One Day Away

By: Hannah Lemke

With the Super Bowl happening tomorrow, I knew that the buzz around the convention center would be different today. I predicted that it would either be crazy busy or extremely empty, and the latter was correct. 

The Miami Beach Convention Center today was a dead zone; Radio Row vanished entirely and most of the booths in the Media area also packed their bags. There were no more celebrity sightings, and no more directions to give.

Luckily, I didn’t need to worry about that, because I was stationed in the Social Media Command Center from 9am until 9pm. The Social Media Command Center was also quiet, so I assumed that I would be bored out of my mind. However, I was wrong.

We didn’t have many questions to respond to via social media, but we were able to interact with various fans and locals who were excited about visiting the Super Bowl Experience. I retweeted, quoted, and shared many tweets today, and entertained myself throughout. I found lots of positive fans sharing their experience, and was able to help spread their positivity as I engaged with them online, as if responding on the Super Bowl’s social media handle wasn’t already cool enough! While the hours were long, they were beyond rewarding and I will never forget the wonderful people I worked with; instead I will forever be grateful for my once in a lifetime opportunity of working the Super Bowl.

Next stop: an early plane, then Boston, and then a well-deserved drink!

A Tribute to Winston

By: Hannah Lemke

This entire week, we’ve had a taxi service picking us up from the hotel and taking us to the convention center, driven by our lovely Jamacian driver, Winston.

Today, Winston picked up three of us from the hotel and completely brightened our day. We asked how he was feeling, only to get the response that he loved us because we’re good people and care and good people attract good people. And somehow, that one simple question turned into a 40 minute conversation. 

To paint you a picture, Winston is a reggae musician who has the most positive spirit of any one single person that I’ve ever met. He talked of how people needed to slow down in order to truly live and appreciate life, and if only people loved each other as much as they loved money in this world, then our world would be a brilliantly better place. 

He quoted Bob Marley, “When it rains, some people just get wet;others feel the rain,” before cranking the radio and jumping into song “Jamming,” serenading us with ad libs in the car. 

This one ride set the mood for today, and truly made my entire week. I only hope to find more people like Winston in this world. 

Music is to Sports as ___ is to ___ ?

By: Hannah Lemke

I’m going to be honest: morning came way too quickly for me today. The 6:30 a.m. alarm was greeted by several snoozes before it was effectively able to do its job. 

Being at the Miami Beach Convention Center, however, definitely woke me up (although four cups of Cuban coffee may also have contributed to that.) Dozens of celebrities walked by the NFL Transportation booth, (including Big Papi, Gronk, and Martha Steward–yes, Martha Stewart) but what impressed me most was my ability to talk to them so easily. 

I am not a sports person. I never have been, and never will be. So while everyone else has been intimidated whenever they see these NFL stars, I simply smile, wave, and greet them like anybody else. I cannot tell you who I talked to or who I saw, but they were all extremely nice. If I was more of a sports person, I think that I would have been more afraid to talk to them; this just showed me that sometimes, in some circumstances, knowing less can give you more. 

While I am not the typical sports fan or sports major here (as I am looking to go into Music Marketing), I’ve found that I have still been able to relate a lot to the Sports Communications students here.

I met one person in the Social Media Command Center earlier this week who works in Digital with the Miami Heat, and we spent an hour talking about how we both had less of a passion for working in media alone and more of a passion for working with the things that media covered, (like basketball and music). It was honestly a refreshing conversation, and one that genuinely surprised me as I was able to actually feel like I could relate to someone–even in sports. 

Unexpected Opportunities

By: Hannah Lemke

I walked into the social media command center assuming that it would be like any other shift…only to be greeted with the fatal news: Tweetdeck, the software that we’ve been using to sift through content, was down. 

However, thanks to the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and social media gang quickly thinking on their feet, we were able to recover. We were sent in groups to collect original content to post on the Host Committee account.

I journeyed with a small group to the Special Olympics football game, held in the Super Bowl Experience. As soon as we walked up, cheers erupted from the fake field after hearing the announcement: “Congratulations, you’re going to the Super Bowl!”

A newscaster was interviewing the young man who had just won the tickets, and I saw nothing but humility on the winner’s face. He spoke various forms of thanks into the microphone, and said that he appreciated the team, the game, the program, and the NFL.

After a lot of pictures, the flag football game resumed, and I found myself running from end to end of the field attempting to capture pictures of each play…only to learn that I know absolutely nothing about sports photography. 

While I didn’t capture every play, I did capture the joy on each child’s face as they ran with the ball into the end zone, threw a great pass to an NFL star (who were integratedly playing in the game), and gave reason for the cheerleaders to dance and the crowd to cheer.

When the game was over, all of the Special Olympics players met with the NFL players for photo ops and autograph signings, and it was truly incredible to watch. Each professional player actually spent time acknowledging, listening, and getting to know each person, instead of just smiling for photos or scrawling illegible names across a shirt. When it was time for the NFL players to leave, their agents had to almost literally drag them away from these kids.

