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July 24, 2013
Dear Auburn Family,
As I look at Auburn over the years, it has become increasingly clear to me that we have to get better at telling our story, promoting Auburn Athletics and developing our brand.
These priorities came into sharper focus for me during the past year as I talked with Auburn fans and donors and listened to what’s important to them.
I wanted to share some significant steps we have taken to accomplish the goals of telling our story, promoting Auburn Athletics, improving the way we communicate with fans and donors and enhancing our internal operations.
- Redesigned our official web site, AuburnTigers.com.
- Prepared to launch a new bi-monthly digital magazine, Tiger Roar Digital, which will debut in August.
- Hired two outstanding beat writers with more than 75 years of experience combined to cover our teams.
- Announced plans to hire a Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for the department.
Let me provide a little insight about why we have taken these steps. While communications has become increasingly complex, our strategy is pretty simple. We have to inform and engage our donors, fans, student-athletes and future student-athletes in the space where they live, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, the web, mobile platforms or some technology we don’t even know about today.
Another reason we have to change the way we operate is the tremendous growth we’ve experienced.
When I became AD in 2005, our budget was $47 million a year. Our current budget is $102 million—more than double what it was less than a decade ago. The budget is growing because of the significant interest our fans, donors and corporate partners have in Auburn sports, so it is imperative we recognize and respond to their changing needs.
This substantial growth, coupled with changes in the way fans consume information and the rise of social media, caused us to rethink our communications strategy. The result is a more proactive approach and a significantly more aggressive effort to tell our own story.
As we grow, my job is to ensure we have the right balance of core competencies and business savvy to meet the challenges of growth and a rapidly changing business model. To that end, we have determined the need for a Chief Operating Officer and a Chief Marketing Officer for the athletics department.
These two senior executive level officers will enhance the core competencies of the athletics department and provide the additional infrastructure needed to continue to effectively manage our growth and adapt to changes in our business model.
At the end of the day, we realize how important winning is—regardless of how well we communicate with fans or market our programs. Rest assured winning has been, and will continue to be, our primary focus.
Good communication or smart marketing may not win ball games, but it is certainly part of the mix in positioning Auburn University as an attractive institution for outstanding students and prospective student-athletes. In other words, it matters.
Telling our story
Many of you may already know we have added two outstanding professionals as senior writers for our official website, AuburnTigers.com. Charles Goldberg and Phillip Marshall have more than 75 years of experience covering collegiate athletics, much of it covering Auburn for major state newspapers.
Their outstanding work now populates AuburnTigers.com, adding compelling content to a site that has quickly become the go-to place for the best coverage of Auburn teams, our coaches and our student-athletes.
When we decided to change our communications philosophy to a more proactive and aggressive strategy, I instructed our staff to go after the best. That’s what we found in Charles and Phillip.
While the communications landscape is rapidly changing and becoming more complex in many ways, the reason we did it is pretty simple. We have a great story to tell. We need to tell it better than anyone else.
Charles and Phillip’s job is to write compelling content and objective team coverage on a daily basis. The response to their work has been terrific.
Another recent addition to our staff was the hiring of Jason Matheson as Assistant AD for Digital Media. We recruited Jason from the University of Oklahoma, where he was regarded as one of the best in the digital media space.
Jason immediately went to work on a website redesign, which was launched just a few weeks ago.
The redesigned site is cleaner and more organized, and it also better integrates our social media assets directly into the web experience.
We know you rely on us for information like rosters, schedules and stats, so AuburnTigers.com’s main menu has been streamlined to provide faster access to those areas. We also expanded our sport-specific menus to help users jump directly to information on the teams they follow.
Social media takes center stage on the new site with integrated feeds and links to keep you informed on the latest from all our official platforms. You won't find a better source for behind-the-scenes content or opportunities to get to know our student-athletes and coaches.
Tiger Roar Digital
Next month, we will debut a new digital version of Tiger Roar magazine. In years past, Tiger Roar has been a printed publication distributed quarterly to members of Tigers Unlimited.
We will continue to publish three print editions annually for our TU members, but we believe a dual distribution with an emphasis on the digital marketplace will allow us to extend our reach within the Auburn Family.
More relevant print editions of Tiger Roar will be published and delivered prior to the Fall, Winter and Spring sport seasons to Tigers Unlimited members so they receive the unique content they deserve as loyal supporters of the program.
Tiger Roar Digital magazine will launch next month and will be distributed every other week. It will include more timely and interactive content produced by seasoned writers. Tiger Roar digital will also feature embedded video and vivid photographs from our outstanding staff photographer, Todd Van Emst.
The entire package is designed to make Auburn fans feel more personally connected to the teams they love to follow.
More to come
Last month, I announced additional free tailgating to make the game experience better for Auburn fans. Today’s announcement is the second in a series of new actions we are taking this summer to improve the Auburn Athletics Department. I look forward to sharing more about our efforts to compete at the highest level athletically and enhance the gameday experience in the weeks ahead.
God Bless and War Eagle!
You can also follow me on Twitter at @jayjacobsauad.