Powered by Nevco, A New Gameday from CollegeAD focuses on how athletic departments are working towards the eventual return of sports and what that will look like on gameday. Gerald Harrison who serves as the Director of Athletics at Austin Peay State joins the podcast to talk about the forward momentum the Governors have, how they’ve used that momentum in their messaging, and why it’s so important to be aggressive and innovative during this time.
Gerald Harrison, who’s led the Govs since 2018 started the conversation by saying that everyone at Austin Peay is adjusting to the changes brought on by the pandemic, but they are doing great. He says their messaging reflects that they are focusing on reminding fans of the great times, reminding people of the championships and great seasons in a number of their sports programs.
Harrison explains that the social media aspect of their messaging has been integral. They’ve also had a special focus on video content, and they’ve also created content that shows the greatest Austin Peay teams and players of all time, which has led to a little good-natured debate among fans. He says the teams have also held zoom meetings with their most dedicated fans. Harrison explains they are working to be innovative and aggressive with their messaging.
Harrison says they started investing in the social media and digital content side of things long before the pandemic caused the shutdown of college sports. He says as the department transitions from downtime to active, the push for social media content and engagement will not change. He wants fans to be engaged with their favorite teams from the palm of their hand long after the pandemic clears.
Last year, Gerald Harrison, who was recently rewarded with a contract extension, and his department launched Stache Street, a new pregame entertainment experience surrounding the lead up to Austin Peay football games. Stache Street takes over Marion Street in front of Fortera Stadium and the Foy Fitness Center, Governors fans were able to walk Stache Street and enjoy an array of food truck options and inflatable games.
Harrison says while that may not be possible this year in its current form, they are still hoping to capture the atmosphere of Stace Street in a different way. He says they are looking at ways to have fans in zoom calls at the stadium or in their cars, they want to unite all of the separate game day events and ‘get-togethers’ into one game day experience.
Harrison explains that his team is always on the hunt for revenue streams and this year it will be especially important to maintain the way their department operates. He says his team has talked with sponsors about letting them look at different ways of reaching out to people.
He gave an example of instead of sponsors paying for a banner in the stadium that may be seen by 50% less people this year, they could create games or graphics that go onto social media, meeting the fans where they are instead of inside the stadium. He says his sponsors have been very receptive to new ideas heading into this uncertain season, and they’ve also shown an interest in continuing this type of outside-the-box sponsorships, even after things get back to “normal.”
Harrison says his athletic department will be positive and aggressive with their approach to the new game day that’s coming. The message he’s pushing to staff, fans, and supporters that it’s still a great time to be a Gov, that it will take everyone working together to get us back to where