It was an amazing experience to be a part of, but I wouldn’t have been able to today if everything were to have gone according to the original plan. It just goes to show that the greatest opportunities are often unexpected.

In Close Proximity to Popularity

By: Hannah Lemke

After taking the morning off, I got on the bus ready for my first official shift as manager of the NFL Transportation booth. I expected there to be a lot of work to do and chaos to control once I arrived. However, I was greeted with celebrity sightings and quiet questions regarding directions.

Naturally, we had tasks to do: provide answers to questions, give directions to press, answer questions about buses, and mark the number of times that someone trips over the carpet. But beside those tasks, the media center seemed to be pretty quiet, considering that most of the media were at various press conferences scattered around Miami. 

Compared to the other days I’ve worked the NFL transportation booth, it was interesting to see the fluctuation of foot traffic in the media center with the Super Bowl nearing in proximity. 

So many football players, newscasters, and various other celebrities all walked by as we went about our duties, and I couldn’t help but contain my excitement when:

Rob Gronkowski, or Gronk, a former Patriots player and the most attractive man in the universe, walked by. 

But. I didn’t know true excitement until I saw Rachel Lindsay, past Bachelorette. (You could say that I might’ve squealed.) 

Working in an environment that seemed so mundane and normal while being surrounded by so many important people was definitely a conflicting feeling; it just didn’t seem normal or real. But with more people coming into town as the Super Bowl creeps nearer, I must say I’m excited to see what’ll come.

Never Have I Ever Been So Impressed

By: Hannah Lemke

It’s days like today that I’m reminded of how lucky I am to study such an incredible subject, and to soon enter the job force of such an amazing field. 

After being notified that we would be taking on a new position volunteering in social media at the Super Bowl Live experience, Dr. Scott sent a group of students (myself included) over to scope it out.

Immediately upon entering the gates and meeting up with our seasoned host, I was impressed. Never have I ever seen a festival, event, or gathering of that scale run so efficiently and effectively. Everyone was having a great time. Everything was extremely well thought out. 

The event is run by the Miami Host Committee, and because of that, the branding of the event seemed to be extremely localized and personable; the activations (meaning the different booths) looped in various initiatives that Miami is currently pushing. They made the activations interactive, informative, and interesting–which can be a hard combination to create. 

All of the food trucks brought in for the event were local, leaving the Host Committee responsible for literally bringing the flavor of Miami to the Super Bowl LIV. And beyond that, the event, (which on a slow day still had over 14,000 people in foot traffic) is entirely zero-waste. A company called Footprint provided all of the food suppliers with biodegradable plates, eliminating the waste of single-use plastic from an expectedly normal high-waste event. Beyond that, the event was free and open to the public; however, extra safety precautions (such as heavy-duty metal detectors, an ample amount of police, and an app that you can download to report crime) were put into place to ensure the protection of the people attending.

Overall, I was extremely impressed, especially considering that the main point of Media Contact was a woman not much older than I; if anything it gives me hope for the future of what I am about to be.

Day 2: A Mixture of Pure Exhaustion and Excitement

By: Hannah Lemke

Today was my first full day working in the Media Center at the Super Bowl, and it was definitely one that caught me off guard. I spoke with strangers, received great advice from impressive contacts, learned how to quickly adapt to change, made new friends (including furry ones), and witnessed how crises can be handled in short amounts of time.

We got to the Media Center early so our staff could get their credentials, and had some time to spare before our shifts started–so naturally, we went on the hunt for coffee (after touring the NFL Super Bowl Experience). While trekking around the center searching for an open cafe, we ran into an officer, fully equipped and badged, who was working with a K9 unit from Arizona. He was also on the hunt for coffee and joined us, only to fall into a conversation about his dog, Beta. He provided us with business cards of Instagram before asking advice on how to gain followers. I told him to swing by the Social Media Command Center later in the day and bring his pup, and sure enough, his followers (and our morale) rose when he stopped by later in the day. 

I met some amazing people at the Social Media Command Center, and interacted with them as if they were like anybody else. One of our bosses worked in Media at the Miami Heat, (landing a job directly out of college), and one was the first Director of Media at the NBA (so, naturally, impressive people.) Yet somehow, I wasn’t afraid of talking to them; I found myself opening up and sharing my passions/concerns regarding my studies and graduation, only to be greeted with amazing advice, questions, and genuine interest.

In the Command Center itself, I went through a lot of ups and downs, but was extremely proud of my work ethic; what was seemingly daunting before stepping foot in the room today became increasingly easier as the day went on, and I chugged through tasks as if I had been familiar with the software for ages. There were a lot of ups and downs in the Center today, as Kobe Bryant passed away and we dealt with an influx of media posts concerning the death. However, I was able to see how large organizations are able to work quickly on their feet in order to adapt to unexpected changes. For example: the Grammys. Because they took place in the same arena that was Bryant’s home court for his entire 20-season career, the event coordinators and PR people had to make a myriad of changes in only a few hours notice in order to ensure that appropriate respects were paid to the late NBA star. 

