By: Julia BackusSession: Get Your Head in the Game

Presenter: Andrea Farmer. APR, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, NCAA

As a future sports professional, I was eager to hit this professional development session up here at the PRSSA National Conference. With a title like “Get Your Head in the Game,” I was prepared to hear all about the life of a sports professional. On the contrary however, Andrea Farmer’s day to day has little to do with sports events itself at all. Farmer’s job (Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives) is to deal with the strategic communication channels and to manage the external communication. This means that she was in charge of the concept to the new campaign that the NCAA has recently implemented: Pathway to Opportunity.

The Pathway to Opportunity campaign is centered around three pillars that after months of research, focus groups, web-analytics, readership surveys, and media analytics told them that those who know about the NCAA care about :

1. Academics
2. Well-Being
3. Fairness.

The team she has implemented to carry out this new campaign has come up with a PSA Strategy, Post PSA Pillar Launch, and a Make it Real – video series implementation process. This was process was a new way of going at the traditional corporate sports experience. The videos she showed the group were all very effective and drove each pillar into your brain.

A few key takeaways:

  1. Pathway to Opportunity
  2. Driving Change
  3. Research and Planning
  4. Advocacy Efforts

As I stated before, the session turned out a little different than expected, but I got some great insights out of it. I had the chance to ask Farmer how she enjoyed corporate sports in relation to her previous 10 years experience in agency. She said the biggest difference is the amount of writing that you will be able to do. This struck me because I am someone who loves writing and I would love to hold a job one day that allows me to write freely. But at the same time I am super passionate about sports so I guess I am at a catch 22. I’ll get back with you when I decide what my future holds.


Pictured above: Julia and Andrea Farmer after her presentation
Hey there, I am Julia Backus, a senior at Grand Valley studying Marketing and Public Relations. I am the VP of Chapter Development for our GV PRSSA Chapter. When I am not living it up at National Conference in Indianapolis, I am working for the Grand Rapids Griffins as a PR Intern, assisting women at the LOFT, or hanging out with my ladies. I love a good gin and tonic which mixes well with good conversation, so let’s grab one sometime!