media specialist, Anthony Bowser, our presence on the platform has been felt. Anthony created an entire selection of unique CCU GIFs, quickly racking up over 1.4 million views on our account. The best part is that these Chanticleer-inspired GIFs are available for use on Instagram Story and Snapchat. Want to add some teal to your Story? Simply type “Coastal Carolina University” in the GIF bar.

Make sure to add these Coastal Carolina University GIFs to your Instagram Story.

Happy Birthday, Monopoly! – The game of Monopoly turns 84 today. I think all of us have memories of games that lasted for hours. For me, playing Monopoly as a kid made me feel sophisticated and grown up. We certainly didn’t play by all the official rules (we seriously sweetened the Free Parking jackpot) but we grasped the lessons that Monopoly teaches – buying/selling, managing money, strategy. As long as I got to be the cannon game piece and didn’t land on Broadway when it was owned by someone else, I was a happy camper. Happy birthday to this classic game!

Happy birthday, Monopoly!

———–

I appreciate your time this evening and I hope you enjoy your weekend. Remember that the Grammy’s are on this Sunday night. Don’t Blink.

Messy Thursday Rundown

Dang, I can’t believe it is Thursday already. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has my head spinning. Let’s begin tonight’s Thursday Rundown…

What A Mess – Let toddlers be toddlers! Sloan has created several messes this past week. You would have thought that her cherry popsicle suddenly melted on her face and it looks quite convincing that she wore more of her spaghetti than actually ate it. Then you have the Goldfish. This was not the first time she managed to steal a bag of the cheddar crackers and dump them out during the 10 seconds that daddy turned his head…and it most likely won’t be the last. Oh well, until she stains the carpet everything is OK!

Sloan has had a messy week.

Origin of Cookie Dough Ice Cream – As someone who has quite the history with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I was a little surprised to discover that the flavor itself has a rather short history. Chocolate chip cookie dough didn’t hit grocery store coolers until 1991 when it was invented by Ben and Jerry’s. I found out this information when reading about its “Core” cookie dough ice cream flavors, the premium ice cream company’s latest rollout. These selections contain a cookie dough core with two different flavors of ice cream surrounding it. For example, the Sweet Like Sugar Cookie Dough Core option has a sugar cookie dough core and is layered with cherry ice cream and sweet cream ice cream. One of these pints is in my future!

These new “Core” flavors from Ben and Jerry’s look incredible!

Interesting Old Pictures – I follow a Twitter account that goes by the handle @HistoricalStuff. Its sole purpose is to tweet out old photos and some of the content is really interesting (stuff that I am a complete sucker for). I have included a couple of the more interesting photos I have seen this week. The first image shows Marilyn Monroe on her final photo shoot before she passed away. In my opinion, she doesn’t look as glamorous in this photo as she does in some of her more popular images, something that I can appreciate. She looks much more authentic and a little worn – but still pretty! The second photo is of Charlie Chaplin without makeup or a costume. So interesting to see him as just a regular guy.

Marilyn Monroe on the left and Charlie Chaplin on the right courtesy of @historicalstuff.

Joe Moglia Steps Down – At the end of the day last Friday, a press conference was held and Joe Moglia stepped down as head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. The former business executive said he just felt like it was time. I knew about Moglia and his unique story before I even got to CCU. When I was still at Montana, the Chanticleers came to town for a playoff game. On a frigid day in Missoula, Moglia outdueled another favorite coach of mine, Mick Delaney, to pull off the upset. Once I started working for CCU, it was fascinating to observe firsthand Coach Joe’s unconventional, yet highly successful, approach to running a football program.

Last Friday, Joe Moglia stepped down as head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. Social media posts were in order!

Still Not a Fan – Two years ago on this date, I wrote about the disdain I have for Top 40 music that was created in the early 2000s. I was pretty hard on the songs and artists of that era as I held nothing back. Do you think the past 730 days have softened by stance? Hardly! In fact, I think I hate the music from that time even more. Make sure to read the post to find out the song I tagged as the absolute worst of the era (it is really, really bad).

—————

Thank you for joining me for another Thursday Rundown. Tomorrow is the beginning of someone’s birthday weekend so I better sign off so I can prepare. See you next week! Don’t Blink.

A Positive Thursday Rundown

Buenos Noches, mis amigos! I hope everyone is enjoying a pleasant evening. What do you say we get down to business? I am pleased to present my latest Thursday Rundown.

