Nestled in the rural city of Milledgeville, Georgia College and State University offers a comprehensive education with a thriving campus life. Athletics are a crucial part of this, providing year-round events featuring talented competitors. However, talent is not always enough to attract attendees. That’s where Al Weston comes in. As the assistant athletic director, Weston blends digital and traditional marketing tactics to boost the department’s visibility. One important component of this strategy is the athletics website, GCBobcats.com.
“It has been one of our most key pieces,” Weston said. “At this level of athletic competition, there is not the inherent need to attend. We have to compete with other fans within the town, like UGA. It’s a big deal here; there’s no denying it. Going directly to the consumer has had a big impact, and is a huge piece for any athletic department at this level.”
Weston also uses traditional media as a promotional tool. He maintains a press release schedule to notify key news outlets of important events and programs. He also has a strong relationship with the local radio station, often appearing on air as the department’s spokesperson. Even at the time of this interview, Weston had a full day of promoting.
“I am getting prepared for the [NCAA regional] baseball tournament in North Carolina,” Weston said. “I have TV stations coming up, have interviews, like this one, and calls with everyone in the conference also to make sure things go smoothly.”
This tournament, which occurs May 17-22, is particularly important. Winning this competition qualifies the team for the Division II World Series, which has only occurred one other time in GCSU’s history. This gives the team the chance to be national champions, bringing additional prestige to the college. (Click here to listen to the tournament live).
Although the tournament marks the end of the current season, Weston is already preparing for the fall. He is especially excited to host the volleyball conference for the second year. Starting November 10, this event is advantageous for both GCSU and Milledgeville.
“It is great because it impacts the town,” Weston said. “It helps the economy, with people staying in hotels. It is also an opportunity to showcase our college to people who normally would not have the chance.”
With so many events to coordinate and promote, long days and weekends are a normal occurrence. During his ten year tenure, Weston admits he has worked as many as 80 hours in one week. Additionally, his duties are also continuously evolving. Despite the intense work, Weston views it as a “blessing.”
“To get to wake up and talk and write about statistics every day is great,” Weston said. “I wake up every day loving what I do.”
Interestingly enough, this was not the career path Weston initially chose. After earning his undergraduate degree in public relations at Kent University, Weston worked a few related jobs before returning to get his masters in sport and recreation management. He had always loved sports, playing in high school and at the intramural level in college. He never knew that sports communication was an option. Now, he cannot imagine doing anything else. This, Weston believes, is the key to business success.
“One of the things I discuss when I talk to our marketing and journalism classes is to find something that you enjoy doing. You’re going to spend 60 years of your life doing it every day. It should be something you dig.”