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Interview with:

Dana Thomas [ncaadana] 

What is your specialty in multimedia?
I am a social media strategist for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Do you have a website or blog where we can see something of your work?
My work predominantly lives on social media: facebook.com/ncaastudents; twitter.com/NCAADana and others.
What has been your career path? How have you arrived to the point where you are? What did you do before?
I began working at the NCAA right out of college with a degree is sports marketing and management. I was in the lowest of positions and in an area where I had little interest, governance. Timing and perserverance worked out and I eventually landed in the public relations department where I work for five years. When it was obvious there was a need for established social media strategies team, my duties shifted to communicating socially and here I am.
How did your interest in multimedia technology begin?
While in public relations, I was responsible for monitoring and tracking media coverage of the NCAA. This could be very overwhelming at times and I started to research more effecient ways to do my job. So, my interest in multimedia technology came from a great need. But I must say that I love it now.
Please provide a brief description of the hardware and software you currently use most.
Because we are a very small staff of three, we must rely on software to make us appear larger. My days revolve around HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Facebook, Twitter, Bitly and of course my mobile devices: the iPhone and iPad. There is no way we could do our jobs effectively without our mobile devices. So much for the 40 hour work week.
What parts of your work are the ones you enjoy most and least?
I absolutely love answering questions and correcting misperceptions, which there are no shortage of in the business of college sports. I also enjoy directly interacting with the general fan instead of speaking to a reporter and hoping my message gets communicated the way I intended. The least enjoyable part, I suppose, is that it is hard to get away from social media when it is your job. It's not exactly fun for me to engage and interact in a personal way, anymore.
Do you usually keep an eye on the work of your competition and analyze how they have done things?
Well, we don't exactly have competitors, but I do always watch what other organizations and groups are doing. Nobody has it all figured out and we all can learn a little bit from each other.
How do you learn new techniques? Manuals? Tutorials? Trial and error?
I have a very short attention span, so manuals definitely bore me. Tutorials aren't too bad, but I am definitely a trial and error kind of girl. Thankfully, the errors have been minimal so far.
What new technologies are you experimenting with now?
I am actually working on my video skills so that I don't have to rely on my video staff when on the road. Because of this, I looking for anything that is easy to work on an iPad. So far, iMovie has been a good intro for me.
Does it irk you when something new makes what you've already learned obsolete?
Absolutely! But, one thing I have learned in this business is that if you aren't nimble, you're dead. Things always change, but in the digital world, they change before you even know it.
You spend many hours in front of screens and in dark rooms. How do you compensate for that on a personal level?
See my answer above...I try to just get away from it all. My husband helps to *ahem* remind me when I am too focused on work. We all need a reminding every now and then about what is really important. And for those of you not aware...it's more than a deadline or breaking some big news.
If you have to hire an assistant, what qualifications and qualities do you look for when making your choice?
There are a lot of things people can be trained to do. But what I find most important that is hard to actually learn is the ability to think strategically. I don't care how many likes you generated on your sorority Facebook page. I care how you engaged with those who liked the page; how you did research and captured the interest of those most relevant; how you handle not-so-pleasant situations. I am very strategic with everything I do, so it is hard for me to have patience with someone who is not. Ask my husband. ;-)
What types of professionals are you used to collaborating with, sharing experiences with, or forming a team with?
Since my job was created recently, there has been a lot of collaborating, borrowing, building and growing. I work closely with marketing, but my biggest connection point is the PR group. We have a large focus on issues management and strategic communications, so we need to work closely with those in the know, our PR staff. They are great at seeing the big picture, working proactively and communicating effectively. It's a match made in heaven for our social media unit.
What professional publications or portals do you follow regularly?
Mashable, Sports Business Daily, Bulldog Reporter Daily Dog
What advice would you give those who want to break into this profession?
It's more than having a Facebook page with 1000 friends. You have to come with something different. We just hired a person and the 100+ candidates were mostly disappointing. Again, it is hard to show on paper that you can work strategically, so instead, be unique and creative in your resume. Set yourself aside so that you get an interview and can actually show how your way of thinking can take a company to the next level through social media. Oh, and news flash for all those coming out of college with a marketing degree...it's not all about marketing. It is about building relationships and communicating WITH people, not TO them.

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Dana Thomas
Indianapolis, IN, USA

[ncaadana] Dana Thomas
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