Fitting Farewell to a Great Leader – I dedicated my 2018 year in review blog post to Bill Plate, the man who headed the department I work in at Coastal Carolina University. After six years at CCU as our University Communication Vice President, he accepted a similar job at Utah State. This past Friday, we had a going away party for Bill. As the luncheon drew to a close, he was presented with a large frame that contained the below graphic. This masterpiece was created by Ron Walker, a graphic designer in our department. It oozes creativity and even for those who will never understand the inside jokes packed into it, you can’t help but laugh. You can catch me in the right hand corner being “social.” Fabulous job, Ron.

This was the graphic that Ron made for Bill. It features everyone in University Communication.

Random Act of Kindness at Outback – This past weekend, something really cool happened to us at Outback Steakhouse. At the conclusion of a delicious meal, we were told that some customers on the other side of the restaurant had paid our bill. The couple had learned that Sidney is a teacher, leading to the generous gesture. In South Carolina, there is a lot of discussion right now about the salaries of teachers and the need to compensate them correctly. It is a hot button issue that will be addressed this legislative session. If this increased publicity made the diners pick up or tab, or if it was just out of a general appreciation for teachers, we will never know. Either way, we were humbled by such a kind act.

We were surprised and humble by the couple at Outback who paid for our meal this past weekend.

Encouragement and Support – It is hard being the new person at the gym. Five years ago this week, I wrote about the need to treat those patrons who are trying to get fit as part of a New Year’s resolution with encouragement and respect. It can be intimidating for these well-intentioned rookies to start an exercise routine and nothing will smash their confidence more than snobby and entitled fitness buffs. We need to embrace people who are attempting to make a positive change in their lives regardless of whether it is to get in shape, lose weight, or break a habit. Also, remember it is not too late to act on a resolution. Last year, I wrote about how the first week or two of January can be a tough time to start a goal. Don’t worry, it is still early! You can start today.

Always give those new people at the gym plenty of support!.

Snuggle Up – Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article about a “snuggling” service in Boise, Idaho. The business model is simple: Those who feel like they need some special attention from a professional “snugglist” can pay $80 per hour to be wrapped in the arms of another human being. The business is called Snuggle Buddiez and the staff is highly trained. If you need to hug it out but don’t have a willing partner, this is the place to go. I don’t have enough time or space to write about the details of Snuggle Buddiez but you can get them by reading this highly entertaining and humorous article from Michael Deeds of the Idaho Statesman.

Back When We Were Young – I thought I would end this Rundown with a Throwback Thursday photo from a loooooong time ago. My guess is that this image is over 25 years old. It shows my brother and I holding hands in our front yard, happy as can be. Of course nothing screams louder in this photo than the strange outfit I am wearing. Mom and dad, what is your explanation for that?

Just two happy brothers.

——————-

As always my friends, it has been a pleasure. Have a terrific week and happy birthday to Sloan’s friend, Stevie Blair. Don’t Blink.

 

How #TEALnation Determined the #CCU 2018 Holiday Video

Click here to watch the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video

It happened again.

A couple of my fellow University Communication staffers once again teamed up to create a Coastal Carolina University holiday video that delighted our campus and did our institution proud. And, like previous years, Lindsi Glass and Geoff Insch decided to offer something that was completely different from previous editions. However, I think they went out even more on a limb in 2018 than ever before.

In 2017, we gave our audience something they had never seen before with a holiday video by going sentimental. We took an even greater leap this year.

Can you guess what they did?…

Wait, hold off. I will answer that question in one minute. Let me start by telling you the premise of this year’s video. In an act of homage to the past 11.5 months at CCU, Lindsi, our senior director of marketing, and Geoff, one of our production managers, recapped the many accomplishments and milestones that transpired. They did this by incorporating significant Coastal Carolina moments from 2018 into a popular Christmas song – Jingle Bells! Lindsi wrote catchy CCU-inspired lyrics to the tune of the classic carol and Geoff did his magic with the camera. With a CCU student providing the vocals and a campus community eager to help us shoot the scenes, we had all the components of an awesome, memorable video.

The 2018 #CCU Holiday Video follows its predecessors as a real winner.

But, like I said, Lindsi and Geoff thought waaaaay outside the box this year. The duo wanted to let #TEALnation have an active voice in deciding what the video would look like and the story that would be told. They knew they could turn to a reliable “friend” for help: Social media.

We debuted our 2018 #CCU Holiday Video late this morning.

