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NACMA YP: Planning and aligning for the new year

By Lauren Belisle posted 05-08-2019 11:46


As the 2018-19 athletic year begins to wind down, we shift our minds to planning for 2019-20.

We took the time as a marketing staff to sit down a week ago and do that – brainstorm, discuss and debate the functions of our marketing department, our roles, and how we better align and evolve as a staff moving forward.

We got out of the office and met off site for an entire workday. It was an interesting day, and one that we knew on the front end would not result in tangible results and action items. That was technically the only expectation of the day – that we would not walk out of the room with new job descriptions or specific tactics of our goals.

The morning was spent talking about our wins/losses as a marketing department, our challenges and gaps, doing a SWOT of our unit and listing out our various responsibilities – big and small. We talked about our efficiencies and inefficiencies and after lunch we spent the afternoon trying to align the various responsibilities based on the morning conversation and the NACMA three pillars (shout out to NACMA!). We wrapped the day doing an escape room.

I’d be curious if other departments are having similar conversations, and if they annually (or more frequently) meet to discuss strategy and ways to evolve.

What I’ve found through calls to other universities and friends in the industry is that every athletic marketing department (and even external if you go beyond marketing) is set up differently. So, while I wish there was a cookie cutter marketing department structure, functions and best practices, what I’ve found (and what we also realized during our marketing summit) was that we have to align and grow based on what works best given Virginia Tech’s external structure, the people on our marketing staff, and how our functions work across departments.

While I sometimes desperately wish for things to be black and white with our individual marketing roles, what struck me between the eyes is that responsibilities apply across functions, and therefore departments. For example, we sometimes hear internally that we need someone to be in charge of social media. What I believe, more than ever, is that something like that can’t be the responsibility of one person. Not only does it involve brand, strategy, content creation, pushing play, and analyzing, but also because something like social media is so much bigger than a sport or a specific department; it requires the effort of multiple people, from a variety of areas, given the multiple functions (communication, fan experience, revenue generation, content, etc). That’s just one example… there are several more depending on what you pick off.

We’ll continue to have conversations over the summer as a marketing unit, and though I don’t know exactly what the end result will be (or if will even will end. Ha!), I believe we’ve had and will continue to the have the conversations about how we evolve and work more efficiently as people and as a group.