Social Media Education with the Rutgers Future Scholars

Hey guys! Easy Bites, Eat Clean Eat Green, and I are hard at work producing our collaborative campaign to raise interest and drive traffic to the Rutgers Future Scholars Program. For my part in the project, I’ve produced a video on a topic that both the Future Scholars themselves and sportscasters should check out: social media. Because the RFS Program was created to help students acquire all the knowledge and skills they need to excel in high school and into college, I decided to address some best practices when interacting on social media so that the Scholars know how to stay safe and smart online. With America’s youngest generation making their first footprints into digital spaces, I decided that a primer on social media will help them put their best foot forward online.

I talk first about how the Scholars can protect their accounts. I delve into the correct privacy settings they should have for their profiles and how to use the block and report features on various platforms. Then, I talk more broadly about the dos and don’ts on what to say on social media, a topic that Scholars and sportscasters alike should be knowledgeable in. Finally, I wrap up with the number one lesson that anybody—young, old, small, or tall—who even turns on a computer should know: how to secure your password. In the wake of Laremy Tunsil’s dramatic fall in the 2016 NFL Draft, this is another area that the Scholars and sportscasters alike should be sharp in.

So whether you’re a Scholar, a sportscaster, or just interested in social media, please check out my video! Remember to also head over to the Rutgers Future Scholars website, where there’s more info on the program and details on how to donate and get involved. The RFS Program has helped over 1,800 kids achieve success in high school and go on to college, so I strongly encourage you to donate or become a Mentor to a child. Also, feel free to check out my collaborators’ blogs. Easy Bites and Eat Clean Eat Green have both produced great content providing food lessons and tips that will help the Scholars stay healthy and fueled up throughout high school and their busy lives in college.

Thank you so much for your support of the Rutgers Future Scholars and our collaborative campaign, and I hope you enjoy our content!

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What It’s like to Make a Blog, and Why You Need to, Too

I think it’s safe to say that we’re a few years separated from that time in the early 2000s when the coolest thing to say was “Hey man, check out my blog!” Seemingly everybody had one at that time, and blogs are seen as a model of online sharing that predates modern social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

But while the blog boom has passed, one important component of its rise still remains: anybody can make a website for absolutely nothing. It cost me exactly 0 cents to create Sportscaster Central through WordPress. It would cost you the same amount. Why should you make one though? I’ll get to that. Just remember it could make or break your sportscasting career…But anyway, about making a site!

Step one is arguably the most difficult of them all, and that’s just coming up with a name. “What’s in a name,” Shakespeare’s Juliet asks. Well, Juliet, everything is in a name.

Juliet Capulet
Juliet by Philip H. Calderon. She’s busy trying to think of a good name for that blog you’ll be making soon.

Your site’s name is the first thing that people think of when they think about your site. It has to be juuuuust right. Not too long, maybe a bit humorous, but most of all a clear indication of your site’s ultimate purpose. Take Sportscaster Central for example. I chose it not to be funny but to evoke a certain idea. It’s a blog about sportscasting, and I hope to feature many types of content within its digital walls so that it becomes a central location, a “one-stop shop” of sorts, for those in the industry. Simple enough? It took me two hours to think of, and that’s just step one.

Once you register your domain name through WordPress, you have to pick a theme. The theme of your site dictates all aspects of its layout, everything from simple colors and font styles to how big your header image can be and how many columns you can include. Much like your name, your theme sets the tone for website. It is the boundaries within which you construct your online space. I deliberated over the theme of Sportscaster Central for a few more hours before finally choosing the “Twenty Sixteen” theme on WordPress. It can do all the important stuff a content-rich blog like mine must do, like have an easy-to-use menu and afford lots of space to showcase podcasts and videos. But subtly, it also does the little stuff well, like offering a social media bar at the foot of the page and incorporating header images of any size. That shot of Mike Krukow and Jon Miller is just too good not to use!

1
Mike Krukow and Jon Miller doing what they do best. Credit: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle

With a domain name and theme carefully selected, we’re starting to roll. The last big step is clarifying what your content will be and formatting how it’ll be shown on your site. For me, that first part was already determined. I went into this project wanting to write articles and create podcasts and videos about the sports broadcasting industry, but how I wanted them displayed was another hours-long mystery to solve. It requires some forethought during the theme-picking step so that your site can support the presentation you want, but ultimately your content must be presented in a way that’s conducive to the medium. If you want to create a photojournalism blog, you should probably first pick a theme that effectively showcases high-res pictures and, then, adjust that theme to suit your particular brand of photography.

Tribal Theme-Wordpress
The “Tribal” theme on WordPress is one of many designed to showcase great photojournalism.

I knew ahead of time I would produce various types of content, so I picked Twenty Sixteen with that in mind. From there, I arraigned all the pieces of that theme to tailor it for Sportscasting Central. The dark colors create a crisp and professional look, the header menu is easy to navigate, and the sidebar assists in locating the content featured on the left side of the page.

With all that done, I was set! My blog was fully prepared to accommodate content of all shapes and sizes. It took me hours and hours, but methodically advancing towards that end goal ensures that I won’t have to revisit the drawing board to change my themes or any other major detail. Think of it as the admittance fee for entering the blogosphere—putting in the hours to make it all look juuuuust right before showtime.

So there you have it, those are the major steps in creating a blog and some of my experiences creating this one. What was that? Why does your career hinge on a pesky blog? Oh yeah, almost forgot.

I’ll assume we’ve all applied to a sportscasting position before, so we all know the components of a complete application. Cover letter, resume, demo tape, writing samples, and on and on. Let’s say you’re applying for a lead MLB radio play-by-play job. That’s serious business—only 30 of those jobs exist!— so you’ll probably want to include all the awesome stuff you’ve produced throughout your career.

John Sterling
John Sterling, Radio Voice of the New York Yankees. In this sportscaster’s opinion, he’s got the best job in the business. Credit: Getty Images

I’m sure the team will want a lot too, like perhaps a full game tape and a full coaches’ show and a series of interviews. All of those audio files take up lots of space, even in .mp3 format, so sending them to the team won’t be easy.

That problem is just one reason why you need a website. Now. Upload all those files to your sites, display them prominently alongside your resume and other work samples, and just like that you have a detailed online resume located at yourname.wordpress.com. And that’s just one good reason! Ever feel like writing about your experiences as a broadcaster? Ever want to interview someone and need a reason why? Want to build your brand as a talent? Your website can help you do all of those things. It gives you a space and a reason to write about what’s going on in sports and tape that interview. Plus, if you use your website as your online resume when applying to jobs, employers will surely check out all that other content you’ve created to see what it’s about. Put out a quality, compelling piece of content every so often, and that’s another feather in your cap. More importantly, it could buy you some separation from the pack in an overcrowded job market.

I hope I’ve provided you with plenty of reasons to go out and bolster your career prospects by making a blog. Hopefully, sharing some of my experience creating Sportscaster Central will help you glide through the creation stages of your own blog. If you do go out and make a site, let me see it! If you already have one, let me see that too! Drop your link in the comments section so I can check it out.