My time with CSU Social is coming to an end.
In January, I’ll be transitioning to a similar position, still with Colorado State University, for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. I first began with CSU’s External Relations social media team in September of 2014, and a lot has happened over the past five years. As we’re pulling together our end-of-year posts, showcasing the top posts over the past year, it felt fitting for my final blog post to be an end-of-job summary of five projects that stand out as fond memories during my time with CSU Social.
The project I’m most proud of during my time at CSU is a video I produced for commencement — a video that almost never happened because I was self-conscious about the idea and almost never pitched the concept. For the video, we asked the parents of graduating Rams to write their child a letter, which was later read for the first time on camera. The idea itself almost felt nearly too intimate to pursue (e.g., Going around the students and reaching out to their parents, keeping the letters a surprise, and asking students to read something on camera but not telling them what it would be). Over the past five years, one major area of personal growth has been learning to take risks and try things that may fail. It goes against my perfectionist tendencies, and I’ve never been good at advocating for myself or my ideas. This time, though, I went for it, and this project became my most proud moment — not because of any like, comment, or share, but because of the reaction that the letters brought to the surface for these graduating students. When Othman said, “I never thought that he would talk these words to me. This is even more important than my graduation,” I realized that the impact had extended far beyond any prior expectation — and beyond any social media metric.
In the end, the emotion of the students in the video drove people to share the content, and our team’s project was featured on several websites.
Inside Higher Ed: “Emotion and Story: 5 Captivating University Videos”
Upworthy: “With love, from mom and dad.”
Shorty Awards Finalist: “#RamGrad: Colorado State University Graduation Campaign.”
Knights Of The Green And Gold
One of the largest and most long term projects I can remember while working here was the construction of an on-campus stadium. With such a massive undertaking comes a great deal of misinformation and mixed emotions, and our team spent a great deal of time mitigating the effect of such emotionally driven reactions on social media. When the construction was finally finished and the stadium was ready for action, we knew that we had to create visual content that allowed people to see and experience the vision of what the stadium was intended to be from the very beginning. This project stands out to me for two reasons. One, the opportunity to work in a division during a time when this project was taking place was fascinating and educational, and I learned a great deal from experiencing the communications side from start to finish. Two, this was one of the first times I was able to achieve a certain style of video that I had been admiring. I used a Sony camera that could film at 120 frames per second, giving me the chance to capture smooth slow motion and experiment with editing techniques in post production.
AMA Conference Presentation
As a freshman at Colorado State, I would go to the first day of classes, syllabus day, with a specific question in mind: Would there be any oral presentations? And when the professor ultimately mentioned that there would in fact be a mandatory oral presentation, I would drop the course and find another without such a nightmarish requirement. And then there I was, several years later and standing next to my social sidekick Ashley Manweiler, at the 2018 AMA Higher Ed conference delivering a four-hour workshop presentation on the topic of deconstructing a social media strategy. I worked through years of struggling with public speaking fears by teaching classes at CSU during grad school, guest lecturing for former professors, and delivering presentations around campus, which led me to the point where I could comfortably stand in front of a large group of people and talk. That’s the main reason this is a top moment for me. But I’m also super proud of the content in the presentation that Ashley and I spent more than 100 hours piecing together.
As a journalism undergrad, each student must take a designated amount of credits in an option-area outside of the Journalism and Media Communications department. I went with an unusual combination: Art and math. I never thought it would serve any use, but that was before I discovered analytics and grew to appreciate the art of visualizing data. I had no intention of pursuing any such role that focused on analytics, but it came with the territory of the role when I first joined CSU social and quickly became of of my favorite aspects of the job. The thing about analytics is that, yes, it’s numbers and spreadsheets and formulas, but at the very core it is still anchored by storytelling. My role as a social media data analyzer is to take those numbers and synthesize the story that the numbers tell and then uncover the proper way to communicate that story in a meaningful manner. That’s math, but that’s an art.
A Ram’s Life
This project is hard to walk away from. I’ve written about A Ram’s Life in previous blogs, so I won’t drone on. A Ram’s Life, our new vlogging series, is finally starting to take off and achieve the goal of reaching a younger audience who may someday wish to become a Colorado State Ram. Our student vloggers (Ryan, Grace, & Jamie) are doing an incredible job of highlight life at CSU and continue to impress me all the time. They’re getting recognized around campus and have inspired students to look into transferring or applying to CSU! I have no doubt that the series will continue on and continue to grow. I can’t wait to see what it becomes!
Perhaps the most honorable mention of all that is mentioned here is the friends I’ve made along the way. Thanks for everything we’ve learned, created, and experienced. I’m not going far, so let’s stay in touch 🙂