By Demi Staluppi
Only a small percentage of NCAA student-athletes will become professional athletes and, due to NCAA regulations, those athletes cannot be paid for their efforts on the playing field (or be compensated for any endorsements). This being the case, how can these students make themselves more marketable to potential professional organizations (and sponsors)? How can they get their voices heard?
To gain publicity and help promote their own personal brands, some student-athletes take matters into their own hands and create rap videos, or do the running man challenge. Until recently, these actions have been driven by the athletes, not their athletic departments. However, that may be changing – many schools are now jumping on board to help their student athletes better position and brand themselves to ultimately help launch their career.
University of Arkansas
Modeled after Derek Jeter’s The Player’s Tribune and the Bleacher Report’s Unfiltered, the Razorbacks launched a platform titled Voices on which student athletes have the opportunity to voice their opinions (sports-related or not) on things they are passionate about. Voices allows student-athletes to write/edit their own content, make professional announcements and share their stories, unfiltered.
From this initiative, Arkansas has found that content that comes directly from athletes has a higher engagement rate than transcribed interviews/media. Learn more about Voices from Digital Strategist Taylor McGillis, who provided an inside look at the program’s success in a recent podcast interview with D1.ticker.
Arizona State University
Jordan Simone is a great example of a player that maximizing his personality with his institution’s help. Simone began his career at ASU as a red-shirt student-athlete. Then, he helped live tweet an ASU football game and gained such a presence with the ASU fan base that he got his own show on the ASU’s sports network, eventually received a full time scholarship, started his last two seasons, and was named captain – pretty neat! Said ASU’s Director of Digital Media & Communications, “We always tell our athletes that 90 percent of future employers will look at their social media profiles. We want those employers to see their social content as an asset, not a detriment.”
Duke University involves their student athletes in their Snapchat and Twitter Feeds. Their ‘company line‘ is clear, as noted in a recent Huffington Post piece: “At the start of each new school year, Executive Director Ryan Craig and his team educate every single athlete on best social media practices and how to successfully represent the Duke brand.”