A View from the Press Box – Inside of Miami Athletics’ @USocialSuite New Fan Experience
By Natalie Mikolich
The Miami Hurricanes are #FullSpeedAhead this year with a 5-0 start to the 2013-14 college football season and a ranking of #10 in the latest AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since 2009.
With the University of Miami having one of the most engaged social media fan bases in the nation that are highly active online, Chris Yandle, Assistant AD/Communications, recently launched the @USocialSuite that offers fans the opportunity to share their GameDay experience in a brand new way.
Becoming one of the first college athletics programs to launch a project of its magnitude, Miami Athletics is now giving Hurricane fans access to the press box at the Sun Life Stadium in the @USocialSuite for nine of this season’s Miami Hurricane football home games.
In a recent interview with Yandle, he told us: “My reason for creating this experience is a simple one – Miami Hurricanes fans are passionate both in the stadium and online. They represent our brand ambassadors and we want to harness that energy and create more brand ambassadors that can extend their reach much further than we can.”
Recently, at the ACC Game between Miami vs. Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium on October 5th, I had the opportunity to be apart of the “#14Strong” to go inside the @USocialSuite for their second group visit this season and get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the press box during GameDay.
(See the “#14Strong” Miami Hurricanes apart of the second @USocialSuite: http://storify.com/hurricanesports/14strong-usocialsuite-welcomes-fans-for-georgia-t)
Receiving a media credential and special access to the press box for the first big ACC match-up for the Hurricanes this season, the @USocialSuite was not only one of the best seats in the house with a perfect view of the field, but was also located directly next to the GameDay announcer who was in the suite to our left and who we could see through the windows.
About a half hour before the Hurricanes kick-off against Georgia Tech, the #14Strong received a special guest in the @USocialSuite and were visited by America’s favorite mascot – Sebastian the Ibis – along with being greeted by Chris Yandle who created the @USocialSuite.
With all of the #14Strong plugged into power outlets for their laptops, iPads, iPhones, tablets, cell phones and more (with some @USocialSuiter’s having more than one with them), we were ready to go for kick-off and share our experience with everyone else via Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Vine, or Tumblr.
Receiving stat reports and graphics throughout the game via email from Miami Athletics’ Graphic Designer, Leo Ramos, we were equipped with all of the tools needed to share information with fans in the stands and those watching at home and across the nation, similar to the media in attendance reporting from the press box.
Tensions remained high for us #14Strong throughout the first two quarters with the Hurricanes tied at halftime. Although the @USocialSuite was right in the middle of the media action, it didn’t stop the #14Strong from high-fiving, cheering and even yelling out the windows from inside of the @USocialSuite along with throwing up our fourth quarter fingers. All the while, we were sharing as much information that we could via social media with the other fans in the stands and elsewhere who were following us.
Heading into the fourth quarter, while the Hurricanes secured their decisive lead against Georgia Tech, the #14Strong propelled the phrase “#USocial” to a trending status on twitter which was exciting for all of us involved. With emotions going from nervous and intense inside of the @USocialSuite at the beginning of the game, to excited and celebratory with the Hurricanes dominating 45-30 win over Georgia Tech, it was truly a unique opportunity for us #14Strong to experience the entire game in the press box.
One of my fellow @USocialSuiter’s Tania Leets, Reporter/Producer/Editor for the City of Coral Gables – Cable TV, had this to say about attending the @USocialSuite with me:
“Being part of the @USocialSuite was an incredibly unique experience. I was able to interact on social media with Miami fans from all across the nation and even at the stadium. I thought it was very cool to be able to give those fans a voice and showcase them to our @USocialSuite and football program. We have so many passionate fans that make up the Canes Family and I am happy to have participated in such a venture that allowed me to interact directly with them.”
And, more simply stated by a couple of the other @USocialSuiter’s, Tony Capobianco said “Today is a dream come true” about his @USocialSuite visit and Olivia Pallo tweeted “Best.Experience.Ever.”
As a sports publicist since graduating from the University of Miami where I was a former Lady Cane student-athlete (on their Women’s Varsity Tennis Team), any opportunity to go behind-the-scenes with the media and see where all of the live reporting takes place is of high interest to me.
Being able to attend the @USocialSuite on GameDay though, I found it highly engaging as both a Hurricane fan and sports publicist since we were right in the middle of all of the action. Between the GameDay announcer who was in the suite to our left, along with the other media reporters we could see several suites over in addition to being provided similar materials and content that the media receive from the University of Miami Athletics Department, we were also able to report and share news with others from inside the @USocialSuite.
Now, onto the rest of the exciting season for the Miami Hurricanes…it is #FullSpeedAhead!
#ItsAllAboutTheU #FullSpeedAhead #GoCanes
(To read more on the University of Miami Athletics Department and their new campaign #FullSpeedAhead visit: http://sportspublicityspin.com/post.php?id=106 )