From the start of the project, Lindsi and Geoff wanted social media to play a major role in building the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. Their vision was to allow our social audience to vote on the scenes they wanted to include in the production.

We used Instagram Story (IG: @ccuchanticleers) to allow our social media audience to decide which scenes they wanted to see included in the video.

They invited me to the brainstorming meetings to discuss how we could best accomplish this. We came to a consensus that utilizing Instagram Story, notably its “poll” option, would help us reach our goal. A byproduct of using Instagram Story was that it would help us “reach” something else – a very important audience at CCU…our students.

We used the poll feature on Instagram Story to gather precise results on what our social media audience wanted….yes, they wanted more cowbell.

Of course allowing our social media audience to vote on the scenes entailed twice the work. Lindsi and Geoff had to shoot scenes that would never make it into the video. For example, one day we asked our Instagram audience to decide whether they wanted to see CCU staffers hanging holiday lights in Wall Building or Academic Building II. Wall Building ended up winning, meaning that the scene that was shot in Academic Building II never made the video’s final cut.

This particular Instagram Story generated the most votes out of all the scene selections.

Quick explanation about how this worked on Instagram. Three times each week over the span of two weeks, we included video of two different scenes that were shot for the holiday video on our Instagram Story. Using the poll feature that allows users to vote between two choices, we offered the scenes for the day. The scene that generated the most votes after 24 hours was included in the video while the losing scene was left on the cutting room floor. My small contribution to this year’s holiday video was teaming with my intern, Katie, to build out these Instagram Stories and moderate the voting.

We showed all scenes in actual video in our Instagram Story, meaning that Geoff had to shoot scenes that he knew would eventually never make it in the final video.

After our last scene selection ran this past Monday, we had a video on our hands that was genuinely molded by the Coastal Carolina community. By casting thousands of votes, our social media audience decided SEVEN of the scenes that we incorporated into the final version. How about that for quality engagement?! Thanks to the work of another CCU staffer, Brentley Broughton, we have a website that documents the scenes that were selected by our social media users (and the ones that were not).

This year’s video turned out awesome…thanks to #TEALnation (and Lindsi and Geoff).

This year’s video has personality and spunk. Chauncey plays the saxophone, dancing is widespread, a central theme is evident, President DeCenzo is having fun, numerous campus groups are showcased, and the qualities that distinguish CCU are captured. Not to mention the beautiful drone footage and other campus beauty shots that really make the video stand out! Needless to say, the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video is a success.

A screenshot from the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. President DeCenzo had a great time participating!

Although it is sometimes uncomfortable to take a chance and go outside the box, especially in higher ed, it can pay off in a big way. Much credit to Lindsi and Geoff for doing something that quite simply isn’t done in the industry that we work in. On a special note, I want to thank our #CCUSocialMedia audience for rising to the occasion and making some great scene decisions. Don’t Blink.

2017 #CCU Holiday Video Review
2016 #CCU Holiday Video Review

Thursday Rundown in Honor of George H.W. Bush

It’s beginning to feel like the holidays! Our calendar for this month is insane with fun activities and celebrations but I am never too busy to write the Thursday Rundown. Ready or not, here are five topics…

Work Corner – Earlier this week, I was interviewed by WMBF about fake news. A recent untrue local story had made the rounds on social media, sparking the motivation for the story. Throughout my discussion with reporter Erin Edwards, my main point was simple: Yes, the social media giants are doing more than ever to combat the posting and spreading of fake news. However, spammers will always be one step ahead. We must take personal responsibility for not sharing or retweeting content that is fake. All it takes is a couple minutes to verify whether a story is real. Sensational headlines and sketchy URLs are dead giveaways about the authenticity of a story. When in doubt, find another source that corroborates the piece by doing a Google search or just asking a friend. We need to be informed, responsible citizens.

In other news, #CCUSocialMedia recently won silver in the W3 Awards. We entered our #PopCHANTet Texts campaign in the social content & marketing category. Although I prefer gold, I thought this recognition was noteworthy for two reasons. First, the trophy is really sweet. Second, the W3 Awards is not exclusive to higher education but open to marketing professionals in all industries across the country. As this was a user-generated content campaign, all credit goes to #TEALnation for enthusiastically participating.

Me holding the W3 silver award for social content and marketing.

