For most of the 85,000+ Sooner faithful, OU Gamedays are a sacred Saturday tradition held in the highest esteem. For me, OU Gamedays are another day of work. Granted, not like your typical day job at a desk – but still, this is my job so it’s a much different experience for me than the fans.
The work we, the OU Office of Web Communications, Marketing and New Media, produce on gamedays reaches millions but we don’t so much cover the game itself as we do the fanfare, the crimson and cream, the spirit and the Pride of Oklahoma. We strive to make fans at home feel as much a part of the game as we can.
Standard home gameday coverage goes something like this:
Mason (photographer) meets me at my house, which is conveniently located close to the stadium (yes, that was by design – ha!). Sometimes video team members meet us as well. We walk to the stadium, enter at our special gate with our field credentials and bags of gear and then head to the field.
As someone who isn’t generally thrilled by sports (other than roller derby), I will say walking down the ramp to the field each gameday is my favorite part. There’s something so cool about the weight of the atmosphere in that moment. It’s so charged with anticipation and electricity – it gives me goosebumps every time. The salty, sweet smell of popcorn and funnel cakes, the crisp air, the sea of crimson and cream, people excitedly chatting and walking around as they fill the stadium. The players, The Pride and spirit squads warming up, the footage playing on the stadium big screen and network cameras and parabolic mics everywhere, while recruits and their family/friends gather on the sidelines for the start of the game. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of belonging to and promoting something so much bigger than myself. I love that aspect of my job and the role sports plays in it in that regard.
Mason and the video team flit about getting the perfect footage and I’m constantly in awe of the work they do. A talent I don’t posses but can recognize. Due to new rules and regulations, we can’t leave gear strewn about so I generally act as a pack mule which works out well. It allows our photographers and videographers to move around easily while I stay on the sidelines, checking in and interacting with our fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
When Mason has collected several [handfuls] of photos, he comes to dock and offload them to me. To do this, we have an iPad and a dongle adapter that fits the camera’s SD card and attaches to the iPad. He loads them, crops/edits if they need it and then selects images to send to my phone via airdrop. Reception and wifi can sometimes be spotty but I can say it’s improved greatly year after year and now in my third season, this is by far the best technological system we’ve had in place. Once I have the images, I post and message accordingly to our networks.
Generally, I try to post an image or three before the game starts – something spirit oriented. I also like to post at halftime to include the score as well as at the end and include the score. To add text and scores to photos, I use the Over app – seriously the best app for adding text to photos and their latest update has added options for blending, shading, etc. They aren’t paying me to gush about them – they’re just that amazing. If something else is happening, we play it by ear. Special guests, halftime shows, super fans, etc are all things we’ll sprinkle in. We plan ahead for these, of course, but then we play it by ear in the moment.
We aren’t there to call the game – that’s what @OU_Football is for – but I do enjoy posting the occasional “#Touchdown” because of the custom emoji that comes with it. Also, in the moment it can be really exciting and engaging.
We generally don’t stay the entire game. Once I get back home, I tune in to the game on TV and finish posting from the comfort of my couch using the photos Mason collected at the game and pinning to our Pinterest page. Though a lot of people are at the game, there are a lot of other people watching from home and there are usually a lot of people (especially women) surfing Pinterest while the game is on. Gameday has proved to be a great time to pin on our Pinterest account.
During away games, I set up each network on its own tab so I can easily toggle between them on my laptop. Away games are the perfect time for more interaction with fans – both those who travel with the team and those watching from home. I do a lot more searching hashtags and commenting on Instagram (via Iconosquare) and replying on Twitter. And then it’s just the usual posts for Facebook and pins on Pinterest using images of fans and spirit groups from previous games that I never got around to posting when they were originally taken.
When we win, there’s nothing* you can say that will upset people. Everything is sunshine and rainbows and puppies and unicorns. But when we lose, brace thyself. Nothing in the entire world is right. Everything is wrong and it’s our fault, or Bob Stoops’ fault, or his brother’s fault, or Obama’s fault….you get the idea. It’s the worst. Also when we lose, I usually take a break from posting anything to OU social media for a day or two because no matter what is posted, everything gets directed back to football and this saves me from having to read all the nasty comments.
Lucky for me, we’ve had only one “horrific” loss and several big wins so far this season** (in addition to all the awesomeness on the university side – but that’s a post for another time) so it all evens out in the grand karmic scheme of things. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
If you follow The University of Oklahoma on Facebook, @UofOklahoma on Twitter, @UofOklahoma on Instagram or OU on YouTube now you know the story behind the content posted on/from gamedays. Fun, right?!
Questions? Suggestions? Did I leave something out? Let me know @candacepants.