Overall, today was an incredible first day with a lot of lessons learned–but I will say, I am very much looking forward to my hotel pillow tonight. 

Communication is Key

By: Hannah Lemke

“Communication is key.” It’s like the Golden Rule, except different. You know, the one that goes “treat others how you would like to be treated?” Think: “communicate with others how you would like to be communicated with.”

This became a recurring theme of our first day, repeatedly finding itself manifesting as an idea in my head with every single interaction that I had.  

It all started on the plane. I sat next to a person (who will remain unnamed simply because I didn’t ask their name), who immediately struck up a conversation. 

Normally, I wouldn’t mind this. Said person was extremely nice, had a great sense of humor, and was perfectly pleasant to sit next to. However, it was 7 o’clock in the morning, I had been up since 4:45am, and was only running on two hours of sleep. So, in that context, the absolute last thing that I wanted to do was to be super chatty and cheery at an ungodly hour–especially when the only thing that I could think about was sleep. The key here, my friends, is context clues; only talk to people who want to be talked to.

Later in the day, we had another communication crisis: the pizza. After a full day of travels, us group of managers were given a simple task of finding food for the group. 

What we assumed to be simple soon turned into a full-fledged fiasco–and all because of communication. Ben called the pizza chain and immediately got voicemail (which–rude), but the voicemail directed him to hang up the phone and refer to the app. So, following the suggested directions, we decided to hang up, and, as directed, refer to the app. However, upon referring to the app and punching in our order, electric coupons bombarded us (which would have been a nice idea, if they actually worked). After typing the order on the app, we were then directed to set up an account with the pizza company in order to redeem our coupons, and spent a great deal of time setting up an account only to realize that we could actually just check out as a guest. Then the card didn’t run, because the bank assumed that the order was a scam. So we logged off the app and decided to call. Veronica spoke in Spanish. The lady on the other end didn’t understand Spanish. She gave the phone to another worker. The other worker asked us to read the card number again. And, FINALLY, the pizza was ordered. 

What I learned from this interaction was that, sometimes, when you want communication to be concise and clear, it won’t always work in your favor. Just like when you want communication to be little to none, it won’t always happen. Communication is key, and adaptation is mandatory. 

Nothing Comes Without Work

By: Hannah Lemke

While I am extremely excited for this opportunity to get a break from classes, to travel to Miami, to go behind-the-scenes of a preeminent professional workplace, to surround myself with celebrities and professionals in the field, and to spend some much-needed time with my friends, I understand that this amazing opportunity is not one without an ample amount of required work. 

Sure, I have taken the initiative to attempt to prepare—purchasing plane tickets, uniforms, and hotel rooms, periodically checking emails, texting friends who are going to ensure that we’re on the same page, and practicing pleasantries and greetings that I could potentially use while on shift, however—I still feel wildly unprepared. 

This isn’t like anything that I’ve ever done before. I will not be clocking into a simple customer service job, volunteering manual labor, or completing any type of class project, I will be working at a world famous televised football championship. I will be sworn to secrecy, I will be working with verified social media, I will be escorting and answering the press, I will be representing Emerson College, I will be acting as a staff member helping the NFL. 

So can I truly prepare? How can I know if I’ll be fully prepared? Is it even possible to prepare for something that’s so incredibly new and unknown? 

The only way to find out is to try—and by trying, I mean that I just have to do it. And do it I will. 

Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming

By: Hannah Lemke

With our trip being only a few weeks away, I keep having to remind myself that this is actually happening: I am going to work as a Coordinator in the Media Center for the Miami Host Committee during the Super Bowl LIV. Countless family members and friends have been asking about how I was able to land such an opportunity, if they can tag along, and if have any extra tickets; after all, working in media for the Super Bowl does sound like a rather glamorous experience. 

And a rather glamorous experience it is—truly a once in a lifetime opportunity—that I am so unbelievably excited to take advantage of. As a senior close to graduating, the anxiety-driven feeling of needing more on my resume is ever-present; one can never be too prepared. So of course, when I heard about the Public Relations Student Society of America at Emerson (PRSSA for short), I jumped right on the bandwagon—without fully knowing how valuable this club would later become to me. 

In just under one year with PRSSA, I have developed new friends, been challenged both professionally and academically, learned life skills from an amazing International Conference, practiced taking initiative, landed connections in my field, and have found mentors that have pushed me to take on incredible opportunities such as this. 

If I have learned anything in this past year, it is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way, whether or not I feel confident enough in myself to do so; other people will be confident and only good can come of it.

So I will continue to pinch myself until I finally feel like it’s real, because you never know when walking into an info session will turn into working for a world-renowned championship.