Quick Laugh – You see jokes like this all the time. An elderly person is assumed to have co-existed with a historic figure during his/her lifetime. However, this cliché gag gets a spot in tonight’s blog post because it has a holiday twist and because I love Family Circus.

Poor grandma!

RIP George H.W. Bush – Regrettably, I have not watched as much coverage of President H.W. Bush’s life tributes and funeral ceremonies as I would have liked. However, one thing made me a bit emotional. When President Bush (#41) died, President Bush (#43) released a voiceover tribute. During it, he stated his dad’s most pressing question to his minister: When I make it to Heaven, will my daughter still be young or will she have turned old? George and Barbara had a 3-year-old daughter who died of Leukemia in the 1950s. Understandably, Bush never got over it. His question about her heavenly state made me tear up a bit as I thought about what it would feel like to lose a daughter so young and how it would be on your mind every day for the rest of your life. May President Bush, his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, all rest in peace.

George H.W. Bush with his daughter, Robin.

Top 5 Favorite Songs of the Year – Get ready everyone, my annual blog post listing my favorite songs of the year will drop next week. To get you in the mood, I wanted to share two previous versions that I posted on this date in the past. I published both my 2015 and 2017 lists on December 6. Do you think you can predict any of the songs I will be including on this year’s countdown? Let me know if you think you have an idea.

500 Days – Many of you might not be familiar with social media streaks so I apologize for ending this Rundown with a bummer of a topic. However, can you understand doing something 500 days in a row? Although “doing something” in this case consists of only opening an app, I am proud (or maybe a little embarrassed) to say that I have viewed my daily Timehop report for 503 straight days (I hit the 500 mark on Monday). I have had some close calls but I have been committed to keeping this streak going as long as possible. Expect me to devote an entire blog post to my streak when it hits 1,000 days on April 16, 2020.

I tweeted about my “accomplishment” on Monday morning.

——————–

We have an exciting weekend coming up filled with church events, a birthday celebration, and other social gatherings. I hope your first week in December went well and that you are well on your way to ending 2018 on a strong note. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Santa Issues

Last night, Coastal Carolina University hosted one of my favorite events of the year. At the beginning of December, the President’s Office hosts the Holiday Park Lighting, an event that commemorates the start of the holiday season at CCU. Santa makes an appearance and a “switch” is flipped that activates thousands of holiday lights, illuminating Blanton Park (a signature area of campus). Our University goes all out as attendees enjoy heavy appetizers, seasonal treats, holiday activities, festive music, and much more.

The Blanton Park Holiday Lighting event is one of the best times of the year. The s’mores station is always a big hit!

Another main draw of the event is for kids to meet Santa. Graciously, St. Nick donates a couple hours of his time on this evening to sit in his chair on the steps of Singleton Building and meet all the little Chants. The experience allows our future Chanticleers to not only speak to Santa but to meet Chauncey as well.

Last night, Sloan attended the Holiday Park Lighting with Sid. After I finished my work responsibilities covering it, I was able to meet my girls and enjoy the rest of the event in a personal capacity as opposed to a professional one. We had a blast eating mac and cheese, scarfing down cupcakes, playing around the Blanton Park fountain, admiring the s’mores station, and kicking the soccer ball. As the evening started to draw to a close, I couldn’t help but ask Sid if Sloan could meet Santa. This was a loaded question for one main reason…

Our family at the Blanton Park Holiday Lighting last night.

Sloan has Santa issues.

Last year, she had a meltdown when we took her to meet Santa for the first time. We went to get our Christmas card photos taken at a tree farm. Sloan, 8 months at the time, did fine when we slyly let Santa hold her but the moment she realized whose lap she was in, the tears started to flow.

Sloan did not enjoy Santa last year (photo courtesy of Erin Dietrich).

This year, we went to the same Christmas tree farm and took photos with the same Santa…and got the SAME results. Once again, Sloan started to lose it the moment he tried to touch her (no photos of this experience until we send out all our Christmas cards).

So the third time is the charm, right? I was hoping that perhaps the different setting would make her more receptive to Father Christmas. We stood in line with our good friend and next door neighbor, Ellen, and her daughter, Riley. The duo went first and showed Sloan that there was nothing to be scared of. Would it rub off on her?

Sloan loved waving to Santa from a distance and didn’t mind standing near him with Riley by her side. But actually sitting on his lap? That is a different story.

No, no no….

It was the same story this year with Sloan and Santa.

