This week, the NCAA Champion Magazine had a media inquiry for a New Media expert who could talk about lessons university sports departments can learn from the innovation of the Barack Obama campaign. The lessons to be learned from studying the Barack Obama campaign are many, not only for collegiate athletics programs, but also corporations, small businesses and future campaigns.
University athletic programs can learn from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, not just from the New Media aspect. In fact, single-sighted focus on New Media is a mistake. College athletic programs, who do not have communications strategists to advise them, are likely to overcompensate vs. use the tool as just that — a communication tool/vehicle.
What can be learned from the Obama campaign is the incorporation of New Media into his communications strategy. But ultimately, the presidential campaign had a massive communications strategy with a focused message that went from Web 2.0 to town hall meetings across this country. The campaign recognized bloggers as media but not in place of traditional mediums (though some media campaign plane seats were shuffled late in the game.) Collegiate programs may have to accommodate bloggers on press row but press row will not likely become blog row overnight.
The Obama campaign used New Media to engage people as if they had the opportunity to come to a personal appearance with the candidate. The campaign used New Media to keep constituents informed and motivated. The campaign used New Media to help create a movement. Collegiate athletics programs can do all of the above.
However, communications strategy is what was key in Barack Obama’s campaign and then the campaign used all the communications tools available to distribute that message effectively to targeted audiences. The campaign controlled the message throughout all of those communications tools.
The challenge for collegiate athletic programs is that they more often find themselves reactive rather than proactive when it comes to communication. Utilizing New Media will not change the outcome without using it proactively with an overall communications strategy, messaging, a rules.