Favorite quote from the day: I would have written less if I had more time. Mark Twain
The text messages started rolling in about 5:15 PM.
Seats are GREAT! We are waiting at the North entrance for you.
My friends along with 63,893 other fans only had one thing on their mind, football. They didn’t care that the interpersonal communication connections after class were some of the most important ones I could make at the end of an 8 hour day. The torrential downpour didn’t matter at the stadium, after all this is Seattle! I started having flashbacks. More than two decades ago my entire life changed when I took an advanced photo-journalism class at the University of Illinois with Brian Johnson. I didn’t own a camera because I couldn’t afford one, but he let me borrow an old Olympus camera and a couple lenses for class because he believed in me. This was the first photo-journalism class at U of I with Macintosh computers and Photoshop, years ahead of newspapers dumping dark rooms. Film of choice, black and white t-max 100, and inhaling fumes watching white paper under a red lamp turn into magic, my favorite pastime. We balanced our learning between shooting, editing, dark rooms and computers. I used a manually loaded film camera and manual lens, no auto focus, no auto features, and no Internet. The bonus of having only 3 people in class? Press passes to all the Big Ten football and basketball games. The first three years of my undergrad years was spent in the bleachers with a boda bag in hand, who would have thought as a senior I would be on the ten yard line photographing our star quarterback Jeff George?
And as we watched examples of independent filmmakers and media campaigns, I could not help but think of how important the engagement was to their success. My friend and colleague, Justin Bergeron, just finished, The United States of Football, a film bringing to light the link of brain injuries and concussions to America’s favorite sport. Every mother and father needs to see this film, and yet there are so many challenges to reaching an audience even with great names behind a project.
So during the course of the day I allowed myself to momentarily take note of just how far we have come with technology. To think my career started as a sports photo-journalist pushing and pulling plastic strips of film, to now an ocean advocate and underwater cinematographer sitting in a room with an iPad, iPhone, laptop, watching streaming video in real time on interactive screens discussing ways we need to harness our time together.
U out yet? 5:20 PM
Of course I was intrigued and wanted to see the 261 million dollar privately funded renovated Husky stadium, after all I know how much football bonds an entire University, not to mention the amount of revenue it creates. UW football team generates $33,919,639 dollars of which roughly $14 million is profit according to the Business of College Sports. Could you imagine if the media department could take such ownership to bring in that kind of revenue with a campaign? How much of UW’s football profit is spent on multi-media for the team or with community engagement? Why do we love sports? What is key to any successful media strategy? Engagement.
Are you here yet? 5:25
More important than anything to me is building the network with others. The aha moment of the day happened when Brooke Shepard discussed how we went from pitch, to story, to engagement and shared his latest work with us and the challenge of the future for the Seattle Art Museum. What will the strategy of engagement be? What is your story? Who is your audience? How are you going to pay for your creativity? Making money is what makes the world go around…and even Seattle Art Museums’s biggest problem is not content or creation, it is getting the message out to the world through a platform and a network with limited funding. Non-profits are not the only companies struggling with these issues, it is also small businesses and large ones. We are in the wild, wild west on the web and even though there are successes, there are many failures.
As I stepped into the stadium just in time to watch the Huskies score another touchdown, the roar of the crowd blew me over and all I could hear were voices in my head. Two decades ago there were screens and scoreboards, televised games, and the scene of college football felt so familiar, but our terms of engagement have changed. Twenty years ago we used a wire service to transport photos and today fans use mobile devices with instantaneous sharing, interaction, and gratification. Things are speeding up so fast, I wonder what will the next two years hold? As I spent the next hour watching each of the teams on the field win and lose through each of the plays, I could not help but think how important a team is, the players, the coaches, the special teams, the practice, the game, and how important their fans are. I had just spent the past 8 hours in a room with 80 people who are now forming a team of which I am a player, and a huge fan as well. It’s exciting to belong to the Communication Leadership team, but more important is the commitment we have each made to play this game.