Sloan freaked out again, helping to produce the above classic photo. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised. Millions of kids who haven’t turned 2 yet are petrified of Santa. After all, what about a bearded fat guy decked out in red pajamas is endearing to a toddler?

Don’t feel too bad for Sloan…Santa gave her a sucker and she was back to her normal, happy self.

I am not giving up though! My Knights of Columbus chapter is hosting a “Breakfast with Santa” social at St. Andrew after all masses this upcoming Sunday. Will Sloan overcome her fear this time around? It is worth noting that when I was a kid, it was always assumed that the Santa who appeared at these Knights of Columbus events was the real one. Will Santa’s authenticity calm her nerves? Well, to be honest, we will probably take it slow. This breakfast might be more of a chance for Sloan to simply observe at a distance as opposed to sitting on his lap. We shall see and I promise to report back on how it goes.

Do you have any tips on how to make a toddler more receptive to Santa? If so, let me know. Although there might be some really scary looking mall Santas out there, I want to communicate to my daughter that there is nothing to be afraid of. Don’t Blink.

Preparing for Turkey Day Thursday Rundown

Hey, guess what? Thanksgiving is in one week! As we start the countdown, let’s also start the rundown. Here we go…

Myrtle Beach Bowl – I have made known my love for college bowl season! Thus, it brought me much joy when it was announced that Coastal Carolina University would soon hold a game of its own. On Tuesday, a press conference was held on campus to reveal that the Myrtle Beach Bowl will launch in Brooks Stadium in 2020. The game will be played prior to Christmas and will draw teams from the Sun Belt Conference, Mid-American Conference, and Conference USA. I am excited from the vantage point of being able to attend the contest in a couple years but I was more stoked that our University once again overachieved and did something really cool. The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be the first bowl to ever be played in the state of South Carolina. Just another victory for CCU.

I can’t wait for the Myrtle Beach Bowl!

Backed Up By Dear Abby – Over the years, I have mentioned a couple times in this blog the infamous stocking stuffer story. Growing up, my mom “filled” our stockings with thank you notes. As you can imagine, us Reser kids grew up writing sentiments of appreciation to everyone who kindly gave a gift or remembered us in a special way. The practice has stayed with us through the years and all three of us still remember to write thank you cards as adults. Yesterday, the below letter appeared in Dear Abby. The person who wrote it was distraught that her grandchildren don’t compose thank you notes. It made me think of my mom and how she made sure to cement the necessity of writing them in our heads. Before you ask, the answer is yes – Sloan is already writing thank you notes (or at least scribbling in them).

Well mom, even Dear Abby backs you up. Remember to write your thank you notes!

Sloan On This Date – Two years ago, Sloan was yet to make her appearance in this world. However, that didn’t stop my co-workers from having a little fun. On Nov. 15, 2016, I took this photo of the office poll that circulated regarding Sloan’s gender. Of course, the “social baby” references gave me a good laugh. Interestingly, it was a 10-10 tie on whether Sloan would be a girl or boy. Obviously, Nov. 15, 2017, wasn’t the best day of Sloan’s first year. She looks a little upset in this image, but don’t worry – I am pretty sure she was smiling a couple minutes later.

Sloan on Nov. 15, 2016 (left) and Sloan on Nov. 15, 2017 (right).

What Do You Think? Tacky Or Not? – A year ago on this date, I wrote about whether inflatable lawn decorations are tacky or not. My stance, which I still hold today, is that they are not. However, I do concede that at this point they are a bit unoriginal. But, as long as they are fully inflated and healthy looking, I have no issue with them. What do you think?

Some holiday inflatables are pretty basic, others are more involved. I took this photo in front of a reindeer stable blow up in my parents’ neighborhood three years ago.

Looking Like A Fish – I apologize, this has become almost a Throwback Thursday blog post but I want to go back in time again. Let’s rewind exactly three years ago to one of my more memorable (and embarrassing) blog posts. On November 15, 2015, I wrote about a “celebrity” that some people tell me I look like. No, it is not a model or even a human being…rather, it is an animated character. Do you think I look like Dory from “Finding Nemo”? Well, apparently some people do. You can read the post to learn more about my struggles with this comparison. Perhaps three years later I have aged out of any resemblance there used to be?

So let me ask you a question…do you see a resemblance?

—————-

The Thursday Rundown will take an obvious hiatus next Thursday. Although you won’t get five random topics next week, you will hopefully still get a couple of poorly written regular blog posts. But first, have a great weekend! Don’t Blink.