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Vanderbilt welcomes Coach Franklin

Posted by on Thursday, January 6, 2011 in Launch.

Coach Franklin websiteThe university announced James Franklin would be its next head football coach Dec. 17, 2010, ending weeks of rabid speculation by mainstream and social media about the coach’s identity. Leading up to the announcement, Web Communications worked closely with our colleagues across Public Affairs – Creative Services, Athletics, Video – to be sure we had all of our ducks in a row to give a world-class welcome to the new coach. It was an exciting and interesting process and one that we all learned a lot from – we love events like this that bring the whole university together.

We created a special website to serve as a clearinghouse for all information about the coach and the announcement, and also as a place for fans to return to leading up to the 2011 season. Part of this work was kind of tricky as we had to build and plan all of these efforts without knowing who the mystery man would be. We got the final word about 24 hours before the announcement and finalized everything then.

We built the new site in WordPress with an eye to incorporating social media heavily – it is where our fans and everyone else were discussing this topic. It was also the centerpiece of our announcement plans, we made the announcement of the coach’s identity first on Facebook, followed immediately by press releases, tweets, video, photos and a press conference later that day–the whole nine yards.

Things got a little ugly on Facebook and Twitter immediately following the announcement – athletics discussions are usually pretty rough and tumble. Our policy is to allow negative comments with the exception of vulgar comments and those using outright hate speech – so we monitored this discussion and let it ride. Once photos of Coach Franklin and his family arriving at the airport went up on flickr – and especially after the press conference – the tide began to turn in a positive way.

The press conference itself spawned a tag line – “all in” – that got picked up on Twitter and Facebook by fans. At the suggestion of a fan, we created a hashtag, #VUAllIn, that developed a life of its own – it was fun to see the fans using this phrase to get behind Coach Franklin and the new era of Commodore football – and they’re now using it for basketball and other sports as well.

Read a great story by Jim Patterson in the Vanderbilt View about the entire coaching search / selection process – a rare peek behind the curtain.

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